Markets observer’s suggestions on managing Canada’s overheated housing

Markets observer’s suggestions on managing Canada’s overheated housing

Markets observer’s suggestions on managing Canada’s overheated housing Amid the fever-pitch pace of home price growth in Canadian cities, the government is the entity best placed to implement effective responses to the affordability crisis, according to a long-time markets observer.

In a recent contribution for Maclean’s, Joe Castaldo stated that “governments at all levels have tools to address runaway prices and ease conditions for first-time buyers.”

Chief among these possible interventions is restricting access to credit.

“With interest rates so low, financing to buy real estate has been cheap and easy to obtain. The federal government could make it more difficult for housing-mad Canadians by erecting additional hurdles—shortening mortgage amortization periods, raising the five-percent minimum down payment required for buyers who need CMHC insurance, or upping the qualifying rate for a standard five-year fixed mortgage,” Castaldo explained.

“Slowing credit would cut some potential buyers out of the market, and help prevent Canadians from getting overleveraged. By dampening demand, prices could cool, too.”

Levying a tax on vacant residential properties might be helpful as well.

“Slapping a tariff on properties that sit empty is another way to force more supply onto the market and ease price gains,” Castaldo wrote, adding that more markets should follow British Columbia’s lead in this aspect.

“In January, Vancouver implemented Canada’s first such tax. Owners of secondary homes are required to rent them out for at least half the year or face a one-percent charge based on the value of the property. The city estimated last year that as many as 20,000 properties were empty or under-used.”

More importantly, a tax on speculators can prove to be a strong deterrent to one of the most notorious factors contributing to price growth.

“In Toronto, roughly 17 per cent of homes were resold within two years as of March 2016, up from nine per cent a year earlier,” Castalo said, noting that this is “a sign that speculators and flippers are at work and potentially driving up prices.”

“The land transfer tax, for example, could be retooled so that the seller of a property incurs fees. The shorter the duration of ownership, the higher the levy. This measure would apply to a wider range of buyers, not just foreign investors.”


Related stories:
RBC: Toronto and Vancouver housing affordability still at high-stress levels
Brokers opine on potential policy
 
2 Comments
  • Dustan Woodhouse 2017-04-07 10:33:09 AM
    With all due respect, Mr. Castaldo would do well to better research a topic prior to writing or speaking about it.

    “With interest rates so low, financing to buy real estate has been cheap and easy to obtain."

    This statement can only be made by someone with no understanding of current financing regulations. A buy in fact qualifies for less month today, about 20% less, at 2.49% than the would have at 4.95% in 2007. Access to credit has been steadily restricted as rates have come down. This is common knowledge and simple math.

    "The federal government could make it more difficult for housing-mad Canadians by erecting additional hurdles—shortening mortgage amortization periods"

    They have, from 40 to 35 to 20 to 25. How was this missed?

    "raising the five-percent minimum down payment required for buyers who need CMHC insurance"

    It has been increased via a sliding scale on purchases over 5%, and how is limiting the entry of the first time buyer in sub 500K properties going to have any meaningful impact on the price of detached homes - something there is an undeniable 37 year record low supply of in the GTA? If anything it increases demand for detached homes as twentysomething's are cut out of the market with their access to mortgage artificially reduced (as per Mr. Castaldo's suggestions) leaving them to live at home longer and delaying the parents downsizing - further limiting inventory.

    "or upping the qualifying rate for a standard five-year fixed mortgage,” Castaldo explained.

    Really? The qualifying rate was upped to 4.64% last October for any buyer with less than 20% down which effectively robbed CDN's of yet another 20% purchasing power. This move is old news.

    How are these intelligent people failing Econ101 - the basic rules of supply and demand.
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  • Pela 2017-04-07 11:22:34 AM
    The Government should take in consideration that all provinces do not have the same housing market or that booking
    economy of Vancouver and Toronto...And if the government is concern with high credit available to consumers why when we apply ratios for customer to qualify for a mortgage once the customer has been met with financial institution is given a line of credit and a credit card..with out taking in consideration the ratios at that point..
    I understand cross selling but this is ridiculous and counter productive...
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