Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Simple Solution To Vancouver Real Estate Distortion

By definition, real estate property, since it can be sold, is not an inalienable right.

In an article in need of some serious editing, we hear of hot Chinese money bidding up Vancouver real estate:
One month ago, when describing the latest in an endless series of Vancouver real estate horror stories, in this case an abandoned, rotting home (which is currently listed for a modest $7.2 million), we explained the simple money-laundering dynamic involving Chinese “investors” as follows.
  • Chinese investors smuggle out millions in embezzled cash, hot money or perfectly legal funds, bypassing the $50,000/year limit in legal capital outflows.
  • They make “all cash” purchases, usually sight unseen, using third parties intermediaries to preserve their anonymity, or directly in person, in cities like Vancouver, New York, London or San Francisco.
  • The house becomes a new “Swiss bank account”, providing the promise of an anonymous store of value and retaining the cash equivalent value of the original capital outflow.
We also explained that hundreds if not thousands of Vancouver houses, have become a part of the new normal Swiss bank account: “a store of wealth to Chinese investors eager to park “hot money” outside of their native country, and bidding up any Canadian real estate they could get their hands on.”
The article does not mention how come the authorities do not intervene where appropriate, for the simple reason they love the price rises for their tax revenue is based on property values.  Don't count on government intervention.

There is an extremely simple solution. Reduce adverse possession in real estate to one year: open, notorious, exclusive, hostile and continuous.  Once a property falls into hot money hands, and is land-banked, that is it sits empty, a squatter can move into the empty house and begin the free rent occupation until the owner catches on.

To prevent adverse possession, the owner must put a placeholder tenant in there.  That tenant can refuse to pay rent and state he is possessing it adversely.  This would get very sticky for the owner, and the problem would simply move elsewhere.  In any event, Vancouver would see the bubble move elsewhere.

In any event, this problem is self-liquidating, since the hot money is not money at all, but ex nihilo credit, which is drying up.

The ancients had a better way of assessing property values for taxation: each owner stated the price at which he would sell is property, that is to say, all property is always on the market for a price the owner is willing to accept.  Taxes are on the owner's assessed value.

Brilliant.  It will never happen in capitalism.

What Vancouver did to is make a 15% sales tax on property sold by foreigners, and sales have dropped nearly 10%, and they plan to tax empty homes (by what rationale?)  Anyway, government workers find a solution to all problems in raising taxes.  Instead of putting humans into houses, they just want to fleece homeowners, albeit absentee ones.

This is about grabbing low hanging fruit, not solving problems.

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