In talks of the Canadian real estate market, multi-property home ownership remains a hot topic, as fingers point to investors as contributors to the country’s housing crisis. 

But speculation may not be as big of an issue as it is made out to be -- not in Ontario at least -- according to new research.

The latest Market Insight Report from Teranet continues its focus on multi-property ownership profiles in Ontario. In its last market report, the registry solutions company reported that as of April 2022, just under 25% of all residential properties in Ontario are owned by multi-property owners. Out of those properties, over 53% are owned by those with only two properties in their portfolio. 

Additionally, their analysis suggests that the majority of multi-property owners are purchasing for long-term holding and value, with only a small fraction demonstrating high rates of turnover and shorter holding periods in their property portfolios that's indicative of speculative activity.

investorsAerial view of Toronto city

In the latest report, Teranet data scientists analyze how people are purchasing, what they are purchasing, and how they are financing such purchases. The report subsequently offers new insights into the real estate market in Ontario derived through the team’s analysis of sales registration activity in the Ontario Land Registry.

The findings reveal that the majority of multi-property owners purchase in groups of two, with an average age between the two parties of six years, suggesting that these owners are couples. Analysts observed that, of the Ontario home purchases by multi-property owners since 2011, approximately 60% are purchased by parties of two, and 30% by those purchased individually. Not surprisingly, the proportion of multi-property purchases made by a single owner is steadily decreasing, from 36% in 2011 to 27% year-to-date in 2022. As the report highlights, this emerging trend is likely indicative of the erosion in housing affordability observed in Ontario during the period. 

Most multi-property owners have just two properties in their portfolio. As of July 31, 2022, 53% of properties owned by multi- property owners are by those who own two properties, 18% owned by those with three properties, 8% by those with four properties, and the remaining 21% by those who own five or more properties. Of those owners with two properties, many have a preference towards GTA properties that are not Toronto condos. Based on sales activities from 2011 to July 2022, of those multi-property owners with two properties in their portfolio 25% are fully comprised of properties within the GTA excluding Toronto condos, 21% are fully comprised of Ontario properties that are outside the real estate hotbeds of the GTA, Ottawa, University towns, and cottage country, and lastly that 17% are comprised of one Toronto condo and another property within the GTA.

Data scientists observed differing trends amongst multi-property owners with five or more properties in their portfolios. They found that 25% of multi-property owners with five or more properties are fully comprised of Ontario properties that are outside the real estate hotbeds of the GTA, Ottawa, university towns, and cottage country. Additionally, 19% are comprised of at least one Toronto condo and other properties within the GTA. Lastly, 11% are comprised of at least one GTA property and other properties outside of the widely held real estate hotspots of the GTA, Ottawa, university towns, and cottage country.

"In summary, contrary to popular belief, we observe that multi-property owners with two properties have a preference for GTA properties that are not Toronto condos," reads the report. "When looking at the portfolios of multi-property owners, it appears that despite the number of properties in their profile, this segment tend to have similar weightings in Toronto condo properties, which supports the perceived appeal of this kind of property. Across all multi-property owners, an unexpected trend has emerged in which a quarter have all holdings outside of the real estate hotspots of the GTA, Ottawa, cottage country, and university towns."

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According to the report, the larger the portfolio of a multi-property owner, the more likely it is they will use a variety of lenders to fund portfolio purchases, and the less likely it is they will use a Big 5 bank exclusively for financing. Over 70% of multi-property owners with five or more properties chose different lenders for the properties within their portfolios. "Across all portfolio sizes, there has been an increasing trend since 2011 to use different lenders to finance purchases, likely indicative of the heightened level of competition between mortgage lenders," reads the report.

While the majority of multi-property owners with two properties still tend to borrow exclusively from the Big 5 banks (at 54%, this preference declines with more properties in the multi-property owner portfolio). Amongst multi-property owners with five or more properties, only 38% finance their purchases exclusively with the Big 5 banks, while the remainder choose smaller lenders or combinations thereof, according to Teranet.

Tellingly, less than 30% of multi-property owner purchases are made within one year of a refinance of another property in the portfolio, which contradicts a widely-held belief that this segment habitually refinances other properties in their portfolio in order to fund new properties. There is an increasing trend to refinance other properties in the portfolio since 2019, coinciding with the significant increase in home prices.

"As expected, the bigger the property portfolio, the higher the propensity to refinance properties in the portfolio to fund new purchases," reads the report. "Only 17% of purchases by multi-property owners with two properties saw a refinance of the existing property within a year while those with five or more properties are twice as likely to do so, at 34%."

Lastly, Corporations own less than 4% of residential properties in Ontario. Amongst Corporations that own multiple properties, the London area is most popular, and 73% of said owners have ten or more properties in their portfolio. "This is illustrative of the likely nature of property ownership for income-generating purposes, where the portfolio of properties is held in the same region for ease of maintenance," highlights the report.

So, the reality is that some multi-property owners may indeed be in the market purely for investment or income generating purposes. But many others clearly are not.

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