• Agents in America-friendly countries have been expecting a flurry of buying activity after the U.S. election from disappointed Americans on both sides.
  • The Costa Rica market is particularly prepared for a busy period.
  • Canada is taking warnings of an influx of Americans in its housing markets with a pinch of salt, with little sign of it happening yet despite a online interest earlier in the year.

Did your clients on both sides of the political spectrum admit to browsing houses online in Costa Rica, dreaming of castles in Ireland or eyeing second homes in Vancouver as the election neared?

It may have just been talk, but international markets are bracing themselves for real deals happening from today as some Americans show their displeasure at the new person headed for the White House.

According to metrics from realtor.com/international:

  • Between 10 p.m. ET and 11:59 p.m. ET on Election Day, Nov. 8, pageviews increased 948 percent, compared to the same time period the week before.
  • The searching continued on Nov. 9, with traffic hitting a high at 1 p.m. ET when pageviews increased 536 percent, compared with the same time the week before.
  • Overall, the weekly average of pageviews of international properties are up 329 percent compared to the week before (Nov. 7 -9 and Oct. 31 – Nov. 2)
  • The top five countries viewed ranked by number of views were: 1. Mexico; 2. Jamaica; 3. Canada; 4. Spain; 5. France

‘Find me on a Costa Rica beach’

Sarah Breitlander, owner of Krain Costa Rica Real Estate, part of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (LeadingRE) is serious about expecting an onslaught of inquiries now that the U.S. election is decided.

“For us, we have been getting more than nibbles; it’s been huge bites, we’ve seen such an uptick in the past two years, it’s almost hard to keep up with demand — we have been getting contacted on a daily basis here,” she said.

Sarah Breitlander, owner of Krain Costa Rica Real Estate

Sarah Breitlander, owner of Krain Costa Rica Real Estate

Breitlander said she has been getting inquiries from buyers in Texas, Massachusetts, Colorado and California from both Democrats and Republicans. “It’s come from either side: if Hillary wins or if Donald wins,” she said before the results came in. “The message is: I’ll be down there.”

She added: “Every election year there’s always a big year for overseas buyers, especially in Costa Rica. This year has been an election year on steroids. We are expecting, bracing, preparing for this huge influx of buyers into Costa Rica.”

The rising market in Costa Rica is seeing a nice beachfront condominium go for around $350,000, said the broker. The inventory is not huge in popular parts of Costa Rica such as Guanacaste, so Breitlander is in close touch with developers to know exactly when new properties are coming on stream.

Will U.S. buyers be selling their homes in the U.S.? That’s unlikely, said Breitlander. The homes being purchased in Costa Rica are largely second homes, she said.

Canada ready for anything but not expecting a deluge

Canada, meanwhile, has been one of the most talked-about places for Americans to flee to, dissatisfied with their country’s future since the Republican primaries were finalized on May 26 this year.

And on election night, Canada’s immigration website crashed, showing a “500 – internal server error,” as Trump showed strength across swing states.

Brian Rushton, Century 21 Canada executive vice president (EVP), said the National Association of Realtors conference among the American delegates this year seemed a bit off as they struggled with tension from the close presidential election.

The Canadians commented on the spirit at NAR coming back from the conference, said the Century 21 EVP. “The attitude, the energy at this NAR conference just didn’t feel the same, and people were more tight-lipped, not as vocal as usual,” he said.

Rushton said he had heard much discussion of Americans moving to Canada in recent months — but whether any deals had happened yet was unknown.

For Americans looking for places to go, Montreal is one of the best investing locations in Canada, at the moment, he added. “There has also been interest in maritime properties in places such as Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island,” he said.

If you wanted to do business in Canada, Toronto was the most likely destination for Americans, while for those wanting a more laid-back experience, Vancouver was a good destination. “If people have the financial ability, Vancouver is a popular option,” he said.

However, the EVP warned that the Greater Vancouver area had introduced an extra 15 percent in non-residential tax to foreign buyers.

Come buy a castle, says Ireland

Although England has become a bit persona non grata after the Brexit vote, to Americans, Ireland is an interesting option — affordable to those flashing the U.S. dollar.

Charles Erwin, head of residential at LeadingRE member Ganly Walters, was upbeat about any American demand coming his way. Many Americans like to find their roots in Ireland, so where they buy depends on where their family is from. Connemara and County Kerry are both popular areas.

Tulira Castle, Co Galway Copyright Fennell Photography 2013

Tulira Castle, Co Galway
Copyright Fennell Photography 2013

“Our firm deals with castles and estates. We have sold a number in the last year between $1.35 million (1.5 million euro) to $4.95 million (5.5 million euro),” he said.

Ireland has one of the lowest agent commissions in the world, added Erwin. “As well as being the gateway to Europe, safety has become a huge thing; it is a good reason for looking at Dublin and Ireland. It’s quite a safe place to live and for bringing up your children. It’s not a country of extremes,” he said.

According to the agent, Dublin has also been seeing ex-pat Irish coming back to the country from England, after Brexit, wanting to be in Europe.

A warm ‘haere mai’ from New Zealand

New Zealand and Australia are other possible choices for those with good buying power (especially Californians). The managing director of the Auckland, New Zealand, real estate firm, Barfoot & Thompson, Peter Thompson, has been watching the U.S. election with interest.


Peter Thompson

“We have heard a lot of Americans say they would move to New Zealand if the wrong man (or woman) got in,” he said. “We have had plenty of inquiries with a great increase in web viewings of our site from both the U.K. (thanks to Brexit) and the U.S. over the past two months,” he said. Barfoot’s is a LeadingRE member.

Auckland tends to be the most popular as it is currently rated the eighth favorite city in the world to live in, said Thompson. “But like San Francisco and New York, the bigger cities see the average sale price increase.”

The average sales price in Auckland is around $667,000 (Nz $905,000) currently, increasing by between 10 to 14 percent each year for the past three years. Queenstown, the popular ski resort town in the South Island, is another popular place for internationals such as Americans, he said.

A frosty welcome from Australia

And let’s give Australia’s own Peter Brewer the last word on a potential influx of Americans to the lucky country. ”

Americans might think it’s easy to leave the U.S. if the shit hits the fan, but they shouldn’t automatically think they can move here without answering a few very hard questions,” said the well-known speaker on real estate.

“Australia has rigorous immigration laws and tests and based on the stupidity test; quite a few of my closest Facebook friends wouldn’t get past the application stage,” he teased.

P.S., he added: “Don’t bother packing your guns! They’re not welcome here. We already amended your amendment!”

Full disclosure: Gill South is a New Zealander.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

Email Gill South.

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