Are Investors Driving Up Canadian Real Estate Prices?

Canadian real estate has been one of the hottest in the world throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Virtually every region from coast to coast, from the major urban centres to cottage country and rural areas, have posted record-setting growth during what can only be described as chaotic times. The Canadian housing market has been so strong, that it has supported the nation’s economic recovery in the aftermath of the sharpest financial crisis in history. But it has also been a double-edged sword for many households.

Although many had anticipated a slowdown in the housing sector at the onset of the COVID-19 public health crisis (which never materialized), the rapid sales activity and the ballooning prices suggested these prognostications were incorrect. As a result, this has created a housing affordability crisis, leaving many Canadians sitting on the sidelines and unable to achieve the dream of home ownership.

While the economic data has pointed to a modest cooling period of recent sky-high gains, some industry experts believe the sector could find additional support from yield-hungry investors, albeit at a modest level. Indeed, how much investors would contribute to valuations is uncertain at this point, but even a modicum of investment could further lift prices in the critical jurisdictions of Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and a growing list of other municipalities.

Are Investors Driving Up Canadian Real Estate Prices?

According to data published in the Bank of Canada’s (BoC) financial system review, investors represented one-fifth of all residential purchases nationwide. Since the early days of the once-in-a-century global health crisis, investor buying advanced 20.1 per cent. In the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), investors accounted for 22.7 per cent of home purchases, says BoC. This is higher than in the pre-pandemic economy, but lower than at the end of the previous housing boom.

Considering that the national average home price has skyrocketed by more than a third to north of $700,000, it would be simple to surmise that this is the doing of real estate investors. However, experts contend that it could be difficult to reach this conclusion without further study. Meanwhile, others are blaming the housing inventory shortage for rising prices.

“Determining the precise level at which investor activity should be a cause for concern is difficult and requires further study,” central bank spokesman Alex Paterson told The Globe and Mail.

Earlier this year, the BoC told reporters that there is growing evidence that real estate investors are engaging in “a lot more flipping,” creating a “fear of missing out” for both investors and buyers.

One of the data points policymakers might be looking at is gross fixed capital formation (GFCF). According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), more than one-third of GFCF is allocated to real estate investing. The previous high was 22.4 per cent in the year 2000. Moreover, housing now imbibes more than 66 per cent of the nation’s fixed capital investment.

Better Dwelling may have said it best: “To say it’s disproportional for the size of the economy is a big understatement.”

That said, Aled ab Iorwerth, the deputy chief economist at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), said in an interview with the media outlet that when real estate investors substantively enter the market, they will inevitably boost home prices. And, according to Jean-Philippe Deschamps-Laporte, the chief of Statistics Canada’s Housing Statistics Program, this will make it harder for homebuyers to compete, emphasizing that “that is a fact.”

Buyers could find it challenging to afford to purchase a home in Canada, even in Atlantic Canada or rural communities in the west. But, with the latest trend of developers and lucrative investment funds going on a buying spree of properties, renters could bear the brunt of higher prices. Over the next 12 to 18 months, it could be the last time to move into a somewhat affordable apartment or condominium unit as a combination of low vacancy rates, a paucity of affordable housing, and stronger competition could lead to soaring rents in the urban centres.

An Affordability Crisis in the Rental Market?

In June, social media was abuzz that investment institutions have been scooping up homes and even entire communities across the United States. Despite the conspiracy theories scattered across the Twitterverse, this has had been part of the finance industry’s plans prior to the pandemic. Still, there are fears that this would further exacerbate affordability issues, and not just for homebuyers.

Is the same trend occurring up north? With interest rates sitting at record lows, the same developments are unfolding across Canada.

Over the last year, there was nearly $13 billion in apartment building transactions. This included Starlight Investments and KingSett Capital acquiring 27,000 apartment units and several hundred short-term rental apartments throughout the country. In a market where high-income households are forced to rent, the latest investment developments make sense.

On the surface, this might seem like a worrying move. But, once you scratch underneath the surface, economists suggest that these developers are not reducing the housing supply. “They are shifting it from home ownership to rental,” noted CMHC’s deputy chief economist.

Are Buyers Giving Up?

