Before I can answer the question more completely, I need to know if this is a second home with no rental activity or if it will be rented. The other questions is whether your worldwide net worth is less than $5.25M or $10.5M if married. Last question is, approximately how much do intend to buy a home for?
Let me know and I will give you a more complete answer.
There a couple of good books that you could read, I suggest Buying Real Estate in the US: The Concise Guide for Canadians. http://www.buyingrealestateintheus.com
My name is Gary Semeniuk and i am an Ontario based Realtor with a lot of knowledge of the U.S. and Primarily Florida markets and how to buy and Hold U.S. property as a Canadian. Their are a number of considerations you need to explore. It is recomended that you set up a family trust for these types of aquisitions and have them done properly so as to protect your asset and as well postion you better to offest would could otherwise be a substantial tax burden/ exposure if you don't register properly. As a foreigner you are subject to certain property tax laws that are not going to be in your favour.
Another common problem is title registry right now in the U.S. due to the subprime mortgage meltdown, getting clear title can sometimes be a problem and what ever you do, do not let an agent or any other professional tell you not to worry about this. Even with title insurance you could find yourself in a lengthy legal battle trying to prove ownership if you mix with the wrong people representing you.
I am not trying to de swade you from buying, not at all, their is great opportunity in the U.S. what with our overheated markets here in Canada.
I have a very good legal firm i deal with, with offices both here and in the U.S. that know how to position you for the best outcome as I have mentioned above.
Another person mentioned RBC as being a good option for banking and finance and yes they are. I have set up my own U.S. bank accounts with them and they will also do mortgage financing for Canadian looking to aquisist property within the U.S.
If you would like to contact me i can be reached at 905-918-1233. you can drop by our website as well and have a look around. I am a custom home builder by trade and have become a fulltime realtor and we are very pro American, so I can certainly help you and I am happy to share my experience with you anytime...
What you should look out for depends on whether you are buying a second home or an investment property. If you are buying an investment property, you have to protect yourself from liability. I would typically advise that you establish a US Limited Liability Partnership (LLP).
You have to be aware of the withholding taxes on the rents and upon the sale of the property. If you are buying an investment property uou will have to file a tax return called Form 1040NR and if you use the LLP as I suggested, you will also need to file Form 1065. If you are buying a second home and will not be renting your place, you will not have to file a return until you sell the property.
All of this and more is explained in detail in my book "Buying Real Estate in the US - The Concise Guide for Canadians." The website is below.
Dale Walters, CPA, PFS, CFP (US and Canada)
South of 49: The Canadian Guide to Buying Residential Real Estate in the United States
Buying Real Estate in the US - A Guide for Canadians
Key Solutions Real Estate Group
Many Canadian buyers are of the mistaken impression that as a foreign buyer they are taxed at a higher rate than a US citizen. This is not accurate. Canadian and US buyers are taxed on the same system...the difference exists for those individuals that elect to make Florida their "full time" place of residence.
As a full time resident, these individuals are entitled to file for a "Homestead Exemption" which currently is a $50,000 decrease off your assessed value. This reduces your taxable amount and inpacts your annual tax amount. This has nothing to do with your nationality. As a matter of fact there are many US citizens that because of personal reasons, elect to not make Florida their full time residence, thus missing out on the Homestead Exemption.
We have dealt with many Canadian buyers in the past (Toronto, N.S, London, Montreal etc.) and would be happy to put you in touch with one that could possibly share with you valuable information about their buying experience.
Michael Saunders & Company