BUSINESS

B.C. Foreign Buyer Tax Is Under Review, New Housing Minister Says

The new NDP government wants to know if the measures have done anything to improve affordability.

07/31/2017 16:45 EDT | Updated 07/31/2017 16:48 EDT
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Condo towers and apartment buildings in Vancouver's Coal Harbour. The province's new government is reviewing the year-old foreign buyer tax, as well as other housing measures put in place by the previous Liberal government.

VANCOUVER — British Columbia's new housing minister says she is reviewing the tax on foreign buyers of Vancouver real estate and the province's interest-free loan program to first-time homebuyers.

In an interview, Selina Robinson says she and provincial Finance Minister Carole James are analyzing whether those measures brought in by the previous Liberal government were effective in stabilizing Vancouver's housing market and improving affordability.

Before they won the May election, the NDP promised to bring in an annual two per cent tax on vacant properties, but Robinson says that too is under review.

THE CANADIAN PRESS
Then-NDP candidate Selina Robinson speaks to a reporter in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sunday May 7, 2017. Robinson, British Columbia's new housing minister, says she is reviewing the tax on foreign buyers of Vancouver real estate and the province's interest-free loan program to first-time homebuyers.

A year ago, the Liberal government implemented a 15 per cent tax on foreign nationals purchasing property in Metro Vancouver in an effort to cool skyrocketing house prices.

From June 10 until Aug. 1, 2016 — one day before the tax took effect — 13.2 per cent of all property transfer transactions in Metro Vancouver involved foreign buyers, according to data from the B.C. Finance Ministry.

From Aug. 2, 2016, until the end of last year, that figure fell to 2.6 per cent.

The Multiple Listing Service composite benchmark price for all properties in Metro Vancouver was $998,700 in June, an increase of 7.9 per cent from the same month last year.

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