Wednesday, 12 February 2014

News from Flaherty's 2014 Budget & Some of my forum comments

B.C. property market hazy after 'millionaire visa' scrapped
Real estate agents in Vancouver say property prices could take a hit, after Canada scrapped a program which allowed wealthy immigrants to fast-track the visa process.

"I deal directly with these people who bring a lot of wealth, who are creating lots of jobs for local Canadians — builders, trades, architects, realtors like myself," said Debelle.
"Most of the buying is coming from Chinese immigrants who are wealthy, so if we make it difficult for them to come into this country, we have killed 80 to 90 per cent of the buying in West Vancouver."
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland agrees.
"When you suddenly stave off the intake of literally hundreds of millionaires in the Vancouver property market, prices can only go one way and that's down," said Kurland.

Federal budget 2014: Ottawa plans boost for small banks
“They are capping a whole bunch of lines of business,” said Mr. Ian Lee, a professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University. “I think they have a plan for CMHC which they haven’t disclosed yet. They are either going to shrink CMHC incrementively or prepare it for privatization.”

1. Applicants must enroll in and continue to pursue studies in Canada. Failure to do so could lead to removal from Canada. (previously only needed to “Intend to” study)
2. Study permits will only be issued to successful applicants who are pursuing studies at an educational institution that has been designated to receive international students. (previously was “any educational institution”)
3. A study permit becomes invalid 90 days following the completion of studies unless the foreign national also possesses a valid work permit or another authorization to remain in Canada. (previously they could stay until study permit expires, even after graduation)

How Canada’s new immigration rules could slow high end real estate sales
Ottawa also announced it has eliminated the so-called immigration trust, which had allowed wealthy immigrants to shelter their investment income from taxation for their first five years of residency here.

My comments Feb 11-12
Guess what the top 3 threads today in local chinese RE forums are about? Over 4000 views on the thread titled “Canadian government abolishes immigrant investor program. Over 40000 waitlisted applications cancelled. Very Bearish for Vancouver RE”
People are speculating that the next step might very well be limiting/taxing foreign ownership.
Realtors/Pumpers wasted no time to dish out their pump piece, saying “Rich people can still come to Canada on a 10 year Visa. RE won’t be affected”.
Realtors/pumpers based in outlying areas were quick to bash West Van / Van West, saying there will be no more “greater fools” to pass the baton to. While “RE in other areas of greater vancouver will continue to appreciate due to local demand”
They were countered by people commenting: “Rich people / officials from China care most about foreign citizenship status for their family. The major incentive to buy expensive RE in Canada has just been removed. Granted there is still 10-year super-Visa, but you would still just be a visitor, not a permanent resident”
“How can other areas of vancouver not be affected if Van West RE plummets?”
If I were a betting man, I’d bet All major local Chinese newspapers’ headline tomorrow will be about the end of Immigrant Investor Program.

@#13 Just a quick follow-up to yesterday’s post.
As expected, “Canada Axing Immigrant Investor Program” makes front page headlines in major Chinese papers like World Journal and MingPao.
The Chinese RE forum thread titled “Canadian government abolishes immigrant investor program. Very Bearish for Vancouver RE” now has close to 10000 views.

We know that a sizable part of Vancouver’s economy (not just RE) flourished in recent years due to the influx of wealthy immigrants.
Looks like times may be changing for some of these industries.
An article at 24 Hours Vancouver today:
“Vancouver immigration lawyer Tim Bailey said the loss of the program means immigrants can no longer store money in offshore accounts for five years — out of reach by Canada Revenue Agency.
Bailey said that means funds in trust will be taxable as of next year. He added lawyers who work in immigration could feel the pinch.
“There are a number of legal practitioners who have been seriously impacted by this decision, ironically in much the way that refugee lawyers were when (Multiculturalism Minister Jason) Kenney took a chainsaw to the refugee system,” Bailey said. “They are going to have to expand their practice, adapt, or disappear.””

Another thing, we know that there are multiple drivers behind the Vancouver RE boom in 2001-2012. Loosening mortgage rules, declining interest rate, population growth, etc. Influx of wealthy immigrants was but one of the factors, with effects most pronounced in Van West, West Van, parts of Burnaby, and Richmond (until 2011); however this “HAM” factor had been over-hyped by the RE industry and media, giving people a false belief that because of “HAM”, “fundamentals don’t matter,” “it’s different here.”
Now that this “HAM factor” has suddenly been weakened, people might begin to question their “faith” or confidence in Vancouver RE. Perhaps will result in some of them taking action on their negative cash flow properties?
The removal of Immigrant Investor program per se, will result in ~1k-2k reduced demand for luxury RE purchases per year, mostly in Van West/West Van areas. However, the loss of “faith” in Vancouver RE may prove much more damaging.

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