British Columbia, flooded with Chinese money, to track condo buyers

“The days of avoiding taxes through condo flipping are over,” BC minister says

Nov.November 06, 2018 12:00 PM

Vancouver, British Columbia (Credit: SVG Silh and Tourism Vancouver)

The Canadian province of British Columbia is taking another step to crack down on tax evasion through real estate, this time creating a registry to track ownership of new condominium units under construction.

British Columbia’s move follows an earlier 20 percent tax on foreign home buyers, which largely targets the flood of mainland Chinese who have sent home prices soaring double digits in the last four years, and have drawn accusations of tax illegalities.

Under the new registry law, developers will have to collect and report on purchase agreements for pre-sale condo units starting next year, including when the contracts get flipped and transferred to new owners, Bloomberg reported. The rules also require developers to make a “reasonable effort” to report on previous deals.

Developers in the province will typically use pre-sale purchase agreements to market new projects, giving buyers the right to obtain a unit when it is finished. It has been common recently to sell these rights from one buyer to the next at rising prices without taxes on the gains since the deals were impossible to track.

The information in the new database will be shared with the Canada Revenue Agency.

“The days of avoiding taxes through condo flipping are over,” Finance Minister Carole James said in a statement.

In May, the Canada Revenue Agency found that $169 million in unpaid taxes in British Columbia in 2016 were related to real estate transactions — not paying a goods and services tax upon obtaining the deed — as well as income tax.

In Vancouver, Chinese buyers were so active in the real estate market that prices climbed 30 percent a month in 2016. After province officials increased the tax on foreign buyers to 20 percent, the Chinese buyers moved to Toronto, which responded by introducing its own 15 percent tax on foreign buyers. The Chinese real estate website estimated that Chinese investors were responsible for $100 billion worth of property purchases outside China in 2016.

As The Real Deal reported in 2016, several factors, including the lack of a political will to raise taxes, anti-discrimination laws, and the relatively small impact of foreign investment, have prevented any significant talk of a foreign-buyer tax from gaining steam in New York City. [Bloomberg] – Eddie Small

Related Articles


Real estate stocks push up this week as U.S.-China trade tensions ease

416 West 25th Street and Maverick Real Estate Partners principal David Aviram (Credit: Google Maps and LinkedIn)

Chelsea landlord claims “predatory” lender is charging a crippling interest rate as punishment after losing foreclosure case

Joel Schreiber (Credit: Shir Stein and Wikipedia)

WeWork’s first investor used his stock as collateral. Now his lenders are suing him

Cammeby's International Group founder Rubin Schron and, from top: 194-05 67th Avenue, 189-15 73rd Avenue and 64-05 186th Lane (Credit: Google Maps)

Ruby Schron lands $500M refi for sprawling Queens apartment portfolio

163 North 6th Street and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Bull (Credit: Google Maps, Wikipedia)

Joel Gluck’s Israeli bond issuance falls through as Williamsburg rental project faces financing crunch

NYC’s foreign investment landscape in the era of trade wars and heightened nationalism

Larry Silverstein and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (Credit: Getty Images)

Institutional investors swarm Silverstein’s new TASE bonds

Real estate firms get (green) thumbs down as they jump into climate bonds