Local mortgage broker Kim Darwin is worried about the effect that foreign property purchases are having on the Sunshine Coast housing market, and she wants MLA Nicholas Simons to advocate in Victoria for extending the Foreign Buyer’s tax to the Sunshine Coast.
In an April 4 letter to Simons, and shared with the Local, Darwin said: “I have personally witnessed how foreign property purchases have affected our local housing market and contributed to labour and rental shortages.”
The government created a Foreign Buyer’s tax in 2016 that applied to Metro Vancouver, and early in 2018 it was increased from 15 to 20 per cent and expanded to include Victoria, Nanaimo, the Fraser Valley, and the Central Okanagan. However, the Sunshine Coast was not included, and Darwin says that’s a mistake. “The tax should be implemented province-wide.”
Darwin – who was the Green Party candidate in last year’s election – describes 2016 as a “double whammy”, with “bus loads of foreign buyers touring and purchasing properties” while Lower Mainland retirees cashed out their Lower Mainland homes and bought houses here. “Wealth from both these sources caused many bidding wars, driving up prices and reducing housing stock to low levels that have not yet recovered.”
And she is worried for the future. She points to two recent development proposals in Sechelt brought forward by Van Ke Developments Inc. Local realtors says that the properties are being marketed only in China and for prices well above the local market value.
“The issue is…that they are being marketed to people who have the ability to disproportionately increase property values beyond what residents can afford based on present incomes,” said Darwin.
“I have found that opponents often attempt to shut down the conversation by citing racism,” said Darwin. “No one is concerned about immigrants wanting to move to our communities to live, work, play and participate as residents. Most of us only have to look a few generations back to remember our own immigrant family members.”
“What we are concerned about is outside sources injecting considerable wealth into real estate in a fashion that puts home ownership out of reach of regular residents, causing a forced migration to other jurisdictions. This is something I am frequently witnessing in my day job as a mortgage broker and hear from local business owners who are unable to find employees.”
Darwin, who authored a 2016 foreign buyers policy for the BC Chamber of Commerce, also wants the government to start tracking foreign property purchases.
“Most developed countries and jurisdictions track and report foreign property purchase data. Unfortunately Canada and Canadian provinces do not,” said Darwin.
Simons has stated that he favours extending the tax to the Sunshine Coast, though the NDP government has not so far shown any sign of doing so.
Darwin ran against Simons in the last provincial election, and is presently Secretary of the BC Green Party.