Photographer: Cole Burston/Bloomberg

Foreigners Account for 4.7% of Home Sales in Toronto Region

  • Ontario releases data on foreign buyers after imposing tax
  • Estimates are in line with other real estate surveys

The Ontario government said overseas buyers accounted for just 4.7 percent of home purchases in the Toronto area over a recent one-month period. The new data is in line with other surveys, signaling that foreigners haven’t been major drivers of real estate prices in one of Canada’s most expensive markets.

Non-residents bought about 860 properties between April 24 to May 26 in the so-called greater golden horseshoe region of Ontario which includes Toronto, Hamilton and Peterborough, the province said in a statement Tuesday.

The finance and housing ministries began compiling the figures as part of a new housing plan announced in April meant to make homes more affordable and accessible for Canadian residents. One of the measures included a 15 percent levy as of April 21 on foreign investors buying residential property in Toronto and nearby cities.

“Ontario’s strong housing market is a reflection of our growing economy," Charles Sousa, the province’s minister of finance, said in a statement. “While this is great news for the province, the resulting increase in speculative purchases and a spike in home prices created affordability challenges for many and posed a risk to the market."

Toronto is the latest Canadian city to target non-resident buyers, who are often accused of driving up the price of homes by using them as an investments. Prices and sales in the city had been on a tear until early this year, prompting some to point to non-resident factors as a source of the heat. Vancouver last year imposed a 15 percent foreign buyer tax that preceded a slowdown of sales and price growth, though it was short-lived as the market picks up speed again. Both cities followed the lead by Australia, which forces offshore buyers to purchase through a separate buying program.

The Ontario data is in line with other foreign buyer figures from the government and other agencies. Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. said in April last year that foreign buyers owned about 10 percent of all newly constructed condominiums. The Toronto Real Estate Board, relying on broker surveys, said it was closer to 5 percent for all property types.

“Early indicators show that the plan is working,” Sousa said.

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