Toronto

Some real estate agents believe more foreign buyers snapping up luxury properties: survey

About a quarter of real estate advisors across Canada suspect that at least 25 per cent of luxury properties in their market have been snapped up by foreign buyers, according to a new survey.

With no national sales figures tracking foreign buyers, scope of issue largely based on agents’ experience

Royal LePage survey says one-quarter of real-estate advisors believe that at least 25 per cent of luxury properties in their area were sold to foreign buyers. (Lucas Powers/CBC)

About a quarter of real estate advisors across Canada suspect that at least 25 per cent of luxury properties in their market have been snapped up by foreign buyers, according to a new survey.

While some real-estate observers have levelled blame for this country's hot housing market at an influx of foreign cash, there are no national statistics that track foreign ownership figures.

But a new survey from Royal LePage suggests that real estate advisors believe there has been a marked increase in sales involving foreign buyers. According to the survey, some 66 per cent of advisors who specialize in the sale of luxury properties believe that sales to foreign buyers have increased in their region since 2005.

Nearly a quarter of advisors believe that 25 per cent or more of the luxury properties in their area were purchased by foreign buyers, and 60 per cent anticipate an increase in foreign buyer activity in their area this year.

In Ontario, 29 per cent of advisors believe that more than 20 per cent of properties in their area are currently being purchased by foreign buyers. However, 39 per cent believe that figure is actually below 5 per cent.

Toronto agent Diane Usher believes that a new pool of money has transformed the city's luxury market.

"What we're noticing of course is a radical increase in foreign buyers," Usher told CBC News.

But David Fleming, an agent who also runs a Toronto real-estate blog, says that foreign buyers are merely a convenient boogeyman to blame as the market gets hotter and more people are priced out of owning a home.

"And what better reason than a nameless, faceless person from another country," Fleming told CBC.

Earlier this year, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) told CBC News that there is no tool available to track the level of foreign investment in the Canadian housing market. However, the agency is in ongoing discussions with other agencies that track foreign money into Canada, including the Canada Revenue Agency and FINTRAC, this country's financial intelligence unit.

In 2014, the agency started including questions on foreign buyers in its communications with real estate boards across the country. Its compiling data on foreign buyers in the new housing market and should be able to assess those numbers towards the end of the year.

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