Vancouver’s luxury market, already experiencing a downturn since 2016, will likely take another hit with the introduction of higher tax rates for foreign and luxury home buyers, experts say.
The provincial government of British Columbia on Tuesday announced a basket of measures as part of its 2018 budget; among them was a hike, effective immediately, on property transfer taxes for foreign buyers and buyers of $3-million-plus homes (US$2.36 million and above).
Starting Wednesday, tax rates for foreign buyers were raised to 20% from 15%, while all C$3-million-plus home purchasers must now pay 5%, instead of the current 3% property transfer tax.
Not only will these taxes be applied to homes in Metro Vancouver, but they’ll also be levied in the Capital Regional District, the Fraser Valley, the Central Okanagan and the Nanaimo Regional District.
Claire Wyrostok, owner of popular Vancouver vegetarian restaurant Black Lodge, wonders how long it will be until Vancouver’s hot real estate market pushes her out of business. In the four years that Ms. Wyrostok has been at her current location, on Kingsway just off Fraser Street, many of the buildings in her strip have been sold and property values have more than doubled. Since Ms. Wyrostok’s three-year lease came up for renewal in March, she says the landlord is allowing her to rent only month to month.
“Every day I don’t know if I am going to get a notice with 30 days to get out,” Ms. Wyrostok says. “Our business is done,” she adds. “You develop a business to make it bigger, but we can’t expand, and we can’t sell our business. Our business has no value on paper, because the asset is the lease.”
While the residential real estate market in Vancouver is cooling, sales of commercial properties in the region have skyrocketed. The Re/Max Commercial Investor Report says there was a 94-per-cent increase in the total dollar value of Lower Mainland sales in the first half of 2016 compared with the first half of 2015, to $7.1 billion from $3.7 billion. The number of commercial property sales in the first half of 2016 was 1,464, compared with 1,138 in the same period last year.
And some, including Tony Letvinchuk, managing director for Macdonald Commercial Real Estate Services, believe that the foreign-buyer tax on residential purchases will play a role in driving the market, which is generally perceived as a balanced mix of local and foreign buyers.
“There’s no question that the additional 15-per-cent property purchase tax will motivate foreign entities – being those who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents – to consider purchasing commercial properties located in Greater Vancouver, where such transaction tax does not apply,” he says.
Business News Network (BNN) speaks with Jonathan Cooper, Vice President of Operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group about David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff + Associates comments on policymakers and housing supply constraints and how they would relate to the Vancouver real estate market. What change are needed to address the Vancouver housing supply problem?
Best policy levers to address Vancouver’s housing supply constraints
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Business News Network (BNN) speaks with Jonathan Cooper of Macdonald Real Estate Group on the BC government’s new regulations aimed at what is called “shadow flipping”. While the aim is to further protect sellers in residential real estate transactions, just how much of an effect will this move have on the hot housing market?
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