It's the hot potato nobody wants to pick up - in fact nobody wants to even admit they have an opinion on it.
You won't find Premier Christy Clark sending out a statement on it, or Adrian Dix. We don't even think John Cummins is making it a plank in the B.C. Conservatives' platform.
The hot potato? Foreign real estate investors. The folks who have enough money to buy two or three units in a new condo tower, a small B.C. island, a couple of houses in the British Properties. They may be living in the U.S., Germany or China - but they all see a future in buying residential real estate in B.C.
The average person believes foreign investors are driving up the price of real estate in the Lower Mainland. The thinking goes that offshore investors have a whole lot more money than the average B.C. resident, and we simply can't compete with folks who can buy three or four million dollars worth of property for investment. Real estate agents seem to be split on whether the number of offshore buyers is enough to skew the market. Some will tell you it is; others say the number is too small to have an overall impact. But if you're a young person who has been outbid by a foreign investor, the statistics don't matter.
Some countries have strict rules on how many, if any, properties non-residents can buy. Canada does not. Some countries charge higher tax rates on real estate purchased by foreigners for investment purposes. B.C. does not. And then there are the Canadian sellers who, naturally, don't want to be limited if it means reducing their earning potential.
There are powerful arguments on both sides of this debate - but, so far, B.C. politicians are taking a hands-off approach. It's a no-win issue. The real estate industry has a lot of connections in the political world and then there's the looming charge of racism as soon as one mentions Asian real estate investors.
Yup. We'd be surprised to see any political parties take this one on.
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