Does the foreign buyer ban affect Calgary? 

This week, the Canadian government announced a new policy to ban foreign homebuyers from buying property in Canada. The new law comes after years of speculation and debate over whether this ban was necessary or beneficial to Canadians. This ban does apply to property purchased in Calgary. 

This ban took effect on January 1 of this year and will last until 2025. This policy change comes after studying how foreign buyers and investors have affected Canada's housing market. This move is meant to ensure that Canadian homebuyers have access to affordable houses by bringing down the demand for Canadian properties. This policy is a step towards protecting local homebuyers and helping stabilize the Canadian housing market.

However, this new ban does not affect every property, every buyer, or even every market in the country. Keep reading and we’ll break things down.

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Everything you need to know about the ban on foreign homebuyers.

What is the housing ban on foreign homebuyers? In a nutshell, the housing ban will prevent non-resident foreigners from purchasing homes in Canada if their primary purpose is to use it as an investment property or vacation rental unit.

This move has the potential to cool off demand for properties that have pushed up prices especially in particular markets in Ontario and British Columbia. 

The new ban on foreign homebuyers is intended to reduce housing prices and help Canadians who were struggling with high mortgages due to rising home prices and interest rates. The ban, which will stay in effect for two years, applies to all foreign buyers and prevents citizens from purchasing homes with foreign funds.

However, some have argued that the ban may not be effective at achieving these goals because it does not consider how much money immigrants spend on buying property versus how much they save or invest elsewhere in Canada's economy (for example, through taxes).

Some things to consider about the foreign buyer bans effectiveness. 

  • In the highly perceived 'foreign invested' province of B.C. only 1.1% of transactions in 21' included a foreign buyer.  foreign buyer impact new zealnad
  • New Zealand implemented a ban recently, prior to it's ban in 2018, only 2.9% of home buyers weren't residents, this number has now fallen below .5% however housing prices have continued to rapidly rise in the country. 
  • Properties that are not in Census agglomeration or CMA (metro areas) are exempt. According to the governement of Canada's website, Priddis doesn't fall under this and could be a haven for foreign buyers looking to own as close as possible to Calgary. 

Canada’s housing prices and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada’s housing prices have been on the rise even before the COVID-19 pandemic. In the years leading up to COVID-19, Canada's housing prices were rising at a faster rate than those of other countries with similar economic conditions. In addition to rising interest rates and an average unemployment rate higher than in other industrialized nations, foreign investment has been cited as a major factor in driving up housing prices.

In recent years, an increasing number of foreign investors have decided to take advantage of Canada's relatively strong economy by purchasing real estate here. This influx of capital can drive up the price of local properties and make it harder for citizens who want to buy homes within their own borders. 

The ban on foreign buyers could help stabilize this trend by ensuring that more Canadians have access to affordable housing options while limiting outside investment from affecting the market further.

Why is Canada an attractive place for foreign investors? 

In some countries around the world, your money isn't necessarily safe when it's with the banks (or there) and with instability, and authoritarian regimes in power, some individuals seek refuge with their money in markets that are more stable and predictable. 

Real estate historically has performed well for investors and it's no surprise in places like Vancouver, a world class city with exceptional offerings and limited space the demand for real estate has driven up costs significantly. 

The world continues to grow and become more accessible for everyone and as the dominos fall major cities across the globe will continue to see demand from foreign purchasers. 

Housing affordability has been a concern for Canadians.

It’s not news that housing prices have been on the rise and the issue of housing affordability has become a concern for many Canadians.

Foreign buyers (anyone who isn't Canadian) have been snapping up homes, driving up the cost of housing and making it harder for Canadians to afford their own homes. The average price for a single-family home in Canada has been steadily on the rise since before the pandemic hit.

In 2021, The Canadian Real Estate Association’s House Price Index saw the fastest pace on record when prices rose by 26.6% over one year, leaving average home prices at $713,500.

These skyrocketing prices have left many families struggling to pay their monthly rent and mortgage payments each month on top of other necessities like groceries and transportation costs.

A housing ban on foreign buyers will help stabilize the Canadian housing market

and protect Canadians’ access to affordable housing. That's the intent and belief behind this move by the government. The housing ban is part of a larger national housing strategy called "A Place to Call Home" designed to tackle both short-term issues like this one while also addressing long-term problems like affordable housing supply.

This strategy is the largest and most ambitious federal housing program in Canadian history. Over the next decade, it will invest over $72 billion to build stronger communities and help Canadians access safe, affordable homes.

Leading up to this latest move, the minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion said in a December 2022 press release , “Homes are not commodities. Homes are meant to be lived in, a place where families can lay down roots, create memories, and build a life together.”

This measure aims to do just that, allow Canadian families the breathing room to put down roots and protect them from being outbid by foreign buyers, which not only helps homebuyers but also protects local businesses.

This ban will reduce speculation in Canada's housing market and increase confidence among prospective homeowners by encouraging them to buy.

What properties are included in the ban?

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Commission , the ban applies to all residential properties located in census metropolitan areas and census agglomeration. This includes all condos, detached houses, and townhouses.

