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Vancouver’s 15% foreign buyer tax: Have your say

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Real Estate Professional | 29 Jul 2016, 08:15 AM Agree 0
It may be one of the most divisive topics in recent memory and agents are, unsurprisingly, opinionated. Do you think the new tax is good or bad for Canada’s housing market?
  • JGVanier | 29 Jul 2016, 10:41 AM Agree 0
    Prices will simply continue to rise, Investors will want to recuperate...not so good idea
  • | 29 Jul 2016, 10:44 AM Agree 0
    I really don't like this tax..France tried it ...well let's say it broke their economy. It's like saying " you can't by here" how foolish!!!!
    Just release more land for development, as if we don't have it. And make it a fast quick process to get permits to build. There now we have more houses to sell. Demand will drop and supply will be bountiful. Prices will drop to averages again. Don't blame the foreigner" you idiots for a government " don't even know further than your offices! We want more people with money here, keeping our purchases moving....
  • Hot Under the Collar | 29 Jul 2016, 11:12 AM Agree 0
    It is absolutely absurd what the government is doing to Vancouver area real estate through their foreign taxation. The knee jerk quickness of it without talking to industry experts is one confirmation. You have a product that people want which to produce create jobs, income to fuel the economy and yes....even taxes. One can foresee a slow down in condo development, thus a reversal in those previously mentioned jobs, income and taxes - oh yeah, taxes won't be an issue because they have that covered through a tax grab. I feel sorry for those retired and or on a fixed income that are relying on the value in their long owned property for retirement funds who now will see less demand. Why less demand, because the government decided that they should be forced to take it on the chin and artificially lower prices. Don't forget that a 15% tax can be negated by a devaluation of the C$, which in turn will have no effect on foreign buyers actions. Will the almighty government then raise tax to 30%. And what happens if it does in fact slow the economy on the expansion front, will the government then reduce the tax by 5% each quarter to see what happens. A little foresight and planning please. I cannot see another government in Canada - specifically Toronto, taking such a blind approach. What tax has solved a problem of this nature. Very sad that our government is so bias against foreigners coming to our country and contributing to the economic well being and growth. I have to say it is unbelievable. Lastly, don't mention other countries that have employed this tactic, it is comparing apples and oranges. Economic differences abound and cannot be compared on a face basis. We are Canada with our own set of circumstances.
  • Dennis Cooper | 29 Jul 2016, 11:14 AM Agree 0
    Applying the tax to deals already written but not completed is ridiculous. I expect lawsuits will result. All the government had to do was announce that any deal already in flight and registered at a brokerage by noon on the same day of the announcement would be exempted. How can a buyer of a $800k property be expected to generate another $150k? The bank has already pre approved financing at defined ratios, the buyer has entered an agreement based on thirst ratios and the seller has accepted an offer from a qualified buyer. Shameful business practice on the part of our government.
  • Don | 29 Jul 2016, 11:15 AM Agree 0
    A bandaid on an arterial bleed but also a pin that will aid ( not cause.) in the inevitable bursting of the bubble.
  • | 29 Jul 2016, 11:16 AM Agree 0
    Oh those darn foreigners again. If only they'd just send their money, then stayed away and wanted nothing in return.
  • LeafsRule67 | 29 Jul 2016, 11:25 AM Agree 0
    I agree with the previous two comments, it is a real bad idea. Government trying to deflect attention from their own problems ie lack of land supply, lot levies, excess taxes on companies developing land, land transfer tax, capital tax. The general public normally has minimal idea on how much government interference and control is in real estate. This is more political statement to appease those that seem to believe home ownership is a right vs privilege and burn the existing home owners right to sell homes to a strong market to the highest bidder. If I am a home owner, I would vote out any government that through taxes reduces the value of my home directly or indirectly by causing less demand. Being in Ontario, I hope this never gets passed here in any form.
  • | 29 Jul 2016, 11:43 AM Agree 0
    Please try to purchase property else and find out if you can and what tax you need to pay. Those buyers have a lot of money as most of the time home/condo stays empty any way, they will buy regardless 15 % Tax. At last some advantage to Canadians.
    It used to be 20 % on purchase and 20 % tax on sale.
  • | 29 Jul 2016, 11:46 AM Agree 0
    I think its an excellent idea and one that should be adopted in any market that becomes overheated to the point where most homes are out of reach of average income Canadians. It is absolutely something that the government should be monitoring and implementing and has nothing to do with racism, I can't believe that was even a comment. This is a tax that appears to be being levied on non-resident, non- Canadians with surplus investment funds targeting markets that are significantly on the rise for the purpose of elevating their portfolios. If there is interest in investing funds in Canada, invest but not at the price paid by minimizing the ability for Canadians, and I am speaking about all Canadians of multi national origins, being pushed out of areas they perhaps grew up in and would choose to live in but can no longer afford that luxury, not because they don't work hard and make a good income but because foreign money comes in larger volume and has greater buying power pushing prices beyond reach! I believe this is the role of our elected officials to oversee a negatively impacting Canadian's trend and to act on it!

