A foreign buyer’s tax introduced in a surprise move by the B.C. Liberal government Monday may cool the high end of Metro Vancouver’s red hot real estate market, even if it contains several potential loopholes and unintended consequences
The British Columbia government broke new ground this week, reporting a robust assessment on outside homebuyers in the Metro Vancouver region, something Ontario rapidly said it will observe nearly as a conceivable approach to chill Toronto’s hot housing market.
Foreign buyers will pay an extra 15 per cent in property tax fees on residential real estate in Metro Vancouver, of any private property they obtain, on top of the current land transfer fee, an additional $300,000 on a $2-million home, for instance. Financial Minister Mike de Jong said income from the extra charge would be utilized to fund housing, rental and support programs.
Some who follow real estate in the province, where existing home prices in its largest city rose about 36 per cent in June from a year earlier, questioned whether the punitive tax will have any impact on property prices in the single-detached home market it targets.
The legislation to enact the new 15 per cent tax tries to pre-empt several possible loopholes by making the tax mandatory whether the buyer is:
A non-resident foreign citizen.
A corporation either incorporated outside Canada or controlled by foreigners.
A trust where the trustee, or even just one of the beneficiaries, is a foreigner.
But that still leaves some major gaps, according to the opposition provincial NDP housing critic, David Eby.
“As a Canadian or permanent resident, I could set up a company and fully capitalize it with foreign money and there’s nothing stopping me from buying up as many properties as I wish without paying any of this tax,” Eby said in an interview.
As it were, foreigners could conceivably still get Vancouver-region homes free of the new duty through a company, as long as most of the voting shares are locally controlled.
Eby also mentioned that another loophole is that the new tax doesn’t make a difference to pre-sales in condos and homes, which implies foreign speculators can even now grab up properties that are a work in progress and afterward flip them later, and as long as it’s done before development is finished and the new homes are recorded on the common property registry.
“We have a problem where speculators are buying all the units in a development and scalping them like hockey tickets, and this won’t catch that,” he said.
There’s additionally the likelihood a Canadian subject or occupant could fuse an organization in Canada to purchase a Vancouver area house, and after that when they need to offer it to a foreigner, they simply offer the shares of the enterprise. Title to the home never shows signs of change hands, so it doesn’t get to be liable to the new exchange charge.
The greater inquiry is, regardless of whether a few purchasers discover loopholes what the overall effect of the tax will be on Metro Vancouver’s red-hot housing market. As of May, costs were up another 30 for every penny from the year earlier, as indicated by the Greater Vancouver real estate.
North Vancouver land operator Roland Lewis said that in the short term, he sees the new exchange demand having a price-tamping shock impact as foreign buyers assimilate the shock that properties they had their eye on will now cost 15 for each penny more.
But long term, for average house prices, “it really will do nothing,” he said, citing the fact foreign buying tends to happen at the high end of the market.
“Folks have to understand what segment of the market foreign ownership does occupy and if 15 percent really does make a difference to them. That foreign ownership portion of the market… I think people think it’s much bigger than it really is.”
However, Tom Davidoff, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s business school who focuses on housing and the economics of real estate, said there’s “no question” the new tax will put a chill on foreign demand for Vancouver-area housing.He said he just finds it hard to believe people will be willing to pay in large numbers this 15 per cent surcharge, and part of what draws foreign money to Vancouver is the feeling that ‘I’m safe here.’ When you start to throw up roadblocks, alternative investments start to be more attractive.
The new B.C. charge has motivated Ontario’s finance minister. Charles Sousa said Tuesday he “welcomes”the move and will “look carefully” at it in the months ahead for the Greater Toronto Area, were prices for detached, single-family homes are up around 20 for every penny year-over-year.
That scorching pace will only intensify if investor cash now diverts to Toronto from Vancouver.
“Even if two to three per cent of that money would come here, any increase in demand is going to put pressure on our prices, so the government should be looking at that proactively,” Toronto real estate agent and real estate blogger David Fleming said
“We’re living in a brave new world,where internationally mobile capital is actually chasing single-family homes and apartments. That didn’t use to happen as much.”
“So any place that is feeling like it’s a target should start to implement these kinds of taxes.”
Ontario would need to take after B.C’s. lead and redesign its land transfer rules to have the capacity to gather data like a purchaser’s nationality and the character of the useful proprietors behind a home buying enterprise or trust, however, it’s nothing that hasn’t been done somewhere else.