Foreign ownership of housing in Canada's two largest markets, Toronto and Vancouver, is below 5 per cent, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday in a report that suggests foreign investors are not the biggest factor driving up home prices in Canada.
The new data, promised for months, showed non-residents owned 3.4 per cent of all residential properties in Toronto, while the value of the properties was 3.0 per cent of housing stock. In Vancouver, non-residents owned 4.8 per cent of residential properties, accounting for 5.1 per cent of total housing value, Statscan said.
A voter backlash against foreign buyers, particularly those from China, spurred provincial governments to impose a 15 per cent tax on home purchases by non-residents in Vancouver in 2016 and Toronto in 2017, though previous data showed foreign investment was only between 5 and 10 per cent.
The report showed that non-residents - defined as both foreigners and Canadians whose principal residences are outside of Canada, irrespective of citizenship - tended to own a greater share of the condo market than the detached home market, and own more expensive condos than those owned by residents.
Non-residents owned 7.9 per cent of condos in Vancouver and 7.2 per cent of condos in Toronto, the report showed. In Vancouver, the average value of a condo owned by non-residents was 30.4 per cent higher than that owned by a resident, while in Toronto the value was 8.7 per cent higher, on average.
The report also showed that non-residents tended to own newer and smaller condos in Toronto than those owned by residents, which has been blamed for fueling a building boom of small condos designed for investors, not residents, in mind.
The data are likely to spur continued debate about the long housing booms in Toronto and Vancouver, which cooled after the foreign buyers tax was imposed but have shown some signs of a rebound since.
Prices surged 173.7 per cent in Vancouver from January 2005 to November 2017, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association's housing price index, while Toronto prices are up 145.0 per cent in the same period.
In the last three years alone, Vancouver prices have risen more than 60 per cent, while Toronto prices are up more than 40 per cent, sparking fears of a bubble.
The data from Statistics Canada and the federal housing agency, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp, is the first tranche of housing data to be released after Ottawa earmarked more money to address gaps in housing data.