Oh, Carolinas!

If you stand atop a mountain meadow just outside Asheville, N.C., near the border between the Carolinas, the south-facing vista is breathtaking: 80-km views of unspoiled rolling hills, with trees undulating in the breeze. To the east, the ocean offers the historic and picturesque cities of Charleston and Myrtle Beach, to the west are the pristine Blue Ridge Mountains; in between, vibrant communities such as Asheville and Chapel Hill boast enviable real estate markets. The Carolinas are also a draw for what you won't encounter: withering year-round heat and an abundance of tourists. Despite its natural resources, this is no tourism Mecca.

But while most of us typically seek to avoid these, there are other considerations we tend to overlook as investors. It may because we don't have a plan.

According to author and investor Philip McKernan, who recently published his second book of tips aimed at helping Canadians investing in U.S. real estate (Fire Sale), one of the keys to successful investing in any part of the U.S. takes place well before you cross the border. "The opportunities are clearly there. But you've got to be clear on why you're buying down there. And, of course, you've got to know where,"says McKernan, a Vancouver-based Irishman who has property in seven countries around the world.

"Nothing against Detroit, but the Torontonian who's sitting on some equity and finds he can acquire five condos in Detroit for, say, the price of one in Toronto should perhaps think before deciding."

For the full article pick up a copy of the October issue, on newsstands now.


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