Buying real estate in Saudi Arabia as a foreigner?

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Guide for US citizens buying a property in Saudi Arabia

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Everything you need to know is included in our Saudi Arabia Property Pack

This FAQ aims to address common questions and provide valuable insights to aid U.S. citizens in making informed decisions throughout their property buying journey in Saudi Arabia.

We cover a wide range of topics, including legal considerations, property types, financing options, and cultural aspects that are essential to understand before making a commitment.

If you need more details and ensure a safe investment, please download the Saudi Arabia Property Pack.

What you can and cannot buy as a US citizen in Saudi Arabia

Can US citizens buy property in Saudi Arabia?

Yes, US citizens can buy property in Saudi Arabia.

However, the process for foreigners to purchase property is more complex and involves additional steps compared to Saudi nationals.

They need to obtain an Iqama (Visa) and a permit from the relevant authorities, facilitated through the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).

Additionally, the property must be used for the purpose specified in the permit, and the investment should be beneficial to the Saudi economy.

Do they have different rights than other nationalities?

The rights of US citizens looking to buy property in Saudi Arabia are generally similar to those of other foreign nationalities.

All foreigners face restrictions on property ownership in certain areas, and the buying process involves obtaining the necessary permits and approvals.

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What can they buy exactly?

US citizens can buy various types of properties in Saudi Arabia, including apartments, villas, and commercial spaces.

However, they cannot buy properties in Mecca and Medina, as these cities are restricted to Muslim buyers only.

Additionally, there are restrictions on buying properties in certain strategic or security-sensitive areas.

Do they have to be Muslim?

US citizens do not have to be Muslim to buy property in most parts of Saudi Arabia.

However, properties in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina are restricted to Muslim buyers from Saudi.

This restriction is based on religious considerations, and non-Muslims are not allowed to enter these cities.

For properties outside of these areas, religion is not a criterion for property purchase.

Can they buy land?

No, US citizens can’t buy land in Saudi Arabia.

Only Saudi nationals and companies and GCC nationals and companies (with restrictions) can buy land in Saudi Arabia.

Can US citizens buy real estate in holy cities?

US citizens are not allowed to buy property in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

These cities are considered sacred in Islam, and entry and property ownership are restricted to Muslims.

There are no exceptions to this rule, regardless of nationality or any other factor. There are only possibilities of usufruct rights with the Saudi Green Card.

Properties in these cities are available for purchase by Muslim buyers only.

Can they invest in real estate development projects?

Yes, US citizens can invest in real estate development projects in Saudi Arabia.

This can be a lucrative opportunity, given the country's growing real estate market and ongoing development projects.

However, such investments come with their own set of challenges and risks, and it is crucial to conduct thorough due diligence and seek professional advice before proceeding.

Can US citizens rent out their property in Saudi Arabia?

Yes, US citizens can rent out their property in Saudi Arabia. Renting out a property can be a viable option for generating rental income or covering expenses associated with property ownership.

If you want to know more about potential rental yields, check the Saudi Arabia Property Pack.

However, there are certain regulations and requirements for renting out property in Saudi Arabia. These may include registering the lease agreement with the appropriate authorities, ensuring that the tenant's residency status is legal, and complying with rental laws and regulations.

Additionally, rental income may be subject to taxation.

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Do US citizens have property ownership limits in Saudi Arabia?

Yes, there are restrictions.

Foreign nationals, including US citizens, are limited to owning only one property. Additionally, the size of the property cannot exceed 300 square meters.

What are other restrictions?

Besides the restrictions on buying property in the holy cities and the requirement to develop purchased land within a specific timeframe, there are other restrictions on foreign property ownership in Saudi Arabia.

These include limitations on owning properties near military bases or in certain strategic areas.

Additionally, all property transactions involving foreigners are closely scrutinized to ensure compliance with Saudi laws and regulations.

Will it change soon?

Yes, Saudi Arabia is in the process of developing new property ownership laws that are expected to permit non-Saudi nationals to own various types of real estate.

While specific details are still pending, it is anticipated that the new law will provide foreigners with broader property ownership rights, potentially allowing ownership in previously restricted areas like Makkah and Madinah.

Once the law is out, we will inform and give more details to all our community of customers who bought the Saudi Arabia Property Pack.

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Everything you need to know is included in our Saudi Arabia Property Pack

Visas and requirements to buy property in Saudi Arabia as a US citizen

What are the requirements for property ownership in Saudi Arabia?

To be eligible for property ownership in Saudi Arabia, you should meet the following criteria:
- Hold a valid Saudi Residence Permit (Iqama).
- Have a stable financial status.
- Be well-established in the kingdom for at least 10 years.
- Have your family already established in Saudi Arabia.
- Intend to use the property as your family residence.
- Plan to invest your salary in Saudi Arabia.
- Provide the necessary documents (you will find the list below)

You will find more details here.

Do you have to live in Saudi Arabia to buy a property there?

No, you do not have to “live” in Saudi Arabia to buy a property there, but there are certain requirements and restrictions that must be met.

You must have a valid residency permit (Iqama), a valid passport with a valid visa and a current bank account in Saudi Arabia.

What visa do US citizens need to buy property?

