Foreign Buyers

Statistics Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) are working together to improve housing-related data in Canada. Since there is a gap in the data gap on the share of foreign ownership in Canadian residential real estate, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation began collecting data back in 2014 for non-resident share of ownership in condominiums. As a result from this data collection, the CMHC has produced estimates for selected major centres since 2014, including the Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) of Toronto and Vancouver. In the 2017 Budget, the Government of Canada provided funding for Statistics Canada to improve housing data through the Canadian Housing Statistics Program (CHSP). As a result this has helped Statistics Canada publish its first estimates from the CHSP that focuses on on non-resident ownership in Vancouver and Toronto. The CMHC and Statistics Canada both define a non-resident homeowner (often expressed as a “foreign homeowner”) as an individual whose principal residence is outside of Canada. “Foreign ownership”, in this case, technically refers to the non-Canadian residency of the legal owner of the property, irrespective of the owner’s nationality. It should also be noted by that this definition, this would classify Canadian citizens whose primary residence is outside of Canada as a “non-resident”. However there are some differences when it comes to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation versus Statistics Canada when measuring non-residents.
  • Statistics Canada uses various administrative data sources, including tax data, Business Register data, Census, land titles and property assessment data to identify residency. CMHC obtains information on non-resident ownership through telephone interviews of the property management company condominium (strata) board, or building superintendent, which may be supplemented by site visits if no telephone contact is made.
  • Statistics Canada includes individuals and corporations in its estimate of non-resident owners. CMHC only focuses on individuals.
  • CMHC’s estimates of non-resident ownership cover only apartment condominiums, while Statistics Canada covers apartment condominiums and various other housing types, including non-apartment condominiums, single-detached homes, semi-detached homes, row houses and vacant land.
As seen in the differences above, Statistics Canada’s approach is more comprehensive than CMHC’s in gathering data on non-resident ownership in Canadian housing markets. Statistics Canada will continue to expand its coverage to other centres in consultation and collaboration with CMHC and others and will eventually be replacing CMHC’s collection of non-resident ownership data.