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The Canadians Are Coming!



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By : Rob Thomson    99 or more times read
Canadian snow-birds have been swapping the cold northern winters for some welcome sunshine south of the border, for decades. And although they've always contributed significantly to the real estate market in the southern US, the past couple of years has seen a major rise in the number of Canucks investing in vacation properties.

The prices of condos and houses have slumped, and inventory has risen, giving more non-US investors a chance to snap up bargains in the Sunshine State. The British have traditionally led the market, particularly in Florida, but a favorable exchange rate means that the Canadian dollar is going a lot further in the US these days. As a result, more and more northern investors are taking advantage of some seriously depressed house prices. In fact, Canada's buyers have now overtaken their UK counterparts as the main purchasers of Florida condos. And, according to the National Association of Realtors, more US property was bought by Canadians in 2009, than by investors from any other foreign nation.

But it isn't just snow-birds who are investing. Buyers from across the Canadian socioeconomic sphere are getting in on the action. Some are choosing to buy properties, with a view to renting as holiday homes and generating income. Others are anticipating considerable appreciation in the not-too-distant future, while those seeking a seasonal get-away, are simply availing themselves of the highly preferable conditions.

In Arizona, a similar picture is emerging, with Canadian buyers enjoying some real bargain hunting. With the cost of property in Canada being so high, and the likelihood that US prices probably won't get much lower, now seems to the be the best time for a bit of cross-border real estate shopping.

It's not just that the Brits aren't buying anymore, many are actually leaving. Those whose properties have sunk into negative equity are simply abandoning their mortgages and homes in the sun, and retreating back to the UK. And with no legal recourse for overseas defaulters, they cannot be extradited, there is a growing number of empty properties joining the large inventory of new, unsold developments.

In parts of the southern US, properties can be bought for less than half of the peak market value. And some Canadian commentators are quick to point out that one can buy a holiday home in the sun, for around the same cost as a parking space in an upmarket Toronto condo!.

Despite the often complicated process, that makes buying real estate in America something of a headache for overseas investors, and some seriously taxing tax issues that have to be dealt with, the overall trend for Canadians buying into the market is, so far, showing little sign of deteriorating.
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