Working to Make Homes More Affordable for British Columbians

May 01, 2019

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Posted by
Matt Mayers

In April, delegates from across the province registered for our 2019 Government Liaison Days, arranging meetings with 64 MLAs, including 11 cabinet ministers. Delegates advocated for policy changes to the Speculation and Vacancy Tax and the federal B-20 stress test to improve market housing affordability.

The Speculation and Vacancy Tax has struggled to meet its intended goal of targeting foreign and domestic speculators who own residences in BC but do not pay taxes here. A large majority of those paying the tax, 63 per cent, are resident British Columbians rather than foreign or out of province speculators.

BCREA recommended that the BC Government set an end date on the Speculation and Vacancy Tax, based on predefined outcomes. The province should specify what is meant by "affordability" and define the desired benchmarks to achieve this goal. Defined benchmarks would provide increased accountability and clearer guidelines for provincial policy goals.

Another affordability issue we advocated for was reconsideration of the B-20 stress test. These federal mortgage lending rules have eroded housing affordability in BC by reducing the purchasing power of families. Home sales have declined more than 45 per cent since implementation of the stress test. BCREA is asking for a review and reconsideration of the stress test, as well as a return to 30-year amortizations for federally insured mortgages. In addition, BCREA has also met with federal MPs and written to the federal Minister of Finance with these recommendations.

Watch BCREA's Deputy Chief Economist here.

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