Foreign Buyers Are Flocking To Toronto And Montreal, But They're Not All Rich

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Foreign buyers have become real players in Toronto and Montreal's housing markets.

But not all of them are snapping up luxury properties, as many have in Vancouver.

toronto home sale
The Urbancorp St. Clair West sales center stands in Toronto, Ont. on April 27, 2016. (Photo: Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Foreign investment in real estate has already likely shifted from Vancouver to Toronto, in light of B.C. introducing a 15 per cent property transfer tax on foreign buyers, TD Economics said in a report from last week.

Economist Diana Petramala noted that Toronto's sales-to-population ratio has grown significantly in recent months to hit 1.9, up from its average of about 1.6.

This suggests that "foreign investment and speculation are playing a part, albeit likely smaller than in Vancouver," Petramala told BuzzBuzzHome.

toronto housing
Homes in Toronto's Beaches neighbourhood. (Photo: Driendl Group/Getty Images)

That buying has supported continuing strength in the Greater Toronto Area's (GTA) real estate market, which saw home prices climb by 18 per cent year-over-year in September.

Ontario housing markets remain Canada's tightest, with only one to two months of inventory — meaning that if no further homes became available, there would only be one to two months' supply left.

The average housing market across Canada has 4.7 months of inventory.

montreal housing
Homes on Sherbrooke Street in Montreal. (Photo: Visions of our Land/Getty Images)

Montreal is also seeing an influx of foreign buyers, but they're not concentrated in affluent housing, as has been seen in Vancouver.

Chinese buyers are snapping up cheaper Montreal condos as they look to take up residence in the city or find places for their children to live, Royal LePage Quebec senior director Dominic St.-Pierre told CBC News.

But it's nothing like in Vancouver, he added. Only about one per cent of luxury properties, which sell for over $1.5 million, were bought by Chinese last year.

Most foreign buyers in Montreal come from France or the United States; Chinese only make up about eight per cent and Saudi Arabians represent approximately five per cent.

vancouver bc homes
A Vancouver neighbourhood. (Photo: Getty Images)

B.C. implemented a tax on foreign buyers earlier this year after it released data showing that just over three per cent of sales between June 10 and 29 went to purchasers from elsewhere, and most of them were from China.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong said at the time that foreign nationals were also buying homes at "higher values than the average Canadian citizen."

Subsequent research showed that foreign buyers had purchased $1.024 billion worth of B.C. real estate from June 10 to July 14 of this year, representing 7.9 per cent of total money spent in that period.

Almost three-quarters of the buyers purchased homes in Metro Vancouver.

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