Won’t you stay a little longer?

In the face of low inventories and accelerating prices in many U.S. housing markets, there are reportedly growing concerns that “rich home buyers from abroad are crowding out American families”.  Of course this is a familiar theme here in Vancouver, home of Canada’s most expensive neighborhoods.  So I read with interest a post from a California-based reporter who notes (with raised eyebrows) several provisions within the massive U.S. immigration overhaul bill aimed not at easing, but attracting foreign home buyers.

In Canadian Home Buyers in America – from Saviours to Carpetbaggers? Erica Alini points to a clause that allows those 55+ who own or rent a home in the United States to stay there for up to eight months per year without a visa, rather than six, before losing non-resident status for tax purposes. And in what Alini describes as “a welcome treat for well-to-do Canuck pensioners”, the bill also introduces a special retiree visa for seniors who can make a cash purchase of a U.S. home worth US$500,000 or more. While the author acknowledges that investors – domestic and foreign – are a big reason why home prices rebounded in the first place, she concludes that if the grumblings about foreign buyers increase, these provisions could start to look like “a low hanging fruit fix”.

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