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Complete Guide For Non-Residents Buying Property in Toronto

Can foreigners buy property in Canada? Absolutely, yes. Canada’s real estate market is open to just about anyone living beyond the country’s borders, including Canadian citizen and non-citizen alike. That includes expats, investors, anyone from abroad who’s planning to live in the country for the long-term—you name it.

What’s more, there are no restrictions on the type and amount of property you can buy in Canada, the city of Toronto included. If you are a non-resident buying property in Canada, there are plenty of opportunities to get into an investment property by purchasing real estate. You may have many real estate questions, but you’ve come to the right place.

Not sure if you are considered a non-resident? Here’s how Canadian law defines those who aren’t residents of Canada:

  1. Anyone who routinely, normally, or customarily lives in another country and isn’t considered a resident of Canada

  2. A person with no significant residential ties in Canada and has either lived outside the country throughout the tax year or has stayed in it for less than 183 days in a tax year

If you fit the category of a non-resident and the thought of buying a property in Canada has crossed your mind, this guide is right on time to take you through the basics of what you need to do.

Before You Begin Your Search For Property in Canada

Top on the list of things you should do before commencing your search for the appropriate property in Canada is to enlist the help of reputable professionals, including a real estate agent and a mortgage broker, to guide you through the complicated and demanding elements of this process, ranging from taxation, financing, and insurance to home inspection, buying, and selling.

Spare some time to identify a competent and experienced investment consultant. Besides sharing information and ideas that are helpful to your journey of acquiring property or owning land in Canada, most consultants are a ‘one-stop shop’ where you’ll get connected with a variety of professionals who will ensure your needs, expectations, and goals are met.

That aside, we’ll share the basics and crucial information about each of the aforementioned processes so that you have a solid foundation on which to build your investment.

Taxation

Like most investments, real estate in Canada is subject to tax, and in order to know and fully understand the tax implications of purchasing or selling a property in Toronto, you will need to consult with a Canadian tax accountant.

Be sure to ask them about their professional experience and knowledge in relation to your particular tax situation.

And as you do that, here’s what you should know first: As a non-citizen of Canada, a permanent resident of the country, a foreign cooperation, or taxable trustee, any purchase you make of a residential property in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region (GGH) is subject to a 15% foreign buyers tax, which they term as a Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST).

However, there are exemptions and rebates as well. You can find out if you qualify for either by taking a look at the overview of the Non-Resident Speculation Tax. One such exception is if a Canadian citizen is involved in the purchase process.

Another type of tax to take note of is the Land Transfer Tax (LTT), which is the same for both foreign buyers and Canadian residents. You may qualify for a rebate of this tax if you are a first-time home buyer and you plan to use the acquired property as your primary residence. The rest of the taxes you’ll need to pay include property tax and income tax.

As for selling a property as a non-resident, expect a 25% non-resident withholding tax, calculated as a percentage of your property’s sale price. Generally, the process has forms that need to be filled out, procedures that need to be followed, and penalties for non-compliance.

More details can be found on the Canadian Revenue Agency website.

Financing

Toronto’s housing market is one of the most dynamic, with regular episodes of property prices and sales rising, stabilizing, or dropping. Part of your preparation to handle these eventualities should be to have your funds in a Canadian Bank ready to be put to use.

Remember, exchange rates do fluctuate often, not to mention the complexities and delays of transferring money into Canada from a foreign country. Given the nature of the real estate market, such happenings can easily ruin your plan.

Usually, when presenting your offer to buy a property in Toronto, you’ll have to provide a deposit, which is usually 5%-10% of the purchase price of the property. That has to be done within 24 hours and in the form of a bank draft, money order, or certified cheque in Canadian dollars and from a Canadian Bank.

It’s, therefore, a good idea to arrange to meet with a Canadian bank manager or make a personal visit to a bank to open an account. As a foreigner, you’ll need proper identification and to go to the institution in person.