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Study: Residential Property Ownership Among Refugees in Vancouver and Toronto

Released: 2019-06-18

Homeownership is an important milestone in the path that many refugee families follow towards social and economic integration. A new study based on data developed by the Canadian Housing Statistics Program (CHSP) provides, for the first time, detailed information on homeownership among resettled refugees in different segments of the Vancouver and Toronto housing markets, comparing the relative value of refugee-owned properties to those owned by Canadian-born residents. Resettled refugees include government-assisted refugees and privately sponsored refugees.

The CHSP, a program mostly based on administrative data, is designed to produce timely information on how different social, economic and demographic factors are shaping the evolution of Canadian housing markets. The use of administrative data is a key element in Statistics Canada's modernization effort to produce statistical information that is comprehensive, cost effective and timely. Data under Statistics Canada's auspices are protected to ensure privacy and confidentiality.

The estimates of homeownership for resettled refugees are based on individuals who were selected abroad for immigration to Canada from 1980 to 2016. Unless noted, the estimates exclude protected persons who applied for refugee protection in Canada.

Lower rates of homeownership among refugees

While more than half of resettled refugee families in Vancouver and Toronto owned their own home in 2016, their rates of homeownership are lower than among Canadian-born families. Accordingly to the 2016 Census of Population, 50% of resettled refugee families in Vancouver owned residential property in 2016, compared with 61% of their Canadian-born counterparts. The corresponding percentages for Toronto are 59% of resettled refugee families and 65% of their Canadian-born counterparts.

In both cities, resettled refugee families generally exhibit lower rates of homeownership irrespective of the age, education level, or sex of the household maintainer. However, rates of homeownership between refugee families and Canadian-born families are comparable when households with similar income levels are compared. In Vancouver, about 80% of the 11 percentage point gap in homeownership rates between resettled refugee families and Canadian-born families can be explained by income differences. In Toronto, all of the 6 percentage point gap in homeownership rates between the two groups can be explained by lower incomes among resettled refugee families.

Refugees own proportionately fewer single detached homes in both cities

Properties owned by resettled refugees account for a very small share of the housing market in both Vancouver and Toronto. Less than 2% of residential properties in Vancouver are owned by refugees who resettled in Canada. In Toronto, resettled refugees own about 3% of residential properties. In both cities, refugee homeowners own proportionately fewer single detached houses than the Canadian-born. Single-detached houses account for 42% of refugee-owned properties in Vancouver, compared with 48% of properties owned by the Canadian-born. Similarly, single-detached houses account for 54% of all refugee-owned properties in Toronto, compared with 60% of those owned by the Canadian-born.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Average assessment value of residential properties, by immigration status of owner, Vancouver CMA
Average assessment value of residential properties, by immigration status of owner, Vancouver CMA

Chart 2  Chart 2: Average assessment value of residential properties, by immigration status of owner, Toronto CMA
Average assessment value of residential properties, by immigration status of owner, Toronto CMA

Properties owned by refugees have lower average assessment values

For each of the different types of housing examined in Toronto and Vancouver, properties owned by resettled refugees have lower average assessment values than those owned by Canadian-born residents. In Vancouver, single-detached properties owned by resettled refugees have an average assessment value of $1.28 million, 15% less than the corresponding average among Canadian-born residents (a difference of $228,800). Similarly, the average value of refugee-owned condominium apartments in Vancouver is 17% lower than those owned by Canadian-born residents.

The pattern is similar in Toronto. The average value of single-detached properties owned by resettled refugees ($768,800) is about 10% lower than the value of single-detached properties owned by Canadian-born residents. The average assessment value of refugee-owned condominiums is 22% lower.

Age, size and location contribute to the gap in property values

In both cities, a significant portion of the observed difference in property values between the two groups of owners can be explained by the size, age and location of these properties.

Before accounting for these property characteristics, the average value of single detached houses in Vancouver owned by resettled refugees is $228,800 lower than the average among Canadian-born owners. Adjusting for the size, age and location of these properties reduced the gap by about 20% to $184,700. By comparison, most of the observed difference in average assessment value for condominium apartments is eliminated when accounting for differences in the age, size and location of these properties (the gap between Canadian-born owners and resettled refugee owners narrows from $103,600 to $11,700).

The pattern is similar in Toronto. Adjusting for property characteristics reduced the gap associated with refugee-owned single detached dwellings by almost 30%, and by about 60% for condominium apartments.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Difference in average assessment value between single-detached properties owned by resettled refugees and those owned by Canadian-born residents, Vancouver and Toronto CMAs
Difference in average assessment value between single-detached properties owned by resettled refugees and those owned by Canadian-born residents, Vancouver and Toronto CMAs

Age and income of property owners explains much of the gap

The age and income of owners also has a major role in explaining differences in property value between resettled refugees and Canadian-born residents. Comparing homeowners with similar age and income profiles reduces much of the observed gap between the two groups. In Vancouver, the gap between Canadian- and refugee-owned single-detached houses declined from $228,800 to $54,000 after taking into account these owner characteristics. In Toronto, the corresponding gap for single detached houses fell from $80,400 to $21,600. These owner characteristics also have a qualitatively large impact on other housing types.

  Note to readers

The estimates reported in this article are based on data developed by the Canadian Housing Statistics Program to support research on immigration and housing. These data contain information on the size, age and location of residential properties, along with their assessed value. The data also include information on the age, family income and immigration status of property titleholders.

The estimates of refugee homeownership in this analysis are based on resettled refugees—individuals who were selected abroad for immigration to Canada during the 1980 to 2016 period. Unless noted, the estimates exclude protected persons who applied for refugee protection in Canada.

Housing estimates are based on single-structure, standard dwelling types, including single-detached houses, semi-detached houses, row houses and condominium apartments. The sample was restricted to residential properties owned by individuals who are Canadian residents. Properties owned by non-residents are excluded from this study. For an article which compares all immigrant owned properties in Toronto and Vancouver to those owned by Canadian-born residents, see "Immigrant Ownership of Residential Properties in Toronto and Vancouver." For a study that compares non-resident and resident owned properties in these metropolitan areas, see "Non-resident Ownership of Residential Properties in Toronto and Vancouver: Initial Information from the Canadian Housing Statistics Program."

Products

The research article "Residential Property Ownership Among Refugees in Vancouver and Toronto," part of Economic Insights (Catalogue number11-626-X), is now available.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca).

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Guy Gellatly (613-415-6894; guy.gellatly@canada.ca), Analytical Studies Branch.

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