To buy property in Saudi Arabia, US citizens typically need a self-sponsorship visa, which allows them to reside in the country and proceed with property purchase.

This visa is obtained through the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).

The process involves submitting various documents and meeting specific requirements, and it can be time-consuming.

It is highly recommended to consult with a local immigration expert or legal advisor to navigate the visa application process.

Can they buy with their own name or must it be through a company?

US citizens can buy property in Saudi Arabia either in their own name or through a company.

However, buying through a company might provide additional legal protections and might be a more viable option for larger investments or commercial properties.

The choice between buying as an individual or through a company depends on various factors, including the type and purpose of the property, and it is advisable to seek legal counsel to determine the most suitable option.

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Can you become a Saudi citizen if you buy real estate?

Foreigners can indeed own property in Saudi Arabia, but this does not automatically grant them Saudi citizenship.

Saudi Arabia does not offer citizenship by investment. However, it does provide a residency program for foreign investors, known as the "Golden Visa" or "Premium Residency". The Golden Visa program offers two options for foreign investors: temporary residency and permanent residency.

The process of acquiring Saudi citizenship is separate and involves its own set of requirements and procedures.

The whole procedure is governed by the Minister of Interior and involves a thorough review of the applicant's qualifications, fortune inside the Kingdom or abroad, and income sources.

What is the Golden Visa program exactly?

There are two schemes for the Saudi Premium Residency scheme.

Here are the details.

Aspect One-Year Scheme Permanent Residency Scheme
Time to Residency 3 months 3 months
Minimum Cost SAR 100,000 (about US $26,640) SAR 800,000 (about US $213,120)
Residency Type One-year, renewable Permanent
Family Members Allowed Spouse, children below age 21 Spouse, children below age 21
Family Members Included in Cost Included in the base fee Included in the base fee
Right to Reside in Saudi Arabia Yes Yes
Right to Work in Private Sector Yes Yes
Right to Change Jobs Freely Yes Yes
Right to Own Residential Real Estate Yes (except Mecca, Madina, border areas) Yes (except Mecca, Madina, border areas)
Right to Own Cars and Transportation Yes Yes
Issuing of Visit Visas for Family Yes (parents, grandparents, etc.) Yes (parents, grandparents, etc.)
Right to Invest in Saudi Capital Market Yes Yes
Recruitment of Foreign Domestic Workers Yes Yes
Freedom to Leave and Enter Saudi Arabia Yes Yes
Residency Rights in Case of Holder's Death Spouse and children under 21 Spouse and children under 21
Fee for Application Processing SAR 170 (about US $45) SAR 170 (about US $45)
Additional Notes Renewable annually with a 2% reduction Permanent residency with no annual fees
Payment must be made in advance for reduction Family members (spouse and children) included
Fees are non-refundable if terminated during the year Additional family members can be added for a fee
Suitable for fixed-term investment projects Parents and children over 21 can also apply under sponsorship

Process to purchase a property in Saudi Arabia as a US Citizen

What are the best places to invest in real estate in Saudi Arabia?

Some of the best places to invest in real estate in Saudi Arabia include Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, and Al Khobar.

Each of these cities offers various opportunities for property investment, and the choice depends on your preferences and investment goals.

We give more details about prices, rents and yields in the Saudi Arabia Property Pack.

Can US citizens purchase property through joint ventures or leaseholds in Saudi Arabia?

Yes, foreigners, including US citizens, can invest in Saudi Arabian real estate through joint ventures or partnerships with Saudi nationals or entities.

Leasehold options, such as long-term leases, are also available for those who wish to settle long-term in the Kingdom.

Do US citizens need a lawyer to buy real estate in Saudi Arabia?

While it's not mandatory, it's highly recommended to engage a local lawyer when purchasing property in Saudi Arabia.

A local lawyer can assist with the legal aspects of the transaction, including reviewing the Property Sale Agreement, conducting a Property Title Search, obtaining necessary permits, and ensuring compliance with Saudi Arabian laws and regulations.

A lawyer will also help you avoid a lot of classic pitfalls.

Can US citizens get a mortgage in KSA?

In theory, US citizens can obtain property loans in Saudi Arabia, as long as they meet certain conditions and eligibility requirements.

If you are a US citizen looking to secure a property loan in Saudi Arabia, you may want to consider Sharia-compliant financing options offered by local banks. Some of the options include Murabaha or Ijara, which are in line with Islamic financial principles.

Several banks in Saudi Arabia provide mortgages to US citizens, including Al Rajhi Bank, National Commercial Bank, Riyad Bank, Saudi British Bank (SABB), Arab National Bank, and Bank AlJazira.

To be eligible for financing through a bank, your salary needs to be a minimum of 25,000 SAR, and you should be employed in the government or semi-government sector.

Additionally, you are required to make an initial payment amounting to 50% of the total property value. For example, if the property costs 500,000 SAR, you would need to pay 250,000 SAR upfront and finance the remaining 250,000 SAR through a bank.

In Saudi Arabia, the mortgage rates for a 20-year term vary between 2% and 6%, offering borrowers attractive terms for obtaining financing. The maximum duration for a loan is 10 years.

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