America isn’t the only country where locals are struggling with inventory shortages, plunging home ownership rates, affordability issues, soaring home prices, tax changes and rising interest rates.
How are other countries attempting to combat these problems? By limiting non-residential foreign investment.
Most recently, the New Zealand Parliament banned home sales to non-residential foreigners. New Zealand’s minister for economic development and trade, David Parker, channeled locals’ sentiments in a speech to Parliament by saying, “If you’ve got the right to live in New Zealand permanently, you’ve go the right to buy (a home) here. Otherwise, its not a right, it’s a privilege.”
The housing market in Auckland, one of New Zealand’s major metros, has seen prices leap nearly +70% during the last 5 years. According to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) in 2017, an average Auckland household would need to save for 16 years to afford a deposit on a relatively low priced home, a home that’s cheaper than 75% of homes currently available to buy in the city.
New Zealand is following the lead of several other countries in hopes to restrict foreign investment and speculation. In 2016, Australia barred non-residential investors from buying resale homes unless those investors were planning to live in those homes full-time. Also in 2016, the country’s major banks began to refuse mortgages to borrowers without Australian-based incomes.
Since 2016, Great Britain’s government requires all investors, both foreign and national, to pay capital gains taxes up to 28% if/when they sell a home to a non-full-time resident. Additionally, the British government increased the land transfer tax, or “stamp tax,” something Londoners now want repealed due to the sharp downturn in that metro’s housing market.
In Singapore, foreigners face a 15% tax when buying a home although now, it’s nearly impossible for a foreigner to buy anything beyond a condominium. Foreign buyers who either sell residential properties in less than 4 years and/or buy second homes face steep taxes.
Hong Kong imposes a 15% tax on houses bought by non-permanent residents and companies. Foreign buyers who sell in less than three years must pay 20% of the sale price to the government. Switzerland limited the number of properties deemed to be second homes to 20% of the housing stock in any of it communities.
Toronto and Vancouver also impose hefty taxes on foreign non-residents in attempts to curtail lofty home prices in their metros. The problem, however, for all of these countries and metros is that the proportion of sales to foreign buyers is low.
The US housing market, on the other hand, welcomes foreign investors. In fact, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, foreign investment rose to a record $153B, a +49% increase in 2016-2017. Clearly, whatever corrections that might be necessary to combat skyrocketing prices, affordability, inventory shortages, etc., US housing markets are not looking to restrict foreign investment.