Putting the brakes on Vancouver’s housing market

Vancouver’s housing market is a political and financial minefield. Measures to create housing for those who can’t afford Vancouver’s sky-high real estate appear to have backfired. The target started out as offshore, namely mainland Chinese buyers who were investing in Vancouver real estate. The new rules and taxes, however, appear to be a rich vs poor tax grab.

The City of Vancouver jumped in with both feet and created an empty home tax. Then the Provincial Government of Christy Clark was cajoled into introducing a foreign buyers tax.
Once in power, the NDP government decided to go two better. It introduced a “School Tax” and a “Speculation Tax” both with the stated purpose of making housing more affordable.

The consequences are doing little to improve affordability at the entry point to the market. The market for homes over $3 million has slowed down and prices of those properties are slipping. Despite the new taxes, those homes are still unaffordable.

Potential buyers have instead turned their attention to the lower end of the market and in doing so have set it ablaze. Prices for condos are soaring and pushing those properties out of reach from the very people the new taxes were designed to assist.

We invited Tom Davidoff, an Associate Professor at the Sauder School of Business, the man many see as the driving force behind the tax initiatives that have been introduced for a Conversation That Matters on his reasons for wanting to change the real estate market in Vancouver.


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Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue presents Conversations That Matter. Join veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week for an important and engaging Conversation about the issues shaping our future

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