Recent data from the Bank of Canada shows that investors accounted for 30% of home purchases in Canada in the first quarter of 2023, up from 28% a year earlier. This highlights the growing role of investors in Canada’s housing market.
Investors are defined by the central bank as buyers who take out a mortgage to purchase a property while still carrying a mortgage on another property. This signals they are purchasing the additional property as an investment rather than a primary residence.
The share of first-time home buyers shrank to 43% in early 2023, down from 48% in early 2020, indicating investors are displacing some first-time buyers.
Investors tend to prefer condominiums. They made up 41.9% of condo buyers in Ontario in early 2023.
Overall, investors own 20% of homes in Canada and 40% of condos. Their share is even higher in some provinces like Nova Scotia (31.5%) .
Several factors have motivated investors to buy more properties in Canada:
Strong home price appreciation during the pandemic, with prices in cities like Toronto rising over 40% from early 2020 to early 2022. This attracted investors hoping to profit from further gains.
Low interest rates made mortgages very affordable, enabling investors to leverage their buying power.
Limited housing supply, especially in major cities like Toronto and Vancouver, presented investors with a scarce asset with high demand.
Strong rental demand, especially for condos, provided investors with potential income streams.
While investors provide needed rental housing supply, experts warn their growing presence in Canada’s market is problematic:
Investors tend to amplify house price cycles, overheating markets further during boom periods.
They compete directly with first-time home buyers, making affordability worse.
Heavy investor ownership can lead to issues like vacant homes if purchased strictly as investments.
It can shift housing from a social good towards an investment asset.
Canadian policymakers have introduced some measures to cool investor activity:
The federal government banned foreign buyers from purchasing homes for two years starting in 2023.
British Columbia and Ontario have imposed special taxes on foreign buyers.
Economists argue rising interest rates may be the most effective curb on investors by eroding affordability.
The growing investor role has added complexity to Canada’s housing situation. While they provide needed rental housing, policymakers are concerned investors are displacing first-time home buyers and amplifying price volatility. Their impact merits ongoing monitoring and potential policy responses.
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