Toronto's 'Condo King' says 50% of condos are foreign-owned

The man known as Toronto's "Condo King" estimates foreign owners make up about half of the city's condominium market.

But realtor and developer Brad Lamb argues that doesn't mean there are scores of empty condos in Toronto that aren't or can't be rented.

"There is a big interest in Toronto as a safe zone to put money," said Lamb in an interview with The Exchange. "But we have a very, very vibrant rental condominium market in Toronto. Our vacancy rate is around one per cent, which is chronically bad for tenants meaning it's hard for tenants to get good value."

Capturing the foreign-owner segment of the condo market has been problematic. Just last week, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released a snapshot of the condo markets in Toronto and Vancouver and found only 17 per cent are investors. But the survey drew criticism for leaving out any measure of foreign investors — the cash-rich people who live abroad and snap up Canadian condos.

Luring families, parks into condo complexes

Lamb believes it's "inevitable" that every Toronto resident, except the wealthy, will be living in a condo within 20 years. That's why the industry, according to Lamb, is making a stronger effort to lure families into high-rise buildings.

"Within Toronto, we are now forced... to provide 10 per cent of all the stock as a three-bedroom stock. That's a good step in the right direction," said Lamb.

In terms of meeting the growing need for green space, Lamb says that's up to the city.

"Developers pay 10 per cent of the land price to the city for park generation. Are they building new parks? I'm not seeing them," he said.

Lamb's brokerage, Brad J. Lamb Realty Inc., has sold more than $1 billion worth of condos in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton.