A new app is making it easier for foreign investors to buy real estate in the United States.
Known as Lendai, the platform is described as the first to enable foreign and nonresident investors to finance US properties via an online mortgage approval process.
According to the website, Lendai caters to creditworthy foreign investors and can get them approved for a mortgage in minutes, closing the loan in as little as two weeks, including existing investments.
The norm has usually been a frustrating and time-consuming hurdle for foreign buyers, with the time-intensive process creating scenarios in which the only foreign investors who can purchase in the US are those who have all cash, up front.
But Lendai is making it more simple for all foreign buyers to invest in the US, including middle-class investors.
This is a vastly different approach than Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently made headlines for promising to introduce a two-year ban on foreign home-buyers to tackle housing affordability in the country if he’s reelected.
Lendai is headquartered in Tel Aviv, with offices in Miami and Toronto.
“While Canada looks set to ban foreign investors temporarily, the US is set to go in the opposite direction,” Lendai CEO Yair Benyamini told The Post. “Whereas Chinese investors make up a huge chunk of Canadian property investments, which could spell future complications for Canada, US investment is dominated by buyers from less diplomatically complicated countries such as Canada, the UK, Germany and Israel.”
China, Canada and Mexico regularly rank among the five largest buyers of American homes and condos, but the dollar volume of investments from those countries dropped by 50% or more amid the pandemic.
However, foreign investment is expected to pick up again after President Joe Biden announced an ease on travel restrictions from Europeans who are vaccinated.
In the last quarter of 2020, foreign investment was down by only 1% compared to the same quarter in 2019, outperforming domestic real estate investment, which dropped 15% year-over-year.
An insider recently revealed to The Post that the luxury waterfront residential Manhattan building known as “Sky” is roughly comprised of 70% foreign investors, mainly Chinese nationals.
But Lendai says it’s not doing anything differently from private lenders.
“We have to operate under the same legal framework as existing private lenders. The main difference is with our fully online platform and our property Triple Digital Underwriting algorithms,” Benyamini explained. “This enables us to be the first — and to our knowledge only — to leverage data points both from the US and from the borrower origin country.”
“It’s a huge market and buyers foreign and domestic are fed up with going through a process that has barely been updated in the past half a century,” he added.
The app comes on heels of the recently leaked “Pandora Papers” — a trove of files obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists — which shows several foreign diplomats and political influencers secretly shelling out millions to invest in US real estate.
It was recently revealed the King of Jordan, Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, had secretly spent $70 million on neighboring Malibu properties through separate shell companies and spent more than $106 million on at least 15 homes across the US and the UK.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso – who has been linked to roughly 130 south Florida properties — was also linked to two trusts set up in South Dakota, according to the Pandora Papers.
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