News / Vancouver

B.C. government exempts skilled workers from foreign buyer real estate tax

The government says the exemption will help the province continue to attract highly-skilled workers for industries like tech.

Jennifer Gauthier/For Metro

Foreign nationals coming to B.C. as workers through the provincial nominee immigration stream will not have to pay a 15 per cent foreign buyers tax on Metro Vancouver real estate.

The exemption will be available to workers who purchase a principal residence in Metro Vancouver. The province is also tweaking the rules so that foreign buyers can get a rebate on the tax if they become permanent residents or Canadian citizens within one year of buying a principal residence.

To be eligible for the rebate, the buyers must have also lived in the home continuously for one year.

The B.C. government introduced the 15 per cent property transfer tax in July 2016, shortly after publishing the results of its first-ever collection of foreign buyer data which showed foreign nationals purchased 10 per cent of Metro Vancouver homes between June 10 and July 14.

It was at the time a sharp reversal in policy from Finance Minister Mike de Jong, who had up to that point staunchly agreed with the real estate industry’s assessment that a lack of supply was responsible for the sharp run-up in home prices which widened further the gap between home prices and average wages of B.C. residents.

Since introducing the tax, home sales listings in Metro Vancouver have dwindled. Since July, prices for single detached homes have fallen; that property type previously saw the most dramatic price increases. Meanwhile, interest in condos has remained high and prices have continued to rise.

In December, the government introduced a new interest-free, publicly-funded down payment loan available to first-time homebuyers for homes worth up to $750,000.

“Together with other housing affordability initiatives introduced by the provincial government, the additional property transfer tax has helped moderate prices and create the conditions that are allowing housing supply to catch up to demand,” de Jong said in a statement. 

De Jong said the exemptions announced today will help the province to continue to attract highly-skilled workers for industries like tech.

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