Florida Real Estate for Canadians

Florida Canadian Home Buyers

Florida Real Estate for Canadians

It’s a Great Time For Canadians to Purchase Real Estate in Stuart Florida!

Despite improving U.S. real estate market, Canadian buyers can still find good values in condos and townhomes. While single family home prices have increased over 15% in some areas, the condo market in greater Stuart, Florida  still has some catching up to do.

The U.S. Home Buying Process for Canadians

The transaction process for Canadian home buyers here is straightforward and not much different than that of a local home buyer. There is no risk to you until your offer is accepted and contingencies are met. You do need to submit an earnest deposit, which can vary from 1-10% of the purchase price. if your contract is not accepted or canceled for a valid reason, your deposit is returned to you.

If you are buying in a community with a homeowners’ association you will need to make sure it is adequately funded. When an HOA is underfunded (typically because too many units are in foreclosure and dues are not getting paid) it can mean higher payments for the building’s upkeep.

As a foreign owner, when you sell the property you may be subject to the 10% FIRPTA withholding (10% of the sale price) if you do not have a tax ID or social security number. Obtaining a tax ID or social security number in advance may help to avoid the withholding; otherwise it will be refunded if no tax is due when the tax return is filed. Consult with a local CPA for more info on FIRPTA.

For information about foreign ownership, investment and financial planning for Canadians in the US, check out The Canadian Snowbird in America: Professional Tax and Financial Insights Into Temporary Lifestyles in the U.S.

Thinking of a second home in South Florida?

We are experts at helping Canadian “Snowbirds” enjoy the warm weather, golf and other amenities that come from owning a vacation or second home in greater Stuart! Contact us for more info or to set up a private tour of homes and neighborhoods.

Real Estate 101: Get Comfortable with Real Estate Terms

A Quick Reference Real Estate Glossary

Are you new to home buying or home selling (or getting back in the market after a really long time)? Get comfortable with real estate terms with our real estate glossary.

Below we’ve provided some simplified definitions for some commonly used (and commonly misunderstood) real estate terms.

Common Real Estate Terms & Their Definitions

Appraisal – The process of estimating or setting the market value of a piece of property, partially based on an analysis of comparable sales of similar homes in the area. An appraisal usually takes the form of a written report. Appraisals are usually required during the mortgage loan approval process.

Closing Costs – For buyers, closing costs consist of expenses that must be paid in addition to the purchase price of the home, like… For sellers, closing costs include expenses that will be deducted from the proceeds of the sale, like…

Commission – Compensation paid to real estate professionals for services rendered in connection with the sale or exchange of real property.

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) – An in-depth analysis of nearby comparable home sales done by a real estate agent to estimate a home’s market value, usually performed to help select the most appropriate sale price.

Contingencies – Conditions written into a real estate contract that specify that the contract will cease to exist in the event of certain conditions. Contingencies, like requiring an acceptable property inspection report within a certain time period, must be met for a contract to be legally binding and carried out as written.

Contract – An oral or written agreement between competent parties who agree to perform or refrain from performing a certain thing. In real estate there are many different types of contracts, including listings, contracts of sale, options, mortgages, assignments, leases, deeds, escrow agreements, and loan commitments, among others.

Deed – A written, legal document that conveys or transfers property.

Escrow – The process in which an item of value, money or documents is deposited with and held by a trusted third party to be delivered upon the fulfilment of a condition. For example, the earnest money deposit is put into escrow the transaction is closed, at which time it is delivered to the seller.

Foreclosure – The process of taking possession of a mortgaged property as a result of a failure to keep up with timely mortgage payments. This can involve a forced sale of the property at public auction after which the proceeds of the sale are applied to the mortgage debt.

Home Inspection – A thorough inspection by a qualified professional who evaluates the structural and mechanical condition of a home. A home inspector may assess the condition of a property’s roof, foundation, heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical work, water and sewage and some fire and safety issues. In addition, the home inspector will look for evidence of issues that may affect the value of the property.

Homeowner’s Insurance – An insurance policy that combines personal liability insurance and hazard insurance coverage for a dwelling and its contents, often required by mortgage lenders.

Lien – A legal claim against the property as a result of a debt that must be paid off when the property is sold.

Mortgage – A legal document that specifies a temporary, conditional pledge of a property to the lender/creditor as security for the repayment of a debt, in this case a home loan.

Pre-approval – Pre-approval is a loosely used lending term that usually implies that a buyer has already talked to a lender. The lender has, in turn, checked the buyer’s credit history and income to determine that they will be able to get a loan up to a certain amount. The pre-approval helps a buyer find a home within their price range and submit a strong offer.

