British Columbia

Retiring South Surrey couple stuck with 2 mortgages after foreign buyer tax

As a long-time appliance shop owner, Joe Notting says if he did business like the provincial government has handled the foreign buyer tax, he would have had to close down years ago.

'I've always been a supporter of the B.C. Liberals but that's going to change. My vote will go somewhere else'

Joe Notting and his wife lost a sale on their White Rock home on the day the foreign buyer tax was announced.

As a long-time appliance shop owner, Joe Notting says if he did business like the provincial government has handled the foreign buyer tax, he would have had to close down years ago.

"If you made a deal in my store on an appliance and when you came to get it I said, "Oh, it's $50 more," you'd say 'No I'm sorry, we had a deal. That doesn't work,'" he said.

Notting and his wife, both 65, say they are paying a financial and emotional price in the wake of the B.C. government's surprise — and retroactive — announcement of a 15 per cent foreign buyer tax on properties in Metro Vancouver.

New home needed after knee surgeries and falls

The Nottings made a deal to sell their home — subject to a home inspection — the day before the announcement. The following day, in the middle of the inspection, the buyers backed out unable to drop an extra $250,000.

The Nottings have had to re-list their White Rock home for less than the original list price and less than the offer that fell through after the tax was announced.

Meanwhile, the Nottings had already purchased a smaller, one-level home in Langley a few weeks earlier.

They are retiring and downsizing, and felt they had no choice but to buy first and sell later, given the specific type of home they needed.

"My wife has had two knee surgeries," Notting said. 

"We live on a hillside, lots of stairs. She's fallen a couple of times. That type of home[one-level] is hard to find. They get scooped."

In today's newspaper, there's a photo of the premier with the quote, British Columbians first. I sent a note to my MLA and asked, 'Which ones? It's not me.- Joe Notting

While Notting was prepared to hold two homes for a period of time — in the long run he says it's not a practical solution.

But after buying in a hot market, they will now be forced to sell in a cooler one.

"Part of the sale was to deal with our retirement. I don't have any official pension plans other than what we've been able to save."

British Columbians first?

The incredulity in Notting's voice is clear. The small business owner can't grasp what he feels has been unfair and ruthless treatment on the part of the province.

"In today's newspaper there's a photo of the premier with the quote, 'British Columbians first.' I sent a note to my MLA and asked, "Which ones? It's not me," he said.

"We're just the middle of the road taxpayer. We're always paying our taxes. We're always there. Why wouldn't they just say everything that was in place[before the tax was brought in] is going to be grandfathered? We[the government says] won't put people in jeopardy. How many people are in jeopardy?

"What's affordable?"

What makes Notting's personal plight even tougher for him to accept is that he doesn't see how the tax is a way forward for locals to end up in homes.

"I certainly don't disagree with some sort of tax or measure taken," he explained. "But how quick are you going to get social housing off the ground? This isn't going to help affordability."

Notting is looking to the province for a definition of 'affordability,' saying he and his wife had to find a place farther out than they wanted in 1972, even though they both had good jobs and thought they made "decent money."

"We couldn't live where we wanted to live ... we just said well that's the way it is. Let's just move to Langley and commute."

The 'Donald Trump' thing

In the end, Notting says he's hoping for more moderate voices in the debate over housing — and who is to blame.

"I'm an immigrant. I came here when I was four," he explained.

"We're trying to get people to join our country, to be part of our culture. We've done the old Donald Trump thing."

Notting said he intends to "do the Donald Trump thing" now with his vote and keep the Clark government out.

Notting, a longtime B.C. Liberal supporter, says he feels betrayed.


Salma Nurmohamed is a senior producer with CBC News. She has been a reporter and an assignment editor. Currently she is an editor with the digital team.


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