“Foreign Investor” Selected As Canadian Press Business Newsmaker Of The Year

TORONTO – A nameless, faceless figure at the heart of the controversy surrounding soaring real estate prices has been named The Canadian Press business newsmaker of the year.

As home prices in Vancouver and Toronto rose at a torrid pace, public and political attention shifted to an enigma that, rightly or wrongly, some believed to be the culprit: the foreign investor, reported Canadian Press.

Stories about buyers from outside Canada, particularly those from China, snapping up Vancouver houses dominated headlines over the past year, sparking outrage among some.

The issue became so heated that it prompted the B.C. government to implement a 15 per cent tax beginning in August on homes purchased by foreign nationals in Metro Vancouver.

The federal government also intervened. In October, it closed a tax loophole that had allowed non-residents to avoid paying capital gains tax on the sale of a principal residence.

Brad Henderson, president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, says concerns about foreign investment in the Canadian real estate market stemmed from eroding affordability.

“People were watching with amazement as each month went by and prices seemed to climb higher and higher,” Henderson said, adding that many would-be first time homebuyers were angry about being squeezed out of the market.

“People needed to have a villain to blame. In our opinion, the villain that ended up getting blamed was the foreign buyer, because that person, for the most part, didn’t have a face. It was a notion in most people’s minds.”

The foreign investor captured 37 per cent of the 27 votes cast in the annual poll of the country’s newsrooms by The Canadian Press. It’s the first time since the survey began in 2003 that the business newsmaker of the year wasn’t a specific person.

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