Investors Own Nearly a Third of Homes in Major Canadian Markets

  • Buyers of second homes are creating more competition: StatsCan
  • Canada recently started collecting data on multi-home owners

People who own more than one home account for about a third of the housing stock in some of Canada’s biggest markets, new government data show, highlighting how the nation’s real estate boom may also be heightening inequality.

Multiple-property owners accounted for 31% of all homes in Ontario as of early 2020 and almost the same share in British Columbia, a report from Statistics Canada said Tuesday. In the smaller east coast provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the share was about 40%, the data show. 

A 50% rise in home prices over the last two years has made the cost of housing a political issue in Canada, prompting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make home affordability a centerpiece of his government’s 2022 budget.  

But with the supply of houses for sale still near record lows, prices at record highs, and interest rates set to rise, the barriers for new buyers appear to be getting more entrenched. In British Columbia, the top 10% of owners control 29% of the total value of residential properties in the province. 

While Trudeau’s budget focused on curbing the role of professional investors and foreign owners in the housing market, the new government data suggest the majority of multiple-property owners are just individuals or families already living in Canada. Most own just two properties -- usually single-family detached houses -- and are usually located in the same area, suggesting most are buying the second property for rental income not recreation.

Because the figures are from the period prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, they may underestimate multiple homeowners’ current role in the market. More recent data from the Bank of Canada showed multiple-property owners have increased their share of home purchases in that time, while first-time buyers represented a smaller share of the market. 

The new data on multiple-property owners is part of a program started by the government in 2017 to get a better picture of the real estate market after prices exploded in Toronto and Vancouver. 

With rental markets also extremely tight in Canada’s major cities, the value of these types of investors has been debated by policy makers -- they essentially turn ownership stock into rental. But while the new government report said it could not determine what impact such investment had on house prices, it did conclude there was an impact on the market.

“Owners seeking additional properties contribute to increased competition in already tight real estate markets,” the report said. This makes “it more difficult for prospective homeowners to purchase a home.” 

Article by: Ari Altstedter