Here Are Canada’s Top Cities Where Foreign Investors Are Dropping Capital

Last week we took a dive through non-resident ownership data across provinces. Today we’re going to break down similar Statistics Canada (Stat Can) for cities. We ranked cities by the highest rate of non-resident ownership for 2020. Almost every city in the Stat Can treasure trove had a significant non-resident ownership rate. Transfer data traditionally only looks for homes wholly owned by non-resident entities. This appears to miss a significant share of capital used to drive housing costs higher. 

About Today’s Data

Today we’re looking at homes with non-resident participation in ownership in cities. Included are 93 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) or census agglomerations (CAs), across five provinces. The provinces are British Columbia, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Ontario. This is also total ownership, not for new construction. On our provincial breakdown, we discuss both.

Non-Resident Owners Owned 2.8% of Housing Stock On Average

Canadian cities have seen non-resident ownership climb as a share of total ownership. The median rate of housing with non-resident participation in ownership was 2.4% in 2020, up from 2.1% the year before. The average rate is 2.8%, up from 2.3% over the same period. Generally speaking, major cities tend to see a higher rate, and smaller ones weigh the stats down.

Canada’s Coasts Attract The Most Foreign Buyers

Canada’s coastal regions attract the highest rates of foreign buyers, as a share of stock. St. John’s, Newfoundland topped the list with 6.4% of homes having non-resident owners in 2020. It was followed by Vancouver (6.2%), and Cambleton, New Brunswick (5.9%) to round out the top three. All three markets have much higher non-resident ownership rates than the national numbers. The size of Vancouver’s market makes it a more prominent issue, though.

Remember, this is total housing stock with a non-resident owner. New construction tends to be a little higher, as we discussed in our provincial breakdown. We’ll dive into new construction later this week, though.

Three Ontario Cities Have The Lowest Rates of Non-Resident Ownership… For Now

Ontario real estate markets took the bottom 3 spots on the list for foreign ownership. Centre Wellington, Hawkesbury, and Tillsonburg tied at 1.3% of homes in 2020. Over the past 12 months, Tillsonburg has seen home prices rise nearly 35%, though. It’s hard to see that kind of price growth not attract global investor interest.

Halifax Real Estate Has A Higher Rate of Non-Resident Ownership Than Toronto

Some major cities didn’t rank at the top or bottom of the list but are still worth mentioning. Halifax (4.1%) has been turned into a booming market, landing in 11th place. Toronto (4.0%), Canada’s largest real estate market, is the 13the largest market. Ottawa (2.6%) is below the national average and tied with the median.

Canadian Foreign Ownership Rate By City

The percent of housing stock in census metropolitan areas (CMAs) or census agglomerations (CAs) with participation of non-resident ownership.

Source: Statistics Canada; Better Dwelling.

Unfortunately, only data for five provinces are available. This misses some big cities like Calgary and Montreal. Hopefully, that’s added at some point, and not bogged down by regulatory burden. It’s worth mentioning that larger cities with high growth will attract more capital. If the share of foreign capital rises, it means more foreign than domestic capital is flowing. Big cities like Calgary and Montreal would be prime places for non-resident investors.

Canada is placing a significant focus on foreign ownership, but not on foreign capital. Politicians often conflate the two, but they’re two very different issues to look at. Foreign ownership doesn’t have to be majority-owned for the capital to make a difference. The capital is still inflating costs, and not subject to local taxes. That creates an uneven playing field, while residents subsidize ownership (and their profits). To say this is a less than ideal situation would be generous.

Later this week we’ll do a more regional breakdown on the $156 billion in housing with foreign owners. Oh, did we forget to mention non-resident owners are listed on $156 billion worth of property in Canada? Ah, next time.



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  • Ron 2 years ago

    I doubt the data in the graph . They are probably as true as the CPI represents the real inflation 🙂

  • James from Windsor 2 years ago

    1. Does a correlation analysis reveal any significance between foreign ownership percent and a.) highest home prices and b.) highest home price rate of increase, especially in past 2 years, for all CMA’s?

    2. When will Edmonton, Calgary stats be available?

    • bob 2 years ago

      st johns listed 2-3 times. is it like 16% in reality? it looks like an inv’asian ‘ from alll sides even whitehorse from the north.

  • Bob 2 years ago

    why is st johns listed three times is it really over 16% so almost 1 in 5 houses foreign owned. it looks like a foreign invasion. wow

    • Kyle 2 years ago

      Because Canada has a St. John’s, St. John’s, and a St Johns.

      Data source pulled most likely doesn’t provide the province in this view and it’s a Vancouver company, so it likely doesn’t matter to them.

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