HOUS­ING Cost of new hous­ing sta­bi­lized in 2018

The Georgia Straight - - Housing - By

AChar­lie Smith

fter al­most a decade of ris­ing home prices, the residential real-es­tate mar­ket un­der­went a fairly rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion in 2018. What was once a boom be­came a prop­erty bust, wip­ing out big chunks of eq­uity, par­tic­u­larly on the West Side of Van­cou­ver.

Here are some sig­nif­i­cant sto­ries in this sec­tor in 2018.

FOUR NDP TAX CHANGES

In Fe­bru­ary, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ca­role James an­nounced four ma­jor changes to fis­cal pol­icy: a sur­tax on $3-mil­lion­plus homes, a new spec­u­la­tion tax (which is ac­tu­ally a va­cancy tax), an in­crease in the for­eign-buy­ers tax from 15 per­cent to 20 per­cent, and a hike in the prop­erty-pur­chase tax. They were sup­posed to gen­er­ate al­most $1.3 bil­lion over three years, ac­cord­ing to bud­get doc­u­ments. How­ever, that may not ma­te­ri­al­ize, given the slow­down in sales and de­clin­ing prices. SLUMP­ING SALES

Novem­ber was the bleak­est month since the 2008 global melt­down, as far as lo­cal real-es­tate agents were con­cerned. The Greater Van­cou­ver Real Es­tate Board re­ported that sales were down 42.5 per­cent from the same month in 2017. With just 1,608 trans­ac­tions, it demon­strated that buy­ers were tak­ing a break in the wake of tighter mort­gage-qual­i­fi­ca­tion rules and pre­vi­ous in­ter­e­strate in­creases. The bench­mark price for all residential prop­er­ties was still more than $1 mil­lion, but this was down 1.4 per­cent from Novem­ber 2017. It’s too early to call it a crash, but it’s cer­tainly a cor­rec­tion. VAN­COU­VER HOUSE RISES

It’s hard to miss the twist­ing tower ris­ing above the north end of the Granville Bridge. Ar­chi­tect Bjarke In­gels de­signed Van­cou­ver House, a 59-storey lux­ury condo build­ing that has trans­formed the sky­line. The de­vel­oper, West­bank, re­cently se­cured Lon­don Drugs and Fresh St. Mar­ket as ground­floor ten­ants in the 600,000-square­foot com­plex in what’s be­ing called the Beach District. When it opens next year, it will be aug­mented by artist Rod­ney Gra­ham’s Torqued Chan­de­lier, a five-me­tre light that will be sus­pended be­low the Granville Street Bridge.

WHERE ARE NON­RES­I­DENT OWN­ERS?

So­cial me­dia is full of com­plaints about for­eign buy­ers, but data re­leased this month by Sta­tis­tics Canada sug­gested that the vast ma­jor­ity of res­i­den­tial­prop­erty own­ers are do­mes­tic. Only five per­cent are non­res­i­dent own­ers. The rate of non­in­di­vid­ual own­er­ship in Van­cou­ver—i.e., com­pa­nies or or­ga­ni­za­tions—was just 5.6 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics Canada. MONEY-LAUN­DER­ING

In Novem­ber, Global B.C. re­ported that it had ob­tained a se­cret po­lice re­port, which pur­ported that more than $1 bil­lion had been laun­dered through Van­cou­ver real es­tate in 2016. No names were re­leased. But the study of 1,200 lux­ury pur­chases claimed that more than 10 per­cent were linked to peo­ple with crim­i­nal records. AGENT PAYS FOR RE­FER­RALS

Last month the Straight’s Car­l­ito Pablo re­vealed that a Rich­mond real­tor was pay­ing im­mi­grant-set­tle­ment com­pa­nies for re­fer­rals. In three cases, Di (Tony) Xu used this in­for­ma­tion to close deals. The Real Es­tate Coun­cil of B.C. de­ter­mined that he com­mit­ted pro­fes­sional mis­con­duct by not re­veal­ing this to his man­ag­ing bro­ker. He also didn’t think that these re­fer­rals needed to be dis­closed to his clients. Xu ended up with a 30-day sus­pen­sion and a $1,500 fine.

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