Ontario brings in foreign housing tax to cool Toronto market

Ontario brings in foreign housing tax to cool Toronto market

Minister can't say if foreign buyer tax will affect housing market

Ontario's provincial government on Thursday introduced a 15% tax on property purchases by foreign buyers as part of 16 measures created to cool Toronto's red-hot housing market.

One expert says potential solutions in Ontario could be the same ones we need here.

Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the new speculation tax on Thursday as part of a series of measures to help stabilise the price for property and for rental units in and around Toronto.

Rules for real estate agents will also be reviewed, including practices such as double ending, where the agent represents both the buyer and the seller. The levy, effective immediately, targets foreign buyers who are flipping properties or using real estate to park cash.

A C$125-million, five-year program to encourage construction of new rental housing.

The government did its best to appear "open for business" to the world at the same time it was (contrary to its own statements less than a year ago) introducing the foreign buyer's tax - which they'd prefer we all call a Non-Resident Speculation Tax. The proposed legislation includes expanding rent control, incentives for those who build rental housing and new tools that will allow Toronto city council to follow Vancouver's lead in imposing a tax on vacant homes.

However, Kavcic said the impact in Toronto could be more muted than it was in Vancouver, as the tax is not coming as a surprise and there are more exemptions. The Toronto housing crisis has been caused by many reasons, but the one reason Wynne and her government don't talk about is the fact that people are forced to flee the north to find jobs in the south.

The Ontario government is unveiling a suite of calming measures to address soaring housing prices in the red hot Greater Toronto Area market on Thursday.

Canadian housing starts in March hit their highest level since September 2007, driven by a significant increase in the Toronto market and its surrounding communities due to shortages in resale listings and rental units, fresh figures show.

Tall-tower dwellers will doubtless appreciate the creation of timelines for elevator repairs, and many tenants will likely revel in the closing of a loophole for rent control, which is to be applied to all units, not just those built before November 1991 as is the case now.

A rapid acceleration in home prices in Toronto has prompted some economists to voice fears the real estate market in Canada's largest city is in a bubble and raised concerns about the ability of first-time buyers to afford a home.

- An effort to understand and tackle practices that may be contributing to tax avoidance and excessive speculation in the housing market.

- The launch of a housing advisory group which will meet quarterly to provide the government with ongoing advice about the state of the housing market and discuss the impact of the measures and any additional steps that are needed.

The province also indicated that they have a number of things on their To Do list including looking into assignments of new construction properties and providing more transparency into real estate transactions.

Currently, existing legislation is having the industry's desired impact on the market, with a recent report from Urbanation noting a 50 per cent year-over-year increase in planned rental projects in 2016, and a further 27,000 new goal built rental units in the planning stages.

The plan also includes establishing timelines for elevator fix so that they aren't broken so often in condos and apartments.

While FRPO shares the government's interest in protecting Ontario's renters, Jim Murphy, FRPO President and CEO, objected to its decision to change rent control legislation without any formal consultation with the very industry it implicates. Others, however, believe the figure was much higher.

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