Tag Archives: politics

Property tax deferment and empty bedrooms

Peter Ladner over at the Vancouver Courier asks the question ‘why reward Vancouver seniors for staying in big empty houses‘?

The oldest of us will be 80 in 10 years, well past the time we needed all those bedrooms for our children, even the ones who stick around into their 30s. And we have lots of those bedrooms. Canadians have the most living space per person of any country in the world (2.5 rooms per person), according to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development stats. I confess: I have two empty bedrooms in my home, even after converting the basement into a suite.

A decade ago, Urban Futures estimated that around 30 per cent of homes in Metro Vancouver had at least one unoccupied bedroom. That would be 220,000 empty bedrooms then, and many more in coming years as the boomer tsunami arrives. It would be interesting to calculate how many years we could go without building any new homes simply by filling up the ones we already have.

The opposing viewpoint says that asking people to pay their property tax is the same as kicking old people out of their homes, some calling Ladner ‘a disgusting human being’.  But as George points out is it really unfair to ask people who’ve benefitted from decades of rising property values to pay their share of the tax bill?

…Whenever young people cry about high housing prices in Vancouver, we’re told that’s the free market, suck it up, supply and demand, blah blah blah. It’s actually not a free market, it’s a highly distorted market, but that’s besides the point. If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander. If young people in Vancouver are just supposed to accept being priced out due to the free market, then elderly people should have to accept the same thing. I am not saying I want to see elderly people displaced out of Vancouver. But Peter Ladner is right, it’s just not fair that elderly people sitting on massively overvalued homes get what amounts to a tax subsidy from the young, the very people priced out of the city.

What do you think? Are you against young families or the elderly?

 

Mayor: city is at a ‘breaking point’

When it comes to housing affordability Mayor Robertson says that Vancouver is at a breaking point:

 “The conditions and the context keep getting tougher and tougher in Vancouver as the city gets more and more expensive and more desirable to people all over the world to invest in and move into. We’re basically at a breaking point where we need interventions in the market to ensure that people who live and work and grow up here in Vancouver have the opportunity to stay in the city and to keep being part of it and contributing.”

You may recall the Mayor wrote a letter to the BC Premier supporting the idea of speculation tax. The response from the Premier was based around the fact that such a tax would risk driving down house prices.

The Mayor responds to that idea in this interview at the Tyee:

“I think it’s completely wrong. It’s a totally different subject. What we’re talking about is taking some of the profit out of flipping and speculation, which doesn’t have to do necessarily with foreign ownership or homeownership or the value of homes. This is a business activity that’s taking place every day here in Vancouver where there’s a lot of profit, and it’s an option to transfer some of that profit so people can afford to live in the city. They went off on a completely different tangent in their response at the provincial level, and that’s unfortunate. The premier has said that affordable housing in Vancouver is a problem. Well, we need some action to deal with that.”

Restrict foreign buyers of Vancouver real estate?

Yesterday we posted about the record debt levels of Canadians – most of that growth happening in mortgage and line of credit debt.

Some people think low interest rates and CMHC backed mortgage debt is to blame for high house prices, while others blame foreign buyers in cities like Vancouver and Toronto.

Would you support restricting foreign ownership of property the same way they do in countries like Mexico, China and Australia?

Some people certainly would. This petition on change.org has grown by more than 10,000 signatures in the last few days and is currently at the top of todays active list on that site.

Here’s the link to the petition if you support this idea – how many signatures do you think it would take to get politicians to support limitations on foreign buyers and how would they convince home sellers that this is a good idea?

FFFA! Looooong weekend!

Hey! It’s the end of another week.

That means it’s Friday Free-for-all time!

This is our regular end of the week news round up and open topic discussion thread for the weekend.

Here are a few recent links to kick off the chat:

-New home prices down, old up
Apathetic politicians?
Carrick not worried about debt
Low rates for higher prices?
Analysts warn of market froth
Bitter bear
Condo ordered sold over parking

So what are you seeing out there? Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!