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B.C. government mulls housing market cooling measures

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With the upcoming preparation and approval of its budget next month, the British Columbian government is set to tackle housing relief as a primary concern.
Premier Christy Clark said on Tuesday (January 12) that luxury or speculation taxes won’t be implemented in the government’s bid to moderate Vancouver’s surging housing market, which has put an increasing number of homes out of reach of a growing fraction of would-be owners.
Clark did not give further details, only saying that the measures would focus on providing relief for first-time buyers without devaluing the properties of current owners.
“We’re thinking of a whole range of things. You’ll see more of it as we get closer to the [Feb. 16] budget,” Clark told media in a press conference, as quoted by The Globe and Mail.
In an economy struggling with a weakening petro-currency and reduced purchasing power, affordability has become a more important consideration for buyers. While first-time buyers in B.C. are exempt from the property-purchase tax on homes worth less than $475,000, nearly one-thirds of homes in the region – especially in Vancouver – lie well beyond this price range.
Late last year, the government said that it was considering some adjustments to the current property-purchase tax thresholds, including revisions to the $475,000 exemption for first-time buyers.
“We are not interested in taking steps that will see a diminishment in people’s equity, the value of their homes, but we are interested in facilitating entry into the housing market by young families, young British Columbians,” Finance Minister Mike de Jong said last September.