At the end of July, the government of British Columbia adopted a special 15% tax measure for foreign investors, designed to calm the soaring home prices in the Vancouver area. The Ontario Minister of Finance and the Toronto mayor have already confirmed that they are studying the viability of adopting a similar measure in Ontario. Already, there is speculation that foreign investment will move to Montreal where no such tax measures are being considered.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum are also currently seeking to increase the number of student visas being granted to Chinese students. There are already 120,000 Chinese students preparing to come to Canada, a number which according to McCallum, could double. An increase of that size would definitely impact the demand for available housing in the major Canadian cities, especially if foreign investors will look elsewhere other than Toronto and Vancouver.
Yet, while Montreal real estate brokers confirm that the number of inquiries received from China is growing, the sentiment is not echoed by the QFREB economist Paul Cardinal, who insists that there won’t be enough foreign investment to make a difference in Quebec residential prices. According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, foreign buyers made up 0.9% of all transactions last year in the Montreal area, a relatively low number which may have contributed to the QFREB’s conservative stance. But meanwhile, Chinese realtors are anticipating a far greater number, stating, “We know it will happen, as our buyers have confirmed that they are already looking towards Montreal.”