Foreign tax hurting realtors but not homeowners as Metro Vancouver sales dive, prices unchanged

Home sales down 33 per cent since 15 per cent tax kicked in, detached house benchmark flat at $1.58 million

Sales of Metro Vancouver homes have plunged since the B.C. government imposed a foreign buyer tax in August, but new statistics show prices have only flattened, rather than falling.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported a nearly 33 per cent dive in home sales in September from a year ago.

That’s bad news for realtors whose earnings depend on commissions, but there’s no sign yet that government intervention in the real estate market is cutting prices or the equity of homeowners.

September’s benchmark price for Greater Vancouver detached houses was $1.58 million in September, unchanged from July, just prior to the 15 per cent foreign buyer tax taking effect in Metro Vancouver.

The detached house benchmark prices remains 34 per cent higher than a year ago.

Condos at a benchmark price of $511,800 are also unchanged from July, while townhouses are up about one per cent to $677,000.

The Greater Vancouver real estate board’s coverage area excludes Surrey, White Rock, Langley and North Delta, which are also subject to the tax but represented by the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.

The Fraser Valley board also reported prices were generally flat in September while sales were down 24 per cent year-over-year.

The benchmark price of detached houses in the FVREB area was $879,200 in September, which is still up more than 37 per cent from a year ago and down 1.1 per cent from August.

The FVREB’s benchmark price of townhomes was $419,500 while condos were $249,800.

Federal finance minister Bill Morneau yesterday unveiled further measures to deter speculation in hot housing markets, including tighter mortgage qualification rules and a crackdown on abuse of the principal residence declaration to avoid capital gains tax.

More to come