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How to buy property overseas with a money transfer

Buying foreign property works both ways - you can buy property here in Canada or look to buy overseas.

Are you thinking of buying property overseas as an investment? Or, are you a foreigner looking to purchase some land or a home in Canada? Our guide covers what you need to know about buying property overseas or in Canada, including some of the most frequently asked questions about investing in foreign property.

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Process of buying property overseas

Compared to other parts of the world, investing in Canadian property in certain cities and provinces is very expensive, where property values and rents have hit an all time high in recent years. This is why Canadians are now looking for cheaper alternatives overseas in other countries like the United States, Mexico and Greece.

When purchasing property overseas, there are important considerations that you’ll need to take into account including:

  • Each country will have its own rules and regulations, which you will first need to check before diving into any investments.
  • Reach out to a real estate agent or a broker who can guide you through the specific process for the country where you’re interested in purchasing land or a house. The Internet and overseas experts can provide you with further insight and help you make an informed decision.
  • Some rules and regulations may be too complex to understand on your own, so it’s wise to seek advice from professionals to ensure that you’re fully aware of the market you’ll be getting into and the commitment you’ll ultimately be making.
  • You’ll need to understand a variety of different things when purchasing land or property overseas including taxes, official procedures, laws and regulations, among others. Keep in mind these procedures, laws and regulations are likely constantly changing, so hiring an expert is an excellent way to ensure you don’t miss anything important.

Where do I find my source of financing?

If you can’t raise the full amount required to purchase property overseas, you’ll need to find a way to finance your investment. There are financing institutions in Canada that have branches or business partners in foreign countries worldwide, which you may be able to rely on for a financial solution. Most of them will even be able to assist you in filling out the required paperwork and making the necessary transactions.

Again, the Internet has a wealth of information regarding financial options in specific countries. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, it may be worthwhile to reach out to a broker or a financial expert in order to receive more guidance when looking to invest in property overseas.

What are my options for transferring money overseas?

When transferring money overseas, you have a few options including:

  • Banks or another financial institution like a credit union. Banks tend to charge higher transfer fees and provide less competitive exchange rates. Sending money overseas is one of many services banks provide and their efforts tend to focus more on providing local services.
  • Specialist money transfer service. Specialist money transfer companies, on the other hand, are dedicated to sending money overseas, which means they focus on providing competitive exchange rates and low transfer fees. This will likely be your best option when sending money overseas. Some companies even waive their transfer fees if you’re sending over a certain amount of money.

Do I need to consider currency transfer exchange rates?

The total amount that you’ll end up spending when investing in overseas property will be greatly affected by the exchange rates. Exchange rates vary and fluctuate constantly, so it’s better for you to purchase an overseas property when the rates are favourable.

Remember that the fluctuating exchange rate will also affect any income that you’ll receive if you rent out your property, and you may find your income varying from one year to the next. You may want to consider a specialist money transfer company to help you get the best rates and lowest fees for sending your money between the country where you’re investing and Canada.


Buying property within Canada as a non-resident

The Government of Canada regulates foreign investment in the housing sector relatively heavily, since the value of land and houses has skyrocketed in the past few years. Foreigners can generally get approval for vacant land and existing residences for redevelopment as long as they apply for approval in advance and in the correct manner.

While lenders will allow you to borrow money as a non-Canadian resident, your down-payment on the property will need to be significantly larger than if you were a Canadian buying the property. You’ll usually need to have a 35% cash down-payment. In addition, mortgage rates are normally significantly higher than those a Canadian resident would be offered.

What’s the process for buying land or property in Canada?

It’s relatively easy to purchase property or land in Canada as a non-resident. Important things to consider include:

  • You’ll need to find a realtor who can guide you through the buying process.
  • You’ll usually need a 35% cash down-payment for the land or property.
  • You must be aware of any taxes in the different provinces and territories.
  • You have to get insurance.
  • Making an offer and signing any official documents can usually be done digitally.

Remember that buying land or property in Canada will not result in your becoming a Canadian citizen.

What are my options for transferring money to Canada?

