07/20/2017 12:31 EDT | Updated 07/20/2017 12:45 EDT

Canadians Are Taking Over U.S. Real Estate At Record Speed

The Great White North's housing frenzy is spilling over.

There's been plenty of debate lately about the role of foreign buyers in Canada's red-hot housing markets, but in the U.S., it's Canadians who are the foreign buyers to be reckoned with.

Canadians spent twice as much buying U.S. real estate between April 2016 and March 2017 than they did the year before, according to a new survey from the U.S. National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The number of homes Canadians bought rose by 25 per cent from a year earlier, while the average price Canadians paid for their properties rose by a stunning 69 per cent, to an average of US$560,000.

Condo towers in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. The state is the top destination for Canadians buying property in the U.S.

"Although China maintained its top position in sales dollar volume for the fourth straight year, the significant rise in foreign investment in the survey came from a massive hike in activity from Canadian buyers," the NAR said in a statement.

That's despite the fact it has become more expensive to buy U.S. property in Canadian dollars in recent years. The loonie hovered at around 75 cents U.S. for much of the period covered in the survey.

"Canadians are selling homes for prices they never could have imagined and that's allowing them to buy vacation homes for prices they never could have imagined."Janice Fox, Hazelton Real Estate

Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, noted that U.S. house prices look like a bargain compared to the Canadian market. Though the U.S. has seen steep house price growth recently, parts of Canada — particularly Toronto and Vancouver — have seen much faster growth.

"Inventory shortages continue to drive up U.S. home values, but prices in five countries, including Canada, experienced even quicker appreciation," Yun said.

Janice Fox, a Toronto-based agent for Hazelton Real Estate, said Canadians are taking advantage of the equity they've built in their homes.

"Canadians are selling homes for prices they never could have imagined and that's allowing them to buy vacation homes for prices they never could have imagined. They just have tons of free capital," she told Mansion Global.

Canadian house prices began to run away from U.S. prices after the U.S.'s bubble burst in the 2000s. That makes prices in many U.S. markets a bargain compared to Canada.

In all, Canadians spent $19 billion on real estate during the surveyed year, second only to Chinese buyers, who spent $31.7 billion.

The top states for foreign home purchases were Florida (22 per cent), California (12 per cent) and Texas (12 per cent).

"Florida was the most popular state for Canadian buyers, Chinese buyers mostly chose California, and Texas was the preferred state for Mexican buyers," the NAR said.

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