A Transparency International report found that 46% of Vancouver's 100 most expensive homes are owned through shell companies, trusts and nominees affirming the suspicion of many of us in B.C. that money laundering is a major player in our local real estate market.
“Of the 100 properties, 29 are held through shell companies, at least 11 are owned through nominees (listed as students or housewives on land titles), and at least six are disclosed as being held in trust for anonymous beneficiaries, the report says.”
Adam Ross, the report author states that “tactics” used by these investors to “obscure” ownership is becoming very creative. Mr. Ross asserts that the “loopholes” which allow this to happen need to be addressed by the Province.
What amazed me about this report is that when you get two-thirds down the report Mr. Ross actually mentions which country is responsible for most of these creative ownership tactics: China. Surprised anyone?
More impressive is that Mr. Ross specifically outs lawyers for facilitating this dubious activity. Finally, some truth about who is actually fuelling all this questionable real estate activity in B.C.. Sure, the relatively few realtors who are in the inner circle of this suspected money laundering are as to blame as the lawyers who make this all happen.
So which Provincial Government agency is going to come down on these lawyers? A Superintendent for Real Estate has been appointed to hopefully deal with unscrupulous Realtors. Will a similar appointment be made to deal with lawyers who exploit loopholes and use clever tactics to obscure ownership of such properties? Probably not! The Provincial Government will pass new laws to close the obvious loopholes and cunning lawyers will find other loopholes to continue this lucrative business of selling out B.C. and its residents.
This report only mentions the most expensive 100 homes in Vancouver; what about the most expensive 1,000 homes, 5,000 homes in Vancouver? Who owns them? How prevalent is this? I'd be very curious to know how the ownership of these homes breaks down. I think all of us in B.C. being affected by the soaring home prices have a right to know who is behind this. Why they are doing it? How they are doing it? This abnormal real estate frenzy is going to profoundly shape the future of upcoming generations inability to afford a home. I for one, want to know who is behind this and their motives, don't you?