It is hard to disagree with the notion that this has been a stressful and fatiguing real estate market for young families. Recent polls have found that a notable percentage of Canadian homebuyers are suffering from buyer fatigue. Other surveys suggest a considerable number of households do not think they will ever be able to buy a home. The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) discovered that most Canadian real estate markets are witnessing buyers dropping out of the market quicker than sellers. If this keeps up, the country could see a generation of permanent renters. That is until a significant correction or downturn takes place. Will this happen? As has been the case over the last 16 months, anything can happen.



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Liveability Factors When Buying

There are many things to consider when choosing the home for you. It may seem obvious, but the importance of liveability and your wants and needs need to be addressed. Check out this list of the main liveability factors that you should consider when finding your next home.


Location is key when searching for a home, as it is the one thing you can’t change. Try not to get too caught up in the emotional side of the house hunt and overlook important factors related to location, such as how busy the street is, what the noise levels are like in the area, and the future of the neighbourhood.

Proximity to Services & Work

When house hunting, take into consideration the potential home’s proximity to different amenities, such as hospitals and grocery stores, as well as restaurants and other shops. If these are spots you visit frequently, you don’t want to be driving a great distance to get gas or pick up dinner. Schools are also an important factor to consider for parents, not just location-wise, but also the reputation of the school. Being close to good schools is also great for resale. Commute times are another important factor to consider when house hunting. Studies show that the shorter the commute time, the happier the person.


Your lifestyle is a huge factor to consider when house hunting. If you’re an outdoorsy person who enjoys activities like hiking and biking, being close to lots of green spaces and bike trails might be something to look for. If you are active in your community, consider looking for a home that is close to cultural, community, and athletic centers. Taking your lifestyle into consideration when purchasing a home can help ensure that you continue living a life that you love.

Current Status & Future Plans

Taking your current status and future plans into consideration when house hunting is essential. Do you currently have kids, or are you planning on having kids in the near future? Do the homes you’re looking at work with that plan, or will you need to move up to a bigger home in the future? Regardless of what your plans are, evaluate your current situation and look at where you may be in 5 or 10 years and if the homes you’re looking at make sense.


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7 Tips to Make Moving With Kids Easier

Let’s face it, moving is hard for everyone. Big moves bring up all sorts of feelings, from stress to uncertainty, and excitement. Luckily, there are a few actions you can take before the big day to make moving with kids easier on them – and you.


Tips for moving with kids

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Little People, Big Dreams

Whether you’re hoping to stay in the same neighbourhood or move right across the country, inviting your kids into the house-selection process from the get-go can help. Ask them what they’d like in a new home and see if you can reach a consensus — a bigger back yard would be a win for everyone!


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Real Estate Stakeholders

If your kids are old enough look at prospective homes with you, why not bring them along? Hearing their opinion on a property makes them feel involved and listened to. They may even think of something that you didn’t, like how the proximity to the baseball field is a major selling point for your little Major League hopeful.


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Memory Lane

Making a memory book filled with photos and doodads of the good times shared in your old home can help your kids find closure while still having something of the house to literally hold onto. Get friends and neighbours to sign the book along with their email addresses so everyone can keep in touch.


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Local Haunts

Before moving day arrives on the calendar, pencil in a farewell tour of all their favourite neighbourhood spots. Be warned: Seeing and saying goodbye to landmarks on your street may bring up all the feels…and not just theirs. Leaving a beloved home is hard but remind them (and yourself) that those precious memories go with them no matter where they are.


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Party Favours

Having a chance to say a proper goodbye to the people that have been a big part of their lives — neighbours, babysitters and coaches — is an important part of the emotional process of moving. Throw a casual potluck and share some stories over a plate of samosas. (And when you get into your new digs, get out there and introduce yourself to new neighbours toute suite.)


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Treasure Trove

Packing up the kids’ rooms has the potential to be a less-than-peaceful process. Inject some fun into the functionality by getting them to create their own “Treasure Chest.” Pull out a packing box they can decorate with special markers and stickers and then fill with their favourite objects to keep close to them on the journey.


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Interior Design Team

Sometimes it may feel like the adults are making all the decisions (we are, sorry) and things are out of control. Getting the kids involved in picking out new furnishing and bedding for their room allows them to feel a sense of ownership of the new space. (Plus, that Star Wars duvet cover is super cool no matter how old you are.)


Uprooting can be hard on the littlest member of the family but having a handle on what can help will make that move go smoothly and you’ll all be settled in in no time.


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