There are two recently announced items relating to real estate in British Columbia that I hope you will give careful consideration to. Firstly, the anonymous tip line operated by the Real Estate Council of BC; secondly the Speculation and Foreign Buyers Tax. I would like to provide the following comments regarding each of these items.
Anonymous Tip Line
While it is reasonable that an individual wishing to make a complaint about a Licensee may remain anonymous to that Licensee, it is important that the person making the complaint be required to provide their name and contact information to the Tip Line. The reasons for this are twofold. 1. The facts leading up to the complaint may need further examination after the Licensee has been approached and 2. The nature of anonymous online comments and reviews highlights the inaccuracy and often outrageous claims people can be prone to make under the cloak of anonymity, or when they are simply ill informed.
Speculation and Foreign Buyers Tax
The implied message is that wealthy speculators hoping for capital gains are scooping BC real estate at the expense of BC residents in need of affordable housing.
Apparently there is evidence of wealthy people from other countries buying expensive real estate in Vancouver for speculation and perhaps money laundering. That is a separate issue that I am not concerning myself with here.
My concern is the relatively small number of Canadians wanting to buy retirement homes in BC. When considering the weather alone in most of Canada, it is no wonder that people hope to retire to BC and perhaps spend part of the year here. These people are often the self-employed (farmers, small business people, restaurant workers, etc) who have no pensions to look forward to. They put their savings into homes in Victoria, Kelowna, (and the exempted Salt Spring Island) with the intention of moving here when they can afford to retire. People coming from other provinces for the occasional weekend may not pay income tax in BC, but they support local restaurants, entertainment venues and shops. For the most part, they are not competing for the type of housing we need. The government rules regarding mortgage qualification have made it harder for families of moderate means to buy a house. The working poor, the unemployed and the people with mental and physical challenges that preclude them working are not going to be buying homes – they are the ones the subsidized housing will help.
Please do not impose a further tax for BC residents and Canadians from other provinces who, like most of us, are simply trying to get by.