International Activity in Canadian Real Estate During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Did the COVID-19 pandemic have an impact on international activity in Canadian real estate markets?

CREA recently released its 2020 Profile of International Activity in Canadian Real Estate survey, which provides valuable insights into the nature of international purchases and sales of Canadian property.

Of those surveyed, 18% indicated they had at least one international client who decided not to purchase in the last 12 months and 53% of respondents reported the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on their volume of business.

During the 12-month reporting period from January 2020 to December 2020, the economic environment provided both opportunities and challenges that affected international activity in Canadian residential real estate markets.

The future of immigration in Canada

In October 2020, Marco Mendicino, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced Canada would welcome more than 1.2 million new residents by 2023.

During the announcement Mendicino said, “Before the pandemic, our government’s goal to drive the economy forward through immigration was ambitious. Now it’s simply vital,” according to the Toronto Star.

Immigration plays an important role in the economy

The pandemic highlighted the contribution of immigrants to the well-being of many communities and sectors of the economy across Canada and why they play an important part in our economy. 

According to the 2020 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, permanent and non-permanent immigration accounted for more than 80% of Canada’s population growth in 2019. Approximately one in four workers in Canada are immigrants. As of 2016, there were 600,000 self-employed immigrants employing more than 260,000 Canadians.

“Economic immigration has always been the lifeblood of Canada’s economic success and has played a key role in the building of our great nation,” said Dan Kelly, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Tip: Make sure your REALTOR® profile is up to date on your board/association’s MLS® System. visitors can search for a REALTOR® based on languages, specialties and designations. Take advantage of these searches by including all relevant information. (Available fields may vary by board/association).

New residents help make Canada a true melting pot and provide us with a vibrant society. So, just where do they come from? Stats Canada reported permanent residents admitted in 2019 came from India, China (People’s Republic of), Philippines, Nigeria, Pakistan, United States of America, Syria, Eritrea, Korea (Republic of) and Iran. This is consistent with data collected during CREA’s international survey where our members reported the top international buyer countries as:

Top 5 International Buyer Countries

Where are international buyers looking for property in Canada? It probably comes as no surprise that Ontario and British Columbia were reported as the top destinations by REALTORS® surveyed:

Top 5 Canadian Destinations

Knowing how important immigration is to Canada and its impact on the economy is important for REALTORS® because as the saying goes “global is local.” 

CREA Global is here to assist CREA members grow their global business. Here are a few recent events and tools to help you stay abreast of Canada’s immigration pulse:

  • As REALTORS®, it’s important to understand how your clients may immigrate to Canada, but more important for you to align yourself with an immigration lawyer or recognized consultant who has the expertise to advise your clients. CREA Global held
  • two webinars this year on immigration. You can re-watch them now.
  • CREA Global recently updated its Provincial Snapshots. These are great resources for your global clients to learn more about Canada and possibilities for settlement.
  • The Great Canadian Road Trip is a series of webinars about Canada’s provinces. Learn more at or re-watch the webinar on YouTube.
  • Earn your Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation through courses offered by CREA. You can see upcoming courses at

Stay connected with CREA Global by opting-in to the Global Affiliates Program. Canadian REALTORS® can learn more at and international real estate professionals can visit

Sharon von Schoenberg, Associate Director of Global and Commercial Programs, contributes to and implements CREA’s international strategy to increase global opportunities for REALTOR® members. Her initiatives include the Global Affiliate Program, building relationships with international associations and trade-related organizations, developing educational opportunities for members, and increasing the relevancy of for global visitors. Prior to joining CREA, Sharon was a Canadian residential appraiser and held marketing and client management positions in the private and non-profit sector. Sharon holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Ottawa, is a certified association executive and a CIPS designee. As a mother of two teenagers, Sharon stays rooted by practicing yoga.

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