Responding to news of British Columbia’s legislature passing a 15 percent property transfer tax that exclusively targets foreign buyers, real estate agent Eric Lin expressed deep concern that the move would have dramatic negative consequences for immigrant families trying to establish a livelihood in the area.
“Not everyone looking to buy a home or condo in Metro Vancouver is a Chinese investor who has pockets overflowing with cash,” said Eric, owner of the Richmond-based, condo-focused Eric Lin Homes and the www.richmondcondoshomes.com property search site.
“In fact, I would say that the vast majority of my clients are hard-working entrepreneurs and families who are in the process of obtaining their visas. They embody the vision of a multi-cultural British Columbia with a diverse economy run by diverse peoples. Yet, these upstart families are the ones hurt most by the new property transfer tax.”
According to the B.C. Liberal government, the aim of the new tax was to put downward pressure on housing prices by discouraging foreign investment. The 15 percent additional tax will be applied only to property purchases made by those who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Corporations not registered in Canada or with a majority foreign control are also affected, with exceptions for companies traded on the Canadian Stock Exchange.
However, many economics experts cautioned that the laws were made without consulting hard data. The actual role of foreign investment in Metro Vancouver remains inconclusive. Meanwhile, concrete factors proven to affect real estate prices like lack of supply, lack of available land, near-record-low interest rates and Metro Vancouver’s international appeal go under-examined.
“I understand the frustration of those who live and work near Metro Vancouver but can’t afford housing, I really do,” Eric lamented. “Yet, I can’t help but feel that foreign investors are being used as a scapegoat when they are likely only a small, albeit visible, part of this trend. Many other factors are being ignored in favor of a convenient narrative that smacks of nativism.”
Eric, who offers real estate services in Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese in addition to English, says that concerns over upward housing prices are shared multiculturally. He states that many of his clients, both Canadian-born and former immigrants, wish to find affordable properties and steer clear of the notorious bidding wars that inflate prices.
“I don’t care what language you speak, no one wants to pay $1.5 million for a property that by all rights should cost a third as much,” observed Eric. He suggested that an alternative to protectionist property transfer taxes would be to encourage higher-density development as opposed to low-density, detached single-family homes that continue being built.
“Condominiums offer urban-focused living and cutting-edge amenities without all the upkeep or high property taxes that affect detached homes,” Eric explained. “I am very much in favor of preserving historic homes, but building new 2,300 sq. ft. homes on lots less than an acre provides little value to home buyers or communities.”
Any home buyers, both foreign or Canadian, can look to Eric Lin for professional agent services and inside knowledge of the Richmond, B.C. property market. They can visit his business’s site to find competitively priced Richmond condominium listings at http://www.richmondcondoshomes.com.