(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) BC has introduced the Speculation and Vacancy Tax and instructions for filling out the declarations are in the mail. The tax targets homes in major urban centres that are left empty, or that are owned by “foreign and domestic speculators” that “don’t pay [income] taxes” in BC. The tax rate is 0.5% of the assessed value in 2018. From 2019 onward rates increase to 2% for foreigners (not permanent residents nor Canadian citizens) as well as citizens or permanent residents that are deemed members of “satellite families.
Vancouver pushed out a heatmap of dwelling units that have so far failed to declare their empty homes tax status. With everyone eagerly awaiting data on the empty homes tax declaration we wonder what can be learned from the map. Turns out not much, the city did not normalize by the number of dwelling units subject to the tax. So to first order, this is just a heatmap of where people live, which xkcd coined pet peeve #208.
One of the constructive outcome of the “Supply Myth” discussion was the spotlight it shone on secondary suites. While we have already touched on this topic, it is wroth to fully flesh this out. With the perpetual empty home discussion in Vancouver one would have thought that the numbers by structural type of dwelling would have percolated through to the empty home hive mind. According to the 2011 census, which structural type of dwelling had the highest rate of unoccupied dwelling units in Metro Vancouver?
Smarter people than I have already responded to the recent furor about John Rose’s working paper, which is (part of?) the result of one year of research on affordability by the author, arguing that Vancouver has no supply problem. Most notably Nathan Lauster in a series of blog posts taking a look at the theoretical framework and methods used and running some numbers himself. I don’t have much to add to the first post, which took the time to highlight some of the useful demand measures that are either already implemented or currently under discussion and makes the point that the idea that we have enough housing in Vancouver, especially enough rental housing, requires an extraordinarily strong argument in the face of sub 1% rental vacancy rates.
There has been some recent confusion that got confounded further about transit-oriented development in Vancouver harbouring a large number of non-primary residence homes. Good data is important in moving forward in Vancouver’s crazy housing market. Without proper context, a couple of data points can serve to paint a very misleading picture of what is happening. So I decided to fill in some gaps on the very narrow question of understanding the CT level numbers that get tossed around.