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Most blame foreigners for high home prices in Vancouver

By Frank O'Brien for Business in Vancouver

B.C. has the highest foreign-home buyer tax in the world and the number of “transnational” buyers is waning, but the majority of Metro Vancouver residents still see foreigners as the biggest driver of high home prices.

Sixty-eight per cent of Metro Vancouverites believe “foreign investors have a lot of influence in driving up home prices” – the highest such perception in Canada – according to survey released this week by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).

That belief may be more perception than reality.

A new Statistics Canada transnational buyer study, also released this week, confirmed that foreigners own just 4.8% of Metro Vancouver homes, with the highest ratios in the cities of Vancouver at 7.6% and Richmond, at 7.5%. A Metro anomaly is the University of B.C. Endowment Lands, where StatsCan says 14% of homes are foreign-owned.

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In B.C., the highest foreign ownership is at Sun Peaks, the Kamloops-area ski resort community, at 17%, followed by Whistler at 16% and Tofino, at 7.5%, Statistics Canada found., China’s largest portal for foreign real estate, noted this week that parts of B.C., including Metro Vancouver, have the highest foreign-home buyer tax in the world. Raised in February to 20% of a home’s value, the B.C. tax is nearly three times higher than second-place Australia, where foreign buyers are dinged 7% on their purchases, which are restricted to new homes, not resales.

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