Canadian Cities Have Seen Investors Buy Up To 100% of Newly Constructed Condos

Worried falling Canadian real estate prices will hurt owners of all those new condos? Well, you can relax because the majority of them are investor owned. Data provided by the Canadian Housing Statistics Program shows most recently built condos weren’t owner occupied in 2020. The owner could have bought it to be a landlord, as a second home, or just needed a house shaped safety deposit box. In any case, Canadian cities have seen as little as 0% of recently built condos since 2016 go to end-users. Investors have outcompeted end-users for what’s generally considered the most affordable ownership option.

Ontario Has Seen Nearly 3 In 5 New Condos Go To Investors

Most of Ontario’s recently built condo apartments were bought by non-occupying owners. There were 58,100 units built since 2016 with known ownership, and 59.8% had non-occupying owners in 2020. Ontario’s recent condo building boom only saw 2 in 5 units bought by end-users.   

The trend applied to cities of all sizes, even small and secondary markets. Small cities like Woodstock, one of the fastest growing for price, saw 100% of its 225 new condos bought by non-occupying owners. London saw over 4 in 5 (82%) of its 1,360 recently built condos suffer a similar fate. Investors in the much larger Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo region owned 81% of the 3,210 condo units recently built. 

Ontario Has Seen 3 In 5 Recently Built Condos Go To Non-Occupying Owners

The share of condo apartments constructed after 2016 with non-occupying ownership in 2020.

Source: Canadian Housing Statistics Program; Better Dwelling.

Even high volume markets like Greater Toronto and Hamilton are majority investor owned. Toronto saw nearly 3 in 5 (58.7%) of the 44,740 recently constructed condos owned by non-occupying owners. Hamilton was just a hair under with 57.5% of its 2,315 units in 2020. That’s a lot of declared investor demand. Declared probably being a key term in Canada. 

More Than Half of BC’s New Condos Were Owned By Investors

BC has seen more than half (54.3%) of the province’s 44,015 recently built units have non-occupying owners. Cities like Fort St. John (100% non-occupying owners) and Squamish (79.2%) lead the province in this area. It’s not just an issue in small markets though. 

Most of BC’s Recently Built Condos Are Not Owner Occupied

The share of condo apartments constructed after 2016 with non-occupying ownership in 2020.

Source: Canadian Housing Statistics Program; Better Dwelling.

Large markets also saw the majority of new condos scooped by non-occupying owners. Greater Vancouver saw 52.8% of its recently built condos owned by this segment in 2020. Victoria (52.3%) and Kelowna (70.5%) also each saw non-occupying owners hold 1,000 recently built units.

It’s Happening Everywhere, Expect Ownership Rate To Plummet

Atlantic Canada caught landlord fever as well. Non-occupying ownership of new condos was high in Nova Scotia (62.6%) and New Brunswick (54.2%) in 2020. Yes, only a minority of the condos built in either province were owned by end-users.

Most of Atlantic Canada’s Built Constructed Condos Are Not Owner Occupied

The share of residential homeowners in Atlantic Canada that owned at least two homes in 2020.

Source: Canadian Housing Statistics Program; Better Dwelling.

With low rates across Canada, it’s become an issue virtually everywhere. Even in Manitoba the majority (51.5%) of new condos had non-occupying ownership in 2020. There was no ownership data for the other regions, but it being a cross section of regions shows it’s not just an Ontario or BC issue.

Canada’s speculative setup created the perfect environment for investors. Low rates and sub-1% property taxes combined to make a high leverage investment with low carrying costs. Since investors compete with and pass on costs, this can drive prices and rents higher. There’s a reason central banks warn low rates don’t improve housing affordability. Heck, research even indicates that low rates help to concentrate wealth.

Condo apartments are the “most affordable” segment of housing for homebuyers. If they’re outbid for these units at a rate higher than the ownership rate, expect the ownership rate to decline rapidly in the coming years.

17 Comments

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  • Kate 2 weeks ago

    It seems we will have the new era of neo feudal who owners all real estate and rent out a roof over heard.

    • Imran Sheikh 2 weeks ago

      The market decides.

      • Omar 2 weeks ago

        It’s literally the opposite of the market deciding when interest rates are driven down by QE. that’s the state deciding.

        • Bj 2 weeks ago

          The state can’t do QE forever though. If lets say the BOC or Fed decide to reverse course and reduce rates and do QE again the bond market would start questioning their judgement. They would then demand higher yields on longer term bonds. When that happens its game over. This is why the central banks are talking tough.

      • Chin Lie 2 weeks ago

        The market is being controlled by the rich n powerful, hence the wealth gaps between the have n the have not.

  • Rob Sue 2 weeks ago

    I never thought much about condos until I seen a CBC documentary on the condos being built down town Toronto 10 years ago. Whole floors of the condo’s where bought by foreign buyers as investments and never occupied. It could be plainly seen since whole floors have no lights on. Shortly after more and more people I talked to were buying condo’s for investment purposes. The house shaped safety deposit box may or may not be a good investment for the long run. However if BOC keeps raising interest rates and the real estate prices start sliding it could prove to be a large capital loss for these investors.

  • Jeremy 2 weeks ago

    The liberals have been shitting the bed for decades, leaving average Canadians behind and Canadians are still voting them in..

    • Rick Woodland 2 weeks ago

      The problem isn’t that Canadians keep voting for lousy Liberal candidates.
      It’s that the Conservatives keep running even worse candidates.

  • Kevin J Paiuk 2 weeks ago

    They better figure things out quick before there is unrest

  • richard stanbridge 2 weeks ago

    well the investor class has enjoyed the feeling of greed for the past 12 years as the central banks pumped money into their pockets. now let’s see how they enjoy fear as their house of cards comes tumbling down.

    • sd 2 weeks ago

      A lot of those investors were mom and pop investors like you neighbours. Home investing has replaced pension plans for most people.

      • Bruno 2 weeks ago

        There’s a big difference between people who are negative cash flow speculators not collecting enough rent and landlords. Over the past two years very few of the deals made sense from a cashflow perspective.

        Not very neighborly to expect your tax dollars to fund a bailout, is it?

  • Yoroshiku 2 weeks ago

    I know quite a few Canadians who bought & sold condos and townhouses before they were even built. It has been easy-money for many years now.

  • shane Hillser 2 weeks ago

    Somebody send this to Trudeau…..
    This should be outlawed.

  • Bob Fromm 2 weeks ago

    This article is doing a poor job at spinning something scary as a positive thing. New regulations limiting foreign and corporate ownership are a must otherwise Canadians are going to be priced out.

    • Kate Wright 2 weeks ago

      They didn’t spin anything, they literally just gave the numbers and you feel threatened by stating them. That’s more a sign of it’s a problem than anything they could have said.

  • Greg 2 weeks ago

    Thanks to the investors with negative cashflow, renting is cheaper than ownership.

Comments are closed.