    In my opinion, minimizing the number of foreign investors in the hottest Canadian markets who choose not to buy in the tax levied location may be a stabilizing factor for those areas and allow more affordable purchases to residence. If taken one step further, foreign investors are not going away, they will still invest, some will see the new tax as the cost of investing as in the Toronto marketplace where there is not only an Ontario Land Transfer tax but a Toronto Land Transfer tax as well, they are still investing! Should they choose to continue investing in Canada, this locational tax levy may be a way of boosting other markets and offering foreign investors incentives to place their funds in areas that can use the infux which, in turn, could increase jobs for resident Canadians and improve the cooler markets across the country! I am 3rd generation Canadian but my grandparents, as most Canadians, originated from elsewhere, lets focus on our resident population and ensuring their and their children's ability to purchase affordable housing where they need or choose to live.

    I support this tax!
  • MFenn | 29 Jul 2016, 11:49 AM Agree 0
    This simply not how money and property markets work. It's Walter Gordon-style bungling all over again. We need to be clear that measures to dissuade "foreign bogeypeople"'s investor money simply do not make economic sense. Such measures are redolent of the hapless Walter Gordon in the '60s. Michael Bliss writes that Gordon, a nice man and truly disastrous at the financial helm, "bypassed his senior officials to bring in outside consultants (most notably a thirty per cent takeover tax on sales of Canadian companies to outsiders), disregarded clear warnings that his schemes were unworkable, learned from an enraged business community that there really were unworkable, and then bungled their withdrawal. In a few days this deeply foolish finance minister destroyed his own reputation and crippled the government's. .. Pearson's real mistake was in not having accepted Gordon's resignation. Gordon's further mistake was in not having insisted on resigning." Michael Bliss, 'Right Honourable Men', Toronto, ON: HarperCollins, 2004, p. p. 225-226.
    Some would still have us believe that investment money from outside Canadian territory or by people with varying connections outside Canada somehow lacks some ill-defined, touchy-feely "national" spirituality: this is a highly discredited notion that belongs to Walter Gordon-style fantasies, and have no part in brutally prosaic investment analysis of the real estate markets. As it has been said, why would my neighbour sell me a house for less than it is worth simply because I am supposedly more "authentically" Canadian than other bidders? This simply not how money and property markets work.

    Regarding the racial aspect not too far below the surface, the most expensive areas in Canada are West Vancouver (many Chinese) and Forest Hill (many Jews) respectively. it would be unthinkable to claim that there are supposedly "too many Jews" in Forest Hill. It ought to be unthinkable also for politicians to insinuate that there are supposedly "too many Chinese" in the Vancouver area.
  • | 29 Jul 2016, 11:55 AM Agree 0
    Let's stop using "foreigners " as a slur. We have many new comer to B C and Canada, out of country buyers do nothing for our communities. Short imput of money driving a solid base to our comminties away. Families, what ever their make up create a real foundation for growth.
    Let's stop protecting these out of country buyers and protect our in country buyers. These our of country buyers will run when it suites them!
  • J-Jan | 29 Jul 2016, 12:35 PM Agree 0
    If the intention is provide a solution to have house prices in line with people's income ... adding Tax to foreign buyers won't do anything ...I think ...through analysis ... by adding 15% tax to the foreign buyers ... Government (Municipalities) will benefit ... that won't address blow up prices ...Municipality must release the lands that can be built .... this matter has been analyzed and it seems to be the only way to bring the matter under control....hope a petition or form can be created to pressure the municipalities ...
  • MFenn | 29 Jul 2016, 12:39 PM Agree 0
    "Go away Chinese investors" in BC can mean "Welcome Chinese investors in Toronto".
  • J-Jan | 29 Jul 2016, 12:41 PM Agree 0
    If the intention is provide a solution to have house prices in line with people's income ... adding Tax to foreign buyers won't do anything ...I think ...through analysis ... by adding 15% tax to the foreign buyers ... Government (Municipalities) will benefit ... that won't address blow up prices ...Municipality must release the lands that can be built .... this matter has been analyzed and it seems to be the only way to bring the matter under control....hope a petition or form can be created to pressure the municipalities ...
  • WP | 29 Jul 2016, 12:42 PM Agree 0
    There's that racist card! (you knew it was coming) about my American clients that have recently purchased (completing in coming months) a modest 2nd home in Vancouver to escape the heat of Southern US. Summers. I guess we're 'Anti-American' also.

    How about the cash-rich developers with their Vancouver show homes in China offering luxurious new condos in Vancouver before local investors could even catch a glimpse? I guess they're Anti-Canadian?

    Something needed to be done to slow/steady a 'Frenzied' market that our Premier helped create. I am sure we all remember her (and Vancouver's Mayor) recent trips to Asia to extol the virtues of investing in BC?

    It would have been prudent if the Province, while introducing a tax, reduce the PPT for Local buyers and raised the exemption limit for first-time that's helping with AFFORDABILITY.

    Then there's the coming Vancouver 'vacant home tax'! The implications of which will really shake-up the Foreign house owner/buyer market!

    Vancouver's short-term loss will be a real shot in the arm to other Canadian markets (parts of BC and Alberta) , as taxing in one region is a fools game.

    Local buyers/investors should keep their powder dry and get ready for their chance to enter the market in coming months.

