The United States has been a top choice for global real estate investment, thanks to its diverse property market, strong economy, and cultural appeal. However, some countries’ citizens face restrictions when buying US real estate.
Several states are considering limitations on property acquisitions by citizens of countries like China and Iran, viewed as U.S. adversaries. Democrats in the nation’s capital are opposing these measures.
In recent months, several U.S. states have proposed legislation aimed at restricting property ownership for citizens of specific foreign countries. Texas is considering a bill to prevent citizens of Iran, Syria, North Korea, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela and China from purchasing farmland, while Florida has already signed a bill into law banning citizens from most of these countries from buying property near “critical infrastructure.”
Activist groups are challenging these state-level bills and receiving support from a new federal bill in the U.S. Congress. This federal response is a reaction to the increasing number of state-level efforts to restrict property ownership based on citizenship.
Civil liberties groups are alarmed by the potential for legislating discrimination based on citizenship and are urging a federal response to these measures. Myriam Sabbaghi, national organizing manager for the National Iranian American Council, likens these bills to 21st-century versions of Alien Land Laws from a century ago, which banned foreign ownership. She and a coalition of groups are opposing these laws, particularly in southern states where they’ve received relatively little national attention, expressing concern about a slippery slope towards ethnic discrimination.
The motivation for these laws varies. In Texas, it was prompted by concerns about a Chinese firm’s plans to purchase land for a wind farm near a U.S. military base. Despite no security threat being identified, the Chinese-run firm had to sell to a Spanish company.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis champions his state’s bill as a measure to counter the influence of the Chinese Communist Party, set to take effect on July 1. From then on, undocumented immigrants and new citizens from select countries won’t be allowed to buy property within 10 miles of critical infrastructure sites like Airports or military bases.