Can US citizens buy property in India?

Gabriela Peratello
21.07.22
9 minute read

The property market in India is booming, with prices set to rise in 2022 at the fastest pace in 5 years¹. While the global pandemic suppressed demand for properties in India, this cooling has reversed moving into 2022, according to analysts.

If you’re looking for a good investment — or if you have ties to India already — you might be wondering whether or not a US citizen can buy property in India.

This guide walks through all you need to know, plus our quick guide to some of the best cities to buy property in India. We’ll also introduce Wise as a simple, low cost way to fund your property purchase from the US.

📑 Table of Contents

Can foreigners buy property in India?

Let’s look at the most important question first: can a US citizen buy property in India?

Whether or not you can buy property in India will depend on whether or not you hold NRI (Non Resident Indian) or PIO (Person of Indian Origin) status, as well as whether or not you’re ordinarily resident in India.

A non-resident foreigner who is not of Indian origin can inherit property within India from a resident of the country, but can not usually buy property in their own right.

If you’re a foreigner residing in India long term you may be able to apply for permission to purchase a property, but this requires you to prove your ties to the country and your intention to settle there.

Permission is granted on a case by case basis, and people who’ve already been through the process warn that it can be tricky to arrange².

NRIs and PIOs on the other hand, can buy property in India even when they’re not a resident³.

Can US citizens with OCI buy property in India?

Wondering: can a US citizen of Indian origin buy property in India? There's good news.

If you’re a US citizen and hold an OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) card, you’ll be able to buy most types of property in India even if you’re not living there.

Key exceptions include agricultural land and properties, and plantations, which can’t be bought by non-residents.

To complete your property purchase you’ll need to provide some paperwork and nominate a power of attorney which allows someone else to act on your behalf through the purchase process, as you won’t be physically present.

We’ll take a look at the step by step process you’ll need to follow, next.

Read further: can NRIs buy property in India?

Buying property in India from USA: step by step

buying-property-india
If you’re dreaming of buying a property in India from the US, you’ll need to take the following steps:

1. Confirm you’re eligible to buy property in India

Before you even start your property search, you’ll need to make sure you fulfill all the requirements to purchase a property in India.

This means you’ll need to have proof of your NRI status, or if you’re a resident in India of non-Indian origin, you’ll need to get advance permission from the Reserve Bank of India.

2. Find a trusted local Indian solicitor, notary and real estate agent

Navigating a property purchase — particularly if you may not be in the country throughout the process — is tricky. Get good local advice and engage a solicitor and realtor who can help you find a property and work through the purchase stress-free.

3. Collect the documents required to complete your property purchase

When you buy a property in India from the US you’ll need to have several documents lined up, including your OCI card and a specific, notarized power of attorney.

Arranging all of these in advance makes good sense, so you’ll know you’re organized at the point you find your dream home.

4. Find your perfect place and agree the sale price

Now for the fun part — finding your property in India and agreeing to the deal. We’ll take a look at some of the best cities to buy property in India a little later on.

Don’t forget that foreigners are only allowed to buy specific property types in India, which rules out some agricultural and farming properties from your search.

Once you’ve agreed a sale price you may be required to pay a deposit of 10% to 20% — your realtor will be able to talk you through your options at this stage.

5. Your solicitor will complete required legal and due diligence checks

After agreeing a sale price, you’ll need your solicitor to step in and complete required checks to make sure the purchase is legal.

They’ll take a look at the title deeds, building plans and permits, to ensure the property has been legally built, and that the person offering it for sale is the legal owner.

6. Sign the property sale deed, or have your representative do so for you

Once everything is in order, you’ll need to sign the property sale deed yourself, or if you’re not physically in India, you can have your representative do this using the power of attorney you’ve set up.

At this stage you’ll also need to complete the payment for the property and any other taxes and legal costs.

7. Your solicitor will register the property sale

The final step is for your solicitor to complete the property registration — and you’re now a home owner!

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What documents will you need to buy property in India as a foreigner?

The documents you’ll need to buy a property in India as a US citizen will usually include⁴:

  • Passport
  • OCI card
  • PAN card
  • Power of attorney
  • Proof of current address
  • Passport sized photos

It’s worth noting that the power of attorney required in this situation must be notarized and registered — you can’t use a general power of attorney to buy a property in India.

Further documents will be needed if you intend to take a home loan in India to fund your property purchase.

Getting a power of attorney to buy property in India from USA

To complete a property purchase in India from the US you’ll need to get a power of attorney to allow a representative to act on your behalf.

This can be arranged by the Indian consulate closest to your home in the US⁵. However, the exact process and paperwork you need will depend on whether you’re an Indian national or hold a foreign passport.

If you don’t hold an Indian passport, you’ll usually need to have your power of attorney apostilled by the US authorities in your state, before it’s passed to the Indian Consulate for their approval.

Check all the details carefully to make sure your application goes through smoothly.

Buying a house in India: costs

India is a huge and varied country, so the costs you’ll encounter when buying an Indian property can vary widely.

The good news is that there’s plenty of choice, so you should be able to find something within your budget. Let’s take a look at the typical costs of buying a house in India, in some different cities.

How much is a house in India?

