October 24, 2017 9:58 pm
Updated: October 25, 2017 1:37 am

New Zealand ban on foreign home ownership gains attention in B.C.

A new housing policy in New Zealand is grabbing a lot of attention in Metro Vancouver. As John Hua reports, that country is about to seriously restrict foreigners from buying property.

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New Zealand’s newly elected government is launching an attack against foreign home ownership.

In an effort to tackle soaring property prices, the country of 4.7-million people will pass a law that seriously restricts foreigners from buying property.

The plan, as outlined by prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern, will ban non-residents from purchasing existing homes in the hopes of curtailing skyrocketing real estate prices.

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BC Greens Leader Andrew Weaver said he was pleased to see New Zealand’s minority government tackle the issue and hopes politicians in B.C. will follow suit.

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“It’s not about stopping people from owning homes who live here and pay taxes,” he said. “It’s about ensuring British Columbians can live in homes in British Columbia.”

“When we turn our real estate sector into one for speculation as opposed to living, we have a problem.”

Weaver said the Greens plan on urging the NDP government to take a hard, thoughtful look at the issue of foreign ownership.

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“Any policy that is introduced has effects,” Weaver said. “It’s important to ensure that they’re introduced slowly and that you’re monitoring the effects through the collection of ongoing data.”

Tom Davidoff, of UBC’s Sauder School of Business, said New Zealand’s plan may not be effective.

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“I tend to believe restrictions, bans are hard to enforce at times. We had it here in British Columbia even with the foreign buyer tax.”

The idea of giving locals a leg-up in the real estate market is being explored in Vancouver on a small-scale.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson launched an initiative where projects would be marketed exclusively to local residents for the first 30 days, then to Metro Vancouverites for the next 60 days.

“It may not have an impact on affordability directly, but it will give access to locals, I hope,” Robertson said.

That push-back stops at the provincial government, which said foreign ownership of homes is not being considered as part of the budget 2018 planning.

“The province is going to have to act,” Davidoff said. “We have a new government that was elected largely on a platform of ‘do something about high housing costs.'”

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