But it’s unlikely many will actually pick up and move, says a real estate economist.
Are Americans worried about a President Donald Trump really going to move to Canada? It’s a theme that pops up after many political reversals in the U.S., but there’s some evidence to suggest people are at least thinking about it now.
The Canadian Real Estate Association says it’s seen nearly three times more web traffic than normal from Americans over the last few days.
Last November, it saw about 10,400 Americans per day searching for homes in Canada. Over the last few days, the average surged to 27,700, with a further spike on Wednesday morning.
RE/MAX Canada, the country’s top real estate brokerage, said it saw its web traffic from Americans quadruple since the election results began pouring in.
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Zillow said it saw a 1,200 percent spike in interest for the search term “Zillow Canada” on Google after the election results came in Tuesday night (even though Zillow doesn’t operate in Canada). Washington state and Seattle were among the leading sources of queries.
Similarly, interest in the Google search term “Canada homes for sale” surged 1,011 percent after Trump opened his lead over challenger Hillary Clinton. The Canadian immigration site crashed on Tuesday night due to a surge in traffic.
In Pierce County, one Gig Harbor realtor, Joe Sanchez & Associates, even posted an ad in the local paper that read: “Moving to Canada? We’ll sell your house!” above pictures of the candidates. Dennis Quinn, who’s in marketing for the firm, said they haven’t had any takers yet. How come?
“Very few are actually going to make that move, or everyone is out this morning shopping for hockey skates so they will ‘blend’ with the locals once they get to Canada,” he joked.
But don’t expect any mass migration, said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at the real estate website Trulia.
“Seattleites searching for homes in Canada equates at most to window shopping,” McLaughlin said. “We think the burgeoning interest in Canadian real estate from American buyers is more of a gut reaction to shocked left-leaning voters, and not any real indication that Americans are likely to expatriate themselves to the Great White North.”
Comparing house prices across the border is tricky because the United States uses median home price figures while Canada uses the average, which tends to produce a higher number because super-pricey luxury listings push up the average.
Looking closer to Seattle, British Columbia home prices now average $436,000 in U.S. dollars — and $644,000 USD in Vancouver, though some parts of the city have topped a million dollars. The average King County home is $597,000 (the median is $496,000).
“I have heard and know of people who are disillusioned and talking about coming to Canada,” said Leigh Freeman, a cross-border broker based in Vancouver, B.C. for Macdonald Realty, and in Bellingham for Windermere Real Estate. He said the exchange rate, currently favorable to Americans, might help with those considering making the move.
Of course, it will be a while before there is any proof of Americans moving to Canada: The process can take months.
Trulia’s McLaughlin said while Seattleites may be more likely than other Americans to actually follow through with such a move, the number of people doing so would be too small to have a real impact on local housing prices.
What’s more, there is already evidence that interest in the real estate market is moving in the opposite direction — from Canada to Seattle. After British Columbia enacted a 15 percent tax on foreign buyers in the Vancouver metro area in July, the Seattle area has seen a spike in interest from overseas home seekers.
Of course, this isn’t the first time people have talked about moving to Canada, and sometimes they do follow through. Freeman points to some towns just over the Washington border, including Nelson, which still has a lot of Americans who came over during the Vietnam War.
“A lot of draft dodgers moved to western B.C.,” Freeman said.