 Census subdivisionType
  Airdrie City
  Beiseker Village
  Calgary City
  Chestermere City
  Cochrane Town
  Crossfield Town
  Irricana Town
  Rocky View County Municipal district
  Tsuu T'ina Nation 145 (Sarcee 145) Indian reserve

The Act defines residential property as buildings with 3 homes or less, as well as parts of buildings like semi-detached houses or condominium units.

The law does not prohibit the purchase of larger buildings with multiple units. The law does not apply to commercial properties, agricultural lands, or recreational properties like cottages or lake houses.

As for the types of cities that the foreign buyer ban applies to, it’s not all black and white! As mentioned, the ban applies to census metropolitan areas or a census agglomeration . A metropolitan area has a total population of at least 10,000 people and has at least 50,000 of those people living in its core. A census agglomeration is an area with a core population of at least 10,000 people.

This could potentially lure international investors to smaller towns since areas with a core population of fewer than 10,000 people are not included in the ban.

Who is exempt from Canada’s foreign homebuyers ban?

Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Canadians who are living or working abroad. The new law does not apply to any Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is living outside Canada.

International students who have met certain requirements, such as spending the majority of the last five years in Canada.

Workers who have worked and filed taxes in Canada for at least three out of four years prior to purchasing a property.

Foreign nationals with temporary resident status, including refugees or those fleeing conflict.

Additional Exemptions to the foreign buyer ban

According to Section 4[2] of the new foreign buyer ban - There are a few additional specific exemptions from the prohibition:

  1. Acquiring by an individual of an interest or a real right that was the result of a death, separation, divorce or a gift; 
  2. the rental of a dwelling unit to a tenant for the purpose of its occupation by the tenant; 
  3. the transfer under the terms of a trust that was created prior to the coming into force of the Act; and 
  4. the transfer resulting from the exercise of a security interest or secured right by a secured creditor. 

The different types of foreign buyers in Canada.

There are several types of foreign buyers in Canada, including foreign investors and new residents in Canada.

Foreign investors are people who purchase property in Canada as part of their business strategy. They often seek a high rate of return on their investment, but this group may also include investors who bought property simply because they enjoy real estate and want to diversify their portfolios with residential property.

It's not just wealthy countries buying up properties either. Foreign investors include individuals from any country who only want one thing: A safe investment where they can park their money without taking any risks with volatile markets back home. These investors aren't concerned about whether or not someone needs an affordable place to live. They're more interested in making money rather than improving the economy here.

New residents to Canada are individu.als who are coming here temporarily or permanently for work or family reasons, such as spouses of Canadian citizens or students seeking an education here. These people often rent out properties while they live overseas, but some choose to buy homes when they arrive in the country (and actually live in them).

Arguments against more regulations.

Some argue that the housing market is already too complicated and that more regulation of foreign buyers will not help the situation. The argument is that regulations should be decreased in order to increase homeownership rates for Canadians. Others argue that this ban will hurt Canadian businesses that rely on foreign investment.

A popular talking point is that the ban will have little effect on housing prices because the number of non-Canadian homeowners doesn’t make up a large number of real estate transactions to begin with. 

You be the judge, sound off in the comments below, do you think the foreign buyer ban should be applied to places where foreign buyer ownership is minimal? Is a Canada wide ban the right choice? Should provinces have the option to opt out of this (by vote) Should this be something that citizens vote on? 

foreign buyer map

However, there are several reasons why this ban could be a good thing for Canadians. Property investment is not the only source of foreign investment in Canada. The majority of international investors are Canadian investors who have moved abroad and have purchased property back home. These Canadians typically invest in income properties, such as apartments and hotels, rather than residential homes.

There are many other ways for foreigners to invest in Canada besides purchasing real estate: stocks, bonds, venture capital investments and more can all be done without any direct involvement in the housing market at all.

Finally, and possibly most importantly, the ban may actually help strengthen the domestic housing market by removing uncertainty while keeping interest rates low (which will make borrowing cheaper).

Some believe that the housing market should remain regulated because they feel that increased foreign investment drives up prices beyond what most Canadians can afford. They believe this new ban on foreign buyers will help prevent an overinflated housing bubble from forming again in Canada.

What happens to those who break the rules on the ban?

Any non-Canadian who violates the act will face a $10,000 fine and the court may order the sale of the house.

Anyone who knowingly assists a non-Canadian and is convicted of violating the act will also face a $10,000 fine.

All in all…

Canada has decided to temporarily ban foreign buyers from buying property in an effort to stabilize the housing market. This ban took effect on January, 1st, 2023 and will last for two years. The ban does not apply to Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. 

This policy change was made after months of study on how foreign investors have affected Canada's housing market. The government is monitoring the impact of this new legislation and will continue to make adjustments if needed. It's unclear how much input the Canadian government took from bodies such as CREA in consulting whether this move was the right one. 

While 2023 is expecting to see a “balance” return to the national housing market, only time will tell what kind of impact this new foreign buyer ban will have on Canadians.

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