Good for the City in attempting to get a handle on the number of vacant homes, and the reasons why they are: Vancouver looks to gather data on vacant homes. With some reliable data, we can at least separate the myths from the reality – though that alone is unlikely to answer the obvious next question: What to do based on what we find.
There are at least three factors beyond the City’s control that impact affordability: interest rates, capital flows and immigration (influenced by the state of the world economy), as well as taxes on property purchase and transfer, capital gains, etc. There are three factors that can be influenced directly: property taxes, density and form of development, and transit, all of which over time affect the market. Unfortunately not quickly, and maybe not at all.
And then there’s the problem of who benefits or loses. Many of the same people who decry the change in their neighbourhoods do not for a moment believe the City should do anything that would negatively affect the value of their homes nor their ability to cash out.
Further, the idea of people ‘reporting’ on vacant houses has a distasteful odor to it, not to mention privacy concerns. But this was not an issue that could be ignored for much longer (though it certainly has been at the provincial and federal levels). At least the City has taken the initial step.