How would you go about trying to determine how much foreign money is going into Canadian real estate? The CMHC is now trying to figure that out.
A core team of analysts at CMHC held several meetings to discuss how best to tackle the data gap. Researchers had initial meetings with agencies including the Canada Revenue Agency and Fintrac, CMHC confirmed. The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada monitors money laundering and out-of-country transactions of at least $10,000. The documents show CMHC also planned or had meetings with the Bank of Canada, British Columbia’s housing and property assessment agencies, and the department of finance to start a data working group.
So why are we missing that information and how much real estate is owned by people outside the country?
After meetings with realtors, lawyers and condo developers in Vancouver, CMHC market analysts pointed to the lack of transparency in the market. Realtors often don’t see residency status or identification such as a passport, and that information isn’t stored electronically at the brokerage. Lawyers and bankers who run the transaction aren’t obligated to pass on residency information and buyers don’t regularly check a citizenship box when paying land-transfer tax.
“Conveyance is done through the lawyers and bankers,” minutes from a meeting show. “Money transfers should get passed onto Fintrac. Whether this is taking place or not is an issue.”
Previously, CMHC has tried to glean the scope of foreign investment with a survey of property managers that found less than 6 per cent of condos were bought by people who reside outside the country.
Read the full article over at the Financial Post.