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B.C.'s ski resorts have highest non-resident homeownership: StatCan

Metro Vancouver's rate pales in comparison with Sun Peaks and Whistler, where speculation tax doesn't apply
Fifty kilometres of alpine trails are open during the summer at Whistler Blackcomb. Photo Christopher Cheung

The province’s top two ski resorts are the areas with the highest proportion of non-Canadian-resident owners of residential real estate, with Vancouver lagging in third place, according to new data.

A study released June 25 by Statistics Canada says that Sun Peaks has the highest overseas homeownership in the province, at 16.5 per cent of homes. This is followed by Whistler at 15.5 per cent. Both areas are not subject to the province’s speculation tax.

Both resort municipalities have more than double the non-resident ownership rate of third-placed Vancouver (city, not Census Metropolitan Area), which the data revealed to have just over seven per cent of homeowners not living in Canada. Vancouver CMA, or Metro Vancouver, was found to have 4.6 per cent of homes owned by non-residents. Non-resident owners in this study include any homeowners who do not live in Canada, including Canadian citizens who live overseas.

With Sun Peaks and Whistler being two of B.C.’s biggest tourism destinations, the high rate of overseas owners of homes in those areas may not be surprising. But other tourism hotspots in B.C., such as the Okanagan and Vancouver Island, saw much lower overseas ownership rates.

Victoria and Kelowna CMAs, where the B.C. speculation tax does apply, were found to have a non-resident ownership rate of 2.7 and 2.5 per cent respectively. The speculation tax also applies in Abbotsford-Mission CMA, where the rate was just 1.4 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.

However, some B.C. mountain communities such as Fernie and Revelstoke were found to have non-resident ownership rates higher than the provincial average of 3.5 per cent, at 6.6 and 5.2 per cent respectively. Other popular vacation hotspots, like the Southern Gulf Islands, Saltspring Island, Nanaimo and the Sunshine Coast, range between more than five per cent to almost seven per cent.

The rates of non-resident-owned homes varies between property types, Statistics Canada found, with condos seeing higher rates and detached homes lower. In Vancouver CMA, three per cent of detatched houses were owned by non-residents, compared with 7.8 per cent of condos. In Kelowna, four per cent of condos are owned by non-residents, and 1.8 per cent of single-family homes.

Property values tended to be higher among non-resident owners, and this is most noticeable in Metro Vancouver. The average assessed value of single-detached non-resident owned detached houses in Vancouver CMA was $2.3 million, $775,000 higher than the average for resident-owned houses. The average value of non-resident owned Vancouver CMA condo was $703,000, $173,000 higher than the average resident-owned condos.

Communities facing the speculation tax, such as those on Vancouver Island and in the Okanagan, have protested the tax, claiming it will damage the local economy and stall real estate development. West Kelowna mayor Doug Findlater wrote an open letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan to “reiterate grave concerns” on June 21 – full text of the letter here.