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Thinking about buying a home in the United States? With real estate prices considerably more affordable than they are in Canada, this may be the ideal time to invest in a house, townhouse, or condo south of the border.
If you are considering taking the property plunge, here’s a rundown of what you can expect as a Canadian citizen looking to finance a house purchase with a US mortgage or home loan.
We can help connect you with the top mortgage providers in the United States.
Whether you’re in the market for a permanent residence, investment property, or part-time vacation home, the first thing you need to know about buying a house in the United States is that you must have a US mortgage to finance a US property.
While the US mortgage process can be a little more complex than getting a mortgage in Canada, the good news is that American loan eligibility isn’t based on citizenship or residency.
So long as you find an appropriate lender—and can meet their requirements—you can qualify for a US mortgage or home loan.
There are three common ways to access US mortgage funding.
There are several advantages to working with a Canadian-affiliated lender, including better interest rates and faster processing times.
As a digital bank that specializes in US home loans for Canadians, for example, Milo has reshaped the mortgage process by making it easy for non-citizens to apply for and close a US mortgage, completely online.
The mortgage process in the States looks a little different than what you may have experienced when buying a home in Canada. Understanding some of the main differences in advance will help you know what to expect when applying for a US mortgage loan.
1. Loan processing times:
A lengthier process time tends to make ‘quick possessions’ challenging south of the border.
2. Down payments:
If the home you’re buying won’t be your primary residence, you can expect the down payment to be higher than it was for your primary residence in Canada.
3. Closing costs:
Because US mortgages are frequently open, with prepayment costs built in, you can often pay off lump sums—or the total amount of your US home loan—any time without penalty.
4. Amortization periods:
Just like in Canada, to qualify for a US home mortgage, you’ll need to complete an application and provide the necessary documentation to support your financed property purchase.
Although you won’t have to show a US credit history if you work with a lender offering mortgage programs for non-residents, your Canadian credit score, income, assets, and liabilities will all be reviewed.
Specific (residency-dependent) documents you may need to provide include:
You should also be prepared to show proof of legal residence status if you’re planning to live in the home that you’re buying.
With attractive real estate prices, and fast, easy access to mortgage pre-approvals online, there’s little holding many Canadians back from buying their US dream home. Before moving ahead with your purchase, however, make sure you speak with a cross-border mortgage specialist about the different loan options available and how much you may be qualified to borrow. Don’t forget to also consider the ongoing costs and tax implications of owning a property in the US. If you’re hoping to rent out your home, for example, you may need to report and pay US taxes.
Yes. Canadian citizens are permitted to buy and occupy a house in the USA. You can purchase a single, multi-unit, attached or detached family home, condo, or townhouse as a permanent resident with a Green Card, a non-permanent resident with a US work visa, or a non-resident foreign national. Just remember that buying a US property (like a vacation home, for example) does not give you US residency.
Yes. Non-citizens can get a mortgage to finance the purchase of a US property, regardless of their residence status. Given that the mortgage industry is more regulated in the US than it is in Canada however, you should expect a lengthier application process, higher fees and down payment requirements, and more extensive documentation requests.
Yes. Canadians can both open a US bank account and get a mortgage directly from a US bank. In practice, however, not every lender is keen to offer local mortgages to foreign clients—and you may face less favorable terms and rates when they do. Since you may also have trouble getting your application approved if you’re a non-resident without a US credit record, it makes sense in many cases to work with a large global bank or Canadian-affiliated lender instead.
Although the loan process takes longer in the States (a minimum of 30 days from the time your purchase offer is accepted), US mortgages work pretty much the same way for both US and Canadian citizens. You’ll simply arrange to make your mortgage payments online, via wire transfer, or with automated payments from a US bank account.
One important point to keep in mind is that most US sellers and real estate agents expect buyers to have a pre-approval letter in hand before making a property offer (especially in competitive markets). It’s a good idea to get pre-approved for your US mortgage 2-3 months in advance.