90% of Metro Vancouverites support foreign buyer tax

The B.C. Liberals have been hesitant, for years now, to dramatically increase the annual budget of pretty well anything.
The B.C. Liberals have been hesitant, for years now, to dramatically increase the annual budget of pretty well anything. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Nine out of 10 residents of Greater Vancouver say they support the province’s decision to charge foreign buyers a new 15 per cent tax on real estate purchases, but the majority say these buyers will just find ways around the tax.

A new poll from the Angus Reid Institute surveyed more than 730 residents of Metro Vancouver this week after the new tax was announced and found that the mass-majority of people are supportive of the government’s intervention in the market.

A whopping 90 per cent say they support the 15 per cent tax, and a further 87 per cent say they would support their municipality in taxing vacant homes.

But 71 per cent doubt the new tax will fully dissuade foreign buyers, saying they believe they will find loopholes to get around it. Just over half, however, say they think the tax will be highly or somewhat effective.

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READ MORE: Email from Vancouver realtor to clients suggests ways around foreign buyer tax

And while people are happy the tax has been announced, the large majority (82 per cent) believe something should have been done sooner to quell the housing market.

In the last two years, the benchmark price of a home in Greater Vancouver has increased 44.6 per cent. Detached home prices have increased by just under 60 per cent.

READ MORE: Suspect caught on camera vandalizing B.C. realtor’s signs

Despite previous calls from Premier Christy Clark that a foreign buyer tax would not benefit the large number of people who hold large equity in their homes, only six per cent of homeowners say the tax would affect them negatively.

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“By trying to move foreign buyers out of the market, housing prices overall will drop,” said Clark back in May 2015. “That’s good for first-time home buyers but not for anybody who is depending on the equity in their home to maybe get a loan or use that to finance some other projects.”

Almost half of homeowners (47 per cent) also responded that they hope home prices drop by at least 10 per cent. Twenty-two per cent say they want them to fall by 30 per cent or more. But still, 20 per cent of homeowners want prices to keep going up and 33 per cent want them to stay where they are.

Renters are even more hopeful of a housing crash with almost three-quarters wanting a price decrease of at least 30 per cent. Very few, only five per cent, want prices to keep increasing.

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In total, 64 per cent want prices to drop.

Part of the support for the foreign buyer tax could be the common belief that it is that group of buyers who are causing the real estate market to spin out of control.

Asking respondents what they believe to be the cause of price increases, 65 per cent say foreign investors are a main factor. Other popular answers included wealthy investors, empty homes, lack of government action, and Metro Vancouver being a desirable place to live.

READ MORE: B.C. counts on property tax to fund housing

More notable results from the poll include:

  • 71 per cent say the government’s new measures are “a step in the right direction, but more is needed”
  • 90 per cent of NDP voters and 77 per cent of Liberal voters say the government should have acted soon
  • 67 per cent say they are “dissatisfied” with the government’s handling of the issue
  • Respondents are nearly three times as likely to say real estate prices are hurting them (49 per cent) as benefiting them (18 per cent)



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