Short Sale – A short sale occurs when a property is sold at a moderate loss, as an alternative to foreclosure. The home is listed at a price lower than the amount owed on the mortgage. Buying a short sale home can require approvals from multiple lenders.

Title – A legal document evidencing a person’s right to or ownership of a property. A title report, often done by a title insurance company after an offer has been accepted, will show the history of the title as well as applicable encumbrances such as easements or liens.

 

As always, I am here to answer questions or help with your real estate transaction. Why not give me a call at 772-288-1765?

 

Authored by Eric Slifkin

Keller Williams Realty

772-288-1765

Tips to Simplify Your New Home Purchase

Buying a home is a huge step. Learning to maintain and improve it is a long series of baby steps, sometimes painful and sometimes rewarding.

 

To help get new homeowners off on the right foot, the editors at The Family Handyman –some of the sharpest DIY Veterans around—offer their best tips for choosing, maintaining and improving a home.

 

These hints include:

1. Scout the neighborhood: Ask questions. When you are checking out your future home, try going on separate occasions and different times of the day. Ask neighbors about the area, schools, etc. This will give you a real indication of what the people and place is really like. You’ll feel more confident with your decision to move in once you have done all the proper research.

 

2. Check crime stats: Before buying, get a report of police calls in the neighborhood. A bargain price may be due to the crime rate in the area.

 

3. Verify everything: Get the house historyand insist on full written disclosure from the seller about remodeling, repairs, old damage, leaks, mold, etc. Check with the city or county, and get—in writing—the property’s permit history, zoning, prior uses, homeowners’ association restrictions and anything else you can find out. Forget “location, location, location” and think “verify, verify, verify!”

 

4. Get a licensed home inspection: This is extremely important. Don’t let your real estate agent choose the inspector. Hire someone who works for you without any conflict of interest. Inspect the inspector before you hire. Ask to see a sample home inspection report. Comprehensive reports run 20 to 50 pages and include color photos showing defects or concerns. Also ask about the length of the inspection. A thorough inspection takes a minimum of three to four hours. You should walk through with the inspector, you’ll learn a lot about your house. You may pay more for a certified inspector, but in the long run, it’s worth it. For a list of certified inspectors by the American Society of Home Inspectors, visit ashi.org.

 

5. Get a home warranty: Piece of mind is important. A home warranty can save you from faulty appliances and you can get the brand new items you need.

 

6. Make a homeowner’s journal: Buy a ring binder and keep insurance papers, repair receipts and all other paperwork pertaining to the house in it. Storing all your house information in one handy place makes life easier for the homeowner and can be a sales “plus” when selling the house later.

 

7. Get to know your house before making big changes: Live in your home for 12 to 18 months before undertaking any major renovations such as additions or knocking down walls. What you initially think you want may change after you’ve lived there for a while.

 

8. Tackle one project at a time: It’s important to take it easy, one project at a time. If you tear right into the porch, kitchen remodel, and outdoor fence replacement at the same time – you’ll have the whole house and yard torn up at the same time. It might come together, but having everything going on at once will just add a lot of stress.

 

9. Check the furnace filter: Look for clueswhen it comes to the furnace.This can give you some insight into whether the previous owner took care of regular maintenance.

 

10. Don’t be afraid to DIY: Ninety percent of a DIY project is having the guts to try. Worst case—you mess up and then bring in the professional. Best case—you save money, learn something new and feel a great sense of accomplishment. 

 

11. Finish projects . . . now: Don’t learn to live with incomplete projects. If you do, the last couple of pieces of trim can linger for years!

 

12. Budget for trouble: The worst will happen sooner or later. As long as you’re prepared, it will just be an expense rather than a financial shock.

 

13. Ask neighbors about pros they trust: If you’re looking for plumbers, electricians or other pros, ask your neighbors. You tend to get decent advice if you get it from people who live near you.

 

14. Offer to buy the tools too: You can always use more tools. If you buy from a couple that’s downsizing, you might get a great deal if you purchase their garden tools, tractors, snow blowers and tools in general.

 

Source: www.familyhandyman.com


This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Home Buying: The Negotiating Process

You’ve found a home that’s right for you and it’s time to make an offer. What steps are involved in negotiating a real estate purchase?

The Negotiating Process by Eric Slifkin

 

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 772-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

From Contract to Closing

Congratulations! A seller has accepted your offer. Before you can take possession of your new home, however, several important details must fall into place. Our free pamphlet explains each step in the process and answers your questions about the most important steps in the home buying process.

From Contract to Closing

 

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Stuart, Florida Home Buying: The Final Walkthrough

The Final Walkthrough: Don’t Mind the Little Things

By Keith Loria

After you’ve found the perfect home, made an offer, negotiated the price, had an inspection and ensured your mortgage, it’s time to think about the final walkthrough. Normally done on the day of, or the day before the settlement, the final walkthrough is the last piece of the puzzle that needs to be completed before you sign the final contract.

