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Home sales to foreign buyers down in the Greater Golden Horseshoe

Last Updated Sep 14, 2017 at 2:27 pm EDT

A sign advertises a new home for sale in Carleton Place, Ont., on March 17, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The latest home sales data show a drop in the number of purchases by non-Canadians in an Ontario region that includes Toronto and is subject to a foreign buyer tax.

The 15 per cent tax was imposed in April on buyers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area — stretching from the Niagara Region to Peterborough — who are not citizens, permanent residents or Canadian corporations.

The government previously released data from April 24 to May 26, which showed that about 4.7 per cent of properties were bought by people who aren’t citizens or permanent residents.

The latest set of numbers covers May 27 to Aug. 18 and it shows the percentage of foreign transactions in the region dropped to about 3.2 per cent.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa says that the measures in the government’s housing plan — which include the tax — are working.

York Region saw the highest percentage of foreign buyers in that three-month time period, with those transactions representing 6.9 per cent of the sales, and in Toronto that number was 5.6 per cent.

The new figures also looked outside the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, and in the first month of the tax foreign transactions represented 1.5 per cent of sales, while in the following three months it was nearly the same, at 1.6 per cent.

The foreign buyer tax was one part of a 16-part housing plan the government introduced as the housing market in the Toronto area and beyond saw year-over-year price increases of over 30 per cent.

The tax applies to purchases made on or after April 21, though there are exemptions for refugees, foreign nationals under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, or if the property is jointly purchased with a spouse who is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, refugee or exempt under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program.

Rebates will be available to people who subsequently get citizenship or permanent resident status, as well as foreign nationals working in Ontario and international students.

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