I didn't know what would get me started writing my blog again. I certainly didn't think it would be politics! Bao, my old friend who owns a bar in Thailand, would always shout "No Politics! No Religion!" if the drunken attitude of his bar was heading the wrong direction. The last thing I wanted was to blog about was politics and open myself up to the hate and ridicule that litters most political comment sections. With that in mind, if you feel the need to speak up and comment, please keep it clean and civilized. I have to speak up, as an NDP supporter who may vote Liberal at the next election.
In a way, I don't blame our governments for their knee-jerk reactions to the public outcry for more affordable housing. However, their reactions are very misguided and exacerbate the problem they are trying to remedy. Thanks to the federal Liberals, we now have very stringent mortgage application requirements, even though our foreclosure rate was absurdly low. They have also imposed capital gains on the sale of residential properties with income generating suites, which means some owners don't bother to rent them out now. Urban municipalities are pushing vacancy taxes, bylaws against short-term rentals, and other measure trying to force people to rent out their properties, ignoring the risk of tenancies to property owners' most valuable assets. We have a foreign buyers tax, essentially a head-tax that some future politician will have to apologize for (they can borrow Trudeau's playbook for apologies). They've made it harder to have a fixed-term lease, a huge obstacle to renting out a recreation property for the duration it is not in use. And now, the grandaddy of all misguided decisions, a "Speculation" tax.
You know what's lost in all of these government responses - affordable housing. I don't think the outcry was asking for the government to tamper with it's healthiest economy and crash the housing market. The Property Transfer Tax is the BC government's biggest cash cow and if we hurt the market, we also decrease the revenue intake of the PTT. Let's face it, people are not going to pay the Speculation Tax, they are going to sell, they are not going to invest in B.C. Parents with children in a university will stop buying property for their kids while they are going to university - forcing their kids into the already congested rental pool. How many economic dollars will be lost, in addition to the lost PTT revenue?
What is needed is more affordable housing! Seems simple, right? Build more cooperative housing and rental complexes. Take some of the billions of dollars you receive from Property Transfer Tax and put it back into the housing system to create affordable housing. I believe the real estate industry has been lobbying for years and years for the Property Transfer Tax to be used for real estate initiatives. If governments had listened when this lobbying began, maybe we wouldn't have this affordable housing crisis to begin with.
Again, I don't blame the politicians, even though they are responsible for the bad decisions. This is what they do, respond to the public outcry to secure votes in the next election. This all stems from people saying my kids can't afford anything. Owning a property has always been a bit of a sacrifice. It often takes a partner to get into the market and both owners have to work really hard to afford the cost of ownership. For many of us, we work up the ladder and start with a condo while dreaming of someday having the house. Nothing has changed, even though the prices are inflated. We had a long period of stagnation before 2001 and after 2008 before the latest boom. This is what markets do - boom and wane. It shouldn't wane because of government tampering that will have profound negative implications on our most successful assets.
Dear John and Carole, please listen to reason and stop with the knee-jerk reactions. Don't bite the PTT that feeds you. Stop the speculation tax, it's absurd. And while we are at it, stop the proposed cash handout to tenants, another misguided reaction that does nothing to solve the affordable housing crisis and literally throws away millions of dollars. Building affordable housing is the only direct way to have an impact on this issue.