Palm Springs: International Buyers' Guide

international buyers guide to buying property in palm springs

The first time you visit Palm Springs it is hard to leave behind.

Whether you are thinking about purchasing a vacation home in Palm Springs for business or for pleasure, you are not alone. Many foreign nationals, including Canadians, are looking at finding their dream vacation home in the "Golf Capital of the World".

A combination of competitive home prices and lower interest rates have made purchasing property in Palm Springs a viable (and potentially lucrative) option.

Here is why international homebuyers are buying in Palm Springs:

  • International loan program
  • No real estate agent fees when buying property in Palm Springs
  • Low real estate prices
  • wide selection of homes for sale in Palm Springs
  • Reasonable taxes, including property taxes
  • Easy purchase process

No matter where you come from, you will have questions about buying property as an out-of-country buyer. After all, there are many things to consider. We have put together an overview of the frequent advice and information that we give with our international buyers.

How Do I Purchase a Vacation Home in Palm Springs?

1. Decide on how you want your property to be used even before you look at listings:

  • Will it be a vacation home?
  • Will it be a home for when you do business in the United States?
  • Will it be an investment property?
  • Will this eventually be a long-term home?
  • Will this be a home for your children while they attend post-secondary?
  • Will you rent it out?

By knowing how you will use this property and how long you plan on owning it you and your real estate agent can quickly narrow in on the best areas for you.

Already have your Palm Springs vacation home planned out? Browse the latest Palm Springs listings now.

2. Learn About How the Real Estate Market Works in the US

Each state in the US has its own set of rules and regulations on how real estate transactions are allowed to happen. Some important things to note, especially for international homebuyers looking to purchase real estate in Palm Springs:

  • Both buyers and seller's agent's commissions are paid by the seller
  • Palm Springs real estate agents need a license to operate, which includes working with international buyers in Palm Springs. Licenses are governed by the State of California
  • Buyers normally do not pay anything to have an agent work with them (unless another agreement is made
  • Online sites like Zillow, realtor.com, and Trulia have the same access to listing information as you can find publically. Real Estate Agents have access to private listing information that is up-to-date and current.

Learn How the Palm Springs Rental Market Works

Renting out your vacation home in Palm Springs can be a great way to subsidize your vacation home.

The City of Palm Springs has some of the most complex and stringent regulations that govern short-term rentals out of any municipality in the United States. The fines are dizzying if caught. Regulated by the Vacation Rental Compliance Department (VRCD) some of the regulations include:

A permit is required: A complex topic, but basically, you need a permit from the City if you plan on renting out your home. Under the most recent adoption of the ordinance, an owner may only be issued and hold one Vacation Rental Registration Certificate at any time. An important point to also note is that vacation rental permits cannot be issued for apartments.

Rental contracts are limited: This is one of the trickier topics listed under the VRCD documents. While there are several caveats to this rule, it essentially states that any given vacation rental can only host a maximum of 36 short-term stays per calendar year, which equates to about one and a half stays per week.

Registration violations: This is one of their strongest regulations. If an owner is caught operating a vacation rental without a permit, they will be fined $5,000 and become ineligible to ever be issued a short-term rental permit again.

Three strikes risk: Knowing the rules is important when renting a vacation home in Palm Springs. If an owner receives three citations (which includes administrative and nuisance-type citations) for ordinance violations during any 12 month period, they can receive a two-year suspension of the property's permit.

Maintenance restrictions: The ordinance also lists restrictions on non-emergency weekend maintenance. Repairs to structures or property (including garden, yard, and pool) cannot be performed between the hours of 5 pm on Friday and 8 am on Monday.

Penalty violations: Violations come at a high cost. Fines for a first violation are $500, and quickly increase to $1000 for subsequent violations. Some violations can even be higher.

Enhanced guest standards: The City of Palm Springs has officially rolled out its "Good Neighbor Brochure". The brochure touches on topics like no outside amplified noise, parking, and occupancy and parking. All adult guests must sign a "statement of rules and regulations", that certifies that they have read the brochure. Guests must also have an in-person meeting with a property manager who is to go over these rules as either part of check-in or within 24 hours of their arrival.

Friends and family restrictions: Even if your property is being used by friends and family, they also count as a vacation rental contract, and as such, must be reported to the city (an exception is made for up to 5 individuals who can be listed without being counted). It is important to know that all of the restrictions in the ordinance apply to these stays.

There is a lot to know about using your Palm Springs vacation home as a rental. If you want a copy of the latest ordinance, the Good Neighbor Brochure, or help navigating the vacation rental regulations, contact us to find out more.

International Buyer FAQ

Q: What is TOT?

If you are planning on renting your vacation home, you need to ensure that you understand the Palm Springs' Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).

Also known as a room tax, this tax must be collected by the operator from each guest or room payment, and then dispatched to the City of Palm Springs. Which means that vacation home rental permit holders must collect, report, and remit TOT on a monthly basis, totally 12 returns annually.

The tax current tax rate is 11.5%, but is subject to change. Guests staying 29 consecutive nights or less are subject to this tax.

Read more about the Palm Springs' Transient Occupancy Tax.

Q: How do I manage my vacation home when I am not there?

For absentee homeowners, there are several resources that you can rely on when you are looking at buying a vacation rental home in Palm Springs.

Home Owner's Association

Many vacation home owners decide to buy vacation homes that fall under a Home Owner Association (HOA) community.

An HOA is a privately run group of elected representatives (residents) that govern a planned community. The HOA collects fees from homeowners to keep common areas maintained and to enforce community covenants.

Fees reflect the community amenities (clubhouse, pool, playgrounds, etc.) and generally fall between $200 and $1000 per month. Absentee owners often benefit from purchasing vacation rental homes in planned communities, but ensure you understand the HOA guidelines around renting, subletting, and absenteeism, as each HOA has a unique set of regulations.

Property Management Companies
Property management companies are a great investment if you plan on renting your Palm Springs' vacation rental home. Out-of-country buyers more often than not rely on these companies for their specialty services, and in-depth knowledge of the VRCD.

Working with a property management vacation rental specialist with help you navigate all of the intricacies of international home buyers renting out their Palm Springs vacation rental homes.

Ready to take the plunge and buy a vacation home in Palm Springs? Try the RonParks Team home finder service for international buyers today to find a Palm Springs property that suits your needs.