Foreign buying of Metro homes plunged after new tax

Less than one per cent of Metro deals involved foreigners in August, down from 13.2 per cent in the previous six weeks

The number of Metro Vancouver homes sold to foreign buyers has plunged.

New numbers show a near-total collapse in the number of Metro Vancouver homes bought by foreign nationals in August after B.C.’s new 15 per cent foreign buyer tax kicked in.

Just 60 transactions with foreigners were recorded in Metro in August – 0.9 per cent of the total – down from 1,974 or 13.2 per cent in the previous seven weeks.

The new numbers were released Thursday by the finance ministry.

The value of foreign deals in Metro plunged from $2.3 billion for the seven weeks prior to the new tax taking effect to less than $47 million in August.

RELATED: B.C. urged to tighten scrutiny of foreign investors after spike in cash seized at YVR

Premier Christy Clark noted a huge surge of transactions were rushed through in late July – $850 million worth involving foreigners on July 29 alone – so they’d close before Aug. 2 and not be subject to the new tax.

“Lots of people moved their transactions into July from August because they wanted to avoid paying the tax,” Clark told reporters. “So I think we’ll start to see the numbers change a little bit in the coming months.”

Clark said the apparent dramatic effect of the tax was the goal of government in setting a rate for foreign buyers that some people argued was too high.

“That is the impact we wanted to have,” she said. “My hope is that many of those units that might have otherwise sold to foreign buyers will be open for British Columbians to buy, because we want to put British Columbians first.”

Clark also said she expected the tax would face a legal challenge. A Chinese student who was hit with an $80,000 foreign buyer tax bill on the Langley townhome she bought is leading a proposed class-action lawsuit on behalf of foreign buyers.

In the rest of the province outside Metro Vancouver – where the tax is not levied – there were 189 property transfers by foreigners, or 1.7 per cent of total transfers, worth $109 million. That was down from 3.6 per cent of the transfers in the rest of the province by foreigners prior to Aug. 2.

Foreign buyers made up 3.7 per cent of transactions in August in the Capital Regional District.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong has indicated the province would watch regions outside of Metro to gauge if the foreign buyer tax should be extended to additional areas.

Within Metro, foreign buyers made up 0.9 per cent of August transfers in Vancouver, 1.9 per cent in Richmond, 0.6 per cent in Surrey and 1.0 per cent in Burnaby – down sharply in each case from more than 24 per cent in Burnaby and Richmond before the tax took effect.

The amount of extra tax levied from foreign buyers in August was $2.5 million.

But finance ministry auditors are examining some transactions to see if they were structured to dodge the tax and whether reassessments are necessary. Suspect transactions include ones where a foreign buyer and a Canadian citizen or permanent resident were both included on title, with the extra tax only owed on the portion of the value claimed by the foreigner.

The province is also checking the citizenship of buyers who claimed to be tax-exempt Canadians or permanent residents and has vowed to audit any anomalies or cases where social insurance numbers don’t match.

The finance ministry has estimated it would generate $165 million a year in new revenue, which the province intends to use to fund new affordable housing initiatives.

Just Posted

One girl toy drive hits Oak Bay Avenue this weekend

Bring new and gently used toys and other gifts to the village Dec. 16 and 17, 1 to 4 p.m. each day

Oak Bay implements new memorial bench policy

District brings in terms, while honouring open-ended commitment to past donors

Octogenerian to start New Year with 60-day flight around South America

Cordova Bay’s Bob Vance helped raise $425,000 for Hope Air

Esquimalt’s Pyjama Prance tours Township on a frosty morning

Third annual event sees largest turnout yet, raises $1,738 for The Rainbow Kitchen

Omnibus Victoria Zoning Bylaw raises alarms

Neighbourhood associations, councilors express concern over streamlined development process

VIDEO: Carlton House knitters send warmth to Our Place

Residents of Carlton House have been working all year in preparation for the holidays

Big OT win in Prince George for Victoria Royals

Western Hockey League clubs do battle again in Cariboo on Tuesday

Site C decision coming Monday

Premier John Horgan to announce fate of dam project at B.C. legislature

VIDEO: Vancouver Whitecaps acquire star striker Kei Kamara

Kamara has 103 goals and 39 assists in 298 appearances over 11 Major League Soccer seasons

Smartphone pedometers underestimate steps, but valuable health tool: study

UBC researchers found the iPhone underestimated steps by 21.5 per cent

VIDEO: ‘Last Jedi’ premiere kicks off with droids, Daisy Ridley

Latests Star Wars film premiered in style ahead of Dec. 15 theatre debut

Students lose eligibility over school transfer

Academics, catchment have priority over high school sports

UPDATE: Poor ventilation likely cause of carbon monoxide incident at B.C. farm

All 42 patients have been released from hospital, according to Delta Fire

Most Read