Major mistakes investors make when buying U.S. real estate

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Justin da Rosa
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

There are still opportunities to take advantage of U.S. real estate, according to one veteran who has penned a guide for Canadians interested in purchasing property down south.

“The number one mistake is they don’t own it the way they need to own it based on their circumstances. For example, they may own it as a Canadian corporation; well, that’s perfectly legitimate in Canada but owning real estate in that way in the U.S. causes double taxation,” Dale Walters, author of Buying Real Estate in the US: The Concise Guide for Canadians, told Canadian Real Estate Wealth. “If you get a U.S. advisor, they may recommend they use an LLC. Hopefully the word is out now that in Canada that would cause double taxation.”

Walters’ book focuses a great deal on tax implications for Canadians who purchase real estate down south as well as information on the best way to own a property.

“The book is informational; it’s a tax book primarily. How do you own real estate in the U.S., what’s the proper way of owning it, the options, what are the tax consequences of the various ways of owning it because each way is a different tax outcome,” he said. “How do you deal with rental income and what are the tax consequences of that. You’ve got potential liability issues, how to protect yourself, non-resident estate tax potential – all of those things I cover.”

It can be daunting to purchase real estate overseas, but Walters argues there are still opportunities for all different kinds of investors; including deals for those looking to own vacation properties, become full-time landlords, and those interested in commercial properties.

There are also various markets that provide different risk profiles.

Walters believes there are two major reasons Canadians are still interested in U.S. real estate: Diversification and the availability of bargains.

“The usual markets that have market appreciation potential which would be, generally speaking, the sun belt. Southern California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida, primarily,” Walters said. “If you’re looking at some higher-risk, possibly higher opportunity, you still have places like Detroit and places like that.”

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