Amid speculations that the growing prominence of foreign capital in Canadian real estate is heating up housing prices to record-breaking levels, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) is reporting significant hurdles in gathering reliable data on overseas investors.
The CMHC is looking at closer collaborations with provincial land registries to collate information about properties owned by foreigners (starting in Ontario). However, the agency said that its meetings with real estate industry movers to include residency status questions to its regular surveys of condo transactions have proved less than successful.
“Some [condo] developers are willing to provide the information while others are not willing to provide it,” the organization said in documents quoted by The Globe and Mail
The CMHC also ran into the issue of deciding whether the nearly 212,000 international students staying in the country as of 2014 should be considered as foreign investors. Currently, the definition includes Canadian citizens with permanent residences in other nations, visitors, temporary foreign workers, and individuals with no legal ties to Canada.
“There was no unanimous agreement on whether foreign student buyers should be counted as foreign buyers or not,” the CMHC noted, adding that some officials have proposed filing international students in a unique category separate from other non-permanent residents.
“The large majority of students actually do not become permanent residents. This would justify classifying ‘student buyers’ as foreign buyers,” the documents stated. “We feel some people, like students, are buying properties instead of renting with money mainly coming from outside Canada.”
Another proposed study would attempt to probe “the effects of non-permanent residents on housing demand,” although the CMHC has yet to finalize the details of the joint research with HSBC and the Canada Revenue Agency.