With more flexible remote work options and pandemic travel restrictions fading away, more and more Americans are looking to buy property abroad. While many first-time buyers may not want to venture off too far from home, one of the most convenient options seems to be Canada, but the last few weeks have brought big changes to what’s possible for foreign investors in the Great White North.
Can Americans buy property in Canada?
In the past, yes! U.S. residents could pretty easily purchase and own property in Canada without needing to become a Canadian resident. Many Canadian banks also offered mortgages and home equity loans with similar financing terms to what is practiced in the U.S.
The owner would just need to report income or proceeds from selling their property to taxing authorities in both countries (the IRS and the Canada Revenue Agency or the CRA).
Recent changes in Canadian property laws
In early April 2022, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new key measures titled Budget 2022: A Plan to Grow Our Economy and Make Life More Affordable. You can read the full plan above, but the key points relevant for foreign investors is that the Canadian government has placed a two-year ban on foreign buyers as well as higher taxes for people who sell their homes within a year, particularly between Vancouver and Toronto.
Bloomberg notes that “Home prices in Canada have soared more than 50% over the past two years. The market saw a record monthly increase in February as buyers acted ahead of rate increases by the Bank of Canada, taking the benchmark price of a home to C$869,300 ($693,000).”
The Canadian government cites its goal as curbing unfair practices that drive up the price of housing. Canada has seen the housing market heat up, with prices spiking over 20% last year with rental rates not far behind. The cost of owning a home in relation to median incomes is now at a 31-year-high, according to calculations from the Royal Bank of Canada.
The recent announcement also mentions goals such as:
Taking steps to ensure property flippers pay their fair share of taxes
Taxing all assignment sales of newly constructed and substantially renovated homes
Working with provinces and territories to develop and implement a Home Buyers’ Bill of Rights and bring forward a national plan to end blind bidding.
In addition to the bans, the Canadian government will be implementing various initiatives to help out first-time Canadian homebuyers.
Are there any workarounds?
As these new measures have only recently been announced, there is still a lot of buzz about what the rules mean and what foreign buyers interested in Canadian property should do. With that being said, the government has been clear about a few exceptions to foreign buyers, including permanent residents and foreign students, who would not be considered foreign buyers.
If you had your sight set on Canadian property, you’re probably better off directing your time, energy, and finances elsewhere; at least for the time being.
With this new ban in place, where will you look for property? Browse through Land Hub’s current listings for some inspiration!
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You always want to get the best deal possible when buying land. But is the price of land something that you can negotiate—and if so, how should you go about doing it?
Here’s what to know about negotiating on land deals, plus some quick tips for ensuring that you do it right.
Can you negotiate when you’re buying land?
Yes! Land, like all other types of property for sale, doesn’t have a fixed price. Instead, prices are set by the seller, often with the help of a land appraiser.
Sellers want to get the highest price for their land, and will usually list their property at or above market value. Buyers, meanwhile, want to make smart investments and ensure they’re not paying more than a property is worth. Somewhere in the middle lies the ultimate selling price, and it’s by negotiations that you’ll get there.
Keep in mind that savvy sellers expect negotiations and account for them in their initial listing price. While there’s a limit to how low you can go, it’s standard practice to negotiate when buying land and you may go back and forth a couple of times before finally settling on a price that works for both parties.
5 land buying negotiation tips
If you’ve bought land or other types of real estate before, then you may already be familiar with the negotiation process. Beyond the basics though, there are a number of things that you can do to show the seller you’re serious about closing the deal, even as you do your best to arrange a fair price.
Next time you negotiate, follow these five tips to increase your chances of getting an optimal deal.
1. Do your research
Before presenting your first offer, do a bit of research so that you’re not just shooting in the dark when it comes to determining a property’s worth. This includes digging into the highest potential use value of the space, as well as any zoning or other restrictions that may reduce that value.
2. Know what your limit is
Always go into land negotiations with a clear idea of how much you can spend. Just as the seller knows the lowest number they’d be willing to sell it for, the buyer needs to know the highest number they’d be willing to pay.
3. Keep negotiations professional
Present your initial offer in writing and give a brief explanation for it based on your research. Be kind and concise, and if there’s an opportunity to do so, try to build some rapport as well.
4. Don’t low-ball your offer
Obviously buyers want to pay the least amount they can on a land investment. However, offering too little can be offensive, especially if you’re clearly undervaluing the land in pursuit of a steal. Be realistic with your initial offer and make it reasonable to prove to the seller that you’re serious.
5. Be patient
If negotiations come to a standstill, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the running. Wait another 30 to 45 days and if the property is still on the market present your offer again and see if the seller is more willing to discuss.
Work with an experienced real estate agent who will be able to help you navigate the negotiation process. Done well, you should get a great deal with both you and the seller happy at closing day.
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Are you about to list a piece of property, or do you have a current land listing that isn’t generating the right leads (or any)? The problem could be with your photography.
