Hold my beer Vancouver, we got this. The newly released 2016 Census numbers from Statistics Canada, show the City of Toronto saw Vancouver’s 25k+ unoccupied homes, and trumped it by another 74k units. Now with over 99k unoccupied homes in the city, speculation of Toronto real estate might be worse than previously thought.
99,236 Homes Not Regularly Occupied
The number of homes in the GTA that aren’t being occupied is growing almost as fast as the price of shelter. The latest numbers show that 99,236 homes are not regularly occupied, as identified by the owner of the residence. This represents 4.5% of all homes in the city, and a 10.5% change over the past 5 years. The general population grew by 4.5% during the same period, which means this trend appears to be accelerating.
The rate of irregular occupancy was mostly skewed up by a few concentrated pockets. Most of the city came in under the 5% level, but a few areas were nowhere near that. The highest rate was in the Concord area of Vaughan, which came in at 35.27%. Interesting since a number of new projects are slated to hit the area…you know, because who doesn’t want a pied-à-terre next to the Ikea.
Downtown Toronto The Most Units
Downtown Toronto averaged higher than the rest of the city. The area South of Bloor Street, East of Roncesvalles Ave., and West of Yonge Street showed an average of 8.79% unoccupied. This number is also significant because the volume of housing is much higher. For instance the Fashion District (King West) had a massive 3,316 units (21.81%) not regularly occupied. The corridor going up Yonge Street also had a higher than usual concentration when compared to the rest of the city.
Why Are They Empty?
I know what you’re thinking, foreign buyers! Well, foreign buyers aren’t usually census respondents so these are most likely domestic residents. AirBnB, pied-à-terre, or short-term renting are all uses I’ve heard from owners of multiple Toronto homes. The most popular reason however, is likely plain ole’ speculation. One of the consequences of living in a city with a red hot real estate market is flippers will hang on to inventory until they believe they’ve hit peak. In fact, a few months ago we observed that 1 in 3 homes in the city were being sold as never been lived in, despite many having been built a few years ago.
Speculation isn’t a bad thing by itself. There’s nothing wrong with flipping units for the purposes of making a profit. This could present a problem however if Canada’s record consumer debt has anything to do with this.
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Thanks for the article Daniel, great stats and helpful to my line of work
Hey Daniel – this map is great. Do you guys have the historical data for this? Interested to see what this looked like going back 3-5 and whether or not there’s a pattern to this. Ie downtown getting worse / better…
From Statistics Canada’s census data, unoccupied dwellings (found by taking total private dwellings and subtracting dwellings occupied by usual resident):
2006 – 93,365
2011 – 89,754
2016 – 99,236
2006 – 53,959
2011 – 58,229
2016 – 66,719
2006 – 67,873
2011 – 84,432
2016 – 95,971
If you hear a Realtor say this is normal, you now know who not to use. They’ll be the ones on the news disputing this soon.
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A note for correction, you’re comparing the 25k units in Vancouver city (from the Vancouver Sun article) against the Toronto CMA, not Toronto City. Chris’s data is more comparative in that case.
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[…] You might be thinking that isn’t that bad, you can always hold it until it goes back up. Sure, that’s an option, but keep in mind how long that took, especially when inflation adjusted. When adjusted for inflation, the last drop in 1989 took 22 years to reach the same levels again. This doesn’t include the cost of the mortgage, insurance, buying/selling costs, etc… If you turned a profit, it really wasn’t much money in the end, especially if you’re one of the people that purchased a home, and decided they were going to keep it emp…. […]
Toronto CMA (Census Metropolitan Area) population has been growing at roughly 1.5% for the past 3 years according to official numbers from StatsCan… from 5.97 million to 6.24 million or 90,000 per year.
According to official stats from City Hall, Toronto had 1.11 million occupied homes and John tory said there are 65,000 empty homes in Toronto. For a population of 2.73 million, that’s an average occupancy rate of 2.32 people per home.
Granted this is not for the CMA as a whole but it is still a useful number. According to CMHC there were a total of 39,000 housing starts in CMA in 2016, at an occupancy rate of 2.32, that’s enough for a population growth of exactly 90,500 people – slightly more than the actual population growth.
So, unless we have a huge influx of illegal and unregistered immigrants, there seems to be no shortage of supply and even if housing starts were to trickle down to zero (actually up in March), this inventory of 99,000 homes would take more than 3 years to be absorbed by the growing population!!!
That’s how frighteningly close Toronto’s housing market is at the moment to the edge of the cliff due to speculation and hoarding. It’s not a question of if the bubble will burst and the market will crash, rather when and what type of “sustained” downturn we are looking at.
Those who dismiss the idea of a crash altogether are thinking of a stock market type crash where the TSX nearly half its value in 6 months before bottoming. Housing crashes are rarely the same. The last Toronto housing crash took 7 years peak to trough and another 13 years after that before inflation adjusted house prices finally reached the peak levels of 1989.
“But interest rates were exuberant back then and that crash was not comparable to today’s conditions” some say. Well, what they often forget to mention is that the Bank of Canada dropped it’s rate a total of 7% in those 7 years to stimulate the economy and rejuvenate the housing market. What policy tool do they have now?!
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It gives you an idea of areas to be sure but not actual properties. My issue is there are so many including myself constantly at risk of homelessness and all these properties sitting vacant for what or who? So many could be developed into housing but our gov’t is obsessed on foreign development instead of helping those less fortunate. Not like there isn’t the space and plenty of new sitting empty like you say but even more derelict properties sitting vacant. Nice they are putting money into TCHC but I could give a shit what they spend on it when I will be dead before I get into subsidized housing at this rate of development which is nothing.
Akelius bought a lot of subsidized housing buildings that still look like that just pimped up for stupid people who don’t know. Capreit and Greenwin are another bunch of slumlords and still gov’t lets them carry on as if it’s ok it isn’t. I can’t even afford them so at the mercy of private rentals as cannot afford an apartment in a building. So I think it’s a deliberate plot to push up the condo push and rentals rise in expensive properties and keep development from these places to push up real estate. Ontarian gov’t has a lot to answer for ignoring the plight of the poor pushing us all to die on the street instead of helping and more into helping the rich get richer. Makes me hate being Canadian for sure.