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Non-residents own 3.7% of B.C. homes, much higher in new units: CMHC

Median value of Greater Victoria homes owned by foreign nationals is much higher than Canadian-owned homes, according to federal housing agency

While there is a common perception that overseas buyers have snapped up much of the real estate in B.C.'s major cities, the number of homes in the province owned purely by non-residents is 3.7 per cent, according to a study of Statistics Canada data by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), published March 12.

Including homes that are jointly owned by a mix of residents of Canada and non-residents – such as a satellite family where one spouse is resident in Canada, or a local student who jointly owns a home with their overseas parents – adds another 2.5 per cent. This brings the total proportion of B.C. homes with some “non-resident participation” to 6.2 per cent, said CMHC.

However, the proportion of non-resident ownership varies dramatically when broken out by property type and by year of construction.

CMHC non resident ownership BC and others March 2019
Source: CMHC/Statistics Canada 

Just 2.6 per cent of B.C.’s single-family homes were owned entirely by foreign nationals, compared with condos, where 7.6 per cent were found to be owned entirely by overseas residents.

CMHC non resident ownership BC property type March 2019
Source: CMHC/Statistics Canada 

The share of the province’s homes owned purely by overseas residents was found to increase dramatically among newer properties, rising to a peak of nearly nine per cent built in the frenzied 2016/2017 market.

CMHC non resident ownership by build period BC March 2019
Source: CMHC/Statistics Canada 

CMHC also looked at the median value of homes owned by non-residents in various B.C. cities and compared them with the value of homes owned by Canadian residents. In Victoria Census Metropolitan area and across B.C., the value was higher among homes owned by non-residents. CMHC describes this as the “non-resident value differential,” which is the amount by which the median non-resident-owned home is valued higher than the median Canadian-resident-owned home.

The CMHC reported, “Non-resident value differentials for single-detached houses are $338,000 (38.8 per cent [higher]) in North Saanich, $156,000 (30.7 per cent) in Juan de Fuca, and $150,000 (13.0 per cent) in Oak Bay. Non-resident ownership prevalence appears to be higher in… areas with many vacation/recreational properties. Collectively, these areas account for 21.2 per cent of non-resident ownership in the Victoria CMA. Close to half of non-resident owned single-detached houses in the Victoria CMA are found in Saanich (35.4 per cent) and Victoria (13.9 per cent).”

Across B.C., the non-resident-owned median assessment value of a single-family house was $236,000, or 36.7 per cent, higher than the median-valued resident-owned detached house in the province.

The largest assessed value difference between non-resident and resident-owned detached houses was $1,580,000 (31.2 per cent) in the Metro Vancouver Electoral Area A, which includes UBC and the University Endowment Lands. Vancouver proper saw the second highest value difference, at $1.1 million more than the median resident-owned detached house (22.3 per cent higher).