When doing a final walkthrough inspection, you’re not so much looking for little things that are wrong, but instead making sure the house is in the same condition as when you agreed to buy it. It’s important that you don’t spend time nitpicking if you see nail holes in the wall or a slight de-colorization on the floor where a carpet was. These are small issues that you will deal with eventually and shouldn’t affect signing your name on the contract.

What could affect the contract being signed is if things that were agreed to stay are gone, such as a washing machine or curtains, or things that were supposed to be removed are still there, such as old paint cans in the basement or a heavy, broken fridge in the garage.

It’s also important to make sure that everything contracted to be done after the home inspection was actually done. For instance, if the sellers agreed to replace the old water heater, but didn’t, that’s grounds for some financial changes come settlement time. In many instances, the seller may have simply run out of time and thought taking the money off the price was worth the hassle putting a new one in would cost.

While you may be eager to complete the final walkthrough and get the contract signed, don’t rush the inspection. Take your time and make sure everything is how it should be. You may want to run the appliances through a full cycle to ensure that they work properly. Be sure to turn on all faucets and showers as well.

In certain cases, some contracts specify that the buyer do a walkthrough inspection a week or two prior to settlement, and then schedule a quick meeting prior to settlement to check off any items previously noted. If these items aren’t taken care of, things can still be changed in the final settlement regarding money.

As anyone purchasing a home knows, things can happen at the drop of a hat, however, the final walkthrough typically goes off without a hitch in the majority of real estate transactions. In the end, both parties are eager to get the deal done and you’ll find negotiating over any issues to be a much smother process than agreeing on a price.

Learn more about buying a home in Stuart, Florida

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Smart Real Estate Investing for the New Rebound

Market InsiderMy Market Insider – Update for October 2012

Featured “Insider Tip”: Smart Real Estate Investing for the New Rebound

A new real estate boom appears to be taking root and spreading across the U.S., but is this really the investment opportunity of a lifetime or are we being set up for another exploding bubble?

What Would Warren Buffett Do?

Legendary investor Warren Buffett has been known to dominate the headlines and even made the cover of Time Magazine, so what’s he talking about? Buffett’s recent crusade has been focused on selling the benefits of real estate investing and pointing out an array of indicators which suggest a new, extended period of growth. This is a view being echoed around the country from veteran real estate agents who say, in certain markets, a seller’s market is definitely here again.

The New Gold Rush is On …

Those who can afford it are bidding on packages of 500 rental properties being offered by Fannie Mae, while others are racing to foreclosure auctions or bidding on as many short sales as they can.

Prices are as close to bottom as most can predict, and the fear is that soaring home prices (due to shrinking inventories), the potential evaporation of REO and short sale opportunities in the near future, and a potential rise in mortgage rates will cause the best opportunities to fade quickly.

In principal the strategy appears to be sound. After all, banks are now paying selected homeowners up to $35,000 to complete short sales and get out, making cutting deals a breeze for investors. But are we getting set up for another great fall?

Over-Confidence Breeds Dangerous Speculation: Are You Being Fooled?

It truly is a great time to invest in real estate for those who buy wisely, buy low and have the finances to do so. Unfortunately, the contagion of overconfidence already seems to be infecting the masses, luring novices into acquiring properties they believe they can flip like the investors on a reality TV show.

Stories are emerging of buyers overpaying for homes and multifamily apartment buildings and even a surge in investing in the junk subprime securities which were supposedly to blame for the whole housing crash six years ago. It seems some people will never learn or just enjoy gambling.

How to Invest Wisely in the New Rebound

When utilized wisely as part of a diverse portfolio, real estate investment can be the best move for most Americans to build wealth and subsidize their incomes in retirement. Between passive cash flow, appreciation as a hedge against inflation, and depreciation to offset taxes, it is incredibly attractive. However, there are a few rules which must be followed:

1. Define Your Goals

Before acquiring any property, ensure that you have defined your financial and personal goals and that your investment decisions are aligned with them.

2. Is Your Home the Worst Investment You can Make?

For many, purchasing a home can create forced savings and eventually become the best investment they ever make. However, your own residence and home equity should never be something to gamble with. It’s where you live; your investments are for paying for that. Don’t confuse the two.

3. Don’t Invest in Real Estate Until You Are Financially Ready

Real estate is somewhere to put your money to work for you. No money down real estate investing is possible, and it can be a way to make money, but if you bite off more than you can chew and don’t have any savings or reserves, you are asking for bankruptcy.

Make sure you are prepared for the worst, have separate personal savings which are sufficient to carry you through for several months, and have an exit strategy before you get in as well as a plan B and C.

