CMHC releases foreign condo investment stats

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In a first for CMHC, the Crown corporation has asked property managers to disclose the percentage of units owned by foreign investors as part of its Rental Market Survey.

“CMHC recognizes that there is demand to fill information gaps with respect to Canada's housing markets. To address this need CMHC has, for the first time, asked property managers to provide information on the total number of condominium apartment units owned by people whose permanent residence is outside of Canada as part of its survey,” CMHC said in a release. “The condominium foreign investment information was collected in 11 Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA) in Canada. They include: Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal and Québec.”

The results of the additional question reveal that foreign investment accounts for 1.1 per cent in Victoria, 2.3 per cent in Vancouver, 0.2 per cent in Calgary, 0.1 per cent in Edmonton, 0.3 per cent in Saskatoon, 0.1 per cent in Regina, 0.1 per cent in Winnipeg, 2.4 per cent in Toronto, 0.7 per cent in Ottawa, and 1.5 per cent in Montreal.

Unsurprisingly, Toronto and Vancouver report the highest percentage of foreign investment.

Determining the breakdown of foreign investment has been a priority for CMHC this year. This past summer, the Crown corporation attempted to determine the percentage of condos in Canada that are owned by domestic investors, while also admitting it was unsure what percentage are owned by foreign investors.

In an interview with the Financial Post at the time, CMHC president Evan Siddall admitted they didn’t have the proper data to determine what percentage of condos are owned by foreign investors but that “right now, based on what we know … we don’t think the level of foreign ownership in Canadian housing markets is excessive.”

According to this recently released data, Siddall was correct in his inkling that foreign investment accounted for a low percentage of condo ownership.

However, some industry players believe the numbers may be much higher. One of Toronto’s most prolific developers, Brad Lamb, told the CBC in August that he estimates foreign investors make up about 50 per cent of the ownership of condos in Ontario’s capital city.
  • Mortgage Delivery Guy on 2014-12-16 11:47:40 AM

    It's very naive to say foreign investment is very low in Canada especially Toronto. Foreign investment is quite high in Realestate arena. Failure to have appropriate checks in place may lead to inflated Realestate prices which in turn makes housing more unaffordable.

  • Derek Austin on 2014-12-16 12:34:04 PM

    Unfortunately I believe the source of information they used for the percentage of foreign ownership is unreliable.
    Owners can register any address with the property managers . I find it hard to believe those numbers .

  • David Pylyp on 2014-12-16 1:21:10 PM

    I welcome foreign investment in our condominium market.

    Government refuses to build rental housing. Conventional builders refuse to built long term rental units [probably because of LEVY costs and LTT controls]

    I welcome foreign investment in Toronto. If they sell their investments there is a 25% wih holding taxon profit taking in Canada.


    David Pylyp
    #bythewater Toronto

  • Nick Bachusky- on 2014-12-16 1:33:13 PM

    Are the property managers obligated to take part in this survey?

    What the the consequences for not giving a truthful answer?

    Does anyone know this?

  • Ron Butler on 2014-12-16 1:49:09 PM

    There are definitely no penalties for lying to a survey but how about this key variable: how many condos have been purchased by those who don't live here but use nominees: how many Canadian citizen adult children of foreign nationals own several condos yet they have zero income? Are they the true condo owners or are their parents? How many persons have Canadian citizenship but don't live in Canada at all and still own a host of condos. They are not foreigners but they sure as heck don't live or work here? Foreign ownership comes in many forms that this survey never touches.

  • Nick Bachusky- on 2014-12-16 1:51:30 PM

    Thanks Ron, I agree.
    Why does CMHC then release this obviously error-filled document? Does it appease people in government? Do the employees putting this together seriously feel like they did the best job they could? This is not informing Canadians and I sure as hell hope this document does not sway any politicians to make decisions based on it.

  • Zden on 2014-12-16 2:00:21 PM

    Here is the full article from CTV News section that caught my attention:

    The Canadian Press
    Published Tuesday, December 16, 2014 1:39PM EST
    OTTAWA -- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says only a small minority of the condos for rent in most major urban areas have foreign owners, although some neighborhoods in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are higher.

    "Small minority"? I wonder if there is such a thing like this and the opposite would be "big minority".

    Only small minority of the condos although some cities are "big minorities" I am little insulted with this double tongue bullshit. I wonder if Asian immigrant still haven't learned English, because truly I wonder who else is buying real estate in Canada unless completely ignorant or misinformed.

  • Ron Butler on 2014-12-16 2:06:08 PM

    @Zden.... the racist stupidity is totally not welcome here. We are having a straight forward discussion about questionable data. Data that is important to a cogent discussion of the housing market. It not about a value judgement, it is about proper risk analysis. Racist comments are not welcome.

  • Werner on 2014-12-18 1:42:12 PM

    I came across an article on where realtor and developer Brad Lamb says 50% of condos are foreign owned. And Ron, thank you for your last post.

  • Ray on 2015-01-03 2:20:27 PM


    great article, I just came over, searching online.

    I agree, and to add on this, buying off-plan condos is really great option of investment.

    Very good locations to buy condo as investment is France, Spain, Egypt, England, to get good ROI, but last and for me the best is Thailand. You can get condo for 30K USD with free swimming pool usage, fitness, sea view, 24 hour security, low costs,...and really fantastic ROI. ;)
    You can check the designs here if you want...

    Thank you for info.


  • M. Robertson on 2015-01-05 12:43:28 PM

    It is all just speculation on everyone's part. The reality for all of us however is that this foreign investment in property has been very positive for Canada, specifically our ability to weather the world wide economic crunch that happened. Brokers have lamented the restrictions on mortgages for years, and they themselves have used the economy as the reason not to restrict the rules by touting how much the industry drives our economy.

    If you want to block foreign investment, or make it less appealing, you have to understand that will have a ripple effect. It might reduce home prices, but it will also mean less construction, which means less construction jobs, etc etc.

    It always sounds good to take the side of the little guy, and housing affordability is an issue - make no mistake. All of that being said, we need to be aware of the potential fiscal impact the restrictions many brokers are calling for will have on the overall industry.

Broker news forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

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