Montreal

Conservative foreign homebuyer plan worries Montreal realtors

Montreal realtors are worried a Conservative pledge to dig into data on foreign real estate investment could stifle the market here.

Stephen Harper pledges to invest $500,000 to dig into data on foreign buyers

Realtors in Montreal say what may be an effective solution to deal with foreign homebuyers in Vancouver and Toronto may kill the market here. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Some Montreal realtors say they have big concerns about Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's pledge to invest $500,000 to collect comprehensive data on foreign ownership of homes across the country.

Harper made the pledge in Vancouver this week as part of a plan to get a handle on overheated real estate markets such as Vancouver and Toronto.

But Montreal realtors who spoke to CBC Montreal's Daybreak say what may be effective in those cities, may suppress the market here.

"I am surprised that [Harper] is advocating doing something [about foreign homebuyers.] They are already taking a huge chunk of a consumers' buying. Whether you are Chinese or Peruvian or North American, you are paying a horrendous amount with respect to the taxes," said George Olivier, the co-owner of Abbey & Olivier Real Estate Agency in Beaconsfield, told Daybreak on Friday.

Olivier says up to 10 percent of sales in the West Island go to foreign buyers.

This week, Harper said there are concerns that some Canadian families can't afford to buy houses in some markets due in part to foreign real estate speculation.

"If such foreign, non-resident buyers are artificially driving up the cost of real estate, and Canadian families are shut out of the market, that is a matter we can and should do something about," Harper said on Wednesday.

Joseph Montanaro is a realtor with Sotheby's in Westmount. He says that every one of two sales he's completed recently have been with a Chinese buyer.

"There is a direct flight from Beijing to Montreal which will be starting in September with Air Canada and we are expecting an influx of foreign buyers. We need the foreign buyers because they are buying all the high-end real estate," said Montanaro.

Montanaro says foreign buyers in Montreal have different motives than those in Vancouver. He says foreign buyers here are mostly buying homes for their personal use.

"Yes, it may be initially as an investment but I feel that the kids are already in school here, they are coming for our school systems. Generally the woman will stay here and live in the house and the man will travel back and forth to China and continue making money in China," he said.

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