If you’re listing land online, you don’t need to hire a professional photographer, nor do you necessarily need expensive equipment, but there are a few tips that could ensure you have the best pictures to support your property listing. Need some help in gathering the right material? Read on!
Does Photography Really Matter When Selling Land?
When creating your own listing, the very first thing you should do is put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Think about all of the things you’ve ever bought or sought out — would you be willing to hand over a big chunk of change for a mediocre listing with poor photos? Chances are you’d scroll right on past the listing!
A variety of high-quality photos will be key to capturing a buyer’s attention. Here’s how you can get those first-rate images all on your own.
Think like a buyer:
First things first, before you even whip out your camera (or smartphone), you need to have a plan. Walk through your property a few times and imagine it’s your first time there. What are some unique features, attractive areas, and other qualities worth highlighting? What time of day does your property look best? Write these things down, and then use that as your guide when it’s time to start getting the content.
You want your land looking its absolute best — make sure landscaping is taken care of and everything is nice and neat. Hide garden tools, toys, and even trash cans if you have outdoor features like a patio or jacuzzi, spruce them up and turn on any lights for the photos.
Focus on clear shots:
You’d be amazed at the amount of blurry and pixelated photos online. With nearly everything being digital nowadays, users don’t have the patience to look through low-quality images. You do not necessarily need a camera and tripod but be mindful of holding still while taking pictures, wipe off your lens, make sure your thumb isn’t in the frame, etc.
Follow the rule of thirds:
Want some professional insight into taking a great photo? Follow the rule of thirds. This simple trick is a staple in photography best practice. Adobe explains the rule of thirds as “a composition guideline that places your subject in the left or right third of an image, leaving the other two-thirds more open.” iPhones actually have a setting that allows the camera to show gridlines within the camera app to help guide users in the rule of thirds. To switch the gridlines on, go to Settings > Photos & Camera > Grid.
Show off with variety:
The perfect land listing is all about balance. Give buyers a good look at your property with a variety of shots, but don’t duplicate photos or feel that you need to put in too many. Too many photos can actually overwhelm and frustrate online users leading them to abandon the listing altogether. The larger your property is or, the more features it has, the more pictures you will need.
As you can see, taking great photos for a land listing doesn’t require too much work, equipment, or even experience. Just keep these tips in mind, and you’ll have a strong listing that captures buyers’ attention. Also, please check out more tips for better listings on our Land News page.
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by Laura Mueller
There are a lot of factors that you need to pay attention to when buying land, and zoning is one of the most important. How a property is zoned gives you a ton of information about what you can and cannot do with it, including regulations on building, landscaping, and general land use. But if the zoning laws don’t align with your plans, is it possible to have the property rezoned for your desired purpose? It’s a bit complicated—and, unfortunately, not so easy to do.
Here’s what to know about rezoning, plus where to start if you’re interested in pursuing the process.
Zoning laws are legally-binding guidelines on property use that are set out by the local governing body. They’re typically codified as part of a master plan for the neighborhood or town, with areas designated for specific uses such as residential or commercial development. Other things that zoning laws may regulate include:
• Building heights
• Building density
• Access roads and parking
• Removal of certain natural resources
Think of zoning laws like a rule book for what is and isn’t possible on a piece of land. They’re the reason you can’t build a shopping center in the middle of a subdivision… or a subdivision in the middle of a shopping center. They’re also potentially a major obstacle to doing what you want on a piece of land, since you won’t be able to make any changes without the zoning rights to do so.
Can you get your land rezoned?
It’s always recommended that you do thorough research on any zoning laws in relation to a property before you invest. That way, you won’t run into any surprises when you go to apply for building permits or pursue other types of improvements.
However, it’s certainly possible that when you’re searching for land you’ll find a parcel that is perfect in every way—except for how it’s zoned. If that happens, you can try to get it rezoned, but it’s going to take some work and it’s definitely not a guarantee.
At minimum, there are two things that you will have to prove in order to achieve a change in a property’s zoning regulations:
1. That it benefits the community. Asking to have your land rezoned for fully personal use is a tough sell. Local lawmakers want to know that the change will benefit the entire community, particularly in terms of economic potential.
2. That it adheres to state and federal laws. Beyond local zoning laws there are also state and federal requirements that dictate how land can be used. If there’s a statute standing in your way, even local support won’t be enough to change the regulations.
Your local government probably has other considerations too, but plan to meet these two must-haves if you want your rezoning request to have a shot.
How to apply for rezoning
If you can make a good case for rezoning your land, then your next step is to petition for a rezoning with your local Building and Planning Department.
Be ready to prove those two considerations mentioned above, with plenty of supporting documents to back up your claims. In addition, have a clear plan for what you want to do on the land and why it’s worth making the change. Keep in mind that you will likely have to pay a fine, with the cost to apply for rezoning starting at around $1,000.
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By Caroline Kirby
Leaves are falling, and the temperature is dropping, and before you know it, the first day of winter will be here. Whether you have a vacation home, open land, or a vacant property you’re not sure what to do with just yet, don’t let “winterize your property” slip too far down the list.
