While it’s no surprise that non-resident buyers comprise a substantial portion of British Columbia’s housing market, a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation representative elucidated just numerous they are, and questioned when society at large should be concerned.
“The data shows that 4.8%—so let’s say 5%—of residential properties in Metro Vancouver are owned by people who don’t live or work here, so they’re non-residents,” Eric Bond, CMHC’s market analysis principal, said during a CMBA-BC panel earlier this week in Vancouver. “In general, these properties have much higher assessment values and also tend to be newer, so this has been a growing phenomenon in the region the last couple of years.”
Speaking at the Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association-British Columbia conference last week, Bond revealed starker numbers when analyzing the condominium market throughout the Greater Vancouver Area.
“For condominium apartments, non-resident ownership is higher. It’s 10% for Metro Vancouver as a whole, and for condominium apartments built in the last two years, the share of the stock owned by non-residents is 15%,” said Bond.
“It’s 20% in the City of Vancouver, and it increases to 25% in Richmond and Coquitlam. So if every one in five to one in six new condominium apartments are owned by people who don’t live or work here, non-residents are an important component of housing demand, and the question for society, then, becomes whether this matters and whether we want to do anything about it.”
Bond did not proffer to the audience an opinion on whether or non-resident buyers are a deleterious force with respect to domestic buyers, but he did say that their impact should be studied further. In particular, he wonders if people who don’t live, work and pay taxes in the region are distorting housing prices?
“Most of the concern is around whether demand from non-residents is creating a distortion and shutting others out of the housing market,” he said. “So there’s an element of equity, and that could impose costs on other parts of the economy, but we don’t, unfortunately, have data to answer that question.”