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Immigrants own some of Canada's highest-priced homes: StatsCan

Proportionally fewer immigrants own single-detached properties in Canada’s two biggest real estate markets.

According to new data from Statistics Canada, immigrants own 43 per cent of all residential properties in Toronto and 37 per cent in Vancouver. Immigrants make up 46 per cent of Toronto’s population and 41 per cent of Vancouver’s.

But the type of homes they own differs. In Vancouver, single-detached houses account for 39 per cent of all immigrant-owned properties, compared with 48 per cent with Canadian-born owners. In Toronto, about half of immigrant-owned properties are detached, compared with 60 per cent for Canadian-born owners.

“It’s worth noting that this kind of release and the Canadian Housing Statistics Program itself is evidence that the federal government is taking housing affordability more seriously,” Eric Swanson, Executive Director of Gen Squeeze, told Yahoo Finance Canada.

“A few years ago, Gen Squeeze and others were calling for better and more regular data from all levels of government on who was buying local housing, and now we’re starting to get it. That’s great news.”

The data does not take socioeconomic conditions into account. It also does not include non-resident foreign buyers. It covers 2016 and 2017.

Immigrants own higher priced homes in Vancouver

When looking at homes valued at $1.8 million or more, immigrant-owned properties are worth $255,100 more than Canadian-owned ones. The difference is even larger when looking at recent immigrants (2009 to 2016). That group owns five per cent of all single-detached properties in Vancouver. The average value is $2.3 million, which is $823,900 higher than the average for Canadian-born owners.

The pattern does not repeat itself in Toronto, where immigrant-owned homes are worth slightly less. While those owned by recent immigrants are worth slightly more.

Immigrants who came to Vancouver under the Quebec Immigrant Investors Program owned the highest-priced single-detached homes at $3.3 million. It’s $1.6 million for those that immigrated under skilled worker programs. Immigrants from China and Iran own the highest-priced detached homes.

“These data show that there is ongoing opportunity to reduce taxes on earnings for typical residents, and especially younger folks and renters who are particularly harmed by the current housing market, by taxing high home values more when owned by both foreigners, immigrants and locally-born residents.” Paul Kershaw, UBC professor, told Yahoo Finance Canada.

“Just focusing on wealth brought by immigrants will miss an important, and large, piece of the housing unaffordability puzzle.”

Though investor immigrants also own more expensive single-detached homes in Toronto, differences are less pronounced.

“The differences between Toronto and Vancouver in this data align with more anecdotal reports going back years that have pointed to Vancouver as the more attractive location for global capital, especially Chinese capital,” says Swanson.

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