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Foreign Investment and the Strength of Canadian Real Estate
Sunday, 15 October 2017, 12:30:00 PM

 

Foreign investment in Canadian Real Estate is important to the national economy because it potentially uncouples the domestic labour market from the domestic real estate market. This kind of disconnect, perhaps reminding one of London, UK suggests that citizens could be crowded out of the market and have to pay far more than they should for homeownership and rental services.

Foreign investment is a lively topic. Despite all the discussion, there has not been a lot of information, and some estimates suggest that foreign investment drives the phenomenal price and value history of Canadian Real Estate.

B.C. after the Foreign Investor TaxForeign Investment and the Strength of Canadian Real Estate

In response to the continuing rise in prices and high volumes of sales, the B.C. government imposed a foreign investment tax. The clear intention was to dampen the price and volume of home sales.

There was a backdrop of tremendous amounts of unused housing that belonged to nonresident owners. That high un-occupancy rate stood in the face of high local demand for housing and moderately priced housing.

Ontario after the Cool Down

On April 20, 2017, the Ontario Government imposes a levy on residential real estate transactions for buyers that were neither permanent residents nor citizens. The levy applied to a targeted zone- the Golden Horseshoe region. The levy had the desired effect; within sixty days, the sales volume and average price fell from the year to date comparables.

The government developed an estimate that approximately nine percent of residential transactions involved foreign buyers. Unlike B.C., many of those buyers were immigrants and intended to occupy the units. The GTA market has regained some of the lost action but has not resumed a steep upward climb, and the tax seems to have had the desired effect of slowing the market.

Is the Quebec Boom a Real Estate Novel?

In the movement of the market after Ontario and BC imposed foreign investor taxes, some news reports suggested that Quebec was a new focus for luxury purchases by foreign investors. In 2017, the rate of luxury purchases in Montreal was higher than the one-year comparable.

There is a question whether the numbers support the idea of a boom and particularly a boom fueled by foreign investment. Defining a luxury sale as $1 million or more, the Montreal comparable showed an increase but an overall level quite consistent with the rest of the nation outside of Ontario and B.C.

One commentator view seen in several publications suggest that real estate professionals perceive more than the facts support. They are driving an optimistic narrative and perhaps hoping that the market will follow.

The Underlying Strength

The strength of the Canadian economy is the key to understanding Canadian Real Estate. The contours of the luxury market have a steep foreign investment influence due to Ontario and British Columbia as magnets for foreign investors. The underlying value of Canadian real estate is in the robust and balanced economy.

Canada has managed to do something remarkable; the nation has driven market growth with low-interest mortgages and fully insured the riskier of them. The nation can withstand a complete meltdown of the real estate sector without an unusual level of national debt.

The Canadian government insures mortgages that have 20 percent or less in down payment or cash equity. They do this directly through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and indirectly through the guarantees, it provides to private insurance.

The total is about $500 billion, and if it all came due, Canada would stand tall in the aftermath with a debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio like advanced European nations. Estimates from Moody’s suggest it would rest at 1.05 slightly higher than the USA at .99.

Going Forward

Canadian Real Estate attracts foreign investment because of the strong fundamentals of the nation and its economy. While Canada has issues and social and economic challenges such as the First People’s calls for greater participation, it has a remarkable social and economic cohesion. Canadian Real Estate will likely continue as a bright star in the global market for a haven, investment, and immigration.


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