CMHC Says the Share of Foreign Ownership at Toronto Metro Area Condos Is Fading. Is It Really?

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Canada’s national housing agency says the percentage of condo units in the Toronto metro area that are owned by those living outside of the country is lower this year than last––but not everyone agrees.

This year’s installment of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)’s annual survey of property managers suggests 2.3 percent of condo units in the Toronto Census Metro Area (CMA) are foreign-owned, down from 3.3 percent last year.

In the Toronto Centre area, which represents pre-amalgamation Toronto, the rate of foreign ownership was higher at 3.5 percent, according to CMHC. The broader Toronto Census Metro Area is comparable in size to the Greater Toronto Area.

The housing authority says that foreign residents, which it classifies as anyone who has a primary residence outside of Canada, including Canadian nationals living abroad, have a preference for dwellings in newer and larger projects.

Counting only condo developments in the Toronto CMA that encompass more than 500 units, the share of foreign ownership rises to 5.5 percent. For buildings completed since 2010, the foreign-owned share of suites is at 5.2 percent, CMHC’s survey suggests.

Shaun Hildebrand, senior vice president of local condo-analytics company Urbanation, questions the CMA-wide decline in the share of foreign ownership. A percentage point decrease may not seem like much, but he says it translates to close to 3,000 fewer foreign-held units.

“I really don’t see where that outflow could have gone,” explains Hildebrand, a former senior market analyst for CMHC.

Hildebrand has been following the resale market for newer buildings and hasn’t witnessed the glut of listings one would expect if foreign owners really offloaded thousands of units. He doesn’t think foreign demand has decreased, either.

“It’s also important to consider that this is a survey, and it’s a survey of a very large stock of more than 350,000 units, so I’m sure that it’s prone to sample bias and potentially some swings in the data—it’s not based on transactions,” he adds.

Images courtesy of Elise Kalles

Elise Kalles is the exclusive agent representing the Toronto/Ontario real estate markets as a member of the Haute Residence Real Estate Network. View her profile or contact her here.

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