Guide for Canadians Buying Property in the United States



Last Updated: 13 Jan 2024

As a Canadian, you may be wondering if it's possible to buy property in the United States as an investment or vacation home. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Can a Canadian citizen buy a house in the USA?

Yes, Canadian citizens can buy real estate property or a house in the USA. There are no restrictions for Canadians on buying property in the United States. Many Canadian individuals and businesses buy property in the United States each year – whether for investment or vacation purposes. 

If you're ready to invest in an American home, you'll be pleased to know that your Canadian citizenship won't get in the way. The only challenge you might face is navigating the landscape of foreign real estate transactions which comes with its set of tax and financing rules.

Are there any restrictions for foreigners buying a house in the US?

Foreigners who have an eye on the US housing market often have many questions regarding the possibility of non-citizens buying a house in the US.

  • Can foreigners and Green Card holders buy property in the USA to live in? – Yes
  • Are non-citizens allowed to buy property in the USA? – Yes
  • Are there any legal barriers to foreigners buying a property? – No
  • What type of home can you buy in the US as a foreigner? – You can purchase anything from single-family homes and co-op properties to commercial and investment properties.
  • Can foreigners get an EB5 Visa to live in the US? - Yes

Best places to buy property in the US

While there are hundreds of cities to consider when you are planning to purchase your dream home in the US, the following states remain highly popular among Canadians for a multitude of reasons.

1. Texas: Known for its strong economy, affordable property prices, and no state income tax, Texas is appealing for investment and residential purposes.

2. Florida: Popular for its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and thriving tourism sector, Florida is a favorite for vacation homes and retirement.

3. California: Offers a diverse range of lifestyles, from bustling cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco to serene coastal towns. The state's strong economy and cultural attractions are major draws.

4. Georgia: Known for its affordable cost of living, historic charm, and growing economy, particularly in cities like Atlanta, Georgia is an attractive option for both residential and investment purposes.

5. New York: The state, especially New York City, is a hub for finance, culture, and entertainment. It's appealing for those seeking a vibrant urban lifestyle and investment opportunities.

6. Arizona: Attracts Canadians with its warm weather, stunning landscapes, and relatively lower cost of living. It's popular for retirement and vacation homes.

7. North Carolina: Offers a mix of urban and natural attractions, with a growing economy, diverse culture, and appealing climate.

8. Tennessee: Known for its music scene, low cost of living, and no state income tax, making it attractive for both residential and investment properties.

9. New Jersey: Offers proximity to major cities like New York and Philadelphia, along with its own strong job market and diverse communities.

10. Virginia: Known for its rich history, proximity to Washington D.C., and a strong job market, particularly in technology and government sectors. It's appealing for its balanced lifestyle options.

What do I need when buying property in the US as a Canadian?

When Canadian buying property in the US, you'll typically need to submit the following paperwork and documents:

  • Proof of identity. You'll need to provide your passport, visa, Green Card, and other identification information.
  • Proof of address. This is part of your contact details. If you plan to live in the US, you'll also have to submit proof of your legal residence status.
  • Documents to support your loan application. This only applies if you're financing your purchase.
  • Financial information. If you're applying for a mortgage, the lender will want to see proof of income and details of your monthly expenses and liabilities. This information helps them determine whether you can afford the loan.

5 steps for Canadians buying a house in the USA

Here's a quick step-by-step guide for buying a house in the US as a non-citizen.

1. Shop around for lenders

You can skip this step if you're paying cash for your home. On the other hand, you can secure a loan with a Canadian or US-based lender if you’re financing the purchase. The important thing is to shop around and compare various offers before settling.

The biggest advantage of arranging to finance first is that you know how much you can afford once you're pre-approved. It becomes easier to narrow down your options when shopping for the perfect home.

2. Hire a US real estate agent

When you begin hunting for the perfect place to live, you can streamline your search by working with a US-based real estate agent that knows the territory. Communicate clearly with your agent so they know the exact type of property you want and other details, such as preferred amenities and location.

3. Make an offer

Sooner or later, you're bound to come across a property that suits your needs. You'll need to submit a fair offer based on market measurements when that happens. Your agent can help secure a better price by negotiating on your behalf. 

The seller will review your offer, accept it, decline it, or counteroffer. If your offer is accepted, you have taken the first significant step in securing the property you want.

4. Schedule a home inspection and appraisal

The importance of doing your due diligence checks can't be overstated. Before finalizing the deal, it's crucial to hire a home inspector and have the property appraised so you know exactly what you're getting into. The last thing you want is to buy a fixer-upper disguised as a fully functional home.

5. Close the deal

If everything is in order, it's time to initiate the real estate closing process. Once you have signed on the dotted line and paid all relevant fees, monies, and taxes, then congratulations, you're now an American homeowner – time to live the American dream!

How to plan the closing of the property in the US?

Hire a real estate agent to assist with the property buying process and get expert advice.
Obtain pre-approval for a mortgage to determine your budget and strengthen your offer.
Make an offer on the property and engage in negotiations to reach a mutually agreeable price.
■ Sign a purchase agreement that outlines the terms of the sale, including price, closing date, and contingencies.
Schedule and conduct a home inspection to identify issues and an appraisal to assess the property's value.
■ Secure title insurance to protect against future claims and ensure the property title is clear of liens or disputes.
Finalize your mortgage by submitting all required documents and fulfilling lender conditions.
Carefully review the Closing Disclosure form for final costs and loan terms before closing.
■ Conduct a final walkthrough of the property to ensure it's in the agreed condition and all terms are met.
Complete the closing process by signing all paperwork, paying closing costs and the down payment.
■ Ensure formal transfer of ownership with the recording of the deed in the local government records.
Officially take possession of the property post-closing and begin your new chapter.

