Montreal should think carefully before taxing buyers

Real estate agents in Montreal are urging lawmakers to think carefully before imposing a sales tax on foreign buyers in the region.

Greater Montreal Real Estate Board says that the proportion of foreign buyers in the area is very different from that in Vancouver or Toronto and there is also no current overheating in the market.

“Looking at the dwelling vacancy rate, the pace of price growth, the number of months of inventory, as well as the available data on the percentage of foreign buyers, there is nothing to suggest that there is a situation in Montréal that requires a quick response,” states Mathieu Cousineau, Chairman of the GMREB Board of Directors. “However, we do believe that there is an urgent need to put in place the means to effectively identify property purchases by foreign nationals. This will enable us to monitor the evolving situation and make informed decisions.”

With CMHC estimating that the share of foreign buyers in the Montreal metro is just 1.5 per cent, it is well below that of Vancouver (9.7 per cent according to government data) and Toronto (4.9 per cent according to TREB).

The board says that, although the CMHC figure may be underestimated, foreign buyers have a limited impact on the market. It says that there should be urgent action to build an accurate picture of foreign buyers in the market though.

It also highlights that affordability in Montreal remains good when compared to other North American cities; $304,000 for single-family homes and $240,000 for condos; and the supply rate and rental vacancy rate are not a concern.

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