Canadian Information

Welcome To Our Friends From Canada:

When buying and selling Real Estate in California it is customary to be represented by a Realtor who will guide you through the process, prepare the contracts and various forms required for the transaction.  Normally there is no lawyer involved in a Real Estate transaction.  An escrow company, acting on behalf of both sides of a contract, handles all the funds and distribution of funds for the transaction.  A title insurance policy is used to ensure you have a free and clear title to the property at the end of the process.  The Realtors commission is almost always included in the selling price, and escrow fees are part of the closing costs you will pay.  Upon acceptance of your offer, or one or more counter offers, Escrow is opened using your deposit which will be by wire transfer of funds to the Escrow compnny.  You will want to have a home inspector examine the home to make sure of the condition it is in so there are no surprises down the road.  The cost for this varies with the size of the home, but will usually be less than $400 and payable at the time of the inspection by credit card.  You may estimate the total out of pocket costs you will be paying to be between 1% to 1.5% of the selling price of the home and this includes all extra costs like prorated property taxes.  All of the cost, except the home inspection, are paid through escrow.
There is no sales tax for a real estate transactions. You will pay an annual property tax of 1.25%, or more, depending on the location of the property being purchased. Always ask your Realtor to explain the tax situation before making an offer. Many Condos and some homes are on leased land. You will have an additional lease payment each year in addition to the property tax if you chose a lease land property. Most homes are “fee simple” or “fee’ land which mean you own it. Condo ownership is of the building (improvements) and the Home Owners Association owns the land or leases the land and you acquire a undivided interest in the HOA and the common lands, either the fee ownership or lease hold interest.

A deposit of 3% in customary in this area and is used to open escrow. Once an offer has been accepted, you will be asked to wire transfer this deposit directly to the escrow company. You usually have 17 days after acceptance to do your due diligence, read all reports and disclosures to satisfy yourself about the property, then you will be asked to remove all contingencies. You will then move to the closing phase of the escrow and it will close the day of the transfer of ownership being recorded at the County of Riverside Recorder’s office. 

We have found most Canadians have arranged for their financing in Canada before coming to look for a home, which is probably the least costly way for you to approach having a loan.  However, if you plan on leveraging your investment in Real Estate by getting a  loan locally, a standard part of any offer to purchase a home or condo is a pre-qual letter  (pre-approval is even better) provided by the loan broker or bank that will be assisting you in obtaining the loan.  This is usually a free service and it is advisable that you take care of this detail before leaving Canada just in case any information you may be required to furnish is not available to you locally.   There are a variety of loan programs and we suggest you use a broker here in the Valley who knows the Laws of the State of California, understands what you want to achieve in your purchase and who can make sure funding takes place as required.  The link below will take you to the website of a trusted loan broker recommended by our Team.

ForLoan Information Go To:
(Tell Bret, Billy D Sent You...)

Five things that will help you in the purchase or sale of a home in the Valley:
  1. Open an account in the Valley at the bank of your choice.  This will make possible paying your incidental bills where you can not use a credit card, including paying property taxes, the landscaper, the pool service people and monthly local bills. Anyone who will be using the account must be present at the bank, showing their passport, to be able to open the account or be added to the account. Or, you can use a service for this like HiFx below for regular transfers. 
  2. You must have certain documents in both the purchase and sale of a home notarized.  This is true of homes on Indian Leased Land, Grant Deeds, loan documents and any other document that will be recorded in the Country of Riverside.  Outside the United States, these documents are required to be signed and acknowledged in a Consulate or Embassy of the United States.  If you are here in the Valley, this can be done at your escrow company office or other licensed notary.  You may also use the notaries in other states in the United States.  Allow extra time for this procedure in your planning.
  3. Documents being sent to and from remote sections of Canada can take as much as 8 to 10 days to arrive.  If you have no major airport nearby, you should expect this to apply to you and ask your Realtor to adjust the due diligence periods of 7 and 17 days in the purchase agreement.   Allow sufficient time for the extra days delivery takes for the larger reports and disclosures that can not be emailed or that require signatures to be witnessed at a consulate or embassy.
  4. A US Social Security Number (SSN) or Federal Tax ID Number ( for individuals and businesses) will be required in the sale of a property you own in the USA. Go to the appropriate site, or,,  to find out the proper procedure to obtain your SSN/TAX ID.  It can take weeks for this to be accomplished so keep this end mind as you organize your process to sell.
  5. The information provided on this website is not to be considered to be legal, financial, investment or tax advice and does not relieve you from your obligation to perform whatever due diligence is required to make an your own informed investment decision.  All of the information concerning your estate, such as title, investment and tax issues, must be discussed with your own professional advisors as to how they may effect you under the laws, regulations and ordinances of Canada, the United States, State of California, Riverside County and any local jurisdiction in which the property resides.   Once you have obtained that advice, all issues relating to the purchase process should also be shared as appropriate with your Realtor, Loan Broker and Escrow Company to ensure a smooth escrow process that funds and closes on time.   

As a very active Team of Realtors, we are licensed, trained and experienced to make this process as painless as possible, but you will be signing a BIG stack of documents throughout the offer and escrow period.  While this process all sounds complicated, it is mainly done for the protection of the buyer who benefits from the full disclosure process demanded by Federal and State laws and regulations.  By law in California you have the right to withdraw from a purchase within the first 17 days for any reason and get the return of you entire deposit less the cost for HOA documents provided to you, usually between $250 and $500.  So as you can see, the process allows for you to be completely sure before you have to commit yourself financially to finalizing the sale.

Regardless, we will allways have your backs in anything we do with you; because that is the way the Billy D Lewis Team does business.  We look forward to being your agents.