Canada Extends Foreign Home Buyer Ban - Kanebridge News
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Canada Extends Foreign Home Buyer Ban

The law that forbids non-residents from acquiring homes in most areas has affected the luxury end of urban markets, experts say

By MICHAEL KAMINER
Tue, Feb 6, 2024 9:05amGrey Clock 2 min

Canada’s government has extended through the end of 2026 a controversial ban on foreign home buyers that took effect last January after years of debate.

“For years, foreign money has been coming into Canada to buy up residential real estate, increasing housing affordability concerns in cities across the country, and particularly in major urban centres,” Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s deputy prime minister and minister of finance, said in a news release yesterday. “Foreign ownership has also fuelled worries about Canadians being priced out of housing markets in cities and towns across the country.”

The Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act forbids non-citizens from buying residential property in most urban areas, though it includes a long list of exceptions. Property in many rural and “recreational” regions is exempt; most students, refugees, permanent residents, spouses of Canadian citizens, and some temporary workers in Canada may still buy homes.

While the government says the ban will help ease Canada’s severe housing crunch, critics in the real estate industry counter that the prohibition is misguided―and ineffective.

“The newly announced two-year extension is completely unnecessary, considering the fact there is no analysis, evidence or data from Statistics Canada, CMHC [Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation] or Finance Canada, to support the government’s intended impact on housing affordability in Canada,” said Janice Myers, CEO of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), in a statement Monday. “If the government decides to move forward with this baseless extension, CREA urges them to consider recommendations including exempting pre-construction financing, defining and exempting recreational property, including CUSMA [Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement] exemptions, and giving provinces input to tailor to their housing market requirements,” she added.

Don Kottick, the president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, agreed.

“Canada’s housing market has been driven almost entirely by the housing needs and demands of locals, as well as by population gains due to in-migration of Canadians from other cities, and through immigration,” he told Mansion Global in an email. “The extension of the foreign buyers ban will continue to have little or no impact on housing affordability and housing prices. This policy has only confused and frustrated those from other countries with crucial skills, talent and capital that Canada has been striving to attract and retain.”

The ban has also chilled luxury home sales in key markets like Toronto, said Maureen O’Neill, manager of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada in Toronto. “People who want to sell houses for more than C$5 million [US$3.92 million] can no longer rely on the buyers they used to count on globally,” she said. “It’s another extra burden on selling a house.”

That burden may soon get even heavier; Toronto’s mayor last week endorsed a 10% tax on foreign home buyers in that city, Canada’s largest. The province of Ontario already imposes its own 25% “non-resident speculation tax” on foreign buyers.

Though Canadian data on non-resident buyers is limited, the CBC last year reported that in British Columbia―one of the nation’s hottest housing markets―only about 1.1% of transactions in 2021 involved a foreign buyer, a drop of 3% in 2017. At the time, Ontario’s government told the CBC it had seen “a downward trend” in foreigners buying property since it began taxing non-resident purchases in 2017.



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Hong Kong’s superluxury homes have lost more than a quarter of their value. Prices haven’t hit the bottom yet.

By ELAINE YU
Tue, Feb 20, 2024 3 min

China’s economic slowdown is wreaking havoc on Hong Kong’s luxury property market .

The most expensive homes in the city are changing hands at steep discounts to what they were worth just a few years ago. Chinese property tycoons, struggling to contain the fallout of their collapsing business empires, have become forced sellers. Bank lenders are seizing properties after luxury homeowners miss loan payments.

The average selling price of superluxury homes, defined as those worth more than the equivalent of $38 million, has fallen by more than a quarter since the middle of 2022, said Cherrie Lai, senior director and head of residential sales in Hong Kong at Savills . It will fall further this year as sellers accept reduced prices to cash out quickly, she said.

The slide in prices shows the fallout of China’s sputtering economy, which is suffering from deflation , slowing exports and moribund consumer confidence. A continuing real-estate slowdown in China is proving particularly painful, since the country’s big-spending property magnates were behind some of Hong Kong’s biggest luxury-property deals in recent years.

Hong Kong’s property market has also been squeezed by rising interest rates in the U.S. The Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar, and the city’s de facto central bank matches Federal Reserve interest-rate increases. But the U.S. market has held up much better: Nine-figure home sales in places such as California and Florida have skyrocketed , and luxury-home prices in the top 5% of the U.S. market have soared over the past decade.

The luxury homes up for grabs in Hong Kong include three mansions linked to collapsed real-estate company   China Evergrande , said Victoria Allan, founder of Habitat Property. Local media reported they were ultimately owned by Hui Ka Yan , the company’s founder.

The three properties, which are adjacent mansions on a hillside road known as Black’s Link, have been seized by creditors. House 10B was sold for about $115 million in 2019 but it is now valued by banks at roughly $55 million, said Allan. It has yet to find a buyer. The other two properties could be put on the market next month, she said.

Chen Hongtian, the mainland-Chinese founder of property-investment firm Cheung Kei Group, bought a luxury high-rise apartment occupying an entire floor in a building designed by architect Frank Gehry in 2015, paying about $49.5 million. It was later seized by a creditor, according to official records. In September, shipping magnate Kwai Sze Hoi bought the property for $53.4 million, records show, below what property agents said was a market valuation of about $87 million at the time.

Homes seized by creditors usually sell at a discount to market prices, property agents say.

A waterfront house at Residence Bel-Air, a luxury residential development, belonged to Mai Fan , the chief executive of Kaisa Group —another developer that defaulted as China’s property crisis widened in recent years. He acquired the house through a company called Million Link Development in 2017, corporate and land records show, at a time when property prices were still climbing. Receivers were appointed to handle the property in 2021 and sold the house the following year for about $46 million, according to the land registry.

In one of Hong Kong’s top sales in recent years, a local businessman sold his house for the equivalent of about $107 million last month, well below the initial asking price of $166 million, according to Savills. It is located on Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak, a mountaintop neighbourhood that is home to business moguls and celebrities living in some of the city’s most expensive properties.

“China still has very wealthy people, but they’re a different group now,” said Victor Cheng, a realtor in Hong Kong. “They’re not the highflying property moguls but those who may not have made as much when China grew rapidly but whose businesses grew steadily.”

He said the new breed of luxury-home buyer in Hong Kong is cash-rich and less likely to load up on debt.

Some mainland Chinese homeowners have been forced or pressured to sell—often at around 20% below market prices—because they need cash to pay off debt, said Cheng. Some top executives from the mainland previously bought trophy homes and only used them occasionally without renting them out, he said.

Data analysed by online real-estate marketplace Spacious.hk suggest a tougher time ahead for luxury homes. The number of sale inquiries on the platform for homes priced at the equivalent of $10 million or above fell 45% in the past 12 months, said Spacious.hk Chief Operating Officer James Fisher. Inquiries for homes under $1.3 million and for those priced between that and $3.2 million fell by 8% and 25%, respectively.

The price index for private homes slumped to a seven-year low by the end of 2023, according to Hong Kong’s Rating and Valuation Department.