  • Bill Hubbard | 29 Jul 2016, 12:46 PM Agree 0
    It seems this government is playing whack a mole..... Running around trying to get pre-election political clout without putting a lot of thought into it. First removing the self-regulation of Real Estate without really knowing what that meant to the consumer or to Realtors and now trying to control who get s to come to Canada and/or buy here and who does not. Canada is one of the most under populated countries in the world. 70% of our population growth comes from immigration. Unless a person is a native Canadian we are all immigrants or offspring of immigrants. I think this tax is idiocy. I am aware that the market in Vancouver is creating some challenges of illegal money coming into the country. Why not write a law that deals specifically and harshly with that instead of making a bunch of people that want to legitimately invest in our country or move to our country pay more. The market will look after itself. The natural laws of supply and demand will change the market naturally. We don't need vote happy politicians deciding the market.
  • CV | 29 Jul 2016, 12:55 PM Agree 0
    No one is talking about the sellers that will loose the chance to sell at a higher price! What about those who took the risk, paid tax, paid a mortgage etc. Don't they deserve the best price for their investment? I would be upset if my property value drops due to Gov intervention.
  • CV | 29 Jul 2016, 01:01 PM Agree 0
    I am ANGRY at how British Columbia and by extension Canada is planning to treat foreigners who wish to buy property in Vancouver. This is discrimination at best, racism at worst. Canadians have paid untold millions to bring one group of foreigners into this country, and now that other groups want to pay big money to buy property, to become a part of our society, we want to tax them to the point where they won't want to buy. This is off for many reasons. Do you think they will not simply invest in other countries instead? Australia? USA? UK? France? Singapore? Thailand? In addition, in Ontario, if a foreigner (non-Resident) sells a property, they are taxed higher than a national or permanent resident at the point of sale. Often the money is held back by the lawyers so they don't run off and not pay the tax. So now foreign investors will be double taxed? I am not clear on the details in BC, but it seems like that. Should Snow Birds be taxed more for buying in Florida in addition to spending untold millions there every winter? Price based on nationality or residency is an afront. What about the Canadian or Non-Canadian Seller of the Canadian property who deserves the best price for their property? Now the pool of buyers just got smaller, and the opportunity to maximize the investment just went down. After years of paying a mortgage, (bank gets rich), property taxes (Gov gets rich), maintenance and risk (owner suffrage), don't you, the home owner deserve just representation? Best price? Again, it is simply unfair and not just. The Government always makes it a rich vs poor argument, but it is not. In this country, we have a market system. I am not happy about the price of many things, but I have the choice to buy or not buy. It sucks, but that is what we all agree to. (Limited choice, can anyone say LCBO, BEER Store or Hydro ONE?) Otherwise, let's change the system across the board. Some may argue that the price of housing is too high. Again we all have choices. I wanted to live in a posh area of my city, but can't afford it, so I don't. I am ok, my family is ok. After all we are still in Canada. That's life. Many retired citizens find the cost of living in Canada too high, they go abroad to make ends meet. That's life. It may not be the ideal life all "Canadians" want, but the solution is not to unjustly tax others for our benefit. I am understanding now that the idea of we are all equal and deserve the same, is simply a plea the masses use to tax "other" groups that don't belong to our "Canadian way", as well as, taxing those who may have more money, or access to money. Frankly I am surprised at how I have not heard any opposition to this tax in the media. This is terrible, at least now WE all know WE can profit excessively from foreigners/non-residents and get away with it. At the very least the ideal of using others for our National benefit is back on the table. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
  • CV | 29 Jul 2016, 01:08 PM Agree 0
    It is discriminatory. Xenophobic. I'd even say racist. Foreigner is code for Chinese. Don't kid yourself. Either we are all in, across the country or not. Overnight tax hikes is wrong. I know when I'm abroad and I'm made to pay more based on my race or nationality I take offense. I thought we had higher standards in Canada? I know we pretend to.
    Maybe we should charge certain groups user fees as well. Let's not stop there, let's tax babies for milk. They consumer a lot of it. Surely they've driven the price up?!? Is ok for me to ask for identification now and charge foreigners only more for my services? My time valuable. The point is we claim to have a free market. Changing the rules at this point isn't right. Besides the poor or working class still won't be able to afford housing in Vancouver. Something gotta give. Sellers will miss out on higher sale prices. They are the real losers in this government scheme. The government will also miss out on higher land transfer taxes and foreigners will simply go elsewhere. In Ontario non residents are taxed higher on the capital gains when they sell, isn't that enough? There are Canadian multinationals abroad too. Canadian Investment. Recently I was charged a visa fee for Canadians only at the airport in Bogota. That's right, Canadians only. That's because we are taking advantage of their mining sector. WE are not liked there at the moment. But because of that $75 VISA I may never return. They don't want me and I'd rather spend my "millions" elsewhere. Imagine a $300,000 additional tax on top of the 2 million dollar over priced house you just bought? Do you realise if a 2 million dollar sale takes place that's a lot of money being spread around. Maybe a price halt needs to take place in this country but not based on a certain group's purchasing power. (Hmm, maybe Walmart should pay more tax? Or pay a better wage?) This tax them 'solution' is very short sighted and frankly not based on values I was raised to abide by. I always wondered what it would be like to live in Vancouver. Not so much this week. If they want to be racist and money hungry they shouldn't hide behind a tax. Sell them the house then shoot them, confiscate. Repeat. Worked for some dictators. If as a society we don't want foreign investment that may be OK. However, a national debate should take place. But to pick and choose who's in and who's out? Maybe when we become the next State, of the great USA, Mr. TRUMP can tax rice and spice too then build a large fence around those mansions in Vancouver.
  • MFenn | 29 Jul 2016, 01:14 PM Agree 0
    Well, exactly.

