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Vancouver’s Foreign Buyer Tax Has Already Had a Drastic Effect on Canadian Real Estate

In early August, Canadian authorities imposed a 15 per cent foreign buyer tax in Vancouver in an effort to curb soaring real estate prices resulting from aggressive overseas investment.

At the time, experts said foreigners only made up around 3 per cent of real estate sales.

Now, more than two months after the tax was enacted, it’s very clear that foreign investment in real estate had a significantly greater impact on housing prices than what merely 3 per cent of a population could achieve. One just needs to look at housing sales in Canada’s two biggest markets – Vancouver and Toronto – in the past month for evidence.

According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, the number of sales rose 21.5 per cent in Toronto during the month of September. In Vancouver, meanwhile, home sales dropped almost 33 per cent.

According to British Columbia’s Ministry of Finance, overseas buyers accounted for less than 1 percent of residential real estate purchases between Aug. 2 to 31 in Vancouver; in Toronto, overall sales in August grew 23.5 per cent, urging the Toronto Real Estate Board to ask realtors to recall sales over the last year and disclose how many involved foreign buyers.


An even more telling bit of data: overseas buyers snapped up $2.3 billion of homes in the seven weeks before the tax was imposed, and less than C$50 million in the next four weeks.

The connection is obvious: foreign investors turned off by Vancouver’s tax have set their sights on Toronto real estate instead – and the repercussions are significant and immediate.

The big question, of course, is whether Toronto will impose a similar tax in an effort to curb rising real estate prices. You know it’s on a lot of people’s minds when there’s a Quora thread for it. Ontario is taking a “wait and see” approach for the time being, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that foreign money is having a major impact on domestic housing costs and supply.

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