EDITORIAL: Out with the influx

The gold rush that gripped the real estate market for a decade leading up to 2016 is over.

But the lasting legacy of that unregulated influx of foreign capital into the housing market is still apparent. Just what foreign ownership looks like continues to come into focus.

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The most recent statistics – a refinement of earlier figures with some additional details put out by CMHC – are likely to shock nobody.

Residents, politicians and Realtors have all been aware of who high-end homes were being sold to on the North Shore, despite widespread early denials. A few years ago, when foreign buying was at its peak, it was not uncommon for those who pointed it out to be denounced as suffering from xenophobic hallucinations. But it turns out this wasn’t the case.

The impacts have been many – from a housing market disconnected from local wages to streets with empty homes, and situations where families living in multi-million-dollar mansions pay little income tax in Canada.

Slowly, measures put in place by the NDP government have attempted to address this. The much-discussed speculation and vacancy tax, for instance, will go some way to taxing the assets of those who don’t declare Canadian income yet use the services income tax pays for.

B.C.’s new beneficial owners’ registry will be another important tool to get a true picture of who owns what in our real estate market.

Having information is the key to making smart policy decisions.

For too long, many vested interests weren’t interested in examining that too closely. And if you don’t look, you don’t find.

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