There’s no denying Canada is an appealing destination for international buyers to purchase property. The country’s open, easy market comes with an enormous range of affordable properties spread out over such a vast and varied landscape.
But with so many choices and so much ground to cover, where should buyers and their agents start? What should they know about Canadian real estate before they do? And how can REALTORS® help?
A land of opportunity
At 10 million square kilometres, Canada is about 28 times the size of Germany. Not surprisingly, within a landmass so big, there are a lot of different types of properties available. But the sheer diversity of its real estate market isn’t the only reason Canada appeals to international buyers. The federal, provincial and local governments actively go out of their way to attract new business and new residents.
Furthermore, in most parts of Canada, property prices are a bargain.
“You can buy a piece of oceanfront land here in Atlantic Canada for about $100,000 or €67,000,” says Stefan Sieber, a REALTOR® and salesperson with Keller Williams Select Realty in Nova Scotia. “For a little more—say $130,000—you can get a cottage on a lake.”
Reasons like these have spurred a steady rise in international purchases of Canadian property recently. In 2016, close to 40% of members with the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) reported having international clients. In 2017, there were more than 98,500 international leads generated for Canadian REALTORS® through CREA’s website, REALTOR.ca.
A land of diverse property
Different regions of Canada all have their own features and appeal, but a full range of property types are available across the country—residential, commercial, recreational and agricultural, in both urban and rural markets.
That’s certainly the case in the prairie province of Manitoba, according to Harry DeLeeuw, a REALTOR® and broker with commercial real estate firm Shindico. Just outside the provincial capital of Winnipeg, a 20,000-acre foreign trade zone is driving growth in and around the city.
“With access to three railways, global air cargo services and a trucking hub, the trade zone says we’re open for business,” DeLeeuw says. “It attracts about 15,000 people a year for work and commerce from across Canada and abroad. Those people need houses, so residential demand is booming. And about 100 kilometres north in the lake country, we’ve got buyers asking about recreational properties.”
Head southeast toward Canada’s capital city of Ottawa and international buyers there are often looking for recreational properties. Many Americans are lured north thanks to the United States’ proximity to Canada and the attractive currency exchange rate.
“They want hunting, fishing, swimming and winter getaways that, in many instances, are just an hour or two by car from their year-round homes,” says Pauline Aunger, a REALTOR® and broker with Royal LePage in the Ottawa region. “That said, we’re seeing businesses set up shop here, too. Companies like Albany International, which does textiles and materials processing, and Omya, a global producer of industrial minerals, are creating jobs for Canadians and non-Canadians alike who relocate to the area.”
This sentiment is true across the country: international businesses of varying sizes and sectors are choosing Canada.
How Canadian REALTORS® can help
DeLeeuw says foreign buyers or agents making initial inquiries usually want to know what they can get for the money they’re willing to spend. They also ask about taxes and other regulations. All of these are questions Canadian REALTORS® can answer about their local markets.
“There are qualified REALTORS® in all parts of the country—from the Atlantic to Pacific to Arctic Oceans and then down to the Canada-United States border,” he explains. “REALTORS® know their own markets really well.”
As the transactions proceed, REALTORS® often assemble teams of professionals—lawyers, accountants, bankers and building experts—to ensure deals are completed efficiently and professionally. Just as they build relationships with other REALTORS® in Canada, they also build them with agents around the world.
The bottom line is opportunities for buying different kinds of properties in all regions of Canada are plentiful and within reach. Large and diverse, the country’s stable political environment and growing economy are ideal for international property purchases. The lack of restrictions or special considerations for foreign purchases comes as a surprise to many.
Finding qualified Canadian REALTORS® is easy through CREA’s Global Affiliate program and its global directory. Canada’s REALTORS® understand the potential of their regions, are well connected to other REALTORS® and stand ready to find that unique property to match the needs of international buyers.