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WALKER: Timing is everything and the B.C. government has got it wrong

Mark Walker is a real estate agent and the broker/owner of Kelowna’s Walker Real Estate.
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April 07, 2018 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


Regular readers of this column will know that I’m not a fan of our provincial government’s new measures for the real estate sector. The details were recently tweaked, and while that was a step in the right direction, I remain opposed to the changes introduced by the NDP.

I’ve already previously explained why I am opposed to the changes, but for those who may have missed that, I would say my argument boils down to the succinct fact that I don’t believe we can tax our way to more affordable housing.

However, I actually want to put the discussion around the merits of the changes to one side today and examine the timing of the measures. After all, timing is everything. In business, as in government (and ultimately in life), you can have a great idea, but if the timing isn’t right, your plan may fall flat. So what’s wrong with the timing?

We all remember the ‘Great Recession’ of 2008/2009. It was the most significant financial crisis of modern times. Of course, housing prices took a big hit. The low point was November 2008 and the highest point since then came in February 2016.

We’ve seen myriad government changes introduced at both federal and provincial level since that high point - as well as changes from the Bank of Canada. For example, consider that we’ve seen everything from updates to the mortgage stress test, the introduction of the foreign buyers’ tax, a speculation tax, interest rate hikes etc. These have all arrived since August 2016.

The market is a living, breathing thing, and we don’t yet know what the cumulative impact of the tweaks we have seen at multiple levels is going to be. And this is big business. Consider that Canadians paid $42 billion in interest to service their mortgages last year. That’s a record and clearly something that is massively important to our national economy.

In government, as in business, the best policy is to be proactive rather than reactive and that’s why we’ll be watching the market closely in anticipation of any changes. I suggest that the latest policy changes we have seen are reactionary rather than proactive, and as such I feel the timing is wrong.

Let me be clear, I’m not saying this is solely the NDP’s fault. They’re attempting to improve the lives of British Columbians via what they deem to be the best approach. For too long the previous Liberal government acquiesced on foreign investment and affordable housing issues, but I’m concerned some of these measures are far too heavy handed. We’ll be watching closely.

In a market like this, it’s even more important that you work with a true real estate professional. If you have any questions about the Kelowna real estate market, please give me a call at the Walker Real Estate office: 250-764-4344. It would be my pleasure to answer any questions that you might have.

— Mark Walker is a real estate agent and the broker/owner of Kelowna’s Walker Real Estate. His company runs the website KelownaProperties.com - Kelowna’s most comprehensive real estate search tool - and KelownaCondos - your source for all you need to know about condos in Kelowna.

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