Taking a few proactive measures in the next few weeks can help save you money on potential repairs and make your property more attractive to possible buyers.
Why winterize and what does it mean?
Unless you live in a tropical climate, then you are likely familiar with the special challenges and often unanticipated issues that come with colder weather and the winter season. Think of winterizing as “winter-proofing” your property so that it can stand up to the effects of the winter weather.
Some common troubles that may occur if your property hasn’t been properly winterized includes:
• Pest infestations
• Frozen pipes
• Increased chance of crime/theft
Each of these risks may vary depending on your property type and location. However, the following tips may still be useful no matter what your land is used for come wintertime.
How to winterize your property
Let’s start on the outside first – if you have a vacant lot or big area of land on your property, you’ll want to make sure you take the proper steps to keep the outside just as protected as any cabin or home.
• Don’t prune trees or shrubs before winter, as they may not have adequate time to heal before the cold arrives.
• If your area typically gets early snow, then go ahead and cover small trees or shrubs to protect them from heavy snow. You can also wrap young fruit trees to prevent winter injury.
• Check gutters for trapped water, ice, and any other blockages.
• Turn off water so that your hose or irrigation system won’t get damaged by any frost (an expensive surprise to fix once spring rolls around).
• Empty out and turn any outside storage containers upside down so that they won’t crack with fallen temperatures.
• Drain the fuel tank on your lawnmower or any other power equipment.
• The Farmer’s Almanac recommends oiling your outside tools with vegetable oil to prevent rusting.
There’s plenty to do to get your property in shape for winter, but the steps above are a great place to get started. If you have a home or cabin that will be empty most of the winter, there are some other special steps you’ll want to take to ensure they are well-maintained through the cold.
One of the best places to start is to get in touch with your property insurer to see if they have any specific cold-weather requirements to keep your property safe. After you’ve done that, here are some other steps to take:
• Inspect for openings that critters could use to enter. If you have a fireplace, make sure the flue is closed.
• Avoid leaving a “for sale” sign outside the property as this could attract criminals or squatters.
• Turn off utilities like gas and electricity.
• Open faucets and drain all water lines to prevent pipes from bursting.
• Install a security system, motion sensor lights, or even a doorbell camera so that you can check in on your property no matter where you are.
Thinking ahead and acting now can save you from a hefty bill and a big headache later on. A little extra work in the next few weeks can help ensure that your property won’t be a problem for you come 2022. Want to sell your land before winter arrives? Learn more from LandHub.
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By Laura Mueller
There’s a lot that can be said for the benefits of investing in land. Like all investments, however, there is a cost factor to consider along with potential benefits. And when it comes to cheap land, you’ll want to be sure you’re doing your due diligence so that you don’t end up wasting money on what only seems to be a total steal.
Here’s what to know about cheap land, including what to look out for when you’re deciding whether a low-cost property is worth investing in.
Possible perils of cheap land
Some cheap land is priced low because of location. The price per acre in Arkansas, Tennessee, and West Virginia, for example tends to be the lowest in the nation, primarily due to supply and demand. But if you find cheap land being advertised in an area where the comps don’t support the listing price, it could be a sign that there’s something else going on.
Possible reasons why land might be listed uncharacteristically cheap include:
• It requires a big additional investment in order to be usable, such as needing to bring in costly utilities or access points
• It has setbacks, easements, building restrictions, and/or zoning regulations that severely limit how much of the land can go toward functional use
• It is located in a flood or fire zone (and has potentially seen damage in the past)
• The soil is unsuitable for building or agriculture
Fortunately, by doing your homework you should be able to identify any of these possible perils before you close the deal.
Quick tips for buying cheap land
Cheap land can be a worthwhile investment, but as with any land purchase, you’ll want to know exactly what you’re getting into. Follow these tips to ensure that you don’t get duped.
1. Work with an experienced local real estate agent. They’ll have the know-how to help you see through a too-good-to-be-true listing.
2. Find out what utilities are already provided for. Bringing in water, electricity, and a septic tank or sewer connection are all hugely expensive. And if you’re interested in cheap land for building on and it requires utility set-up, you’ll face a big bill before you even get the foundation down.
3. Check on road access points. Does the property have an access road? If not, you’ll end up spending a lot on excavation and laying one down.
4. Get the soil checked out. Soil testing will tell you what kind of soil is present on the property and whether it’s the right kind for what you plan to use the land for.
5. Gather relevant info from the town’s Building & Planning Department. This is the place to go to get information on any potential natural risks, zoning regulations, easements, or other restrictions—any of which can turn a seemingly good deal into a dud.
No investments are guaranteed to work out, regardless of how much you spend. But by being aware of the risks of cheap land and looking into all possible issues before committing, you can gain more confidence in your decision—and hopefully purchase land that’s ultimately worth what you paid for it, if not more.
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