Expensive Vancouver Homes Are Owned By People In Traditionally Low-Income Jobs: MLA

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Homemakers. Students. A waitress and a casino dealer.

These are just a few traditionally low-income professions you can work in and still, somehow, buy a home in one of Vancouver's priciest areas.

That's according to land title research by B.C. NDP housing critic David Eby. He pulled 250 titles for homes sold in the affluent MacKenzie Heights area from 2012 to the present, and found that 23 were owned by homemakers and five by students, he said at a Tuesday news conference.

It furthers his earlier concern that people with low incomes own multi-million dollar homes throughout the city.

waitress home
A $2.3 million Vancouver home owned by a waitress. (Photo: MLS)

"The question is where are people getting the money to buy these million-dollar homes?" Eby said.

"And is this why MacKenzie Heights and other neighbourhoods throughout the Lower Mainland are reporting incredibly low incomes, despite real estate values being so high?"

Eby found that a waitress was listed as the owner of a $2.3 million home located at 2911 W. 35th Ave.

It's a six-bedroom, seven-bathroom home with stainless steel appliances, hardwood flooring, and annual taxes of $10,078 as of 2014 — "a very successful waitress in Vancouver," Eby noted.

It was bought with the help of a mortgage from TD.

homemaker home
A $3.185 million Vancouver property whose owner listed their occupation as "homemaker." (Photo: MLS)

Another subject in Eby's study was a homemaker who owned five properties throughout B.C.

They included a golf course, as well as properties in Victoria and Vancouver.

One of the homemaker's properties is a six-bedroom, four-bathroom, single-family home at 3250 W. 36th Ave. It was bought for $3,185,000 in December 2015, aided by a CIBC mortgage.

Casino dealer flipped home

Meanwhile, a casino dealer managed to snap up a $1.29 million home at 2987 W. 33rd Ave. in 2011, with a mortgage from BMO.

It was sold for $1,601,000 earlier this year.

casino dealer
A $1.6 million Vancouver home that was sold by a casino dealer in 2015. (Photo: MLS)

In July, the provincial government announced a property transfer tax of 15 per cent that would apply to home purchases by foreign buyers.

But Eby doesn't feel it goes far enough to address the issue of high-value homes being bought by people with low incomes.

He believes it's affecting provincial tax revenues.

'Corrosive impact'

"Taxes are how we pay for schools, hospitals, roads and police," he said.

"And if people aren't paying taxes, if they're listing properties under their children's name, as a student, to avoid capital gains tax for example, or under someone else's name who's a waitress, in order to avoid taxes, then that's a big problem.

"And the government should be interested and concerned about that, because it has a corrosive impact on those of us who do pay our taxes."

"Taxes are how we pay for schools, hospitals, roads and police."

He also feels that banks are subjecting Canadian borrowers to different standards than international clients when it comes to obtaining a mortgage.

People in Canada, he said, have to demonstrate a source of income when borrowing money to buy a home. But international buyers only have to provide a 30 per cent down payment and prove they can make a home's payments for a year.

Indeed, Scotiabank and BMO have only just changed their practices to require foreign buyers to prove their income, The Globe and Mail reported Monday.

david eby
B.C. NDP housing critic David Eby. (Photo: Facebook)

Eby's press conference comes two weeks after he released a separate land title study that showed $57.1 million worth of real estate on Vancouver's west side was owned by students.

Eby noted that many of the names in both land title studies were Chinese.

He said he was "not pulling names based on ethnicity, we are pulling based on whether people identified as students or homemakers or other traditionally low-income [positions]."

"Racism is incredibly corrosive," Eby said, addressing the ongoing debate around the city's housing that has drawn concerns about discrimination.

"We need a co-operative society where we all work together, and there are many, many hard-working Chinese families, either new immigrants or long-time residents of Metro Vancouver, and I would hate for the message that came out of this to be that there is some type of culturally specific issue."

Watch Eby's full news conference below:

CLARIFICATION: David Eby's data was revised Wednesday to show that 2987 W. 33rd Avenue was bought in 2011, not 2015 as previously stated. It was later sold for $1.6 million in 2015. Further data changes showed that 23 homes in the study were owned by homemakers, not 26 as previously stated. The story has been updated to reflect these adjustments.

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