Buying property in Canada is very attractive to expats, considering the affordability of Canadian housing prices, the good healthcare system as well as the country’s natural beauty and safety.

Who can buy property?

Everyone can buy property in Canada, and foreigners or non-residents who stay less than six months a year in Canada can do so without the need to apply for residency. However, if you buy property and plan to stay longer, then you have to immigrate and apply for permanent residency. If you don’t plan on living in the country, then you can rent your property and pay a 25 per cent withholding tax on your rental income which will be deducted from the monthly rent.

Fees and Taxes

In general, though, everyone, whether a Canadian or foreigner, must pay the same fees and taxes when buying real estate. However, different rules might apply when it comes selling your property or buying property in certain jurisdictions where higher property or land transfer taxes exists. Taking a mortgage will also need to be at a Canadian bank and will require you to pay a 35 percent of the purchase price as a down payment compared to the five or 10 per cent paid by Canadian residents.

Housing market

The housing market in Canada is ideal for buying property as prices have dropped, making even larger and more expensive cities such as Vancouver and Toronto appealing. From the East Coast, to Central Canada and the West Coast, expats have many choices, including affordable cities such as Calgary, Montreal, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Ottawa.

From detached homes, attached townhouses or apartments, there is a wide range of choices so it is wise to start searching online to get an idea of what you prefer and what properties are available.

 According to the Chief Economist of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), Gregory Klump, “It’s a full-blown buyer’s market or on the cusp of one in a number of housing markets across the Prairies and in Newfoundland. Homebuyers there have the upper hand in purchase negotiations and the mortgage stress-test has contributed to that by reducing the number of competing buyers who can qualify for mortgage financing while market conditions are in their favour.” Following statistics released this month by CREA, home price trends have stabilised in Calgary and Saskatoon, but home prices in Edmonton and Regina dropped. On the other hand, in Greater Vancouver (GVA) and the Fraser Valley, prices have started to slowly recover. Price growth also continues to recover in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

In a Huffington Post article, originally published in Livabl, it is argued that in the new year home sales in Canada are expected to rise, which is good news for those buying property in the next few years.  After rising in 2016, and falling in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is now forecasting that the market will see a surge. With the release of its 2020 outlook for the national market, CMHC expects sales to continue in Ontario and British Columbia’s major markets due to “disposable income increases for the two provinces that exceed the national average and strong demographic-driven demand for housing.”

Despite the housing market’s decline the last two years, CMHC believes that home prices will soon rise, especially in Ontario and Quebec which are expected to drive growth in 2020, and British Columbia in 2021.

Buying property in Canada: your finances

If you are getting a loan as a non-resident, then you will need to provide a down payment of 35 percent and get a loan at 65 percent of the purchase price. Any mortgage would have to be raised by a Canadian broker or bank, as foreign banks cannot register mortgages in Canada. As is the case generally, you will need the services of a Canadian lawyer or notary so all documents regarding the mortgage and land registration are prepared and submitted. As you are borrowing funds, you will need to organise your finances and consider the overall costs, which includes the purchase price, property transfer tax (one percent of the first 100,000 CAD, and two percent on the balance), bank appraisal fees, inspection fees, insurance costs and closing legal fees.

If you are considering buying property in Canada, you will also need to discuss how to transfer your funds with a currency specialist such as Universal Partners FX. UPFX will offer invaluable help when transferring large amounts of money internationally, especially in a volatile market which can affect the value of your transfers. UPFX’s foreign exchange specialists can navigate the complexities of currency markets and ensure that your funds are transferred without any hidden costs and in then most cost-effective manner. Give them a call today to find out how much they can save you on your international payments.