Over 1 In 10 of Canada’s Non-Resident Real Estate Owners Have Multiple Properties

Non-resident investors find Canada’s real estate markets so nice they’re buying it twice…  or thrice, sometimes more. Data from the Canadian Housing Statistics Program (CHSP) shows substantial non-resident homeownership. Not new, but what is surprising is the share of non-residents, who have income tax obligations in another country, that owned multiple homes in 2020. Over 1 in 10 non-resident homeowners across Canada owned at least two properties.

Over 1 in 10 of Canada’s Non-Resident Homeowners Own Several  

Canadian real estate’s investment boom attracted significant non-resident ownership. About 3.5% of homeowners in Canada were non-resident owners, that’s roughly 340,735 owners. Over 1 in 10 (10.2%) of those non-resident owners held multiple properties in the same region. As we stated before, multiple properties can be rentals, AirBNB, vacation homes, or house-shaped safety deposit boxes. In any case, this was more demand contributing to higher prices. 

It might not sound like much to the average person, but it’s a huge number that can have a significant impact on price. Even one-point of excess demand can drive prices higher, as it competes with end-user. Marginal buyers, especially deep pocketed ones, can bid up prices quickly, setting comps. It doesn’t take much, as we’ve explained with money laundering

Non-Resident Investment Isn’t Just A BC or Ontario Issue, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Are Feeling It Too

The CHSP is still wrangling data and includes 5 provinces and 2 territories at this point. It might not be a full picture, but it’s enough to show this isn’t just a Toronto or Vancouver issue. Just over 1 in 8 (13.8%) of Nova Scotia’s non-resident homeowners owned multiple properties. The province leads when it comes to the share of its non-residents that are investors.

Over 1 In 10 Non-Resident Homeowners Bought Multiple Homes In Canada

The share of non-resident homeowners that owned at least two homes in Canada.

Source: Canadian Housing Statistics Program; Better Dwelling.

New Brunswick followed with 12.0% of its non-resident owners holding multiple properties. We finally see Ontario in third with 10.2% of its non-residents, rounding out the top 3.

BC and Ontario Have The Most Non-Resident Real Estate Investors

As you might expect, bigger markets had the highest volumes — being high volume markets, and all. Ontario had 187,325 non-resident homeowners in 2020, and 19,120 (10.2%) owned multiple properties. BC is next with 88,670 non-resident homeowners, of those 7,775 (8.8%), owned multiple properties.

Non-Resident Homeowners With Multiple Properties In Canada

The number of non-resident homeowners with at least two homes in Canada.

Source: Canadian Housing Statistics Program; Better Dwelling.

The merit of non-resident ownership is debatable, since increased demand helps drive prices. Not exactly everyone is upset with the recent price boom, with many cheering it on. However, it’s naive to say non-resident home buyers aren’t a market force. It’s one degree from nonsensical gibberish when 1 in 10 own multiple properties. 

In addition to demand and marginal pressures, time distribution needs to be considered. Had the share of non-resident purchases been over decades, it may not have been as noticeable. Data shows the surge was a recent phenomenon, and Canada’s non-resident ownership is particularly concentrated in new reconstruction

It’s worth noting that non-resident ownership isn’t the sole cause of higher prices, but a symptom. Any commodity market that presents a profit opportunity will attract investors. If you think Canadian home prices will always rise, you should expect them. Eliminating non-resident buying like the Federal Gov is suggesting, also doesn’t eliminate this problem. It just means domestic speculators get the home field advantage, and foreign investment will need to restructure.

13 Comments

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  • RW 4 months ago

    There’s no such thing as a non-resident investor. They bought multiple homes and plan on returning the ones they don’t use.

    I heard an academic that doesn’t specialize in this area very clearly explain the issue. The same one who sold his home to foreign “money lobbyists,” according to this Hong Kong newspaper.

    https://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2181447/professor-says-vancouvers-china-money-fears-mirror

    • Hugo 4 months ago

      Memories of 2017. Oh man, how I miss thee.

