February 1, 2016 8:57 pm
Updated: February 1, 2016 11:50 pm

B.C. Housing studying foreign ownership: Clark

A house built in 1930 that was recently listed for sale for $2.398-million is seen in the Point Grey neighbourhood of Vancouver, B.C., on Friday January 29, 2016.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
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VANCOUVER – The agency that manages and administers subsidized housing in British Columbia is studying the level of foreign investment in the real-estate market, says Premier Christy Clark.

Housing affordability is a hot topic in Vancouver, where the rental-vacancy rate is below one per cent and the average price of a home on the west side is now more than $2.5 million.

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Just how much of a role foreign investment plays in the market remains debatable, although a Finance Ministry analysis last June concluded less than five per cent of home sales in Metro Vancouver involved foreign buyers.

Clark said Monday that BC Housing has been studying the issue for more than a year but will need the help of the federal government to fully understand the data.

“I think with more data, we’ll be able to get a grasp on how to address it better because affordability, especially in the city of Vancouver, less so in the suburbs but certainly there as well, is a real issue and we have to find ways to address it,” she said.

Clark said the provincial government will also include initiatives in this month’s budget to help it determine if non-citizen buyers have an impact on the property market.

Rajvir Rao of B.C. Housing said in an email that the province asked the agency last year to examine housing affordability in the province.

Rao said the Industry and Consumer Advisory Council, an independent group that provides advice to B.C. Housing, is overseeing the research.

“The province has asked B.C. Housing to examine key factors affecting home prices in B.C. to better understand housing affordability across the province and help inform future policy responses,” said Rao.

“Foreign ownership is one of the variables potentially affecting prices, along with housing and land supply, the economy and interest rates.”

Rao also said B.C. Housing has been talking to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation about housing affordability throughout the country.

The final report is expected to be completed this summer, said Rao.

Clark said the government needs to understand the issue before it can find solutions, and she is also asking people not to vilify non-residents who buy homes in the Vancouver area.

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