Vancouver Sun Editorial: Vancouverites concerned about housing costs deserve better than partisan potshots

View Site for SaleThe Vancouver Sun online today carries an editorial urging the provincial government and city set up a joint group to gather comprehensive information and lists some of the questions on drivers of escalating house prices.

We add that such a group should be independent of political and industry influence, should emphasize the not the person but the “foreignness of the money,” and that the questions must be well-formulated (see also Anti-money laundering expert Christine Duhaime volunteers for committee to determine “foreignness of the money” affecting Vancouver real estate). Expect further depth of this whole discussion at a #donthave1million rally slated for June 24.

Below are a few excerpts of the editorial, but please do read the whole text online.

Vancouverites concerned about housing costs deserve better than partisan potshots: Detailed information and common understanding from city, province required (Vancouver Sun Editorial, 11-June-2015)

Vancouverites legitimately concerned about high housing costs deserve better than the partisan potshots being exchanged of late by their mayor and premier.

…A more logical approach would have the city and province join forces to establish a joint group to gather comprehensive information about the following:

  • To what extent is foreign buying pushing up property prices? [CHW: Definition of “foreign buying” deserves careful thought. Not just “people living overseas,” but also the “foreignness” of money sources. Also, scale and impacts of money laundering, immigrant investor program, etc. — patterns that could be driving prices…]
  • What proportion of Vancouver’s housing units are being left vacant? [CHW: By neighbourhood, type of housing, etc.]
  • What percentage of property buyers are opting to sell within six months or less of purchasing? [CHW: Why stop at six months. How about looking at properties flipped within 5 years, and looking for anomalies?]
  • How much money could be raised through a tax on vacant units? Or by way of a tax on luxury homes worth, say, $5 million plus? Would sums be significant enough to allow B.C. to lower its Property Transfer tax?

It also would makes sense for Vancouver to scrutinize other jurisdictions facing similar housing affordability challenges. London, England and Sydney, Australia are just two cities experiencing a similar influx of emigrating foreigners. They’ve experimented with stamp taxes, property tax surcharges and buying restrictions. Do such measures work?

First, however, what is needed is better information about who is buying what. How that is affecting the market.

Only when the province and city have a common understanding about the housing problems Vancouver faces can co-operative action be taken.

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