Vancouver looking into new policy to market pre-sale homes to locals first

Condos and apartment buildings are seen in downtown Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday February 2, 2017. Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press

The City of Vancouver is taking steps to make it easier for city residents to get in on home pre-sales.

Mayor Gregor Robertson is launching an initiative similar to one in West Vancouver where projects would be marketed exclusively to local residents for the first 30 days, then to Metro Vancouverites for the next 60 days.

READ MORE: Prominent developer Onni denies connection to ad that offered ‘discount’ to overseas buyers

Buyers would sign an agreement that they will live in the units and not flip them.

Bulk purchases would be restricted but details on how restricted have not been disclosed at this time.

On CKNW’s Steele and Drex he said, “We have to be careful about how we draw the lines here, and they should have nothing to do with citizenship or race or any of that business. I think it’s just making it fair, and making sure that locals can access the market, who are living and working here already.

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“We’ll have to figure out the details, how we actually, you know, how that’s enforced. How we go through the details of it, that’s for another day.”

The move follows complaints that some new home developments were being marketed exclusively to overseas buyers.

Robertson will be introducing this motion at the next council meeting for staff to bring forward a policy by the end of the year and says this move is part of the city’s 10-year housing strategy.

UBC professor Tom Davidoff says developers only care about their bottom line and doesn’t imagine units will get much cheaper if a policy is put in place.

“I don’t think this will have almost any impact in the housing market. I think developers will find a way to sell properties via pre-sale or after occupancy to people willing to pay the most.”

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He adds the West Vancouver project wasn’t very successful.

“Instead of the project selling quickly to people out of town, it sold slowly to people out of town. But either way, I don’t think there was a big benefit to locals to having a presale period during which apparently the locals weren’t that interested in the product.”

He says developers could just start their presales months earlier and still allow people outside of the region to buy units in new towers.

The motion will go to city council for a vote on Tuesday, Oct. 17. Robertson is hoping it will get unanimous support.

“I’m hopeful that all of Council will support this motion, and send a strong signal that this needs to be a priority in new housing development,” he said.

With files from CKNW’s Michelle Morton and Kyle Benning

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