(The Province newspaper has this article in print today by Sam Cooper. Excerpts below. See online for the full article.)
B.C. Housing seeking consultant to research property prices, despite previous claims that investors abroad have little to do with affordability crisis
- The provincial government will pay for an external study on the impacts of foreign investment and ownership in B.C.’s property market, The Province has learned.
A July 2015 confidential “issues note” addressed to Housing Minister Rich Coleman says that B.C. Housing has been tasked with researching foreign investment impacts.
- And a January 2016 email written by B.C. Housing’s manager of research, Deborah Kraus, confirms the external study and outlines parameters.
- In an email titled “Foreign Investment Research Initiative,” Kraus writes that, “B.C. Housing has issued a request for proposals for a consultant to conduct research on this topic and expects to engage a consultant by the end of January 2016.”
The email says the research will take about six months to complete and the consultant will look at: key factors affecting prices for new and resale homes in B.C.; impact of foreign home ownership on home prices, with a particular focus on the Lower Mainland; what sources of data are needed to measure the extent of foreign home ownership and price impacts; to what extent other jurisdictions are experiencing impacts from foreign home ownership, and what measures they are taking.
- “It is premature to say if the research will be made public,” Kraus states in an email obtained by The Province.
- … In June 2015, Premier Christy Clark responded to calls from Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to clamp down on property speculation by suggesting foreign cash has little impact on B.C. home prices.
- … “We’ve worked with the real estate guys for years and have got data on sales,” Coleman was quoted in The Tyee. According to the report, Coleman was pressed on why Victoria would not share the data publicly. He reportedly answered that sharing data could endanger foreign investment in B.C. and “throws an ethnic group out there and says they’re the problem.”
B.C. Housing officials did not respond to interview requests by The Province.
- …Premier Clark has hinted measures to tackle housing affordability will be announced in February’s budget, but says her government does not want to do anything that would cause existing homeowners to lose equity with falling property prices.