Phoenix’s struggling housing market helped by Canadian buyers

The collapse in housing prices and a strong Canadian dollar are luring north-of-the-border buyers to Arizona and other states where the weather is warm and the housing cheap.

Canadians surpassed Californians this year as top out-of-state buyers of Phoenix-area real estate. The Canadian dollar is gaining, up from an average of 80 cents on the U.S. dollar in 2005 to 97 cents last week. At the same time, home prices in the Phoenix area have dropped about 50 percent from their peak in early 2007.

“Things have really lined up” for Canadian buyers, says Gregory Tsujimoto, senior consultant at John Burns Real Estate Consulting in Irvine, Calif. Florida, California and Texas remain the top destinations for international homebuyers, but Arizona is gaining.

Canadian homebuyers in Maricopa County made up a larger share than California buyers for eight of the past nine months, according to the Information Market, a Phoenix real-estate data firm.

A Canadian flag often flies outside Shea Homes’ new Encanterra development in San Tan Valley and in one development in Mesa, five homes on one street are owned by Canadians, Tsujimoto says.

Property-management companies and real-estate firms target Canadian investors and services. Canadian Arnold Porter and his wife, Maureen, a dual U.S. and Canadian citizen, have launched Arizona for Canadians, a real-estate-services company that helps Canadians find homes and line up financing.

“Most lenders won’t give financing because Canadians have not established U.S. credit and you can’t borrow from Canadian lenders on U.S. property,” Arnold Porter says.

Porter has found some U.S. lenders who will work with Canadians, but most of those buyers still pay cash. About half buy for investment, capitalizing on soaring demand for rental housing in Arizona because so many families are losing their homes to foreclosures. Other Canadian buyers want vacation homes.

Julie Harvey, 38, a commercial banker and mother of two, lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Originally from Newfoundland, she vacationed in Florida every summer growing up. When she and her husband, Tony, 40, decided to buy a second home, they set their sights on Arizona.

The Harveys paid $130,000 cash for a 1,400-square-foot home in Anthem, an unincorporated area north of Phoenix. They plan on vacationing there at least twice a year and will let friends and family use the home.

“What attracted us to Arizona was sports,” she says. “Year-round baseball, hockey and football. All those things, together with the weather. There are no risks of natural disasters.”

Florida has hurricanes, which have jacked up homeowners’ insurance rates. In California, where earthquakes are a threat, areas that offer the greatest housing bargains are not vacation spots – Riverside and Fresno.

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About Joyce Hazen, REALTOR, CIPS, CNE, SFR

An Arizona and Greater Metropolitan Phoenix Realtor, I am a full service professional with an International Designation, CIPS, who works with Buyers, Sellers & Investors all around the world. I have experience in both the residential and commercial communities. In addition, as a Certified Negotiation Expert I work my hardest to utilize my negotiation skills to benefit all clients. I also speak French, English and Italian. Originally from Canada, having moved to the Valley in 2000, I pay special attention to your personal individual needs and desires, to find you the home, land, or building that you’ve been dreaming of. Real Estate has given me the privilege of working with so many wonderful people and with my knowledge, tools and skill set I have been fortunate to realize that individual needs change from person to person, business to business, culture to culture, and that every request is important to you. For that very reason, when I embark on a journey, I work closely with you, whether you are buying or selling a home or commercial space, whether it is a tradition sale, short sale or foreclosure. I will help you as I am highly motivated, results driven and have taken time to research the marketplace, trends and opportunities to know how to best serve you. With my experience, culture and languages, you can rest assured that your best interests are my priority. I will help you find the home or property of your choice and professionally negotiate on your behalf. It is for these reasons that so many of my clients refer me to their friends and families. The Valley of the Sun has been one of the fastest growing U.S. metropolitan communities, Phoenix has grown tremendously over the past couple decades. Financial Institutions are working with Americans, offering terrific mortgage deals, as well as with foreign investors who are interested in purchasing second homes… the opportunities are endless. My mission and goal is to provide you with superior service. Welcoming new residents to Arizona including Americans and International clients who want to relocate permanently, a home away from home or to escape cold winters, is a pleasure! I enjoy meeting new people and always set my goals high and strive to achieve them. If you’re ready to search for the perfect property, I am here to show you the very best homes that meet your criteria.
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