Opinion Column

Discussing Vancouver housing data isn’t racist

Bill Tieleman

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

GETTY IMAGES

GETTY IMAGES

“Buy land — they’re not making it any more.” — Mark Twain, 1835-1910

 

Chinese foreign investors are buying up homes equivalent to the value of nearly all new housing stock being built in Metro Vancouver — creating skyrocketing prices that are driving local residents out of the market.

That conclusion is easily drawn from last week’s B.C. government release of new statistics.

While woefully inadequate, the numbers still show that almost all of the new supply of housing built each month — as measured by building permits — effectively disappears from the market as Chinese buyers scoop up an equivalent dollar value amount of residential property.

The Metro Vancouver ramifications are enormous.

Insanely high housing prices, up 32% this June over June 2015, for an average price of $917,800;

Phenomenally low rental housing vacancy rates that mean rents are going through the roof, with Vancity Credit Union reporting young workers are being priced out of the Vancouver rental market.

And, finally, development and a home construction industry nearly totally dependent on Chinese foreign sales to prosper.

B.C.’s numbers covered only three weeks of data — not definitive and dependent on voluntary disclosure.

Regardless, they show that from June 10-29 the value of Metro Vancouver house sales to foreign nationals was $351 million — or 6.5% of the total $5 billion.

And of those, 234 out of 284 — 82% — are to Chinese nationals.

If that $351 million over three weeks is extrapolated to an entire year, the estimated value of foreign residential sales would be $6 billion.

Compare that to the value of new building permits per year in Metro Vancouver — roughly $6.5 billion in 2015.

That means that 92% of the value of new building permits in Metro Vancouver each year is being sold to foreign nationals — most from China.

Pointing that out is not racist — it’s a factual observation based on the B.C. government’s own data.

Is it any wonder prices are going through the roof?

So forget the nationality of home buyers and ask why anyone would let another country’s citizens make their homes unaffordable so foreigners can make windfall profits.

Ridiculous? That’s why I repeat my call for a six-month ban on the foreign purchase of B.C. homes to find longer-term solutions and stop the insanity.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at http://billtieleman.blogspot.com or Email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman  

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