Guide for Canadians Buying Real Estate Property in Europe

Guide for Canadians Buying Real Estate Property in Europe
Last Updated: 02 Aug 2022

Are you looking to snag a prime piece of hot property somewhere in sunny Europe? Discover your European home-buying destinations as a Canadian.

Are you tired of waiting for the housing bubble to burst in Canada? Need to retire somewhere warmer, sunnier, and quieter? Or perhaps you're looking for cash positive investment that can generate more bang per buck. 

Whatever your reasons, there's always a good excuse to buy real estate in Europe. If you're new to the European property market, you'll need to do some deep digging and research. This guide is the perfect kickstart to help you find the ideal European property as a Canadian.

Why buy property in Europe?

One of the most interesting fun facts about buying property in Europe is that sometimes all you need is 1 Euro – just over what you would spend at a dollar store. This might seem like a fairy tale offer, but real-life 1 euro deals¹  are available in countries like Italy as part of an initiative to address shrinking village populations. You can even qualify for tax deductions for any renovation expenses.

That's just one excellent reason for Canadians to buy property in Europe. More reasons include:

  • Affordable housing. Many European countries have social or affordable housing. The property market there can be a breath of fresh air if the bubbly Canadian property market isn't popping fast enough for you.
  • Low property taxes. Real property taxes² in Europe are pretty affordable, with countries like Luxembourg, The Czech Republic, and Switzerland having some of the lowest property taxes on the continent.
  • Reasonable yields. If you want to diversify your portfolio, you can benefit from rental yields as high as 5% or more. 
  • Large expat community. There's a relatively large number of Canadian expats in Europe. The social familiarity means Europe can be a true home away from home.
  • Great package deal. Buying property in Europe is a great package deal that generally comes with lovely locations, historical architecture, warm and pleasant climates, good food and wine, friendly locals, and high quality of life.

5 essential steps to purchasing property in Europe

Many Canadians that set out to purchase property in Europe know next to nothing about the process, which typically involves these five essential steps.

1. Choose your destination

There's no decisive answer to which European home-buying destination is perfect. Some might prefer Portugal for its pleasant weather, sumptuous cuisine, and high rank on the Global Peace index. Others might choose France's natural, quiet environment and seaside villas, while others fall in love with Italy's romantic scenery and alluring attractions.

Whether your dream home is in London, Dublin, Vienna, Tuscany, Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, or Stockholm, it's good to understand the risks, upsides, and restrictions, plus all the details in between. This is the perfect opportunity to flex your research muscles!

2. Contract a local, experienced real estate agent

No matter how much research you do, you can still benefit from the insider insights of a local and knowledgeable real estate agent. The agent can help you decode the local market and compare property types, like HMOs, single-family homes, studios, and larger apartments. Once you find the right property, you can make an offer and get a sale contract.

3. Find a reputable in-country attorney

When buying property abroad, the process is usually different from what you're used to in Canada, and various real estate procedures and regulations apply. Therefore, it's also a good idea to find a reputable local lawyer who knows the real estate market, property laws, and taxes like the back of their hand.

4. Look for affordable foreign exchange services

If you're buying property overseas via a money transfer, you need affordable foreign exchange services that help you come out on top. Top options for sending money abroad include banks and specialist money transfer services. Since banks don't usually provide affordable FX services, your best option is a specialist money transfer service like MTFX.

5. Get the money right before closing 

Decide how you're going to finance your purchase. You can either pay upfront if you have robust savings or obtain a cross-border mortgage from banks like RBC and HSBC, which operate in both Canada and Europe. Other options include getting a mortgage in the country you wish to purchase property or using your home equity to secure a loan from a Canadian lender.

In any case, don't forget to factor in expected ongoing property costs to ensure you're making a financially savvy decision.

Top exchange rate pairs in Europe

Most European countries have adopted the Euro as the official currency, so you'll have to convert your Canadian dollars to Euros to purchase property. However, a few countries don't use the Euro, so other currency pairs also come into play. 

Besides the EUR/CAD exchange rate pair, you may want to check out the SEK/CAD rate (Swedish Krona), DKK/CAD (Danish Krone), PLN/CAD (Polish złoty), CZK/CAD (Czech koruna), plus more.

Crunch the numbers using MTFX's live rate currency calculator to get your bearings before sending money to Europe.

Where to find the best exchange rates

Property purchases often involve six or more figure transactions, so your goal should be finding exchange rates that leave your money as close to one piece as possible. 

To minimize wire fees and protect against inferior exchange rates and high transfer fees that are common practice in banking, it's better to send money using a specialist foreign exchange service like MTFX. MTFX specializes in large money transfers overseas with competitive exchange rates designed to boost your equity.

Paying online without going to the bank

Sending online payments overseas can be safe if you do it via MTFX's secure online platform. You can send your money on its way in the comfort of your home or office and expect it to arrive at its European destination within 24-48 hours. The 24/7 platform comes with industry-leading automation technologies, allowing you to make regular payments without setting foot in a bank.

Invest more in your property with MTFX exchange rates

If you're planning to send money from Canada to Europe to pay for the property purchase, taxes, brokerage fees, and other expenses, you need competitive exchange rates and low transfer fees.

With an MTFX account, you can make the most of your investment with low transfer fees and mid-market rates that are 3-5% cheaper than your bank. This cost-effective move could save you $5,000 for each $100,000 transaction.

Register your account with MTFX and start making secure payments from Canada to a European bank account today.

Looking to buy property in the Europe?

Buy property in Europe as a Canadian – FAQs

Are there any European limitations on foreign property purchases?

Generally, there are few restrictions on foreign ownership of property in Europe. Countries like France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK roll out the red carpet by allowing non-Europeans to enjoy similar rights as nationals. That said, some countries roll out the red tape, which could mean more paperwork and territorial restrictions.

Which country has the cheapest real estate market?

You can find the lowest housing prices³ in European countries like Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Croatia, and Greece.

Can I buy property in Europe and get citizenship?

Owning property in Europe doesn't equate to obtaining citizenship or residency. To permanently live in a European country, you must submit a visa application via the appropriate channels.

What are some helpful tips for Canadians looking to buy property in Europe?

  • If you're planning to rent out or Airbnb your property, consider only countries where property rights are protected.
  • Don't just buy a home because it's ridiculously cheap. Usually, it's best to consider emerging markets with well-connected locations, a growing population, and plenty of job opportunities.
  • Be sure to read the fine print to know all the strings attached to any real estate deal.

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