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The share of foreign-owned condos in Toronto and Vancouver has declined this year, Canada’s national housing agency says.

Some 2.3 per cent of condos across the Toronto Census Metro Area are owned by buyers whose primary residence isn’t in Canada, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s latest annual Condominium Apartment Survey.

In the Vancouver CMA, these owners account for 2.2 per cent of the condo stock, the survey of property managers suggests.

Those figures sound “about right” to BMO Senior Economist Robert Kavcic.

But they aren’t a reflection of recent activity in these urban areas. The CMHC figures are simply a measure of the share of foreign ownership throughout them, Kavic points out.

“If you’re looking at just marginal new transactions over the last year or so, it would probably be quite a bit higher than that, at least before the tax went in place,” he tells BuzzBuzzNews.

In August, the BC government slapped a 15-per-cent tax on non-Canadian residents purchasing residential real estate in Metro Vancouver.

“The other thing is… anecdotally, a lot of foreign investment’s heading into the single detached market, too, so those numbers wouldn’t pick up that,” Kavcic adds.

Because of CMHC’s foreign-buyer definition, the survey could count some Canadians living abroad as foreign owners, the agency acknowledges.

“Thus, the results of CMHC’s survey of foreign ownership should not be mistaken as a precise measure of strictly non-Canadian ownership in housing,” CMHC adds.

Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist, notes foreign ownership is higher in certain areas of big Canadian cities.

“Our studies show that the share of foreign ownership remains low and concentrated in newer, larger buildings located in the cores of major cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal,” says Dugan.

Survey results for Toronto condo buildings completed since 2010 put the foreign-ownership rate at 3.9 per cent, while 5 per cent of the condos in these newer structures in Vancouver are foreign-owned.

Last year, the foreign ownership rate for condos in the Toronto CMA was 3.3 per cent and reached 3.5 per cent in Vancouver’s CMA.

“The relatively higher shares observed in 2015 were due to an unusually high proportion of foreign ownership in newly constructed condominiums that year relatively to 2014 and 2016,” CMHC says.

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