Vancouverites widely support the new 15 per cent tax on foreign home-buyers in B.C., according to a new poll, but many don't believe it will be effective in making housing more affordable.
The Angus Reid poll found that 90 per cent of Greater Vancouver residents — about nine in 10 — support the new tax, designed to discourage foreign speculators from driving up housing prices in Metro Vancouver.
But 42 per cent believe the tax will be either not very or not at all effective in cooling the market, and 71 per cent believe it will be too easy for buyers to find loopholes in the law. Eighty-two per cent say the government should have done something sooner.
The new tax has been highly controversial since it was announced earlier this week. It has drawn fire from buyers caught in the middle of sales, and one realtor has already been investigated for advertising to those looking to avoid the tax.
Renters hoping for a crash
Premier Christy Clark has repeatedly said her government does not want to take any action that will significantly devalue the equity of current homeowners in the province.
But the Angus Reid poll found that many Vancouverites are hoping for a significant market correction. Forty-two per cent of respondents — about four in 10 — would like to see housing prices in the region fall by at least 30 per cent.
Unsurprisingly, renters are much more likely to want a price drop than homeowners. Seventy-two per cent of renters are hoping for a crash of 30 per cent or more, compared to only 22 per cent of owners.
Foreign buyers perceived as real problem
The poll asked respondents what they believe to be the main causes of Metro Vancouver's high real estate prices.
A full 65 per cent believe "foreigners investing is this real estate market" to be a primary driver of the boom. Forty-one per cent agreed with the more general case of "wealthy people investing in this real estate market."
More than a third (37 per cent) believe condos and other housing left vacant and used primarily for investing purposes to be another main cause. Eighty-eight per cent support the idea of a "vacancy tax" — almost as many as support the foreign buyer tax.
However, only 60 per cent believe a vacancy tax would be effective in reducing housing prices — again similar to opinion on the foreign buyer tax.
Developers often cite lack of housing supply as the main problem, but only 13 per cent of poll respondents believe that to be the case.
The survey was conducted online between July 26 and 28 among a randomized sample of 737 adult members of the Angus Reid forum. The results have a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points.