Canada's Foreign Buyers Ban: A Misstep in Housing Affordability?

In 2022, the Canadian government introduced a significant policy aimed at addressing the nation's housing affordability crisis: the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act. This two-year ban was designed to limit the ability of non-citizens and foreign-controlled companies to invest in Canadian real estate, with the intention of making homes more affordable for Canadian residents.

However, the promise of the foreign buyers ban and its impact on improving housing affordability has been a subject of debate. Despite its noble intentions, many Canadians, particularly in high-demand cities like Vancouver and Toronto, continue to face the challenge of finding affordable housing. The real estate market in these areas remains marked by high prices, and data suggests that the percentage of foreign real estate purchases was relatively minimal even before the implementation of the ban. This has led to questions about the true effectiveness of this policy in making a significant difference in the housing market.

Critics of the ban argue that it has been more of a political maneuver rather than a practical solution to the housing crisis. The policy includes numerous exemptions, such as allowances for students, first-time buyers, and properties under $500,000, which many believe have diluted its impact.

In response to the ongoing housing affordability issues, other strategies have been explored. Some success has been seen with measures like speculation taxes and funding for new affordable homes. British Columbia and Ontario, for instance, have implemented speculation and vacancy taxes in high-demand areas, which initially resulted in a drop in housing prices, though this effect soon leveled off.

Analysts suggest that a more holistic approach to housing policy is needed, one that goes beyond focusing solely on foreign buyers. Factors such as interest rates, housing supply, and broader economic policies need to be considered to address the root causes of the housing affordability issue more effectively.

The Canadian government has taken various actions in response to the housing crunch. These include partnerships with cities to facilitate the building of new homes and initiatives like the "Canadian Mortgage Charter." However, challenges such as stagnant wages and a limited supply of affordable housing continue to fuel the affordability crisis.

Internationally, countries like Singapore provide interesting case studies. Singapore boasts one of the highest home ownership rates globally, largely due to its aggressive speculation taxes and a robust public housing stock. These strategies suggest that focusing on how a property is used, rather than who owns it, might be more effective in tackling the affordability issue.

As Canada continues its efforts to address housing affordability, it becomes increasingly clear that a multi-faceted and nuanced approach is required. While the foreign buyers ban represents a significant step, its effectiveness remains a topic of considerable debate, underscoring the need for a broader reassessment of strategies to achieve the goal of affordable housing for all Canadians.

For those interested in further exploring the dynamics of Canada's housing market in light of recent policy changes, or if you are considering buying or selling property in this evolving landscape, expertise is invaluable. Matt Gul, one of West Vancouver's top Realtors, is well-versed in these complexities and can offer guidance and assistance. To learn more, please contact Matt Gul at 778-888-8888 or via email at

Source: CBC/Radio Canada. (2023, December 26). Why Canada’s ban on foreign buyers hasn’t made homes more affordable | CBC news. CBCnews.

Summarized by Onur Gul