Canada

Foreign Investors Are Scooping New Condo Supply In Toronto and Vancouver… Again

Toronto and Vancouver condos are starting to attract foreign buyers again… at least the newer inventory is. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) data show a mixed movement in 2020. Toronto’s total rate of non-resident condo ownership declined, while Vancouver’s increased. Both cities are still seeing non-resident ownership of new supply climb though.

Foreign Buyers Own Over 1 in 20 New Condo Units In Toronto

The City of Toronto saw a decline in the total number of condos held by non-resident owners last year. Non-residents owned 3.1% of the city’s condos in 2020, down from 3.3% the year before. In terms of condo units, non-residents owned 9,686, down 2.4% over the same period. It would appear older supply is being sold off at a faster rate than it’s being bought.

Toronto Condo Rate of Non-Resident Ownership

The rate of non-resident ownership of condos in the City of Toronto. Shown for year of build, as well the overall rate.

Source: CMHC; Better Dwelling.

Foreign buyers owned a significant amount of newer condo construction. In 2020, non-residents owned 5.4% of condos built after 2010 in the City, down from 5.7% in 2019. In absolute terms, that works out to 6,903 units made after 2010, up 2.51% from a month before. The rate fell, but the actual number of units owned by non-resident investors saw an increase. Over 1 in 20 condos made after 2010 are owned by non-residents.

Vancouver Sees Foreign Ownership of Condos Rise, But Is Still Much Lower Than 2018

The City of Vancouver is actually seeing the rate of non-resident ownership rise. The rate increased to 1.9% in 2020, up from 1.5% the year before. In terms of absolute units, 1,850 condos were owned by non-residents last year, up 31.4% from a year before. Non-resident ownership of condos increased by 1 unit for every 10 added to the market last year.

Vancouver Condo Rate of Non-Resident Ownership

The rate of non-resident ownership of condos in the City of Vancouver. Shown for year of build, as well the overall rate. Plots without data have been suppressed by the CMHC to protect confidentiality or they considered the data not statistically reliable.

Source: CMHC; Better Dwelling.

Non-residents displayed a preference for post-2010 condo builds as well. In 2020, non-residents owned 2.4% of condos built after 2010, up from 1.0% a year before. In terms of units, this works out to 584 condos, up 177.6% from a year before. Surprisingly units built from 1990 to 2000 had a higher rate of ownership. 

Toronto and Vancouver are divergent on the growth of non-resident condo investment. On one hand, Toronto saw the overall rate of non-resident ownership fall. As for Vancouver, it’s begun to climb again, but still has a long way to go to get to 2018 numbers. That said, newer condo developments are attracting more non-resident investment these days.

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12 Comments

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  • Trader Jim 2 months ago

    If prices rise 25%, why would a 20% deter anyone from speculating? You can hold it for two years, and still make money. Actually, it drives prices faster.

    • Doomcouver 2 months ago

      Because of the massive run-up over the last 10 years in many cities I wouldn’t even consider a 20% drop a real correction, more like a pause or sideways movement. Any possible unwinding would be a much deeper correction than that, probably at least 30-40% or so Canada-wide, and higher than that in the main cities.

  • Kathleen Thomson 2 months ago

    Build more supply… and overseas buyers will have their own dedicated stream, averaging the numbers down.

    • Doomcouver 2 months ago

      You can’t solve a speculative demand problem with more supply, you’re going to make the inevitable correction way worse. We need demand-side curbs to try and normalize the number of potential buyers in the market. If investors get squeezed out and we’re still out of supply, then so be it, build away.

      • Sam 2 months ago

        Exactly,

        You can’t satiate sharks by throwing more chum at them…..they’ll just keep devouring everything you have and come back for more. TIme for some good regulation turning our housing industry from chum into kelp pellets.

        • Living, Working In BC 2 months ago

          So all, how do we all curb the demand-side?

          Local buyers only?

          And by Canadian, I mean a true year limit – say having been natural citizen (vs. back door scams) for at least 25 years+? And or the applicant being born in a country where corruptedness is not a “national sport” or is communist? That may also change the money-laundering matters a bit, or the source of out of country wealth baing parked here in real estate.

          Just my 2 cents and options.

  • Ashley 2 months ago

    No surprise, when govt. publicly supports foreign investment in real estate and real estate investment aka speculation, is backed by govt. guarantee it is hard to pass 25% safe return that too in a short term.
    I wonder if foreign buyer is only 5%, who are the rest 95% – domestic investors, investing thinking foreign buyer will buy from them at a premium.

    • Doomcouver 2 months ago

      It’s highly leveraged Canadian speculators and your average FOMO homebuyer. Foreign buyers aren’t to blame for the vast majority of price acceleration. It’s Canadians who are addicted to debt, and heavily speculating on real estate that are to blame. This is going to going to end in disaster, regardless of whether there’s a crash or not, all possible outcomes are now horrendously bad for Canada.

    • Average Man 2 months ago

      That’s exactly what local investors are hoping for. I’ve heard an anecdote that, pre-COVID, realtors in TO and Van would pay local Chinese-Canadian families a few hundred bucks to dress up fancy and hang out in condo showrooms speaking Mandarin to get the rubes fired up.

  • SH 2 months ago

    *Sigh*

    Why is it so difficult to elect a government that puts CANADIANS first? FFS

  • Living, working in BC 2 months ago

    Have all buyers show sources of legitimate funds and undergo a mandatory CRA audit.

    Remove tax cheats and offshore funds.

    Local earnings as a ratio of home prices.

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