Foreign buyers make up 3% of Metro Vancouver real estate sales in October

About $115 million worth of home sales involved foreign nationals, data show

Foreign buyers bought three per cent of residential properties that changed hands in Metro Vancouver in October, the latest figures from the B.C. government show.

That’s higher than the 1.8-per-cent rate in September, but still lower than the 13.2-per-cent rate before the province imposed a 15-per-cent tax on residential property purchased in Metro Vancouver by non-Canadian citizens or residents in August.

About 140 home sales, worth about $115 million, involved foreign nationals in October in the region, according to data released Tuesday. That’s out of a total of about 4,700 home sales, valued at $3.6 billion.

Elsewhere in B.C., foreign buyers made up about 2.9 per cent of all residential purchases, worth a combined $129 million.

Foreign buyers accounted for 0.9 per cent of sales in Surrey in October, 2.5 per cent in Vancouver, 5.9 per cent in Burnaby and 6.7 per cent in Richmond.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong said his ministry has been closely watching Squamish, the Fraser Valley and southern Vancouver Island to gauge whether the Metro-only tax spurs more foreign buying in other regions.

The latest numbers show foreign buyers made up 6.3 per cent of transactions in the Capital Regional District.

“The data suggests we haven’t seen a lot of drift into Squamish or Abbotsford,” de Jong said. “The trendline in victoria seems to be upward. Not dramatically. But we’re watching it carefully.”

He noted the foreign buyers tax legislation allows the government to adjust the rate or apply it to new regions at any time via regulation.

As for the jump in foreign buying since September, finance ministry officials noted a significant number of foreign purchases are thought to have shifted ahead of the August introduction of the new tax in order to avoid it. As a result, a rebound from low levels in August-September towards a new normal was considered likely.

From Aug. 2 to Nov. 14, the province has collected $36 million from 431 foreign purchasers. More than 200 audits have been opened to determine if the tax has been correctly paid.

The finance ministry now says the the tax is likely to generate much less money than the $165 million a year in new annual revenue previously projected.