The British Columbia government is reviewing the foreign buyers’ tax in the Vancouver area and the interest-free loan program to first-time homebuyers to determine whether they have helped improve affordability, BC's new housing minister says. A year ago, the Liberal government implemented a 15% tax on foreign nationals purchasing property in Metro Vancouver in an effort to cool skyrocketing house prices. This tax isn’t applied to commercial properties, only residential properties.
Selina Robinson and BC Finance Minister, Carole James, will review real estate transaction data to determine whether the 15% foreign tax should be kept, revised or scrapped altogether. The data will be analyzed in order to determine whether it has been beneficial in housing affordability.
“I don’t know that we have any plans to eliminate it,” Robinson said of the 15 per cent foreign buyers’ levy, nearly a year after the previous Liberal government introduced it for Metro Vancouver. “There’s certainly enough data that would help us to understand its value, and so, we have to look at that data.”
According to data from the B.C. Ministry of Finance, during the period of June 10 - August 1, 2016, 13.2% of all property transfer transactions in Metro Vancouver were involving foreign buyers. Once the foreign tax took effect, that figure fell to 2.6% during the period of August 2 - December 31, 2016. Figures recently released revealed that the government took in $102 million in revenue from the implementation of the foreign buyers' tax between August 2, 2016 to March 31, 2017.
In the months after the tax, there were signs of cooling in Vancouver’s housing market, with the number of transactions falling. However, there have been signs that the market may be rebounding, as prices continue to creep up. The Multiple Listing Service composite benchmark price for all properties in Metro Vancouver was $998,700 in June, an increase of 7.9% from the same month last year.
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