Minh Nguyen

The process of finding the right home – Foreign Buyers


When purchasing new property, there are always difficulties to at least some degree. This is especially true when non-native citizens buy real estate in the United States, as specific challenges arise. We learned recently of a couple from a large city in Montreal who had to learn this the hard way during a home search in Naples, Florida.

The wife, let’s call her Sarah, fell in love with Southwestern Florida more than a decade ago when visiting some girlfriends of hers. 10 years of visits convinced her and her husband that it was time to pick up a piece of real estate. Initially, prices were incredibly low for the area, but steady yearly increases made it clear that they needed to get in before home closing costs skyrocketed.

The excited couple was seeking a two bed, two bath condo below $150,000. Sarah first spotted a potential winner at the popular High Point Country Club, and watched as it sold just hours later.

Sarah suddenly realized she would need to pay attention to the exchange rate between the Canadian dollar the American dollar. At the time of writing, the United States dollar is running at 86 cents to one Canadian dollar. When making minor purchases at the market or grabbing a coffee, these minor fluctuations in currency go unnoticed, but when hundreds of thousands of dollars are on the line, learning to do quick math to convert the prices will save huge headaches when you go to close a home.

After discovering the high prices that friends paid for their properties, Sarah and her husband decided to consider looking into foreclosures, to no avail. Eventually, they found a perfect place by the water and were able to negotiate the buying for almost a 10% discount at under $150,000 – their initial budget.

This initial foray into the U.S. real estate market really drove home how different the processes can be between the states and Canada. While notarized documents rule the legal world up north, the states use certified agents for home closing. In addition, insurance is overwhelming in a state such as Florida with so many intrusions from the ocean and wind.

Of course, there are also additional fees associated with moving financial instruments, even cash, from Canada to the U.S. The larger the sum, the larger the costs that come with it. However, due to their savvy search in finding representation, their agents took care of the details and the happy couple was able to focus on their professional and recreational lives.

After moving into the beautiful condominium early in the summer, they have had an easy transition due to the ready-to-go nature of the purchase. With all the amenities, appliances, and even furniture included, the final stages of the process were worry free. All they had to do was place their finishing touches on the space and get settled in to their new lives in sunny Florida.

The story of Sarah and her husband is not uncommon for Canadian expats looking to relocate to the U.S. Many come searching for a warmer and friendlier climate than the frigid north provides. By doing their research, asking around and persisting through to the finish line, this pleased duo was able to close their dream home for an unbeatable price.

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