(Martin Widenka photo)

Speculation, foreign buyers’ taxes won’t solve B.C.’s housing crisis: economist

Expert slams the NDP government’s proposed methods to reduce demand

Trying to push down housing prices by lowering the housing demand could hurt B.C.’s economy, the B.C. Real Estate Association says.

Chief economist Cameron Muir said their models show that even a 10-per-cent rapid drop in home prices could mean a 1.5-per-cent economic downturn, 26,000 jobs lost, and 10,000 fewer housing starts.

“It could effect the economic growth of the province in terms of economic output, but also retail sales, labour market, unemployment rate, housing starts and of course also the loss in equity and homeowners which comprise 70 per cent of B.C. households,” said Muir.

“Home prices don’t fall on their own. There are ramifications to that.”

The NDP government has faced near-constant backlash since it announced a speculation tax in February. The tax would charge homeowners who don’t pay income taxes in B.C. up to two per cent of property values each year in a bid to cool the market.

READ: Rural cabins, cottages exempted from speculation tax

The foreign buyers tax – a 20-per-cent tax on property purchased in B.C.’s major urban areas by non-Canadian citizens or residents introduced by the previous Liberal government – made a lot of potential homebuyers “skittish,” he said, delaying home purchases for several months and without doing much to push down prices.

Developers see potential buyers hesitate, he said, and in turn, slow down the pace of their construction projects.

READ: ‘Not well thought out:’ Arizona family slams B.C. speculation tax

Instead, he said, the province could focus on ramping up supply because that would not only ease the pressure on prices but also provide plenty of jobs.

Muir pointed to the record-breaking 42,000 homes being built in Vancouver currently, up from a previous high of 27,000 units.

That number is mirrored across the province, he added, with many homes under construction set to be complete within the next several quarters.

Once those homes are built, house prices will flatten, Muir said.

“The prime culprit for rising prices is that it takes so long to complete a housing project … we’re talking five years or longer.”

A 2017 Fraser Institute report found that on average, it takes 10.2 months just to approve a home build in the Lower Mainland.

Most new housing starts are multi-family, Muir added, which take longer to build, even if they eventually house more people.

Although he said there’s “no silver bullet” for getting more houses built, stopping a record-breaking building season is certainly the wrong choice.

“In my mind, it’s folly to stall out the construction industry now.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Spratt Road residents want CLBC house shut down after ‘terrifying’ incident

Mission RCMP had to be called after resident left house, damaged neighbour’s property

LETTER: Why is Jati Sidhu ashamed of his riding?

Lytton’s Christopher di Armani shares his dismay at the potential name change of the MP’s riding

Abbotsford man guilty of pilfering $36,000 from Mission gun shop

Former employee Tyson Gamberg processed 172 fraudulent refunds

Jewelry thieves use distraction tactics to target seniors in Abbotsford

Two incidents reported are among similar thefts across Lower Mainland

Brewery, lounge proposed for downtown Mission

Council votes to support liquor license request

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

VIDEO: Vancouver fall to Seattle in Game 2 of the playoffs

Thunderbirds topple the Giants 4-1 in Langley, evening the Western Conference series one game each

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Vancouver-bound transit bus involved in fatal crash near Seattle

One man was killed and a woman injured in crash with bus purchased by TransLink

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Most Read