“When questions about foreign ownership came up at the City’s housing affordability meetings earlier this year, task force members realized the issue was large enough to warrant a separate report. A working group of business and architecture academics was assembled to learn more. Its volunteer members met several times over the course of three months to explore the issue and recently penned a five-page summary of their findings.
The result is underwhelming if you were hoping for closure on the matter, but here’s the takeaway: we still don’t know how foreign investment impacts local real estate, but we have researchers in the city who have developed methodologies to study and interpret the data needed to clarify the situation.
Their conclusion put another way: if the City really wants to understand foreign ownership, it needs to pay researchers and quit relying on the generosity of volunteers.
“At the end of the day, we still have no real idea what the impacts are and if they are good or bad and what that actually means to the city,” says Erick Villagomez, adjunct professor at UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and chair of the academic working group behind the report. “We need more evidence.”
The City is hesitant to pledge more money in order to clarify the issue of foreign ownership, at least until it’s sure further study would improve Vancouver’s affordable housing stock in a concrete way.” ..
“Villagomez wants researchers to crunch more numbers to strengthen understanding of the matter. He points to data available from BC Hydro, the 2011 census, the Provincial Home Owner Grant and BC Assessment. He says pooling those data sets along with whatever numbers the region’s real estate associations are willing to make public would create one giant playground for local analysts. The only trouble is finding a pot of money to buy whatever data sets aren’t free and another pot to pay researchers to analyze them.”
– ‘To Solve Housing Foreign Ownership Puzzle, Someone Must Pay’, Luke Brocki, The Tyee, 19 Nov 2012
[hat-tip ‘poster with infinite number of handles’]
Evidence is good. There is easily accessible information out there that could shed an immense amount of light on the RE market. ‘Play’ in the ‘playground’ of data could be very revealing. We’re all for that.
Foreign ownership is one thing; at least as important is utilization.
BC Hydro data likely already reveals how many units in the city are vacant or under-utilized. Interesting, eh?
Perhaps city council is hesitant to uncover information that threatens the strength of the market.