University Grad Facing $84,000 Foreign Buyers Tax On Langley Townhome

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When she completed her degree at the University of Saskatchewan last spring, Chinese student Jing Li decided to put down permanent roots in Canada.

Jing, 29, obtained a work permit, moved to the Vancouver area and made an offer on a townhouse in Langley, B.C. in mid-July.

"The beauty and kindness of B.C. inspired me to move here," she said.

Jing cobbled together a 10 per cent deposit on the $560,000 property by borrowing from her parents in China. She said they in turn borrowed money from friends and family to help with the purchase.

vancouver house for saleThe B.C. government levied a 15 per cent property transfer tax for foreign real estate buyers in the Vancouver area last month. (Photo: CP)

But last month, 12 days after Jing signed the purchase contract, the B.C. government threw a wrench in Jing's Canadian dream when it levied a 15 per cent property transfer tax for foreign real estate buyers in the Vancouver area.

Jing is not a permanent resident in Canada. The tax adds an extra $84,000 to the home's cost. Jing said she can't afford it.

When she called her parents in China to tell them about the tax, her mother cried. They had no more money to lend her.

Jing said her father is a geologist for a mining company. Her mother stays at home.

Parents saved for Jing's future

She said her parents saved all their lives to send her to university in Canada. She earned a Master's degree last spring in public administration from the University of Saskatchewan.

After graduating, she moved to Burnaby, B.C. where she lives in an apartment with some university friends.

Staying on in Canada was Jing's idea, and now she feels guilty.

"I think this is my fault," she said in halting English. "If I don't want to study, work and live in Canada, this disaster would not happen to my family.

"I hope there is somebody could tell me what I can do."

vancouver townhouseJing Li said she never would've bought property if she had known a tax was on the horizon. (Photo: Getty Images)

Bruce Copp, managing broker at Sutton Group West Coast, the real estate firm Jing used, confirmed Jing made the offer on the Langley property in July.

Did not expect tax

When the government introduced the tax last month it said its stated aim was to make housing more affordable for middle class buyers.

Real estate prices in the Vancouver area have soared in recent years. Some have argued that foreign buyers have contributed to this rise, which has left many local buyers priced out of their own city.

Jing said she never would have bought the Langley property had she known a tax was on the horizon.

She said she felt entrapped by the government when it announced the tax.

"Now, I can't go forward and also can't go back."

"In my mind, Canada is a democratic and fair country."

Now she is not so sure.

​Jing is certain she can't afford the new property tax. If she backs out of the deal, though, she will lose her deposit.

"Now, I can't go forward and also can't go back."

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