toronto real estate

A shocking number of condos in Toronto are owned by people who don't even live in them

While the Toronto area housing market has actually cooled somewhat in recent months — with far fewer homes exchanging hands, and for cheaper than the ridiculous highs we're accustomed to — the city is still undoubtedly overvalued and unaffordable, and new numbers from Statistics Canada show part of the reason why. 

With the average home in the GTA going for a price of $1,038,668 as of January and the city now deemed most prone to a real estate bubble in the world, it's hard to consider Toronto's currently "low" prices as a steal, even if they feel that way given the demand the city's real estate market is known to have.

Once-common bidding wars for homes here may now be fewer and far between, but there is still a glaring factor that has helped make Toronto's real estate market as hot as it is: investors, whether foreign or domestic.

Sure, the city now has a vacant home tax (of one per cent of a property's value), Ontario has a high foreign buyer tax, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just introduced a moratorium on foreign purchases of homes in Canada for two years to help ease the nation's housing crisis.

But, the data still shows that investors — that is, people who own one or more residential properties that they do not live in — are still hogging up a decent chunk of available housing here, which has historically driven up prices, reduced supply and made the dream of owning a home unattainable for most residents.

According to the newly-released numbers from StatCan, a total of 36 per cent of condos in Toronto — which have an average price of $711,171 in the 416 and $687,696 in the 905 — are owned by investors.

In Ontario at large, this figure is a whopping 42 per cent, with more than one in five homes considered an investment property. Businesses were also found to own 13.4 of the province's condo stock for investment, which is more of a trend in Ontario than any other province.

The report is the first of its kind from the Canadian Housing Statistics Program, and uses data from 2020, which notably did not include the tail end of the lockdown-era buying flurry amid lower costs and lending rates.

Similar studies from both StatCan and other groups have shown that a sizeable portion of housing stock is investor-owned, with nearly a third of residential real estate wealth in the province held by the top 10 per cent wealthiest owners, and corporations amassing nine per cent of housing wealth while only comprising 1.6 per cent of the buyers' market.

The number of investor-owned homes in Toronto reached record levels in 2021, with nearly one third homes of all housing types in the city owned by these stakeholders.

One important thing to consider is the fact that owners of multiple properties often serve as small landlords in the city, providing much-needed rental housing alternatives.

But, investors are often contributing to rising housing costs through things like short-term leasing through Airbnb and running "ghost hotels," something that the city has been trying to crack down on, or blatantly sitting on empty units to sell later at a higher profit.

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