Overseas Ownership of Canadian Condos is Low, Even in Big Cities: CHMC Survey

Joannah Connolly
November 30, 2016

The proportion of Canadian condominium units owned by overseas residents is lower this year than in 2015, according to the results of the annual Condominium Apartment Survey conducted by the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CHMC) and released November 30.

The federal housing agency said that it found foreign ownership in the Vancouver and Toronto Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) to be the highest of any of the regions surveyed, at 2.2 and 2.3 per cent, respectively. This is a decline from the levels seen last year, and is roughly in line with 2014’s survey results, said the CMHC.

CMHC overseas owners of condos - overall

The survey report said, “The relatively higher shares observed in 2015 were due to an unusually high proportion of foreign ownership in newly constructed condominiums that year, relative to 2014 and 2016.”

The CMHC identifies foreign ownership as anyone owning a Canadian condo who is resident overseas, regardless of their nationality – so the respondents include Canadian ex-pats who own a condo in Canada.

The survey also found that overseas ownership of condos was higher in newer, larger and more central condo buildings.

In Vancouver CMA, the proportion of foreign owners in condo-apartment buildings completed since 2010 was 5.0 per cent, compared with 2.2 per cent of the overall stock. The report added, “The other major centres [surveyed] in British Columbia – Victoria and Kelowna – showed this trend as well, but to a lesser degree.”

CMHC overseas owners of condos - by building age

In Vancouver CMA condo buildings with more than 100 units, the share of foreign ownership was 3.2 per cent. For large buildings in the urban core of Vancouver proper, this rose to 4.4 per cent.

The news comes the day after the BC government announced that foreign buyers of Metro Vancouver homes in October increased slightly over September, but was still way below pre-foreign-buyer-tax norms.

The CMHC said in its survey report, “While the data gathered by the Government of British Columbia provides the number of foreign buyers active in the market since June 2016, it does not speak to the total number of units owned by foreigners in the Vancouver area housing stock. Since CMHC’s Survey of Foreign Ownership in Condominiums does examine the total number of foreign-owned units in Vancouver’s housing stock, it offers a complementary perspective to the view provided by the Government of British Columbia.”

The report added, “It will be important to carefully examine the data in the coming months to assess whether this [foreign buyer] tax will have a temporary or permanent impact on demand from foreign buyers in Vancouver

To read the full CMHC survey report, click here. 

Joannah Connolly
Joannah Connolly is editorial director of Glacier Real Estate, Glacier Media's real estate division. Joannah writes and curates real estate news for Glacier Media's local newspaper websites, including the Vancouver Courier, North Shore News, Burnaby Now, Tri-City News and others. She also oversees editorial content in Real Estate Weekly Homes, West Coast Condo, Western Investor and Glacier's special real estate publications. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 22 years of journalism and editing experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture, healthcare and business media. Joannah has appeared on major local TV outlets as a real estate commentator, has moderated and spoken on various industry panels, and spent two years hosting the Real Estate Therapist radio show on Roundhouse Radio.