April 4, 2018 at 3:02 pm #16663
DSParticipantApril 4, 2018 at 3:02 pmPost count: 6
I’m a UK citizen living in France. Been very intrigued with this business model for a few months now, and am looking to start a monthly membership with Land Academy sometime this year.
However before I do that I need to set up a foreign owned LLC, and have come up with a significant obstacle in trying to set up my business bank account.
A few banks have told me that as this is an online business I would need a physical office in the US for them to visit and audit me so they can see that “I’m doing what I say I’m doing”. Simply having a registered business address won’t suffice according to them. I plan on carrying this business out completely remotely from Europe, with no intention of moving to the US.
Has anyone overseas found a solution to this problem? And if so, please would you be able name the bank you are using. I prefer to use HSBC as I currently have a personal checking account with them. Unfortunately this is one of the banks that has provided this restriction!
Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.
MilanParticipantApril 4, 2018 at 8:19 pmPost count: 502
Why not do it without LLC? Do it as a sole proprietor and you’re good to go.DSParticipantApril 5, 2018 at 2:47 pmPost count: 6
Hi Milan thanks for your prompt response.
I suppose if I was a US citizen with a personal US dollar checking account I could start as a sole proprietor.
At this time I would have trouble starting off this business overseas without an LLC – with currency conversion fees, legal, tax (FIRPDA) issues etc. I would prefer to just set everything up officially first and then get going, as I have enough faith in the business model to not have a need to ‘test the waters first’.
Plus I need to save up more money first(!)
Really hope I will find a solution to this bank problem.Neil HParticipantApril 5, 2018 at 7:32 pmPost count: 118
I have found being a US citizen starting this business abroad (Mexico City) has been a bit of nightmare with regard to banking. I was able to provide a physical address we own in the States to get around that requirement, but it seems that every time I interact with Wells Fargo (where I set up my business bank account) they want to send me a security code via text to verify my identity — but they don’t accept non-US phone numbers and their system can’t handle VOIP numbers (RingCentral) or Google Voice numbers (which both accept incoming texts).
I was just back in Colorado visiting family, so was able to go into a local branch and make some progress — but it’s been an unexpected obstacle and hassle. I also tried getting a prepaid AT&T sim card (with a US number on their North America plan) but was told that if I used it outside of the States more than 50% of the time (each month), it would be shut down. Oy.
I’d like to hear how others have fared doing this from outside the States. It’s also going to force me to be innovative when it comes to purchasing land — I can’t just pop over to my local Wells Fargo branch and have a cashier’s check cut. I’m going to need to rely on wire transfers. If anyone is in the same position — let me know. Thanks!Luke SmithModeratorApril 5, 2018 at 10:10 pmPost count: 1262
Why not try a brokerage account like E-Trade or some online broker that takes all kinds of international people and still does banking too. Lots of them give you debit cards on your account. They are so much easier to do wires and set up whatever kind of account structure. The finance guys are a lot more understanding than the joe schmo banks.
I used to be a penny stock broker and had clients all over the world. One guy especially was always buying diamonds, rubies and other stones in countries you would not take the family to. He would move them to markets in Europe or the US in places the sun does not shine. He also specialized in dilivering kidnapping ransom or doing recovery. Special forces kind of guy. He always needed cash and I was the only broker willing to send it quick. His bankers would squalk all kinds of AML anti creative business bs and not transfer his money so he called his broker. You don’t need a full service broker like him to buy land just a basic online one should do.Neil HParticipantApril 6, 2018 at 5:58 amPost count: 118
Thanks, Luke — that’s an interesting workaround.MilanParticipantApril 6, 2018 at 6:06 amPost count: 502
I have bank account in Europe and pay my bills there all online.
Why not wire a seller $100 trust me deposit for purchase of the land. Send them deed and tell them to notarize their signature in their bank. As soon as you receive the signed deed pay them the rest.
Not much risk there anyway. If the deal goes bad you didn’t lose much, because you’d have to pay $100 for notary anyway. Plus in my experience, if you let people know you trust them, they usually don’t disappoint you.
Off course the biggest problem I see with this is the grandma with beautifull land ready to sell that doesn’t know how to turn on the computer like my grandma 🙂Neil HParticipantApril 6, 2018 at 7:32 pmPost count: 118
Thank you, Milan — it’s helpful to hear how others are managing to complete sales.DSParticipantApril 7, 2018 at 6:23 amPost count: 6
Neil, Luke and Milan – thanks for all your input.
Neil – I’m trying to find someone on this forum who’s a non-US citizen like myself and has made this work somehow – If there is anyone you know from the top of your head, please let me know.
Luke,the brokerage account is an interesting idea I’ll look into it.
Milan, I was given another option by the US HSBC bank in that I use a french hsbc business bank account for this business for 6 months and then can transfer over to the US as trust has been built with the HSBC brand. That or a brokerage account looks like hest solution for now.
Lets see how it goes, hopefully I will start the business sometime this year!Logan JordanParticipantJanuary 2, 2019 at 10:04 pmPost count: 14
I’ve been slowly setting up the systems to conduct this land business from overseas. I’ve got the website done, much thanks to your WordPress tutorial! I got the virtual mailbox notarized online last night and now have a permanent mailing address to include on my first mailer.
