"It is convenient but both divisive and wrong to blame foreign buyers for Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis, the head of Canada’s housing authority said Wednesday."
PETER O'NEIL (VANCOUVER SUN) - Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. President Evan Siddall, citing a year of research by the federal Crown corporation, pointed instead to several factors and actors responsible — including critics of federal housing policy like Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
“While it would be convenient to hang all of the blame for high prices on others — offshore buyers — it’s just not that simple,” Siddall told members of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.
“Sure, it makes for a tempting narrative: them, not us.”
Foreign investment, according to Siddall, is “clearly” a factor — but not the only one. He cited new CMHC data on the condominium market showing that 2.2 per cent of condos in Metro Vancouver are currently owned by offshore buyers — roughly in line with the 2.3 per cent total in 2014, and down sharply from the 3.5 per cent in 2015.
The survey also showed that offshore ownership of newer condos built since 2010 was higher — at five per cent.
“The evidence tells us that the origin of investor activity in Canadian residential real estate is predominantly domestic,” Siddall said.
Other key factors include low interest rates, population and economic growth that is spurred by the heavy concentration of Canadian immigrants wanting to live in Vancouver, Canada’s tax regime, and “supply constraints” that are particularly apparent in Vancouver, according to Siddall.
Robertson, who has called for action against both foreign and domestic speculators, recently sent a letter to the federal government asking Ottawa to take action to ease the pressure.
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