SPECIAL TO BC BUSINESS
New program attempts to address the housing affordability crisis
Imani Development Inc. is using a Locals First program conceived by real estate sales, marketing and research firm Key Marketing for a 126-unit condo project in East Vancouver. So far, 88 homes at The Windsor have been sold, 87 of them to buyers from Metro Vancouver.
The Locals First program gives priority to Canadian citizens and people with proven permanent residency status. Foreign buyers can purchase a home on the condition that the deal may be legally collapsed within 90 days if a local resident wants to buy it.
Cam Good, president and managing broker of Vancouver-based Key Marketing, recommends that all real estate developers implement a Locals First system for new condo projects. As with the LEED environmental rating system, projects could be designated platinum, gold or silver depending on how much inventory is reserved for local buyers. Measures could also be put in place to curb bulk sales, assignment flipping and speculative buying that leads to price escalations.
“The situation is beyond critical, and developers have to respond to community needs,” Good said in a statement. “If real estate developers don’t initiate something to solve access and affordability for local buyers, governments will force solutions that may not be ideal.” In August 2016, the B.C. government implemented a 15-percent tax on foreign nationals purchasing property in Metro Vancouver.
When Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson proposed a locals first policy for condo presales last October, the Urban Development Institute responded that more than 90 percent of multi-family housing units already go to local buyers.