Ontario's Fair Housing Plan

Ontario's Fair Housing Plan

Ontario's Fair Housing Plan introduces a comprehensive package of measures to help more people find affordable homes, increase supply, protect buyers and renters and bring stability to the real estate market. The plan includes:

Actions to Address Demand for Housing:

  1. Introducing legislation that would, if passed, implement a new 15-per-cent Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST) on the price of homes in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) purchased by individuals who are not citizens or permanent residents of Canada or by foreign corporations. Ontario's economy benefits enormously from newcomers who decide to make the province home. The NRST would help to address unsustainable demand in this region and make housing more available and affordable, while ensuring Ontario continues to be a place that welcomes all new residents. The proposed tax would apply to transfers of land that contain at least one and not more than six single family residences. "Single family residences" include, for example, detached and semi-detached homes, townhomes and condominiums. The NRST would not apply to transfers of other types of land including multi-residential rental apartment buildings, agricultural land or commercial/industrial land. The NRST would be effective as of April 21, 2017, upon the enactment of the amending legislation.


    Refugees and nominees under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program would not be subject to the NRST. Subject to eligibility requirements, a rebate would be available for those who subsequently attain citizenship or permanent resident status as a well as foreign nationals working in Ontario and international students. See technical bulletin for further information.

Actions to Protect Renters

  1. Expanding rent control to all private rental units in Ontario, including those built after 1991. This will ensure increases in rental costs can only rise at the rate posted in the annual provincial rent increase guideline. Over the past ten years, the annual rent increase guideline has averaged two per cent. The increase is capped at a maximum of 2.5 per cent. Under these changes, landlords would still be able to apply vacancy decontrol and seek above guideline increases where permitted. Legislation will be introduced that, if passed, will enact this change effective April 20.‎
  2. The government will introduce legislation that would, if passed, strengthen the Residential Tenancies Act to further protect tenants and ensure predictability for landlords. This will include developing a standard lease with explanatory information available in multiple languages, tightening provisions for "landlord's own use" evictions, and ensuring that tenants are adequately compensated if asked to vacate under this rule; prohibiting above-guideline increases where elevator work orders have not been completed; and making technical changes at the Landlord-Tenant Board to make the process fairer and easier for renters and landlords. These changes would apply to the entire province.

Actions to Increase Housing Supply

  1. Establishing a program to leverage the value of surplus provincial land assets across the province to develop a mix of market housing and new, permanent, sustainable and affordable housing supply. Potential sites under consideration for a pilot project include the West Don Lands, 27 Grosvenor/26 Grenville Streets in Toronto, and other sites in the province. This builds on an agreement reached previously with the City of Toronto to ensure a minimum of 20 per cent of residential units within the West Don Lands are available for affordable rental, with an additional 5 per cent of units for affordable ownership.
  2. Introducing legislation that would, if passed, empower the City of Toronto, and potentially other interested municipalities, to introduce a vacant homes property tax to encourage property owners to sell unoccupied units or rent them out, to address concerns about residential units potentially being left vacant by speculators.
  3. Ensuring that property tax for new multi-residential apartment buildings is charged at a similar rate as other residential properties. This will encourage developers to build more new purpose-built rental housing and will apply to the entire province.
  4. Introducing a targeted $125-million, five-year program to further encourage the construction of new rental apartment buildings by rebating a portion of development charges. Working with municipalities, the government would target projects in those communities that are most in need of new purpose-built rental housing.
  5. Providing municipalities with the flexibility to use property tax tools to help unlock development opportunities. For example, municipalities could be permitted to impose a higher tax on vacant land that has been approved for new housing.
  6. Creating a new Housing Supply Team with dedicated provincial employees to identify barriers to specific housing development projects and work with developers and municipalities to find solutions. As well, a multi-ministry working group will be established to work with the development industry and municipalities to identify opportunities to streamline the development approvals process.

Other Actions to Protect Homebuyers and Increase Information Sharing

  1. The province will work to understand and tackle practices that may be contributing to tax avoidance and excessive speculation in the housing market such as "paper flipping," a practice that includes entering into a contractual agreement to buy a residential unit and assigning it to another person prior to closing.
  2. Working with the real estate profession and consumers, the province is committing to review the rules real estate agents are required to follow to ensure that consumers are fairly represented in real estate transactions. This includes practices such as double ending. The government will modernize its rules, strengthen professionalism and improve the home-buying experience with a goal to make Ontario a leader in real estate standards.
  3. Establishing 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 in the Fair Housing Plan and any additional steps that are needed. The group will have a diverse range of expertise, including economists, academics, developers, community groups and the real estate sector.
  4. Educating consumers on their rights, particularly on the issue of one real estate professional representing more than one party in a real estate transaction.
  5. Partnering with the Canada Revenue Agency to explore more comprehensive reporting requirements so that correct federal and provincial taxes, including income and sales taxes, are paid on purchases and sales of real estate in Ontario.
  6. Making elevators in Ontario buildings more reliable by establishing timelines for elevator repair in consultation with the sector and the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA).
  7. Working with municipalities to better reflect the needs of a growing Greater Golden Horseshoe through an updated Growth Plan. New provisions will include requiring that municipalities  consider the appropriate range of unit sizes in higher density residential buildings to accommodate a diverse range of household sizes and incomes. This will help support the goals of creating complete communities that are vibrant, transit-supportive and economically competitive, while doing more to address climate change, protect the region's natural heritage and prevent the loss of irreplaceable farmland. As part of the implementation of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006, enough land was set aside in municipal official plans to accommodate forecasted growth to at least 2031. Based on discussions with municipalities across the region, the government is confident that there is enough serviced land to meet the Provincial Policy Statement requirement for a three year supply of residential units. The Greenbelt provides important protection of natural heritage and farmland, and neither the area of the Greenbelt or the rules about what can occur inside of it will be weakened. The upcoming Growth Plan will promote intensification around existing and planned transit stations and will promote higher densities in the suburbs to support transit.




