Foreign investor data scarce, experts say

by Jordan Maxwell24 Jun 2015
Housing data on how many foreign investors are gathering up Canadian homes is needed if Canada is to maintain stability in the real estate market, according to industry experts.

“While no hard number on foreign buyers in the Metro Vancouver housing market exists, there are data and analyses available,” said a recent report from the B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA). “After surveying the relevant data both locally and internationally, we found that estimates of foreign ownership tend to cluster around five per cent.

“We have been unable to find any outliers of data to suggest the impact is more pronounced.”

Despite the report, Cameron Muir, the association chief economist, admits that data is hard to come by. While the BCREA report suggests that domestic investors are three to four times more active than foreign buyers, it hasn’t stopped some from weighing the impact regardless.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson recently drafted a letter to B.C. Premier Christly Clark requesting that the government consider a speculation tax against property flippers and luxury homes – an idea the Premier put to bed in recent weeks.

And with China possibly easing up on the amount of currency Chinese natives can take abroad – the current limit is just $50,000 – industry vets are worried the result could spur instability in the market, which could lead to an eventual housing correction.

“As Chinese investors have had the greatest impact on Vancouver's inflated prices, this change being brought to market will have a major impact on continuing to push house prices to unsustainable values,” said an industry professional on the REP forum. “This will help land owners and Chinese investors already in the market and continue to push local buyers further from the ability to purchase a home in the more desirable areas on which the Chinese have focused their buying.”


  • by Calvin Lindberg 6/24/2015 1:33:47 PM

    It should be a real concern that our associations and boards including BCREA and CREA and in particular the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver fail to see the importance of collecting data on the impact of foreign or offshore buying in our real estate markets. Comments from BCREA stating that relevant data suggest only 5% of buyers are from offshore is in my opinion somewhat disingenuous. Some of us have been lobbying our industry for years to start collecting this critical data. MacDonald Realty and Sotheby's in their analysis have both stated that over 20% of all the buying through their respective companies have been from offshore buyers. In our company, anecdotally we are suggesting that the number is close to 40% of all the sales were from offshore buyers. Obviously these numbers will have a huge impact on local markets and that is exactly what we are seeing. Why would the Vancouver Mayor, the Premier of BC and the Chinese Consulate all be weighing in on the impact we are seeing from offshore buying if it were only 5% as BCREA is suggesting? Because the media puts so much weight on what our professional bodies say it is time to be able to accurately state what impact offshore buying is having on our markets. I suggest we start collecting the data!

  • by EddieN 6/24/2015 3:46:24 PM

    Welcome to a world market place. If you start putting up walls to foreigners, then the country will tumble down to a third world level. Protectionism might work short term, but in the long run, all Canadians will suffer.


Is a Toronto foreign sales tax a good idea?