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Over the past year we have heard and seen a lot of political action and public angst about foreign-home buyers in Metro Vancouver. Since an unprecedented move last August, foreign buyers of homes in the region have been subject to a heavy-handed 15 per cent tax on their purchase.
Yet Statistics Canada recently confirmed that foreigners represent a small fraction of homebuyers: less than 1 per cent across Canada and 4.9 per cent of the Metro Vancouver market in 2017.
Based on total Greater Vancouver housing sales in 2017, that represents less than 1,800 buyers, and most of these were purchasing mid-priced condominiums, not big, fancy houses.
It is not mysterious foreign buyers who are helping to drive housing sales in Metro Vancouver.
It is new Canadians.
In the past five years, more than 150,000 people from other countries have moved to B.C. And, like most Canadians, they aspire to own a home.
Last year, British Columbia welcomed in 36,775 immigrants, the vast majority of whom moved into the Lower Mainland. In the same period there were 35,993 homes sales in Metro Vancouver. This is not a coincidence.
Recent immigrants are very likely to buy a home. A federal study, for instance, showed that 7 out of 10 immigrants who arrived in Canada between 2006 and 2011 had quickly achieved homeownership. Recent permanent immigrants from China and Southeast Asia to Metro Vancouver have homeownership rates of 81 per cent and 75 per cent, respectively, compared to an overall ownership average of 67 per cent.
This surge of home buying will continue because Canada has raised the permanent immigration levels from around 270,000 this year to 340,000 annually by 2020, just two years from now.
Take a ride on SkyTrain in the morning rush hour. Drop by your local school or community centre. The faces of Metro Vancouver have changed forever. It is these new Canadians, striving to contribute, who have and will help shape one of greatest urban centres in the world.
These are not foreign buyers. They are your new neighbours, the new Canadians who will define Metro Vancouver’s housing market for decades to come. And they should be welcomed the same as we hope to be if we relocated our family to a new country.
At Faith Wilson Group we have worked with new Canadians for more than 20 years. Many are now long-time clients as both buyers and sellers. A multilingual staff, our international marketing programs, an award-winning Internet presence and our team’s neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood knowledge are all part of our ongoing effort to engage with and welcome newcomers to the best of Metro Vancouver.
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