It is a fact that Vancouver’s real estate prices are ridiculous! Buying into the Vancouver housing market is difficult, if not impossible for the average person. One of the reasons for this, is the ability for foreign buyers to purchase Vancouver properties. It is a well-known fact that many houses in Vancouver are being snatched up by foreign buyers, and then sit empty for months on end. I agree that we need foreign investors to drive our city’s economy, but not at the expense of its citizens. If these people do not live and work here, they are not paying taxes and contributing to the economy, like the rest of us!
There has been talk during this election to impose taxes on houses that sit empty. This reactive approach will not make housing more affordable for Vancouverites, because foreign buyers will still have the ability to purchase houses in Vancouver. I propose a proactive approach that will curb foreign buyer’s habits, leading to a more affordable city to live in. When international students want to study at Canadian universities, they pay a premium to study at our schools. Foreign home buyers should also be subject to the same fate. Requiring proof of citizenship when purchasing Vancouver real estate and imposing hefty levies on foreign home buyers will not only deter foreign ownership, but it will also enable City Council to collect revenue from these sales to either infuse back into the community, or create a grant for first-time Vancouver home buyers who actually live in the city.
Currently, houses priced at $1.5 million seem to be a drop in the bucket for foreign home owners. If City Council imposed a 50% levy on the sale of a $1.5M house, that would be an extra $750K revenue for the city. The sale of 2 houses in Vancouver at the same rate would generate a revenue of $1.5 million for the city. The imposition of the levy would ensure that foreign home buyers are not buying out the Vancouver market and would likely deter some from investing in the first place, opening up the market for actual Canadians.
The reality of making Vancouver affordable is this: the current demand of housing in Vancouver far exceeds the supply available, and thus the price of housing in Vancouver is exorbitant. Not only that, but wealthy individuals living in other countries can easily purchase property in Vancouver (and they don’t even pay income tax to our government, something the rest of us are doing!) If the supply, at some point, exceeds demands, because less foreign buyers are investing in our real estate market because it is no longer profitable, then housing prices we eventually decline. This would create a more affordable Vancouver to live in and essentially put houses in the hands of people who actually live here!