    People would not dare say: "Too many Jews" in Forest Hill, Toronto (the most expensive suburb there).

    Neither should politics be driven by "Too many Chinese" in West Vancouver, either. In any case, it's so short-sighted; the idea of insulating Canadians from investment is simply and colossally counter-productive.
  • MFenn | 29 Jul 2016, 01:15 PM Agree 0
    " I am sure we all remember her (and Vancouver's Mayor) recent trips to Asia to extol the virtues of investing in BC?"

    In other words: "Go away investment"!

    See what seems to be driving this.
  • | 29 Jul 2016, 01:54 PM Agree 0
    I am not opposed to a 15% foreigner's purchase tax, but I think it should be province wide. The investor's money will still come to Canada, but to other places where there isn't the tax, driving up those prices. The way that this has been done is very poorly thought out. Deals already written should be exempt. There are deals falling apart from the domino effect of one home purchase collapsing! There will be lawsuits. Also...does it conflict with the NAFTA agreement?
  • MFenn | 29 Jul 2016, 02:09 PM Agree 0
    "70% of our population growth comes from immigration. Unless a person is a native Canadian we are all immigrants or offspring of immigrants. I think this tax is idiocy. "

    They are saying: 'Go away immigrants; go away investment'.

    Making those who don't understand how markets and investment works supposedly 'feel better' by beating up on foreigners.

    Well, anyway, saying "Investors: don't come to Vancouver" means saying: "Investors: welcome to Toronto"!
  • Seriously... | 29 Jul 2016, 02:46 PM Agree 0
    Seriously...this has nothing to do with 'racism or anti-investment'! (though easy to go down that road)

    Foreign buyers do pay additional taxes and face other limitations in purchasing real estate in other countries. They have and will continue to accept them willingly! (in the long term) To them, it's simply a cost for a chance of a better life in a stable, safe, liberal, clean welcoming country... and Canada's remains one of the best in that respect.

    Really...its has nothing to do with affordability for local buyers as the government claims! (reducing the PTT for residents, in conjunction with the new tax would have clearly demonstrated that commitment)

    Its simply about a bungling government scrambling, while trying to appease the masses & secure votes for an
    upcoming election. (PERIOD)

    Wrong or right, it was not at all well thought through, ill-prepared and even more poorly executed.

    While the extra cash won't hurt the Gov't books at election time...

  • MFenn | 29 Jul 2016, 08:44 PM Agree 0
    I don't think that the politicians themselves particularly motivated by racism. But before an election, it certainly curries favour with an element that believes that there are supposedly "too many Chinese" to bring in this kind of measure which from an investment and markets perspective makes little sense.
    It's Walter Gordon all over again beating up on foreigners, with little to show for it in the long term except a fuzzy myth that, by this measure, my Canadian neighbour will supposedly be willing to sell me a house for less than would be charged to a foreigner.
    Anyway, BC's loss may be Toronto's gain, if investors simply choose to go there instead.
  • MFenn | 30 Jul 2016, 06:13 PM Agree 0
    PS: Go to the Brussels periphery and you may see posters from the far-right Vlaams Blok showing a pair of boxing gloves and the slogan 'selfverdediging' (self-defence). In housing issues, beating up on people who are ethnolinguistically different is exactly the same mindset all over the world, and it's ironic that this mentality raises its head in BC, which prides itself on being so liberal. In any case, "Go away investors in Vancouver" is likely to mean "Welcome to investors in Toronto!".
  • Jamieson | 30 Jul 2016, 08:07 PM Agree 0
    Government should not interfere. There is of course an ulterior motive being that of the dreaded "revenue tool". If someone can afford 5m for a property, they can afford 6m for the same property. Just how does this slow down the market. The typical so-called Canadian who could not afford the property at 5m won't be able to afford it at 6m so who's kidding the troops? The Americans are still laughing because they have a 30 percent premium on their currency...big deal if it's 15 percent.

