New B.C. housing minister to review foreign buyers tax

NDP cabinet will decide which measures to keep and which to scrap

The B.C. government is reviewing the foreign buyers’ tax in the Vancouver area and the interest-free loan program to first-time homebuyers to determine whether they’ve been effective in improving affordability, the province’s new housing minister says.

In an interview Monday, Selina Robinson says she and provincial Finance Minister Carole James will go over real estate transaction data in an effort to decide whether such measures should be kept, revised or scrapped altogether. “I don’t know that we have any plans to eliminate it,” Robinson said of the 15 per cent foreign buyers’ levy, nearly a year after the previous Liberal government introduced it for Metro Vancouver.

“There’s certainly enough data that would help us to understand its value, and so, we have to look at that data.” Robinson said she understands the tax had some impact early on, but that is starting to slip away. From June 10 until Aug. 1, 2016 – one day before the tax took effect – 13.2 per cent of all property transfer transactions in Metro Vancouver involved foreign buyers, according to data from the B.C. Finance Ministry.

RELATED: BC imposes foreign buyer tax on Metro real estate

From Aug. 2, 2016, until the end of last year, that figure fell to 2.6 per cent. In the months after the tax, there were signs of cooling in Vancouver’s housing market, with the number of transactions falling. However, there have been signs that the market may be rebounding, as prices continue to creep up.

The Multiple Listing Service composite benchmark price for all properties in Metro Vancouver was $998,700 in June, an increase of 7.9 per cent from the same month last year, according to the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board.

Tsur Somerville, the director of the University of British Columbia Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, said the tax may have dampened foreign interest in a city where housing prices are among the most expensive in North America.

But another possibility is that some foreign buyers are not self-identifying as such or have shifted to purchasing properties, like presale condominiums, that aren’t covered by the tax, he said. Before they won the May election, the NDP promised to bring in an annual two per cent tax on vacant properties, but Robinson says that too is under review.

Andrey Pavlov, a professor who specializes in real estate finance at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., said he hopes the government implements policies that would ease development restrictions to increase housing supply.

“Unless we can increase supply, we can tax people at any rate we want,” Pavlov said. “It’s not going to make any difference because we just don’t have enough units.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rent continues to rise in Prince Rupert, drops in Terrace

A report from Canadian Mortage and Housing Corporation shows the average rent has risen by $132

Cops targeting risky behaviour, auto crime

Holiday campagaigns aim to keep roads safe, valuables protected

Terrace RCMP seeking witnesses in last month’s armed robbery.

And officers will be looking for unlocked vehicles this weekend after Cram a Cruiser event.

First step taken for major in-land port development

City of Terrace seeks financing for feasibility study of Terrace-based transload facility

Regional leaders unite at Terrace Greyhound hearings

Greyhound answers questions, public concerns at Passenger Transportation Board meeting

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Firefighter dies, thousands more take on California blaze

This is second death linked to the Thomas fire, northwest of Los Angeles

AHUS patient Shantee Anaquod is home for Christmas

Less than a month after receiving first dose of $750K drug, 23 year old healthy enough to go home

Moose calves rescued in northern B.C. are ‘golden nuggets:’ researcher

Calves discovered near Prince George in late May. Mother had been killed by a car

Missing Alberta man could be headed to Victoria

Police in Alberta say Vernon “Allan” Pickard has not been heard from since late November

Cineplex charges extra at some Star Wars screenings

Fans are getting a surprise twist at the box office with extra $1 charges for assigned seating

Toddler sent to hospital following dog bite at Vancouver Island daycare

Malamute/husky cross involved in incident at 1200-block of Burnside Rd. West

Local guides aren’t happy with grizzly ban

Guides say new ban could end businesses, including first nations outfitters and float planes.

Provincial Contractor of the Year awards handed out across B.C.

Deputy Minister’s 2017 awards recognize excellence in transportation and infrastructure

Most Read