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Statistics Canada  and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released some new figures about housing in the Metro Vancouver market, and those statistics open up more questions about what is truly going on in this region. As Jen St. Denis writes in Metro News  buyers who don’t live in Canada like newer, bigger units are  buying a more costlier product that local resident  buyers. When Duke of Data and Simon Fraser University urbanist Andy Yan reviewed the figures, he found that new condo units started between 2016 and 2017 had a much higher percentage of non-resident owners. In Vancouver 19 per cent of these condo units were owned by non-resident buyers; the numbers were 24 per cent in Richmond and 23 per cent in Coquitlam.
Only 11 per cent of Vancouver condo units built between 2001 and 2005 were owned by non-resident buyers; 11 per cent in Richmond and 6 per cent in Coquitlam.
The City of Vancouver is embarking on a new Ten Year Housing Program to build and densify neighbourhoods and provide more of the “missing middle” of housing, often in the form of townhousing. But as Andy Yan observes, Vancouver is experiencing the “hyper-commodification” of real estate, and  those townhouses being built for local families are proving to be very attractive to foreign owners. Between 2016 and 2016 187 townhouses were built in Vancouver. Of that 21 townhouses or  22 per cent of those new townhouse builds, over one fifth of that housing stock went to non-resident owners. The benchmark price for a townhouse is $861,900 in East Vancouver and $1.2 million on Vancouver’s west side, suggesting that the policy may need to be rethought about who is going to live in these and how they are going to afford them.
“The numbers are part of an effort by Statistics Canada and CMHC to collect and analyze more data on Canada’s housing market. In recent years, enormous price spikes in Vancouver and Toronto have led economists and housing experts to question how much of that effect is due to money flooding in from overseas sources. But a lack of data has stymied efforts to quantify the phenomenon.” 
Questions are still being raised about the figures themselves, as some economists have been suggesting that the foreign money needs to be tracked, not just the foreign buyer who does not live in Canada and pay tax elsewhere. These figures do not include the flipping of property titles prior to building occupancy permits, or show when non-resident buyers purchase property in someone else’s name. In Metro Vancouver, non-residents own condos that are worth on average $161,200 more than those owned by full-time Vancouver residents, while single detached homes owned by non-residents were worth $707,800 more than those owned by residents.” 
And in Vancouver itself non-residents like the most expensive parts of West Vancouver and the area inclusive of the University of British Columbia’s endowment lands. The statistics suggest some sobering realities of non-residents’ buying power and interests in the property market. However it does not track or  follow the trail of foreign money in real estate market transactions. That analysis may reveal more.
Source: Metro News, Andy Yan