Columnist is wrong – property levy would control prices

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

The Vancouver Sun

Some believe that a surtax on foreign investors would cool Metro Vancouver?s housing market. GERRY KAHRMANN/PNG FILES

I read Gordon Clark’s column, Property tax surcharge won’t bring down prices. The line “The scheme would thus target foreigners with vacant properties, who would be forced to pay the proposed, ridiculously excessive tax” comes across as imbalanced and is not supported by hard data in other markets.

If the tax really is “ridiculously excessive,” it would undoubtedly restrain the market. This is Economics 101. Prices might still go up, but all the more reason to have disincentivised speculative buyers.

Having lived in Hong Kong, where realestate values increased up to five times in just over a decade from the low in 2003, it can be seen how cooling measures are unpopular with real-estate owners but welcomed by first-time buyers. The measures targeted at speculators both in Hong Kong and also seen in Singapore did restrain price growth.

This issue is the biggest challenge to the long-term health of Vancouver as a vibrant, livable and desirable community. I worry that those invested in our community cannot see this.

Ed Lupton, West Vancouver

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