B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman has said neither his ministry or the province has any plans to collect data on foreign ownership, stating that housing costs in B.C. are “pretty reasonable”.
Coleman was referring to the price of real estate in B.C. and the Lower Mainland region compared to other cities such as London and Tokyo after a prompt from Vancouver-Point Grey MLA David Eby.
“It would be greatly worthwhile, from the perspective of many people, to measure the impact of [foreign investment] on the B.C. real estate market,” said Eby.
“There is a lot of concern about this in my community, and people need to know whether their concern is overblown or whether it’s legitimate, and if it’s legitimate that people are using housing as investments and driving up prices, then the province should look at what actions should be taken.” He then asked if Minister Coleman would consider and take forward the conversation within his government to measure international and domestic investment in properties when the unit is vacant.
“I believe that the market place adjusts. If you notice over the years, it has fluctuations up and fluctuations down. If you look at the mean cost of housing across British Columbia and you compare it to other major cities worldwide, the reason it is attractive internationally is because it’s actually pretty reasonable compared to other cities like London, Singapore, Tokyo,” Coleman answered.
But noting statistics, Vancouver’s housing costs are not comparable to many of Coleman’s sampled cities due to the differences in income across these markets. While real estate prices are expensive across the board, income in cities such as London are much higher compared to Vancouver.
According to 2014 National Statistics, the median salary in London was $65,336 (£34,473) while Statistics Canada reports the median income for people living in Vancouver in 2013 was only $28,726, less than half of what Londoners make.
“I don’t believe we should be in the market place,” Coleman said, referring to his ministry, “and we have not had any request to go and do this work … There is no initiative at this time in government to go and interfere in the market place in regards to housing.”
Eby then said he was “disappointed” the Minister refused to consider measuring the data.
Coleman’s comments come after another dividing week in regards to foreign real estate investment. On Tuesday, B.C. Premier Christy Clark she said worries that if taxes on foreign real estate investors are implemented, “housing prices will drop.”
“That’s good for first-time home buyers but not for anybody who is depending on the equity in their home to maybe get a loan or use that to finance some other projects,”Clark added.
However, after Coleman’s comments, it is clear the government is opposed to even researching the effects of foreign ownership on B.C. housing prices and its economy, let alone impose taxes.
Meanwhile, the British Columbia Real Estate Association reported Thursday morning a 45.5 per cent increase from April 2014 in the total sales dollar volume for B.C. real estate and a 28.7 per cent increase in number of home sales, totaling $6.3 billion worth of real estate sold in April, making the month the hottest April for home sales in a decade.
BC has no plans to measure impact of speculative international investors holding properties vacant on lower mainland real estate market.
Posted by David Eby on Thursday, May 14, 2015