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The share of foreign condo owners has risen in six of Canada’s largest metro areas this year, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said Thursday, deeming increases in the Vancouver and Toronto areas “statistically significant.”

The national housing agency’s findings were the result of its 2015 Condominium Apartment Vacancy Survey.

The survey tracked 16 census metropolitan areas (CMAs). It asked property managers to disclose how many units were owned by people with permanent residences beyond Canada’s borders.

Among all CMAs, the share of foreign ownership was highest in Vancouver with Toronto following closely, according to published survey results.

In the Vancouver CMA the share of foreign ownership was 3.5 per cent, up from 2.3 per cent last year. In the Toronto CMA the share had risen to 3.3 per cent from 2.4 per cent in 2014.

The share of foreign ownership was lowest in the Regina CMA. In this area, CMHC said foreign owners represent 0 per cent of the market.

CMHC classifies anyone whose primary residence is not on Canadian soil as a foreign resident, even Canadians.

For Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, breakdowns of foreign ownership in subareas was included. The subarea with the largest share of foreign condo owners was Toronto Centre at 5.8 per cent. Vancouver Centre had a 5.4 per cent share while Downtown Montreal and Nuns’ Island registered 4.9 per cent share.

“These results are consistent with the 2014 survey and coincide with comparatively higher purchase prices and average rents for condominium apartments in these areas relative to the remainder of the CMAs,” said CMHC in a report accompanying the results.

Going off the numbers, the national housing authority said “the shares of foreign ownership in condominium apartments remained low in the 16 CMAs surveyed.”

However, speaking to the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal earlier today, Evan Siddall, CMHC’s CEO and president, explained how the numbers don’t paint the full picture.

“A lack of accurate and reliable data makes it difficult to determine if or how foreign ownership may be affecting the market,” he said.

“It’s clear that we need to capture more detailed information on both foreign ownership and investment intentions, to better inform the Canadian government and housing market participants,” Siddall added.

He said it wasn’t a surprise that Vancouver and Toronto topped the list. “These are Canada’s largest and most international cities,” he explained.

In the report, CMHC said it was looking into getting more data by collaborating with other housing industry stakeholders.

“This may mean surveying realtors, builders and lenders, as well as working with municipal land registries and other levels of government.”

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