Foreign Home Buying Reaching Crisis Stage in CA … China Leading the Pack

ALPERN AT LARGE--For anyone trying to buy a home, or who has given up trying to buy a home, it's not hard to conclude that affordable housing is a crisis that's miserable and virtually inescapable.

But the question of foreign home buying isn't going away, and the question of "who's at fault" isn't going away. 

Which mirrors so much of our current problems: as both the Left and Right continue to decry "globalism" of all sorts, the issue of capitalism versus moral imperatives also must be confronted.

Whether you empathize with the plight of those here illegally or not, the justification of those here illegally but wanting to work is probably more understandable than the justification of those willing to break the law and hire them to save a few bucks.

Whether you are an Airbnb renter who just wants to travel, or even rent a house for a gathering or party, the justification of those who own the home and who knowingly are impacting their neighbors is similarly less understandable than the morals of someone willing to pay to rent that home.

The biggest source of foreign homebuyers is China, and California is the number-one target of these foreign homebuyers. The number is approximately 12-14% in California, but it's hard to truly know the exact numbers ... other than we know it's BIG.

And that the impact of foreign homebuying can be devastating for those who've saved and sacrificed for years to decades just to buy a home.

How can one compete when your bid is the highest yet a cash purchase that's lower than your bid wins the day because it's quick and clean for the seller? And THAT is what is happening in California.

No racism or jingoism here, because Americans of Asian descent and background are as impacted as any other American. When you compete with foreign billionaires, it's hard to ever win.

Particularly in a state like California where the very rich (not making six-digit figures, but even seven-digit figures or more) pay a huge hunk of the taxes, and are catered to, and are virtually held up as higher life-forms by Sacramento and many Californians.

That's a rough accusation to make ... but is it true?

Whether it's political convenience or not, does taking the tax burden off the shoulders of the middle and lower classes ($200,000 or lower, for the sake of defining those terms) force Sacramento to rely overly much on the uber-rich?

Does our fascination with wealth and "making or saving a buck!" get in the way of what is the right thing to do, and of how to treat our neighbors, and ultimately of what will inevitably bite us in the collective rear end if we don't do the right thing now?

Stated a different way, would you sell a house to the highest bidder if it were an American with a home loan, or would you sell for a quick cash purchaser from a foreign nation such as China?

Whether it's legal, or whether it's moral, are questions that are both complicated and yet rather simple at the same time. 

But New Zealand DID pass a law to crack down on foreign home buyers and fight to reduce spiraling house prices.

Vancouver took similar actions. And if California really wants to help the middle class, then a similar crackdown should be at least considered.

Presuming, of course, that we even give a damn about our neighbors, and our children, any more.

(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at alpern@marvista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)