Canadian Corner


Where do I start?

One of the first things I recommend is finding an experienced real estate agent you can trust.   I would like to apply for that job.   I have been a licensed realtor in Arizona since 1995, and have lived in the Valley of the Sun since 1960.   I can guide you through the process of buying real estate in Arizona.  I can recommend lenders, home inspectors, title companies, maintenance companies, etc.

Are there any restrictions for Canadian buyers purchasing homes in Arizona?

There are no restrictions for foreign nations buying property in Arizona, that I am aware of.

How do I obtain financing to buy property?

Generally, you will be required to provide the following to a lender:

1.  Copies of passport and visa.
2.  Last two pay stubs.
3.  Last two bank statements.
4.  Last two years tax returns.  If self employed, a letter from an accountant stating how many years you've been in business, and business tax returns.
5.  Verification of 2 years employement history.
6.  International credit report - lender will order. 
7.  Set up American bank account for transfer of money.
8.  Generally will require 30% of purchase price, or if it is an investment property 40% - 45% will be required.

What about property taxes in Arizona?

You will be pleasantly surprised by how low our property taxes are.  Each city will vary slightly, but taxes are usually around 1- 1.5% of the assessed value of the home.  The assessed value in usually much less than the purchase price.

Are Canadian buyers subject to capital gains tax when the Arizona property is sold?

The laws are changing.  It is recommended you consult an accountant or lawyer for details.

What costs are involved in purchasing a property in Arizona?

Most of the cost involved in purchasing a property will be fees that you pay to the lender, which is primarily done through a title company.  In Arizona, the title company handles the transaction, so there isn't the cost of an attorney.

You will also most likely pay for a home inspection, termite inspection, an appraisal, the escrow (title) fee, title insurance, recording fee, property taxes and homeowner's insurance. 

A good rule of thumb, is to figure your closing costs will be approximately 3% or the purchase price of the home.  This cost will be much less if you are paying cash for a property.

Arizona does not have a real estate transfer tax.  The seller pays the commission for the real estate agent.

When it's time to sell, you'll need to know about FIRPTA:  Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980

FIRPTA Highpoints….

• All non-US Citizens are subject to FIRPTA withholding when US real property interests are sold. (15% of the sales price)

• The Transferor (Seller) is responsible for the payment of the required FIRPTA withholding. HOWEVER, it is the responsibility of the Transferee (Buyer) to remit the funds to IRS. Penalties and interest are assessed to the Transferee, not the Transferor.

• Withholding Exemptions/Reductions are available (Most Common) o Property qualifies for a “Buyer’s Use” (1) Exemption. (Buyer’s residence and price does not exceed $300,000) o Property qualifies for a “Buyer’s Use” (1) Reduced Rate. (Buyer’s residence and price exceeds $300,000, but not more than $1,000,000) o Transferor applies for and receives a Withholding Certificate from IRS.

• If electing to apply for a Withholding Exemption, the application MUST be mailed on or before the closing date. The transferor AND transferee must have a ITIN to apply for the Certificate, or must apply for a ITIN simultaneously.

• US Federal Income Tax Returns are required. Submission of FIRPTA forms does not relieve the Transferor from the responsibility of filing federal tax returns, whether or not FIRPTA Withholding is remitted to the IRS. To assist your real estate agent and escrow officer, please consider these questions. Your answers will determine what steps must be taken.

• Is the seller a US Citizen (non-Foreign)?

• Does Seller and Buyer have a TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number)?

• Does property qualify for “Buyer’s Use”(1) Exemption or Reduced Withholding Rate?

• Does transferor intend on applying for a Withholding Certificate (Exemption or Reduced Withholding)?