Next I need to get a US phone number, I’m finding that Google Voice cannot be set up with an overseas number and the old way of using a VOIP US number no longer works when setting up Google Voice. I also found that Vumber cannot forward calls to overseas numbers, but I can use their service as for voicemail and returning calls from their app. I’m going to look into Line 2, etc. For the moment I think Patlive and Smith.ai are more than I need (and want to pay for until I’ve got a steady stream of leads coming in). Any suggestions on US phone # that can be setup while living aboard and eventually ported over when I return to the US? I’m going to keep searching the forums here.
I’ve sent an email to the Chase Private Client Banker I interfaced with when visiting the USA in October 2018, asking about opening a business account. I guess I’m going to need my LLC OA, Articles, EIN, etc. Did you stay with Wells Fargo, despite the challenges or pick another bank (or brokerage like Luke suggested)? I have also found with Chase getting the security codes while living overseas to be a burden on my personal accounts.
Have you used cashier’s checks or tried other means for property purchases (like suggested by Milan)? How did you manage to get the cashier’s checks created and delivered to your notary while living abroad?
Logan JordanNeil HParticipantJanuary 3, 2019 at 10:41 amPost count: 118
I’m currently in the States (arrived back July 2018) but will leave for Brazil in July for 3 years. I’m using this year to get things squared away before moving abroad again.
Phone: I’m currently using RingCentral — but I’m not really happy about the price $500+/year after taxes and fees. But it did allow me to set up a phone tree with various messages (if you received an offer in the mail press 1 now, etc.). It also gives me a general number and a personal number (I direct my mailers to the general number and buyers to my direct number). The phone rings through on an app regardless of where I am, but there are delays and the connection quality is relatively poor (whether I’m abroad or in the States). I’m currently looking at other options, like PatLive. I don’t get a ton of calls, but I think having someone answer immediately will be key to closing more offers. Unfortunately, I’ll likely lose my phone number if I do this.
Bank: I’m still using Wells Fargo. I purchased a Wells Fargo RSA device (a fob that generates random numbers) that avoids the need to receive a code by text. However, there were some issues in getting it set up on my account even after I received it in the mail. I believe I ended up going into a Wells Fargo branch in the States when I returned to get it connected. As far as cashier’s check, I was fortunate that I was back in the States when I purchased one property this way. However, my other purchase was a title closing (both the purchase and sale) and that’s really the way to go when you’re abroad. Transferring money online from a bank account to the title company takes a few seconds. (Otherwise, I did consider putting a family member in the States on my Wells Fargo account in order to get cashier’s checks.)
Filing deeds: I use SimpliFile to file deeds online with the county (for self closing). It may not cover all counties, but you should look into it. I purchased my deed templates on deeds.com since they are county and state specific and provide additional filing paperwork for free. I pay as I go with SimpliFile (they have various payment schemes), but I won’t need to go this route if I continue with title closings.
Title Closings: I’m currently using First American Title. I’m doing my best to establish a rapport and track record with them so that when I head abroad again there are no red flags (“You’re located where?!”). But I have done all of my closings from afar (other states) without any problem.
I hope that helps. Getting set up is a pain, especially with the bank, but I don’t anticipate any problems even after I head abroad again.
NeilMilanParticipantJanuary 4, 2019 at 6:59 amPost count: 502
Logan, you’re saying you have account in Wells Fargo. That’s great because their branches are everywhere. You can also have more bank accounts like Chase, BofA. I think those are the biggest banks in US widely spread in little towns too.
Wells Fargo most likelly gave you bunch of personal checks. If not order them.
When you buy land, send notary to your bank which ever is closer and more convenient for them to meet the seller in their town. Wells Fargo most likelly. Your seller meets notary in WF bank. Your notary already has package with deed and your personal check to seller, not cashiers check. He cashes the check in the bank and signs the deed.
Most of my land acquisitions happened this way. Many people don’t believe cashiers checks in these days of Photoshop faking everything. They want to hold the cash in ther hands. And I understand completely. That’s a way to close deal without cashiers check.
There is one little problem with this strategy. Your bank wants to protect you. And if you send someone personal check for $5K, the bank wants to call you to confirm and verify. If you’re abroad you might be hard to reach. But you can also set your account safety features to something like: don’t call me for any amount, let them cash it. I’m abroad and it’s OK to cash any amount. Do your research on that.Logan JordanParticipantJanuary 4, 2019 at 7:37 amPost count: 14
Hi Neil & Milan,
Thanks for the helpful replies and suggestions. I haven’t yet got to mailings, so I haven’t yet considered how I’d handle the deeds and closings (if beyond what a notary can/should handle or seller is willing to pay for).
I have both Chase and BoA accounts, not Wells Fargo (I was asking Neil about his experience at WF living aboard to see if setting one up is worth it). I do have personal checks here in Singapore, but I was hoping to setup a business account to fund land purchases from and receive funds from sales in.
If I go ahead and just use my personal accounts, you are suggesting that I send via airmail the check I sign in Singapore to the notary (2-3 business days at best, and rather pricey) or what if I use online banking to send a check to the notary made out to the land seller (5-7 business days)?
Is it possible to wire or ACH payments as well if urgency is an issue?MilanParticipantJanuary 4, 2019 at 8:16 amPost count: 502
Yes Logan absolutely you can actually transfer money from all these banks by using service called ZELLE transfer. All you need is the person’s email address or phone number that is linked to their account. This way you can get also paid free of any fees by all your note buyers. They transfer the money to you every month through ZELLE using your email address. Simple free. The only problem with this strategy is, that you’ll have to remind them here and there it’s time to pay you.
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