Foreign ownership of Canadian real estate low: CMHC

The share of foreign ownership in condominiums in major Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) remains low, according to two Housing Market Insight reports from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) — a national look at foreign ownership and a second report delving deeper into Montreal.

“Foreign ownership is just one factor influencing Canada’s housing markets – but it’s an important one that continues to gain attention,” says Bob Dugan, chief economist, CMHC. “Our studies show that the share of foreign ownership remains low and concentrated in newer, larger buildings located in the cores of major cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. We continue to work with our partners in finding new ways to bring this important story into sharper focus.”

In the national report, CMHC found foreign ownership of condominiums was highest in Vancouver and Toronto, at 2.2 and 2.3 per cent, respectively. However, both markets saw a decline in share of foreign ownership compared to last year.

Other highlights include:

  • The 2016 shares in both Vancouver and Toronto were more in line with those in 2014. The relatively higher shares observed in 2015 were due to an unusually high proportion of foreign ownership in newly constructed condominiums that year relative to 2014 and 2016.
  • Foreign ownership in Montreal remained relatively stable at 1.1 per cent. Foreign ownership remains higher in Downtown Montreal and Nuns’ Island, at 4.3 per cent.
  • Outside of these CMAs, the share of foreign owners ranged from a low of 0.2 per cent in Saskatoon and Regina to a high of 1.2 per cent in Halifax.
  • Foreign ownership continues to be higher among newer and larger buildings in the central areas of Toronto and Vancouver. In Toronto, the share of foreign ownership rose to 3.9 per cent in buildings completed since 2010 and in buildings with more than 500 units, it rose to 5.5 per cent. In Vancouver, newer buildings saw a five-per-cent share of foreign owners, while buildings with more than 100 units reported 3.2-per-cent share of foreign owners.

 

In the Montreal report, CMHC found that in 2015, between four and eight per cent of foreign owned condominium units in Montreal were left empty. More surprisingly, 40 per cent of foreign buyers who purchased their unit in 2015 did so without the use of a mortgage. For all buyers (Canadian and foreign), this proportion was 15 per cent.

Other highlights from the Montreal report:

  • The condominiums owned by foreigners in central sectors of Montréal generally had higher values than those owned by Canadians.
  • Since the beginning of 2016, the number of foreign buyers in the Montréal area, while remaining limited, recorded an increase over the same period in 2015. The greatest gain was registered among investors from China, however, it’s important to note that this represents only about 30 additional buyers.

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