Can a Canadian purchase a Home in the United States?
Canadians can buy U.S. homes, regardless of citizenship status. The U.S. government places no restrictions on foreign nationals purchasing a property. For Canadians who want to take advantage of relatively lower home prices for investment or snowbird retreats, buying a home in the U.S. is a good choice.
According to the National Association of Realtors, Canadians lead the way among foreign buyers of U.S. real property. Canadians purchased 8,800 homes valued at $4.2 billion from April 2020 through March 2021. That number was driven downwards by over 50% from the previous year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions.
So, if you’re looking for a vacation retreat or investment in the warmer climes of Florida, Arizona or California, or would like a summer mountain retreat in Colorado, you’ll need to do your homework and consider the following:
U.S. entry and visa regulations for Canadian citizens: Do you need a visa to travel to the U.S.? (Spoiler alert: Not usually.)
Financing and mortgage considerations: Should you use a Canadian or a U.S. bank?
Property tax liabilities: How much extra cash should you put aside to pay the local real-estate taxes?
Currency exchange rates between U.S. and Canadian dollars: How can you stay on top of volatile currency exchange rates and avoid losing money on the deal? (Second spoiler alert: With a full-service foreign exchange and global payments platform like MTFX.)
Let’s address each of the above with particulars you need to consider.
1. Canadians visiting the U.S. normally don’t need a visa.
If you’re traveling by air to the U.S. for pleasure, you only need your Canadian passport or NEXUS card. A Nexus Pass is a border crossing ID card that will get you through U.S. customs through a faster-moving processing queue.
If you plan to arrive by sea or by land, you’ll need to show your Canadian passport or an Enhanced Driver’s License/Identification Card, or A NEXUS or FAST/EXPRESS or SENTRI Enrollment Card.
For stays longer than six months or if the visit is for reasons other than pleasure, a visa is required. You’ll need to make an appointment online to be processed for a visa at the nearest U.S. Consulate.
2. You can finance your U.S. purchase either with the U.S. or Canadian cross-border mortgage.
Financing through an American bank
American banks have rules that are usually different than their counterparts in Canada. An experienced U.S. real estate agent can be most helpful in navigating the paperwork and documentation requirements. Just Google “How a real estate agent can help Canadians buy U.S. property” for a list of informative websites.
Canadian cross-border mortgages
Canadian financial institutions with branches in the U.S.—BMO and RBC, for example—can provide cross-border mortgages for purchasing U.S. property. Those Canadian financial organizations typically require lower down payments and mortgage rates. Also, they are more familiar with Canadian customer needs.
3. If you own real property, most states will send you an annual real estate property tax bill.
Every state in the U.S. imposes a real-estate tax on property owners. The tax is based on the assessed value of the property, which is not always the same as the current market value or purchase price. Expect those assessments to rise every year. For example:
Florida ranks 24th among all U.S. states with an effective real-estate tax rate of 0.89%. If your property is assessed at the median value of $215,300, you can expect an annual tax bill of $1,914.
Arizona: Ranked 13th, tax rate 0.63%, tax bill $1,499
California: Ranked 16th, tax rate 0.76%, tax bill $3,818
Colorado: Ranked 3rd, tax rate 0.51%, tax bill $1,756
4. Here are some foreign currency exchange considerations you should know about.
Property investments are big financial commitments. Canadians will most likely have to make U.S. property purchases in U.S. dollars, and it is important to understand currency exchange advantages. Even with a Canadian cross-border mortgage, some payments, such as the initial deposit, must be in U.S. dollars.
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Who can use the MTFX payment service?
Individuals and businesses who need to send money in foreign currency internationally can use MTFX’s services. The beneficiary of the transfer must have a bank account for the funds to be paid into.
Personal clients usually use our services to transfer money between their own accounts in two different countries.
Business clients usually use our services to transfer funds to suppliers, fund international operations, or repatriate overseas earnings.
Why should I use MTFX and not my own bank?
MTFX offers currency exchange rates that are 2-5% better than those offered by the banks. Personal clients usually save hundreds of dollars per transfer and for larger transfers, the savings can run into the thousands.
We also offer excellent customer service, dedicated currency specialists, and a 24/7 online platform with best-in-class technology that allows you to complete transfers from any device virtually anywhere in the world.
Business customers save with better currency exchange rates and proven solutions geared towards managing and mitigating foreign exchange risk. Our solutions include forward contracts, market orders, rate alert services, and much more - all backed by great technology and great people.
How do customers send funds to MTFX?
Funds can be transferred via wire transfer, Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), or ACH payment services. MTFX maintains bank accounts in all major currencies with highly-rated banks. Our banking infrastructure ensures that you can transfer funds to us quickly and securely.
How long does it take MTFX to transfer funds?
Our global network of banking partners allows us to get funds to virtually anywhere in the world quickly and efficiently. Most wire transfers from MTFX will be received by your beneficiary within 24-48 hours. MTFX also offers same-day transfers that are almost instantaneous, as well as low-cost in-country payment services for your less urgent transfers. For further information please speak to one of our currency specialists.
Please read the following update before logging in to your MTFX online account
We have updated our online dealing system to provide you with better functionality, more unique tools and an overall enhanced client experience. MTFX Online 2.0 is now available for your dealing needs. You can begin using our enhanced online portal today.
Please note that the traditional portal will be available for use until MAY 30th 2021 at which point it will be decommissioned.