Impact of Ontario housing measures on market may be short-lived

Foreign buyers tax driving business to the island

The intention of the package is to "give everyone some breathing space" in a frenzied market, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Wednesday.

The average price of detached houses in the Greater Toronto Area rose to $1.21 million last month, up 33.4 per cent from a year ago, but Wynne says the issue extends throughout the Golden Horseshoe area.

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.

At the time that was the really pressing issue, Wynne said.

"The non-resident speculation tax has nothing to do with new Canadians and people who want to make Ontario their home", she said.

The tax will have exemptions for skilled workers in the Ontario worker nominee program and refugees will be exempt. A rebate would be available for those who later become citizens or permanent residents, as a well as foreign nationals working in Ontario and global students. For example, global students will not be subject to the tax.

Currently, only rental units before November 1991 have been subject to rent control, which limits how much landlords can increase rent from year to year.

The board offered the examples of Brampton, where the residential rate is 1.1 per cent compared to a multi-unit rate of 1.75 per cent and, Oakville, where the residential rate of 0.78 per cent compares to 1.5 per cent for multi-unit buildings.

"We're concerned that the price increases, in particular in the GTA, are putting the dream of owning a home out of reach of middle-class families", he said. It's wrong. And it is not at all fair. New rules would see all private rental units fall under annual rent increase guidelines.

It would not apply to transfers of other types of land including multi-residential rental apartment buildings, agricultural land or commercial/industrial land.

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A rebate of development cost charges to encourage building of more rental housing.

There are questions of how well any plan will work given the strength of the economy and the underlying cheap cost of borrowing.

"I just wish they'd moved months earlier on the rental rules to avoid a lot of people getting hurt", he said.

"None of the 16 measures that were talked about today is going to do anything to allow somebody to now all of a sudden afford a property", said Ara Mamourian, a realtor with Spring Realty in Toronto. Other municipalities will have the same opportunity.

In the end, it may be voter anger that drives Sousa to act first, with the provincial Liberal government suffering in opinion polls and measures to address "affordability" already promised in his April 27 budget.

Use surplus provincial land assets across the province to develop new and affordable housing. But both he and Ontario officials acknowledged that Canada needs better information on who is purchasing property in the country.

"The supply-and-demand situation was already starting to level out without any additional taxes", she said.

The province's Fair Housing Plan is comprised of 16 "comprehensive measures" the government says will help bring stability to the real estate market.

Home prices in the Toronto area climbed 6.2% in March, the biggest one-month gain on record, according to a benchmark price index released on April 18 by the Canadian Real Estate Association, and are up nearly 30% over the past 12 months.

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