(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

Furstenau introduces bill to prevent solid waste in quarries

Cowichan Valley’s MLA says water safety a priority

Check out ‘Kim’s Convenience’ to cash in on family humour

Originally a play and then a TV show, immigrant story features much more in store

Encore! Women’s Choir is celebrating their 10th anniversary with a show April 28

It’s been a great decade and they’re happy to share their music with you

Open houses to talk Motorsport expansion

The Circuit has applied to North Cowichan for rezoning to accommodate the expansion

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Coming up in Cowichan: Earth Day Weekend, plant sale

Every Wednesday morning a group of 18 volunteer gardeners arrives at Cairnsmore Place

Trump says North Korea agreed to denuclearize. It hasn’t.

Trump is claiming that North Korea has agreed to “denuclearization” before his potential meeting with Kim, but that’s not the case.

Suspect in deadly Waffle House shooting still being sought

Police say Travis Reinking is the suspect in a shooting at a Waffle House restaurant Sunday in Nashville that left four people dead.

G7 warned of Russian threats to western democracy

Ukraine foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin warns G7 of Russian war against Western democracy

Royal baby: It’s a boy for Kate and William

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to her third child, a boy weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces.

Dix says B.C. remains focused on fighting youth overdoses in wake of teen’s death

Elliot Eurchuk’s parents say he died at his Oak Bay home after taking street drugs

Final week for ALR input

Public consultation process closes April 30

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Most Read