As soon as the snow starts flying, so do many Canadians – south of border, to vacation properties in the United States. These vacation properties are a significant investment and pose the potentially costly question: should I rent or buy?
Although your financial circumstances and desired vacation property are unique, there are several key factors anyone interested in U.S. real estate should consider.
Is your heart set on owning your own little slice of paradise, or are you only concerned about dollars and cents? It is important to have a clear understanding of what you expect from your vacation property, even if that is simply to spend time in the sun as affordably as possible.
It’s also important to have a realistic understanding of the housing market in the United States. Securing a mortgage south of the border can be a more invasive, time-consuming process and closing costs can be much higher than expected due to state-level taxes or financial transaction premiums Canadians may not expect.
It’s the golden rule of real estate south of the border as well. As in Canada, the housing market in the United States varies tremendously between states, cities, and even neighbourhoods. Generally, the value of your vacation property must increase considerably after purchase to cover the cost of buying and maintaining it – so up-and-coming locations often prove most attractive to home buyers.
In an average year, how much time will you spend in your vacation home? Some families just take a couple of weeks away to break up the winter, while others head south throughout the year, often for months at a time. The cost of renting in many desirable U.S. destinations quickly adds up. You may be surprised just how quickly it can become more affordable to buy.
Many Canadians who own U.S. vacation properties make them available to rent when they’re not in the United States. Done successfully, this can off-set purchase and maintenance costs – and there are many services available to make it easier for Canadians to rent out their properties. However, there are potentially costly currency exchange and tax implications in both Canada and the United States.
So the next time you feel the allure of flying south and wearing your summer clothes again, remember the most important step in choosing whether to rent or buy is to do your research.
For further information and clarification please contact Michael Fahy, The Michael Fahy Group, 604-691-7207