To rent or own in the U.S.?

The loonie’s fall may not be bad after all for Canadian investors in sunny U.S. vacation states looking to cater to the stable Canadian snowbird market.

With purchasing property in the U.S. Sunbelt and other popular warm-weather states becoming more difficult because of the sinking Canadian dollar and U.S. home prices rising since 2009, renting, as opposed to buying a vacation property, has become an option for more Canadians.

That's with good cause.

“We see landlords more frustrated than tenants in the majority of the cases," Erica Smith, co-founder of the Condo Chicks, told CREW. "It's very difficult for landlords to force a tenant to leave- even when rent cheques are missed.”

That may be helping drive the growth in Canadian snowbirds looking to rent in the US rather than buy.

Queries from Canadians for affordable rentals have been on the increase on popular websites such as Airbnb. Some have even taken to targeting snowbirds and seniors in its marketing to rental-property owners, saying in its online literature: “If your home tends to attract the senior crowd, it is likely that they will book sooner rather than later. Developing a relationship with your renters, especially retired seniors, could mean longer term bookings in the future.”

But the growth of such online and other rental businesses has highlighted some issues surrounding short-term rentals, including their legality, opposition to them and extra taxes levied on property owners who rent for so-called transient reasons – things Canadian property investors in the U.S. need to keep in mind.

Many municipalities, as well as condominium and homeowner associations (HOAs), have strict laws forbidding short-term renting (which generally is considered anywhere from less than three months to less than one year) – meaning travelers must either commit to staying for an extended period of time, or find ways to get around it.

While the depressed loonie has definitely slowed down purchasing activity from Canadians, not all areas have seen a corresponding uptick in rentals.
“We are seeing the normal level of rental activity,” Arnold Porter, co-owner of the real estate company Arizona for Canadians told CREW.

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