Poll finds strong support for foreign home tax

Government waited too long to intervene in white-hot real estate market: survey respondents

A new online poll shows Metro Vancouver residents overwhelmingly approve of the province’s new 15 per cent transfer tax on foreign buyers of local homes, but they have doubts about how effective it will be in cooling the white-hot real estate market.

The Angus Reid Institute poll found 90 per cent of Metro residents support the new tax, which triggered a rush to complete affected deals ahead of the Aug. 2 effective date.

But 71 per cent predicted affected foreign buyers would still find loopholes to dodge the new tax and relatively few said they believe it will be highly effective at bringing down home prices or opening up more housing inventory.

And 82 per cent of those surveyed said the provincial government should have intervened in the housing market sooner. That included 77 per cent of those who voted BC Liberal in 2013.

More than seven out of 10 respondents described the government’s new measures as “a step in the right direction” but only three per cent say they’re enough.

The poll underscores what previous surveys have found: housing prices, affordability and real estate are a dominant issue facing the region.

Angus Reid officials said two-thirds of Metro residents are dissatisfied with the government’s response to the housing crisis, possibly because of its perceived lateness and incompleteness.

Respondents were nearly three times as likely to say the high real estate prices were hurting them as helping them.

Large majorities said the hot market today is a net negative for their local communities and the region as a whole. While 64 per cent would welcome a correction of at least 10 per cent that drops to 42 per cent who would cheer a major crash of 30 per cent or more.

A further 87 per cent would support their local municipality seeking the power to tax vacant homes, as Vancouver council has proposed.

The B.C. government on Thursday passed legislation to create the 15 per cent tax on residential real estate purchases by foreign nationals. For those buyers, it would add $300,000 to the cost of a $2 million home.

The most recent data released by the province shows 10 per cent of homes sold in Metro Vancouver were bought by foreign nationals. If that pace continued, the new tax would generate $1.4 billion in revenue for housing initiatives.

The province has also legislated an end to self-regulation by the real estate industry, and has enabled a tax on vacant properties by the City of Vancouver.

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