By Alain Forget
Recent studies are showing that as the millennial generation matures, a growing number are considering property investment. And the high cost of urban living has many of them consider recreational properties as a feasible choice to enter the real estate market. A Re/Max Recreational Property Trends study found that 56 per cent of millennials are in the market to purchase a recreational property. That represents an increase of 14 per cent from 2018.
While the go-to markets for this new-found interest in recreational properties tend to be in vacation spots in Canada, many may not realize the advantages of investing in the U.S.
A common argument is that owning a U.S. property is expensive. But the numbers say otherwise, even after the exchange rates are factored into the equation. A 2019 National Association of Realtors study indicates that the median purchase price for Canadians purchasing U.S. real estate is $280,600 USD ($373,000 CAD).
When you compare the monthly mortgage rates to a long-term rental in popular destinations like Arizona or Florida, the outcome is often surprisingly favourable. Renting a condo in a prime U.S. vacation area might cost $3,000 a month during the peak season, whereas the monthly mortgage payment to purchase the same property would cost approximately $900.
Even when factoring in cost of ownership such as condo fees or maintenance, this total cost can often be offset by leveraging the property as a rental. For those whose principal concern is investing in an appreciating asset, the U.S. housing market is ranked the safest for real estate investments by the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE), based on ongoing appreciation in value.
Generally speaking, the U.S. also has lower property taxes and often longer amortization periods. As a result, investors can spread costs over a longer period of time at a lower rate.
Canadian millennials exploring U.S. real estate should consider:
There are plenty of markets to choose from. Florida and Arizona continue to be the most popular for investors. But regions like Austin and Houston are attracting a younger demographic, as well as parts of California and North Carolina.
If considering a rental component, it’s essential to look at both the seasonality and potential demand. States such as Florida are lucrative for rental property owners because it is home to popular theme parks and has a thriving tourism industry regardless of the season. If looking to Arizona, owners can’t count on rentals in the summer months as temperatures rise to unbearable levels for vacationers. However, the peak season can be quite lucrative as visitors flock to the region to enjoy the many outdoor and sports activities.
Depending on availability and the type of home in question, owners may need to contract a property manager to handle the logistics and maintenance on site. Factoring costs of regular upkeep is essential.
Taxation in the U.S. is also more complex than Canadians may be accustomed to. Buyers would be well advised to work with a Canadian accounting professional with expertise in cross-border taxation. Otherwise they might miss out on allowable deductions or worse, pay unnecessary double taxation.
A combination of the right financial and real estate professionals who are familiar with the rules and regulations is essential for foreign investors. RBC Cross-Border Real Estate Edge provides access to online tools and calculators, articles and information about U.S. property trends and the benefits of U.S. mortgages for Canadians. Realtors can expand their referral network with our directory of cross-border tax and legal experts and build connections with U.S. real estate professionals or builders and explore revenue sharing opportunities. To learn more visit rbc.com/edge/ca.
While it may take a bit more legwork for Canadian buyers to invest in a U.S. property, the dividends might just be worth that effort.