Ontario considering non-resident speculation tax to help housing market

A time to celebrate doctors

The average price of detached houses in the region was $1.21 million last month, up 33.4 per cent from a year ago. The tax would be revenue neutral, she added, aimed squarely at tempering demand. Asian investment in Toronto reportedly picked up after Vancouver introduced its foreign buyer tax last summer.

The Liberal government's plan to cool the GTA housing market and introduce greater rent control is receiving mixed reviews. A good long term initiative that will not help the resale market in the short term.

Canada's home prices saw another double-digit rise in March as sales became more active, according to a report Tuesday by the Canadian Real Estate Association.

The tax would not target immigrants and a rebate would be available to people who subsequently get citizenship or permanent resident status, as well as foreign nationals working in Ontario and worldwide students. For example, global students will not be subject to the tax. Global speculators who have children studying overseas often buy real estate in their children's names. Though welcome, such investment should have come long before prices in Vancouver and Toronto flew into the stratosphere.

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Students obviously don't have the income or financial means to buy real estate in Toronto. The levy, effectively immediately, targets foreign buyers who are flipping properties or using real estate to park cash. "The data is very clear", Sousa said before sidestepping the question.

The government is also planning on extending rent control to all private rental units, including those built after 1991.

NDP MPP Peter Tabuns slammed the government failing to move faster to address the rent control loophole. CMHC will be expanding its affordable housing flexibilities to existing rental properties such as social housing projects with up to 5 years remaining in the Operating Agreement, which previously only applied to new rental properties.

Rent hikes on new buildings will be limited to 1.5% above the inflation rate, which sat at 2% in February. It also includes rebating a portion of development charges to encourage rental construction under a five-year, $125-million program.

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The measures - which include better reporting on foreign buyers - aims to be a starting point in addressing the many reasons that demand for housing in the region has been increasingly outstripping supply, sparking eye-watering bidding wars. This was something that Toronto Mayor John Tory specifically asked for.

- Legislation that would allow Toronto and possibly other municipalities to introduce a vacant homes property tax in an effort to encourage property owners to sell unoccupied units or rent them out. Perhaps he has data that is not publicly available yet. Known as "assignment" in the real estate industry, many purchasers now enter into contractual agreements to buy property, then offload their interest in property/units to another buyer before the start of the occupancy period or the official closing/registration of the building.

Tackle practices that may be contributing to tax avoidance and excessive speculation in the housing market.

The big winners in the Fair Housing Plan are current and future home sellers because these policies are going to do nothing to cool down house prices in the GTA. The province's securities regulator on Wednesday also accused an alternative mortgage lender, Home Capital Group Inc., of making misleading disclosures, sending its shares tumbling.

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A survey of TREB members published earlier this year, said that only 4.9 per cent of transactions last year involved foreign buyers. "I call them property scalpers".

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