Don’t Believe the Hype!

There are many ways to invest in real estate and even more silver-tongued professional sales people to pitch them. Choose a solid strategy and be wary of distractions that can lead you into investing in all types of exotic locations and structures you don’t really understand.

Note investing, construction, commercial properties and starting property management companies can all be exciting and profitable, but just as with stocks, it may be safer to invest in what you know.

Protecting Yourself Against Market Fluctuations

The most important thing for anyone considering real estate investment is to get educated. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean having to go back to school or picking between tacky late-night infomercial products. However, it does mean learning more about the potential risks, how to protect against them, real estate cycles and the signs of negative fluctuations to watch for.

Buy-and-hold investing and creating a portfolio of rental properties is hot right now and has the potential to create incredible wealth over the long term. Just realize how long you may have to hold your investment and what the penalties could be if you need to cash out early in less buoyant times.

 

Excerpt from Market Insider, October, 2012.  Explore a wealth of information that will help you better understand the factors that impact the real estate market – sign up for FREE access to valuable market data !

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Florida Ranked First in 2011 Home Sales to Canadians

Florida Canadian Home Buyers
Florida ranked first in 2011 home sales to Canada

SARASOTA, Fla. – March 15, 2012 – The strength of the Canadian dollar, sustained low pricing in the U.S. housing market, and perceptions regarding the general economic outlook continue to encourage Canadians to purchase a home in the Sunbelt states.

 

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) 2011 Profile of International Buying Activity, Florida and Arizona are top choices because of their favorable winter climate. In fact, 58 percent of all international sales in 2011 came from just four states: Florida at 31 percent, followed by California at a distant 12 percent, Texas accounted for nine percent and Arizona at six percent.

 

Even for international buyers it’s location, location, location. Forty-three percent of those surveyed report a favorable location as their clients’ most important factor when choosing where to purchase. That was followed by 27 percent who stated their clients’ top reason to buy in the U.S. was that they view U.S. real estate as a profitable investment.

 

Canadians specifically purchase due to a perceived positive return on their investment. They also showed a strong desire for a lakefront recreational location. In fact, eight percent of Florida re-sales were to Canadians in 2010. Similar culture, closeness to their native homeland and lack of a communication barrier are also factors steering Canadians to the lower 48 U.S. states.

 

The NAR profile also showed that in the 12-month-period ending March of 2011, Canadians accounted for 23 percent of all foreign buyers – the largest of any country. In a 2010 article, Canada’s largest daily newspaper The Globe and Mail reported that a vast majority of Canadians were paying cash for their purchase.

 

“There are few lenders who have a mortgage process tailored for Canadians looking to purchase a home in the U.S.,” said Sheila Blom, Florida mortgage market manager for M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group. “Our parent company is based in Toronto, so naturally we have relationship products specifically designed to meet the needs of Canadian customers for purchasing or refinancing their primary residence, second home or investment property in the U.S.”

 

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

 

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Question of the Day: Should I buy a vacation home?

Q: Should I buy a vacation home?

A: The second home market has more ebbs and flows than the primary home market. Sales are iffy in a bad economy except, perhaps, on the high-end. That said, there is a growing trend toward the purchase of vacation homes. They are being bought for investment purposes, enjoyment, as well as retirement. In the latter instance, some people are buying with the idea of turning a vacation home into a permanent retirement haven down the road, a move that puts them ahead of the game now.

Some of the tax benefits mirror those for a primary residence. Mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible, which helps to offset the cost of the home payment. And if you treat your second home as a rental property, you can fully depreciate it as well. But you are only allowed to occupy it for two weeks a year, or 10 percent of the total rented time, whichever is less.

Before taking the leap, ask yourself if you can afford to carry two mortgages, maintain two households, and pay the extra utilities and maintenance costs. Also, learn about financing requirements and options, which can differ slightly from those on a primary residence.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Florida’s Existing Home, Condo Sales Rising

Real Estate Web ReportNow may be the time for Florida second home or retirement home buyers to get serious. With strong demand and wavering prices, the best units are going under contract quickly.

This trend became evident recently while showing beachfront condos to an out of town couple. Having seen a dozen properties over a three day span, we scheduled second showings of three waterfront units only to find they had all gone under contract. Two were priced at half what they would have sold for five years ago and the third was even less with a dock! All were furnished and updated. The couple returned home disappointed they had  missed out on these properties and unable to purchase a home in time for the winter season.

While less desirable properties still languish, the market for well-maintained homes in good locations appears to be heating up. Buyers in this niche are now less inclined to move onto another property if all their demands are not met, thwarting more discerning buyers’ attempts to find a dream home at a bargain basement price.  Read Market Report

 

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.