VICTORIA — B.C.’s finance minister said Thursday there’s merit to better tracking the foreign purchase of real estate, in response to a proposal from Green party leader Andrew Weaver.
Weaver introduced private member’s legislation Thursday that would amend the Land Title Act to require someone buying property to disclose whether they are a Canadian citizen, an immigrant to the country, a citizen of a foreign country or a resident of another province.
The change would restore rules that were eliminated years earlier, and allow government to better understand the effects of foreign and domestic speculation in B.C.’s real estate market, said Weaver.
“Government is operating with no knowledge, they have absolutely no idea what’s going on,” he said.
Finance Minister Mike de Jong said that idea “has merit” and urged Weaver to “be patient for a few more days” until Tuesday’s provincial budget, in which the government has said it will introduce several changes designed to address the housing affordability crisis in Metro Vancouver.
Weaver’s proposed legislation would also address a potential loophole in the property transfer tax, in which people can register property to a bare trust and then transfer the rights to the trust to someone else — effectively selling the property but without paying property transfer tax.
De Jong said he’s “cautiously optimistic” next week’s budget would respond to some of those concerns. He has already written and finalized the budget, but by long-standing tradition the finance minister keeps its contents confidential until budget day.
“The unregistered transferring of interests in real property in British Columbia does have an impact,” de Jong said in the legislature. “It also does have an impact on the amount of property transfer tax and the mechanism by which we collect the property transfer tax.”
Weaver also called on government to tax vacant properties.
Private members legislation rarely passes in the legislature.
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/proposed+bill+seeks+track+information+involving+real+estate+buyers/11714045/story.html#ixzz3zyjB0aPy