Monday, February 25, 2019

Further cooling policies still needed – B.C. Finance Minister

Policies that cultivate further housing slowdown are still needed to ensure greater affordability in B.C., Finance Minister Carole James said last week.

The statement came amid official reports of considerable slowdown in the province’s home price growth and sales activity, after several changes were introduced last year.

Among the most notable of these regulatory revisions were levies aimed at speculators and hiking the taxes on foreign buyers, which is part of the B.C. government’s aim to diversify the economy and “not simply relying, for example, on a speculative real estate market which doesn’t help grow a sustainable economy,” James said, as quoted by Bloomberg.

“I think there’s more to go. I don’t think anyone in the Metro Vancouver-area would classify housing as affordable at this stage.”

B.C. is not looking at possible housing risks as a major long-term threat, considering that it is projecting new borrowings to grow to $7.5 billion in the coming fiscal year, up from $6.3 billion in the current year.

The province’s fiscal plan, as presented in documents last week, is estimating economic growth to hit 2.4% this year, outstripping the 2.2% in 2018.

James noted that contrary to doomsayers’ fears of long-term lethargy, this trend of housing slowdown leading to more affordability is exactly what the government intended.

“I’m cautiously optimistic when I take a look at the moderation we’re seeing in all segments of the market. That’s exactly the kind of approach that we’ve been looking for,” James stated.

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