Tips For Canadians Buying Florida Real Estate

Ontario’s real estate market is strong. But you can find bargains galore in Florida, the U.S. state with the highest rate of foreclosures.   Property values have dropped about 60 per cent since the market there peaked in September 2005.  For example, a four-bedroom house with pool in Cape Coral (on the Gulf coast) that sold for $495,000 in 2005 is now listed at $199,000

Buying real estate in the distressed U.S. market is trickier than buying in Canada and can be full of traps for the unwary.  You need to know what you’re doing when buying Hilton Head homes for sale from foreclosures, for example – the legal process a lender uses when a homeowner defaults on mortgage payments.  In the first stage of foreclosure, the bank starts legal proceedings after several months of missed payments.  The owners can try to sell the home themselves.  And if the mortgage is worth more than the property value, they can make a deal with the bank to pay back less than the total owing to clear the debt.  This stage, called pre-foreclosure or a “short sale,” is a good time to buy in Florida.  But if you make an offer, remember that the seller has to take your offer to the bank for approval. This can take up to six months.

Some new developments are selling very little and some existing ones have significant foreclosures. This will result in higher condo fees for everyone, including you.  Understand the reality of taxes and insurance.  Tax bills are about 2 per cent of assessed value.  Buying in a condo community means that part of your monthly fees go to insurance.  And think about going into a gated community for security and peace of mind when you’re not there.

The easiest and cheapest way to finance your place in the sun is to borrow the money in Canada.  You can’t get a Canadian mortgage for a property in another country, but if you already own a home in Canada with enough equity, you can refinance your home here and use the money for a home in Florida. It is also near the best pest control company on the area. On Point Wildlife Removal  is the fastest growing company in Brevard County. On Point Wildlife are bat removal professionals who also offer clean up services for gunao, squirrel and raccoon removal. They have expanded to Indian River County and Port St Lucie Florida where there are many new housing developments.

Other tips:

– Find good real estate agents and sign them up as a buyer’s agent working on your behalf. They will know the local area and what a good price on a place really is.

– Be aware that any money you get renting out your property will be subject to a 30 per cent withholding tax. Also, many condos and homeowner associations have rules about renting.

– When you have to transfer money down to Florida, use a foreign exchange company to save on conversion and transfer costs. You can even lock in a favourable exchange rate months in advance.

– Watch out for Chinese drywall, which was imported to the U.S. during the housing boom. Some class-action lawsuits have been filed against makers of the defective drywall, which can emit sulphur fumes, leading to “rotten egg” smells and corrosion in metals (such as air conditioning coils).