    Who is going to benefit from this tax? Once the bureaucracy is set up with the many minions to follow, there will be absolutely no relief trickling down to the market, prices remain the same or increase and the government laughs all the way to the bank with $millions to disappear down the black hole.

    The government has a role to play and that is freeing up land for development and speeding up the permit process so that supply can meet demand. The only ones who don't agree with a position such as this are either Liberal or they missed economics 101.

    The program in and of itself is racist and discriminatory at best and the government should be ashamed of themselves.
  • MFenn | 30 Jul 2016, 09:09 PM Agree 0
    On the surface it's not racist, but where realtors are clamouring that there are "too many Chinese" (they would not dare say, "Too many Jews" , in some Toronto suburbs), then excusing this cynical way of putting up taxes via euphemisms, one can see how ethnic considerations are not far below the surface.
  • Shawn Laghai | 31 Jul 2016, 12:28 PM Agree 0
    I think this is more like insult to none Canadian resident than the solution to the problem and I don’t know who are the people behind this type of ideas and do they know how easy is to have an address in Canada? Or just the address makes them Canadian citizen.

    We have to find out, who are this foreign investors and what make them qualified as the foreign investors?

    In my opinion, we have to treat foreign investors the same as any other buyers and be thankful that they make our economy better by bringing their money to Canada. But on other hand we have to make sure that they pay their share of Taxes (income and capital gained).

    As my recommendation on May 25 2016, in Rep Real Estate Professional, (
    How to find out that the buyers are foreign investor or not, then we can thanks them and make them feel so good that they encourage their friends and relatives to invest even more in Canadian real Estate.
    Shawn Laghai
    Right At Home Realty Inc.
    Toronto, Ontario

  • MFenn | 01 Aug 2016, 06:14 AM Agree 0
    Seeing as in Toronto more people were born outside of Canada than in Canada, to try to penalize buyers for being "foreign" would be especially and breathtakingly cynical. If Vancouver wants to say: "Go away investors", then it means, for Toronto: "Welcome to investors!".
  • MFenn | 02 Aug 2016, 07:58 AM Agree 0
    "It is absolutely absurd what the government is doing to Vancouver area real estate through their foreign taxation. The knee jerk quickness of it without talking to industry experts is one confirmation. ... Very sad that our government is so bias against foreigners coming to our country and contributing to the economic well being and growth. I have to say it is unbelievable. "
    Yes, it speaks for itself.
  • Realtor in Edmonton | 04 Aug 2016, 09:00 AM Agree 0
    I think it was totally necessary and a great idea. They have asked for it themselves by the way they have done things. It had to happen ... It is Not racist ! We have a right to control Canada just as they control China.
  • MFenn | 04 Aug 2016, 09:35 AM Agree 0
    You are admitting that the action is racial-specific: a response to Chinese clients. Realtor organizations should not allow its members to make racial specific comments and actions about their clients; it's very unprofessional.
  • Tracy | 08 Aug 2016, 10:38 AM Agree 0
    We have a tax already that is not really enforced. It's a paper at the lawyer's office and no proof is required, just a verbal answer.
    Make the proof verifiable proof such as the Certificate of Residency. Link below for the The Federal Non-resident tax administered through CRA.

    Why do we need another one, and more staff to administer it at the provincial level? Waste of money.
    Just enforce the existing one.
  • MFenn | 10 Aug 2016, 07:28 AM Agree 0
    The irony is that beating up on foreigners is coming from people who pride themselves on being supposedly so liberal. The irony also of saying that Vancouver is such a great place to invest in, and then acting to drive investors away.
  • MFenn | 10 Aug 2016, 11:14 PM Agree 0
    Supposedly "too many Chinese homeowners in West Vancouver" is like saying that there are supposedly "too many Jewish homeowners" in Forest Hill, Toronto. It is reprehensible for any politician or realtor to manipulate racial-specific hostile discourse. We all know that in Vancouver hostility to "foreigners" usually means "Chinese".
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