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Foreign ownership of Vancouver condos is low: economist

By Jane Deacon

Foreign ownership of Vancouver condos was a hot issue during the municipal election. (FILE PHOTO, 24 HOURS)

Foreign ownership of Vancouver condos was a hot issue during the municipal election. (FILE PHOTO, 24 HOURS)

Foreign ownership of Vancouver condos is pegged at 2.3%, according to new figures from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The issue was hot topic during this year’s municipal election. Vancouver ranked second highest of the 11 major Canadian cities surveyed — just behind Toronto, where the foreign investor rate is 2.4% — in the first data of its kind collected by the CMHC.

The data was collected during the CMHC’s annual rental market report in a confidential telephone survey of condo owners, property managers and building superintendents.

The 2.3% figure covers condos Vancouver’s census metropolitan area, while the rate of foreign investor condo ownership in the Burrard Peninsula reaches 5.8%, and .8% in east Vancouver.

The variance between the city centre and the rest of the region is common among the cities surveyed, said Carol Frketich, B.C. regional economist with CMHC.

The results were unsurprising for the B.C. Real Estate Association, which has expressed skepticism at high foreign ownership estimates — often thought to be upwards of 5% — that are tied to Vancouver’s notoriously pricey housing market.

“We see some of the numbers that get thrown around anecdotally that are in the 25% range, but when we look at hard data and we look at every attempt we’ve seen to measure foreign ownership, we get numbers that are pretty small,” said economist Brendon Ogmundson with the BCREA.

“I think the reality is that Vancouver has a very large immigrant population, I think sometimes that population gets conflated with foreign, when really it’s Canadian citizens.”

Vancouver’s condo vacancy rate is measured at .7%, the tightest market among Canadian cities measured, while the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the city was $1,311 in October, second only to Calgary.

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