Foreign investors may be shifting their focus from Toronto and Vancouver to Montreal.
A new study finds a spike in foreign investment here.
Americans and the French have traditionally found Montreal attractive, but last year 21 per cent of all foreign buyers were Asian.
“Last year, we hired an Asian broker to be able to fulfill the demand of Asian clients and this year we're up to seven Asian brokers to serve that clientele,” said Debby Doktorczyk, a realtor with Engel & Volkers.
This year, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, one of ten condos sold downtown was bought by a non-resident, a major increase from the previous year.
Toronto and Vancouver have slapped a 15 per cent tax on foreigners buying homes, making investors look further east to Montreal.
“I believe Montreal has the Canadian dream feel right now. We are politically stable, economically, it's going well,” said Doktorczyk.
It’s a relative bargain: In Toronto, the average condo costs $513,000; in Montreal, it's $294,000.
“I like the environment,” said Paul Qu, who moved to Montreal from China six years ago.
Qu said he has friends in Beijing looking to invest in Montreal, because they believe the city presents a better investment opportunity than others in Canada.
“They see Montreal as maybe the future. Growth is better,” he said.
Still, CMHC said foreign buyers haven't yet caused home prices to spike. They point out while more than 7 per cent of downtown condos are owned by non-residents, overall, non-residents own just 1.7 per cent of all Montreal properties
“Foreign owners tend to be also, often, in the same area, in the same building, so maybe it can have an impact in building on a street,” said Francis Cortellino of the CMHC. “But if you look at Montreal as a whole, it doesn't have an impact.”
The CMHC believes 2018 will be another strong year of growth for Montreal home prices, with values rising about 5 per cent.
Mayor Valerie Plante said she's watching home prices and is lobbying the Quebec government for powers to tax foreign owners.
“We do not want to create the same situation as Toronto and Vancouver, where they acted too late,” she said.