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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