B.C. real estate data show sharp decline in foreign investment after tax

A sold home is pictured in Vancouver on Feb. 11, 2016.
A sold home is pictured in Vancouver on Feb. 11, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Government data released Friday show a steep drop in real estate transactions in the Vancouver area after British Columbia introduced a tax for foreign buyers last summer.

Tax revenues from property transfers in Metro Vancouver indicate there were almost 15,000 transactions in a about a seven-week period ending Aug. 1, but the number declined to a low of about 4,700 in October.

The 15-per-cent tax went into effect on Aug. 2.

The number of foreign buyers fell from about 1,970 in the period ending Aug. 1, to 60 in the rest of August.

In November, about 200 property transfers involved foreigners.

The data show that in the four months after the tax was introduced, there was more consistency in sales between Metro Vancouver and the rest of B.C. for transactions involving foreign buyers, the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

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Data for November showed 204 property transfers in Metro Vancouver involving foreign nationals, or about 3.2 per cent of the total transactions. Outside of the Vancouver area, there were 350 property transfers involving foreigners, or about 4.1 per cent.

“It’s still too early to draw any real conclusions from the data about the long-term effect of the additional property transfer tax,” the statement said. “The purpose of the additional property transfer tax is to help manage demand in Metro Vancouver’s residential real estate market, to allow the housing market to respond by building new homes to meet local needs.”

The data also suggested a slight rebound in the total number of properties that were transferred in November, when 5,000 transactions were recorded.

More than $14 billion worth of property was transferred in Vancouver during the period before Aug. 1, and the figure fell to about $3.7 billion in October.

Across the province, the data showed the value of property transfers involving foreign buyers hit $2.6 billion in the period before the tax was introduced, dipping to $296 million last November.

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