Get to know the tax and fee details before buying a house in the US as a Canadian

When buying a house or investing in real estate in the US as a Canadian, keep in mind that you have to play by a different set of rules compared to US citizens. It's essential to understand the real estate tax situation before committing, though the need-to-know details tend to have many twists and turns. 

The best recommendation is to enlist professional legal help to get clarification on issues like:

  • The cap on estate tax
  • Additional tax obligations
  • General tax requirements 
  • Tax rates and treaties; and
  • Any other relevant, tax-related issue

What's the best way to pay for your property in the USA as a Canadian?

The best way to pay for your property in the USA depends on your financial situation and other factors. Generally, you can pay for your property through a mortgage or cash.

1. Getting a mortgage

Canadian citizens who want to own real estate in the US can qualify for loans if they earn taxable income. This is because American lenders will consider income instead of residency or citizenship to determine eligibility. However, while it’s possible to get approval, the US mortgage process can be complicated for Canadians. 

A simpler alternative would be to apply for a mortgage with a Canadian cross-border lender specializing in cross-border mortgages. Doing so offers the following benefits:

■ Better customer support: Canadian lenders and mortgage bankers that operate in the US offer greater support and understand how to deal with Canadians.

Competitive rates: You can leverage your Canadian credit history to get the best rate possible. In contrast, US lenders charge higher interest rates for foreign nationals without a US credit history.

■ Greater flexibility: Cross-border lenders accept Canadian documents and make it possible to apply for a US mortgage using your Canadian credit history. Additional perks can include prequalification, no prepayment penalties, and the option to choose the term of your mortgage.

■ Faster approval: US mortgages can take up to 45 days to process. On the other hand, a Canadian bank can quickly perform a credit check, which helps streamline your application.

2. Sending cash to the United States from Canada

Paying cash for your US-based home is a significantly easier option than financing. If you're making the payment from Canada, you'll need a convenient and cost-effective method of moving the required funds into the appropriate US bank account.

Using a specialist transfer service like MTFX can save you thousands of dollars with exchange rates 3-5% lower than banks.

Register your MTFX account to start sending money and get better value with competitive exchange rates, fast and convenient currency conversion services, and automation technologies that streamline the home-buying process.

If you need to make regular monthly repayments for your mortgage, you can easily set up fast, secure, and automated payments and stick to your loan agreement with minimal hassle.

Why does exchange rate matter when buying property in the USA?

Whether you need to transfer money once-off or send money regularly from CAD/USD, the exchange rate is worth keeping tabs on. The impact of different exchange rates on your pocket is difficult to ignore. 

Banks are generally not in the habit of offering favorable rates and fees, so turning to a provider like MTFX is the best solution. You get bank-beating rates 3-5% lower (so you can save up to 5,000 USD for every 100,000 USD you send).

Use the MTFX live rate calculator to see how you can reduce costs when sending money internationally.

Open an account today to enjoy simple, secure, and cost-effective international payments to buy property in the United States with MTFX.



Buying property in the USA as a foreigner – FAQs

1. Where should Canadians invest in US real estate?

Canadians investing in US real estate markets should consider economic growth, rental markets, and potential for appreciation. Popular choices include Florida, known for its vibrant tourism and retirement communities; California, with its diverse economy and high demand; Texas, for its booming economy and affordable property prices; and New York, for its robust property market.

2. Which US states are best for Canadian property buyers?

The best US states for Canadian property buyers often include Florida, with its favorable climate and strong rental market; Arizona, popular among retirees; Texas, for its economic growth and no state income tax; and New York, for those seeking investment in a major global city. Other states like California and Georgia are also attractive due to their diverse economies and strong housing markets.

3. What tax implications do Canadians face when buying property in the USA?

Canadians buying property in the US face several tax implications. Firstly, property taxes need to be paid annually to the local government. Rental income generated from the property is taxable in the US, and Canadians must file a US tax return to report this income. However, due to the Canada-US Tax Treaty, Canadians can claim a foreign tax credit on their Canadian tax return to avoid double taxation. It's crucial to consult with a tax professional familiar with both US and Canadian tax laws to ensure compliance.

4. Does buying a house in the USA give you residency as a Canadian?

No, buying a house in the US does not give you residency. To live in the US you'll need an appropriate visa or residence status, which must be applied separately to buy a house in the US.

5. Can foreigners open a bank account in the US?

Yes, a Canadian can open a US bank account. The process might be a bit complicated for non-citizens, but it's not impossible. Whether it's for business, travel, or personal reasons, setting up a US bank account will be worth the trouble. Banking in the US has many advantages.

6. Can foreigners buy property in the USA?

Yes, foreigners can buy property or a house in the USA. There are no restrictions for foreigners to buy property in the United States. However, foreigners may face more complex tax laws as property owners.

7. Is it worth buying a house in the USA as a Canadian?

The current market conditions in the United States make it a good time to buy a house. While prices have decreased in some areas, they are still relatively low compared to historic norms. Additionally, mortgage rates are near all-time lows, making it easier to afford a home. For those who are ready to take on financial responsibility, buying a house can be a wise investment.

8. How long does the property purchase process take in the US as a Canadian?

The process for buying property in the US can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days. This timeline can be affected by a number of factors, including the type of property being purchased, the location, and the specific details of the sale.

Using MTFX to send money to pay cash for your home expedites the process since it usually takes 24-48 hours for your money to arrive. This is a convenient way to send money since the MTFX online platform is accessible 24/7.


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