Price (sqft) in the city centerPrice (sqft) outside of city center
Bangalore⁶158.16 USD76.14 USD
Kolkata⁷101.32 USD57.60 USD
Mumbai⁸581.66 USD246.51 USD
Navi Mumbai⁹284.95 USD146 USD
Pune¹⁰154.19 USD80.11 USD

What taxes and fees will you have to pay?

When you’re building your budget to buy a property in India you’ll also need to a account for costs, which include¹¹:

FeesAmount (%)
Stamp duty4% - 8%
Registration fees1%
Legal fees1.5%
Realtor commission1% - 2% + 12.50% VAT
Looking to sell property in India as NRI? Look at our guides below

Can you take a US loan to buy property in India?

Whether or not you can take a US based loan to buy an Indian property will depend on the policies of the lender, value of the loan required, and what you can offer as security on the loan.

You may find you can take a personal loan in the US and use it to put towards your new home in India — however, the interest rates available may not be the most attractive out there.


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Now that we covered all the basic costs of purchasing a house in India, the only question left is: how to send money to pay for your property overseas?

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Finding and choosing real estate in India

To buy a property in India you’re going to need the help of a reputable local real estate agent.

Although there will be a cost to access this service, you’ll get invaluable local advice from someone who knows the market well and can guide you through buying your new home in India.

Ask for personal recommendations to help you find the best realtor for your needs, and make sure you’re clear on any fees before you get started.

All that said, before you engage a specific realtor you might want to build a picture of the housing market in your chosen location by browsing popular estate agent websites like these:

Types of property in India

Here’s a run through of common Indian real estate terminology to help you navigate the property types you’ll come across:

RKShort for room and kitchen, a studio apartment
2 BHKBHK stands for bedroom, hall and kitchen — so a 2 BHK is a 2-bed property, a 3 BHK will have 3 bedrooms and so on
VillamentOften larger properties with shared communal facilities
DuplexAny 2 floor home, property types can vary widely
FlatApartments on a single floor
BungalowSingle family home over just one floor 
VillaSingle family home, can also be called an independent home

What’s the best city to buy property in India?

Hopefully this guide has got you excited about the prospect of buying a home in India. Let’s dive into some of the best cities in India when it comes to buying property.

Bangalore

bangalore
Bangalore is the capital of Karnataka and a hotspot for high-tech firms. It’s sometimes referred to as the Silicon Valley of India, making it an obvious draw for foreigners working in global technology companies.

For expats there’s plenty to do from culture and nightlife to great food, historic sites and more. There’s a pretty large and established expat community in the city, which means it’s easy enough to access services including good international schools.

When it comes to choosing a place to live in Bangalore you’ll want to take into account commuting times as it’s a large city which can lead to traffic congestion.

Kolkata

kolkata
Kolkata is the capital of West Bengal, steeped in colonial history with beautiful architecture and lots of cultural activities to get involved in. It’s sometimes called the City of Joy, with plenty of festivals celebrated all year round.

It’s worth checking out the climate in Kolkata before you make a move there — summers can be pretty sweltering and there are intense storms in the monsoon.

However, Kolkata remains a really popular destination for tourists and longer term expats alike, thanks to its charm and low costs of living.

Mumbai

mumbai
Mumbai is one of the largest cities in India, with residents hailing from all over the region and the world. That makes for a vibrant and cosmopolitan mix, with plenty for expats to get involved with, from raucous nightlife to colorful religious festivals.

Accommodation in Mumbai is pretty expensive compared to other Indian cities, but there is good public transport and easy access to services and schools, making it a popular expat destination nonetheless.

Navi Mumbai

navi-mumbai
Navi Mumbai was created as part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Area, as a planned city development to alleviate overcrowding in Mumbai.

As a newer city, Navi Mumbai has good infrastructure and tends to be less polluted than Mumbai, which can make it a good choice for expats arriving with kids. Accommodation is also notably cheaper compared to Mumbai — almost half the cost in some cases.

Pune

pune
As the second city in Maharashtra State, Pune is a popular location for tech and IT firms, leading to a lot of expats and foreigners making Pune home. It’s also a center for education, with students flocking to many of the city’s educational institutions.

Pune has a great location with easy access to Mumbai as well as perfect places for vacations, with a relatively young vibe and great entertainment options. Pune can offer a pretty comfortable lifestyle with relatively low levels of congestion, strong infrastructure and low costs.

Wondering if an Indian citizen can buy property in the US? Read our full guide on buying property in the US as a foreigner and find out.

So there you have it — the full guide to how a US citizen may be able to buy a property in India. With this guide as a starting point, you’ll be able to research and find your perfect Indian property more easily, and with Wise you’ll also be able to pay for your purchase from the US with lower fees and a better exchange rate. See how much you can save with Wise today.


Sources:

  1. Economic Times
  2. How to buy - foreign buyers
  3. Reserve Bank of India
  4. Economic Times
  5. Indian Embassy USA
  6. Numbeo Bangalore
  7. Numbeo Kolkata
  8. Numbeo Mumbai
  9. Numbeo Navi Mumbai
  10. Numbeo - Pune
  11. Global Property Guide

Sources checked on 07.11.2022


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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