Canadians hot for US commercial properties

Canadians have been spending billions on U.S. commercial real estate.

The United States' neighbors to the north have been buying about $27 billion more in commercial real estate property in the past four years than Americans have, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Canadians have been spending more on commercial real estate here than any other country – including all of Europe combined.

There are two major factors prompting this trend: There's a smaller inventory of available properties in Canada, and they pounced when the U.S. suffered the economic downturn that depressed the market.

"There was a period of time when liquidity was a lot easier to get and financing was a lot easier to get in Canada than in the United States and Canadians going down to get property had an advantage because they were coming to the table with cash and financing in place," Chris Potter, a national real estate tax leader for PwC, told the Vancouver Sun. "You can argue some of the best deals have been done but there are still opportunities."

Another financial expert, Richard Ellis, said Canadians will do about $26 billion in commercial real estate transactions in the U.S. this year. Most desire office space here, followed by apartment buildings and industrial space, with $4.2 billion, $2.8 billion and $2.1 billion spent in those markets, respectively.

Proximity and the same language also helps drive much of the Canadian activity in the United States, which another foreign country that has a penchant for doing business here – China – doesn't have.

"The fact they speak English drives it a lot and the proximity," Ed Sonshine, chief executive of RioCan REIT, told the Sun. "You are in Toronto or Calgary or any of our offices, you can get to the big cities very quickly. I can get to Dallas, in what two and half or three hours, big deal, and Dallas is pretty far away."

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