As published on Richmond News

Graeme Wood / Richmond News

NOVEMBER 15, 2017 10:45 AM

Foreign influence in Richmond real estate remains strong and steady, according to recent data released by the B.C. Ministry of Finance.

Since April 1, foreign nationals have been involved in eight per cent of all residential real estate transactions in Richmond, which is the highest rate of any jurisdiction in B.C. 

By comparison, foreign nationals were involved in 3.4 per cent of all Vancouver transactions and across Metro Vancouver the rate was 3.3 per cent. 

In Richmond, foreigners were involved in 318 transactions, whereas in Vancouver they were involved in 259.

From January to September, foreign buyers have paid about $36.2 million in additional taxes (from the 15 per cent tax introduced last August) in Richmond alone, meaning they’ve sunk roughly $241 million into homes.

The monthly rates appear to have stabilized following the Aug. 1, 2016, implementation of the foreign buyers’ tax. 

In the months prior to August 2016, foreigners were involved in 24.7 per cent of all such transactions in Richmond.

In 2017, the average value of homes being purchased by foreigners has also declined, as more multi-family units are being targeted.

Since October 2016, all Richmond properties have increased in sale price by 10.8 per cent. 

Single-family homes have remained relatively stable by increasing only 2.3 per cent (now averaging $1.69 million), however townhouses are up 12.6 per cent and condos are up 26.3 per cent. Compared to the same period in 2016, sales of single-family homes have dropped by about 25 per cent, while condo and townhouse sales have remained stable. 

Jill Oudil, president of Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, said multi-family units have been a hot commodity among local buyers after the Government of Canada announced new mortgage stress tests (starting in the New Year new buyers must be able to afford mortgages with higher interest rates).

“Many buyers are trying to enter the market before the changes are in place,” said Oudil, in her last monthly report.

While the City of Vancouver looks to policies targeting non-residents, such as an empty homes tax and restricting pre-construction condo sales to local residents, the City of Richmond has maintained a supply-focused solution to the housing crisis.

While the public wasn’t given the option to consider foreign money and speculation as the “primary focus” for the City of Richmond’s Affordable Housing Strategy, in the “other” comments section of a public consultation survey, about one third (17/52) of respondents noted foreign investment and speculation as something city council should address. 

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