Canadian Real Estate Investors On The Rise As First-Time Buyers Fall: RBC

Cheap debt turned Canadian real estate into a playground for deep-pocketed investors, with fewer end-users. That was one of the insights in the RBC Q2 2022 earnings call with analysts. Investors now represent almost 1 in 7 residential mortgage dollars they’re owed. RBC’s top brass called it a “sad commentary” to see so few first-time buyers, displaced by more investors. 

Investors Owe 1 in 7 Dollars of RBC’s Canadian Mortgage Debt

Nearly 1 in 7 dollars in residential mortgage debt at RBC is investor debt. Investors were behind $47 billion of the mortgage debt in Q2 2022. It represented about 13% of the bank’s portfolio, and was a growing segment.

Unfortunately, they didn’t provide historic numbers to see how much it grew. However, it was noteworthy that the numbers grew. In general, the bank has seen more wealthy clients, likely capitalizing on cheap debt.

RBC explained real estate wealth wasn’t the only boom in wealth for their clients. “… we’re seeing just the overall income and the net worth of a mortgage buyer increase over time,” said Neil McLaughlin, RBC’s head of personal & commercial banking.

A “Sad Commentary” To See Fewer First-Time Home Buyers

Cheap debt and more leverage is a great way to crowd out those who can barely afford the market. It turns out that’s exactly what’s happening, explained the bank.

“… I think it’s a bit of a systemic issue that first-time homebuyers are becoming less and less a part of our portfolio,” said McLaughlin.

He further suggested first-time buyers might be going to other D-SIBs, a.k.a. The “Big Six” Canadian banks. Specifically, ones who may not be able to borrow under their stringent following of B-20 Guidelines. However, they think this is more of a structural issue forming across Canada.

“…. I think it is a bit of a sad commentary in terms of young people being able to get into some of these markets,” said McLaughlin.  

RBC’s internal data indicates that Canadian real estate is packed to the brim with real estate investors. Earlier this year, we dived into ownership data and found that 1 in 5 mortgages went to investors. It’s a distribution similar to the dollar volume they appear to be carrying.

In Ontario, similar observations can be made regarding the displacement of first-time home buyers. Land registry data shows investors saw their share of the market climb to over 25% of purchases. It was nearly a 10-point increase over the past 10-years, rising almost 3 points in 2021 alone. At the same time, first-time home buyers dropped 4 points from 2011 to 2017, increasing as rates climbed until 2020. The slash in interest rates quickly put an end to the trend, boosting investors.

RBC is far from alone, however, they’re the only bank mentioning it out loud.



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  • Agent Bob 2 years ago

    the government needs to legislate new laws for investment properties. Charge 2% of the value of the property as a yearly tax and eliminate many of the tax writeoffs such as mortgage interest.
    This is already been implemented in New Zealand.

  • Ron Bruce 2 years ago

    Deep-pocketed investors are anticipating driving up real estate prices rather than investing in new technologies, industries and jobs that would help Canadians compete on the global stage. Unaffordable and escalating prices in housing are here to stay, why else would you invest in property? Banks, Realtors, Developers and lawyers will aid in the process no matter where the investment originates from.

  • Scott 2 years ago

    “TVO aired an interview with MP Adam Vaughan yesterday, discussing housing policy. In the interview, Vaughan, who helps oversee the CMHC, said price drops are not an option. The minister also said the market doesn’t work for locals, but is great for foreign investors. He also implied the strategy they might use to fix the market is one they were warned against. It was some interview. Here are the key market takeaways.” – That was from a BD story from last April…

  • Nervous and afraid 2 years ago

    Don’t ever listen to Adam Vaughan. The guy is a stooge and should never be quoted. It’s incredible he’s given this portfolio. The implications are dire, but nobody seems to care someone with no real background in this has that much influence!

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