Real Estate in Canada is regulated provincially, so this guide is tailored to foreign buyers buying in Toronto, and surrounding areas. The rules around foreigners buying real estate in Canada aren’t related to citizenship, so there’s no restriction on how much property or the type of property you can purchase.
The Toronto Real Estate Market has seen strong price appreciation due to large consumer demand and favorable economic factors. The enduring confidence in our real estate market is underlined by our low interest rates, low Canadian dollar, strong regional economy, and below average unemployment rates. Which is why so many immigrants come searching for jobs in Toronto, and why so many foreign investors choose to invest in our real estate market.
This guide will touch on all the important facets whether you’re buying a home while you’re studying in Canada, or are looking for a new home, a second home, or are looking for an investment property.
Foreign Buyers's Tax in the greater horseshoe region
As of April 2017, we have a Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST). It adds 15% to the purchase price of all homes within the Greater Horseshoe purchased by foreign speculators. The tax is specifically targeted at foreign buyers who are looking to park their money in our market. Thankfully, immigrants and anyone with a student visa or a work visa is except the levy. Read more about the foreign buyer’s tax here.
Does investing in Canada give any special immigration privileges?
Owning property in Canada does not give you any special immigration privileges. To see if you qualify to immigrate to Canada, check out the Government Of Canada; Immigration and Citizenship Website. Unless you’re have a work visa, student visa or permanent residence, you can only stay in Canada for less than 6 months at a time. Some visitors have “flag poled”, where they stay for 6 months, and then leave for a few days before coming back. This practice constitutes living in Canada, disguised as a visitor, and will eventually get you barred from the country.
What type of property can foreigners buy?
There are very few limits on the type of property foreign buyers can buy. Foreign buyers can purchase condos, detached homes, luxury homes, commercial properties, equestrian farms, and vineyards.
All about taxes
In Ontario, we pay annual taxes based on the assessed value of our home, approximately 0.75%-1% of the assessed value of the home. In Ontario, there are no additional land taxes for foreign homeowners.
We do not have a Vacancy Tax in Ontario, like Vancouver’s Vacancy Tax.
Non-Residents collecting rent in Canada
If you’re a non-resident collecting rent on property in Canada, your income is subject to a 25% withhold tax on the gross rent received. Your tax obligation can end here, but if you choose, you can file taxes with the CRA and have that amount reduced by your expenses. Claimable expenses include mortgage interest, property taxes, property maintenance and repairs. To claim income on your rental property as a foreign owner, you must file an NR6 with the CRA. This has to be approved by the CRA.
Is financing available for foreign buyers in Canada?
If you are purchasing internationally, there is financing available through certain lenders, however the requirements are constantly changing. Some lenders require a down payment of 35% and others require 50%. Although, you might be able to qualify with down payments as low as 5%
For more information on Canadian mortgages, check out this blog post. We can help set you up with a broker that is familiar with financing for foreign buyers.
How do you find a house for sale in Toronto?
In Ontario, brokerages and agents pool their listings in what we call the Multiple Listing System (MLS). All houses for sale are pooled into a shared database that all agents can view and show to their clients. If you’re looking to buy a house, you only need to work with one agent to access all listings.
The Sellers pay both the Buyer’s Agent and the Seller’s Agent. Check out Realtor.ca for available listings.
Before placing an Offer
Prior to placing the offer, transfer the funds to a Canadian bank. Depending on the country of origin, it might take up to two weeks for your money to clear. Since the average listing sells in less than a fortnight, we recommend transferring your funds before you start your search.
Purchasing while outside the country
We use electronic signatures to complete the required paperwork, with Docusign. To communicate with our clients we use Facetime, Whatsapp or Skype, so you can get the same sales experience as if you were here. Although, if you plan on closing from outside the country, you need a power of attorney.
Once the offer is accepted
It’s common practice to present a non-negotiable cheque payable within 24hours of an accepted offer. International clients can opt to do a wire transfer into the listing brokerage’s insured trust account. We also have insurance on our client’s deposit money, upto $100,000.
All mortgages are conditional on the buyer getting insurance on the property. Some foreign buyers have trouble finding insurance, however, we have close contacts that insure foreigners buying property in Canada. We can also arrange insurance on specialty upgrades, like wine cellars. Check out the Cooperators Insurance Group.
What does it cost to buy property in Canada?
The closing costs of a home are between 2-4% of the purchase price. There are no additional levies or fees for international buyers, except the foreign buyer’s tax that applies to speculators.
To help our clients calculate closing costs we have an app available for download on IOS and Android. Visit https://cma.me/christolourantos
International is our middle name. We’ve lived on three continents and sold real estate on two. If you’re thinking of buying a property in Canada, contact us.