Canadian Realtors: Guidelines For Foreigners Buying Real Estate in Canada

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Canadian Realtors: Guidelines For Foreigners Buying Real Estate in Canada

Foreign Ownership

The rules around foreigners buying real estate in Canada aren’t actually related to citizenship – even citizens of Canada who don’t reside in Canada for more than half the year are considered non-residents (and thus subject to all the same rules).

Canada welcomes home buyers from all countries, and there are no restrictions on the amount or kind of real estate they can buy.

Since April 21, 2017, any individual who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada (including corporations and trusts) is subject to a Non-Resident Speculation Tax of 15% of the purchase price (paid at closing) for properties purchased in Toronto, Brant, Dufferin, Durham, Haldimand, Halton, Hamilton, Kawartha Lakes, Niagara, Northumberland, Peel, Peterborough, Simcoe, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington and York.

However, owning a property in Canada does not give any immigration privileges and if someone wants to live in Canada, they’ll still need to qualify under Canada’s Immigration Laws.

Financing

While Canadian lenders do finance the home purchases of non-residents, they usually require significantly larger down payments. Most of Canada’s non-resident clients are required to have a 35% cash down payment.  Lenders will require persons to verify their income and creditworthiness and prove that they can pay the mortgage. Also, mortgage interest rates may be higher than what Canadian residents would pay (though still very attractive rates).

Taxes

As with any investment, it’s important for persons to contact their accountant to understand fully how the purchase or sale of a property in Canada will affect them from a tax perspective. The following is meant to be a guideline only:

Non-Canadian citizens and non-permanent residents of Canada buying a property in the Toronto region must pay a 15% tax on closing. When buying a property in Toronto, foreign buyers pay the same land transfer taxes as Canadian residents. First time home buyers who plan to use the purchase as their primary residence may be eligible for land transfer tax rebates.

There are also tax implications for non-residents when selling a property. There are forms, processes and penalties for not complying with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)’s rules.

Insurance

It’s sometimes difficult (and more expensive) for non-residents to obtain insurance for an investment property. Given that proof of home insurance is required to obtain a mortgage, this is an important factor to consider. If you’re looking to buy a Toronto investment property, one has to ensure that they get insurance quotes and information before making an offer.

Making an offer

Signing the legal documents to make an offer on a house or condo can be done digitally, and with Skype and Facetime, it’s easy to get the same price advice and information from your Realtor that you’d get if you were physically in Toronto. Many lenders require a foreign buyer to sign the mortgage paperwork in person (though this can be avoided with an executed Power of Attorney).

Choosing a Realtor

While all the usual tips to choosing a top Realtor still apply, if you’re a non-resident looking to buy property in Canada, it’s important to work with someone who knows the intricacies of foreign ownership. Look for a real estate agent who has experience selling properties to non-Canadians and can refer you to property managers, lawyers and appropriate lenders for your circumstances. If you’re looking to buy a Toronto property while overseas (vs. during a trip to Toronto) look for a Realtor who is experienced in previewing properties for absentee clients and who is familiar with the tools and technology (especially video) to ensure a smooth process.


Contributed by Ashia Imani

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