Since you’ll typically need a 35% down-payment for your land or property, you must figure out how to transfer your money overseas to Canada. You generally have two options:

  • Banks. Although banks are trustworthy, they charge high fees for money transfers. Furthermore, they usually give customers poor exchange rates.
  • Specialist money transfer services. There are many online companies who specialize in sending large sums of money overseas. If you’re sending over $10,000, some companies will even waive the transfer fee, which can save you a large chunk of money. These companies also provide customers with much more competitive exchange rates than the banks.

Finder survey: How do Canadians with different incomes prefer to set up an international money transfer?

Responseprefer_not_to_sayMiddle IncomeLower IncomeHigh Income
Online20%29.69%24.27%31.97%
In person15%7.84%8.19%6.12%
By telephone5%1.4%2.05%2.38%
By email2.24%2.63%3.4%
Source: Finder survey by Pollfish of 1013 Canadians, August 2023

Frequently asked questions

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Emma Balmforth's headshot
Written by

Producer

Emma Balmforth is a producer at Finder. She is passionate about helping people make financial decisions that will benefit them now and in the future. She has written for a variety of publications including World Nomads, Trek Effect and Uncharted. Emma has a degree in Business and Psychology from the University of Waterloo. She enjoys backpacking, reading and taking long hikes and road trips with her adventurous dog. See full bio

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22 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    SkippystewJuly 22, 2016

    Hi

    What options are available to an Aussie citizen and Irish citizen with Aussie permanent residency to finance a loan to purchase vacant land in Ireland for €40000-€60000?

    C

      Default Gravatar
      Anndy LouJuly 26, 2016

      Hi Skippystew,

      Thanks for your question.

      Just to let you know that the home loan products we feature on our website are generally for buying properties in Australia. If you are planning to buy a property overseas, you can directly inquire from banks with branches around the world if they offer services that can help in funding your investment.

      Alternatively, you can seek professional advice from a mortgage broker in the country where the property is located.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

    Default Gravatar
    DebraJanuary 27, 2016

    My Husband is Australian citizen making decent money in a secure job with excellent credit. I am an American citizen. We both live here in Australia but He wanted to buy me a home in the USA so I could spend time with family and friends. Is there anyway to get a lender here to approve a mortgage for a home in the USA?? Who can we talk to?

      AvatarFinder
      ShirleyJanuary 28, 2016Finder

      Hi Debra and Michael,

      Thanks for your question.

      Since finder.com is based in Australia we can only provide general advice about finding an Australian mortgage broker to help you buy a property in the United States.

      Most Australian brokers should have relationships with international banks that can organise the finance for you.

      Hope this helps.

    Default Gravatar
    peterNovember 22, 2015

    can I but rural property overseas and are their any countries where this is difficult.

      AvatarFinder
      AdrianNovember 23, 2015Finder

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      I’ve sent you an email to follow up with this enquiry.

      Thanks,
      Belinda

    Default Gravatar
    ShayNovember 11, 2015

    i am interested in purchasing a property in thailand – am i able to apply for a loan with an australian financial institution or how is the best way to go about this?

      AvatarFinder
      BelindaNovember 13, 2015Finder

      Hi Shay,

      Thanks for your enquiry.

      finder.com is an online comparison service so we are not licensed to provide personal financial advice regarding your options for purchasing a property in Thailand.

      There are some financial institutions in Australia that have partners in overseas countries who may be able to assist you with an overseas purchase, however you’ll need to enquire with the lender directly to see whether they can help you with this kind of transaction.

      Thanks,
      Belinda

    Default Gravatar
    salahuddinJune 2, 2015

    Can one buy a property in Australia while not an Australian citizen

      AvatarFinder
      JodieJune 3, 2015Finder

      Hi Salahuddin,

      Thank you for reaching out to finder.com , a financial comparison site.

      There is the possibility of a non-Australian resident or citizen purchasing property within Australian from outside the country, however, this may also come with extra scrutiny.

      Please read the above section entitled “Buying Property within Australia as a non-resident” as well as our frequently asked questions for further details.

      Regards
      Jodie

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