    • Yoroshiku 4 months ago

      There’s no such thing as a non-resident investor? Huh? Billions of dollars worth of Canadian real estate has been sold to foreign investors hiding behind shell corporations, LLCs, etc. No one really knows how many billions because Canada’s rules for registering corporations and trusts (ie “beneficial ownership”) are so weak and have been for so long.

      • Olivia 4 months ago

        I think it was sarcasm.

        The link is a Hong Kong newspaper explaining a Canadian academic that’s frequently quoted by media saying the foreign investment narrative is persecution sold his home to the city’s top foreign “money lobbyists.”

        Of course, he has no idea how that happened. A mystery, which at best explains he’s acknowledging his narrative is BS since not even they were able to identify foreign capital under his nose.

    • Jack D 4 months ago

      What??

      Generally speaking, they’re deemed nonresidents when they’re NOT living in any of their homes for a significant portion of the year (<50%).

      So these are people who purchase multiple properties in Canada and rent them ALL out at a profit (except for one that they live in 0-50% of the year).

  • Oldguy 4 months ago

    You guys are usually good with data, but in this case your conclusions are not supported. You present no time series information which would indicate whether there is a trend here and your comparison to recent buyers is similarly flawed.
    Your conclusions may be correct but your analysis does not support them. This type of fast and loose stuff will taint your reputation for honest and well-supported commentary.
    Be careful.

    • Hannah Goodman 4 months ago

      Did you even read the article?

      An exact quote, “in addition to demand and marginal pressures, time distribution needs to be considered.”

      In the same paragraph they literally link to a long analysis on new construction ownership according to land registry data, with declared non-resident ownership. I don’t know why people so often demand they repeat 2000+ words for every paragraph when they literally give you the info you’re looking for beside it.

      The link if you’re not up for scrolling.

      https://betterdwelling.com/canadian-cities-have-seen-up-to-1-in-8-newly-built-homes-go-to-non-residents/

  • Ron Bruce 4 months ago

    The non-resident investor must be difficult to track, especially when you can find hundreds of nominees to help purchase property who already live in the community. The nominee(s) will receive a percentage of the increased value when the property is sold. If the property doesn’t increase in value, the non-resident investor loses money, but not the nominee(s) – risk-free. BC’s Landownersip Transparency Act isn’t a deterrent, just a minor inconvenience.
    Canada’s non-resident ownership is particularly concentrated in new reconstruction, so Developers are playing the game – build and flip as soon as possible.

    • Yoroshiku 4 months ago

      @Ron Bruce. I’ve never heard of that nominee strategy! Wow.
      I don’t think BC incorporated any sort of verification of the identities of buyers. Just take ’em at their word. There’s also no real consequence for lying about who actually owns the property/properties.

      @Olivia. Sorry, I didn’t get the sarcasm. 🙂

    • Jay 4 months ago

      On a trip from Ottawa to Toronto there was a person bragging about going to Toronto to buy 5-10 properties for an American investor.
      It made me wonder how many don’t brag yet a buying Canadian properties for foreign investors!

    • Jay 4 months ago

      On a trip from Ottawa to Toronto there was a person bragging about going to Toronto to buy 5-10 properties for an American investor.
      It made me wonder how many don’t brag yet are buying Canadian properties for foreign investors!

  • backwardsevolution 4 months ago

    “Over 1 in 10 non-resident homeowners across Canada owned at least two properties.”

    There were 340,735 non-resident investors and 10.2% (34,755) owned at least two properties. How many owned three properties? Five? Ten?

    “Any commodity market that presents a profit opportunity will attract investors.”

    Only if the government allows and encourages it. This would never happen in China or India or Thailand. I hope the politicians have been paid well for selling the country out.

    Why is this information only coming out now? Anyone in the industry would have known this was happening all along, and yet they kept quiet (or almost quiet), barely saying a word. Instead, the only time they were vocal was when you asked questions (how dare you!) and then you were shouted down.

    Shame!

  • Alda K 4 months ago

    The govt did nothing to stop these criminal money launderers from propping up the market . Just because someone can make an offer hundreds of thousands above asking doesn’t mean that the property is worth that. The investigation unit doesn’t care or try hard to stop this laundering since most are llc companies buying them up . Blame the system . Waiting for the crash 💥.

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