Toronto home sales climb to record high in 2016 as supply hits 15-year low and prices soar 20%



Is Canada Really Sitting on a Real Estate Bubble That’s About to Burst?

Is Canada Really Sitting on a Real Estate Bubble That’s About to Burst?

Sarah Berman | Vice News

If you've been following headlines over the summer, you might think Canada's real estate market is on the edge of total meltdown.


One of the latest warnings came from a finance dude who traded for Lehman Brothers before they went bankrupt in 2008 (lol, right?); Jared Dillian told the Wall Street website Mauldin Economics that Canada's housing market "is in extreme bubble territory," adding, "I don't see how it could get much worse."



In an interview picked up by Forbes and Global, Dillian said Canadian real estate has become a "very popular short," now "crowded" by US investors like himself, keen to make money off a Canadian crash. And, because our banks don't play around with derivatives like their American counterparts, Dillian predicted the crash would be slow and painful over many years, rather than quick and dirty like the 2008 crisis. By Chinese media's estimation, our debt levels will make it even worse.


For those of us living in Vancouver, this has been an easy enough narrative to swallow. Housing has been horribly expensive for years now, and the last six months have broken all kinds of records for insane prices and unprecedented sales, not to mention rising eviction complaints. But even as banks pump out new studies that say affordability in Vancouver is the worst it's ever been, there are plenty of reasons to ignore the Lehman bro. That he has an obvious vested interest in a crash, and his former employer was super-duper wrong that one time, is only part of it. The bottom line is: Vancouver ≠ Canada.


To get a better handle on all this bubble talk, I called up Robert Hogue, senior economist at RBC Economic Research and coauthor of a study released yesterday that confirmed housing affordability in Vancouver is in the actual worst in the country. The bank measured this by comparing median incomes to average "homeownership costs" including mortgage payments, utilities and taxes.


Hogue says Vancouver had its biggest drop in affordability since they started measuring this stuff over the first two quarters of 2016. Right now housing costs sit at 90.3 percent of what a Vancouverite earns before taxes. That's an 18.3 percent drop in affordability over this time last year. (Ownership costs for single-detached homes are an even more ridiculous 126.8 percent of median incomes).


"I think the numbers speak for themselves," Hogue told VICE. "This clearly puts significant pressure on affordability that was already stretched to begin with."


But just because Vancouver's prices have shot up an unsustainable 30 percent in a year, doesn't mean the whole country's housing market is about to come down. By Hogue's account, Vancouver is an outlier when you look at the country as a whole. "We're really only talking about two markets, Toronto and particularly Vancouver, where affordability is deteriorating—not only deteriorating, but at an accelerating pace," he told VICE. "Elsewhere the vast majority of markets are balanced and not an issue."


On the list of least affordable cities, Toronto is second at 60.2 percent, followed by Victoria at 51.4 percent. The rest of Canada is holding stable well below the country's 42.8 percent average. "Most markets across Canada are pretty much within historical norms," he said.


That the rest of the country is pretty stable hasn't stopped us from losing confidence. A Bloomberg survey released this week showed a record 20.5 percent of Canadians are expecting real estate to tumble in the next few months. That's up from 12.5 percent the week before—the most bubble-theorists seen since they started tracking it in 2013.


In fact, depending who you ask, the crash has already begun. Vancouver's house-buying bonanza already started slowing down in July, and has dropped off dramatically in the first half of August, after the British Columbia government brought in a tax on foreign investment. Upscale areas like Richmond and West Vancouver saw up to a 94 percent drop in sales in the first two weeks of the month, with prices coming down as much as 24.5 percent over the last three months.


Hogue points out that even a 20 percent drop in Vancouver only takes us back about nine months in prices—a time when the market was still deemed unaffordable. Though it seems pretty dramatic—"frozen solid" or "imploded" by some observers' characterization—it could just as easily be the correction the area needed.


Another study by TD Bank seems to back up the fact that Vancouver and Toronto are on totally different levels, and headed in different directions. The study found Vancouver is facing a "modest correction" that could see prices come down 10 percent over the next year. On the other hand, TD found Toronto has room to for prices to grow, and investors snubbed by the new BC tax might just move their money east.


If you ask Tsur Somerville, director of UBC's Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, we've been entirely too fast and loose with the bubble label—particularly on a national scale. "Bubble is a very particular definition in economics. Just because prices are higher than equilibrium—that's not the definition of a bubble. That's part of it," he told VICE. With interest rates so low, he says it's impossible to definitively say what we're seeing is a bubble.


Seeing the drop in Vancouver sales in August, Somerville thinks the Vancouver market could go in a number of directions, but says the smartest move is to wait and see. "Before the tax was announced, sales were already dropping year on year, so you had a bunch of things going on at the same time, which makes it very hard to make a bold declaration."

Budgeting for Closing Costs

Budgeting for Closing Costs

Closing costs come as a surprise for many home buyers. Since closing costs are ​additional costs over and above the price of a home, you should be aware of these costs and budget at least 2.5% of the purchase price for closing, in addition to the down payment.

Your exact closing costs depend on where you live, how much you are borrowing, and how you are financing your mortgage.  The rules and regulations surrounding the various mortgage fees can be complex, and can vary from lender to lender.

Below you will find a brief explanation of these costs. Some of these fees may (or may not) apply to your specific situation. Use this is a guideline and then talk with your lawyer or real estate agent who can provide a more realistic estimate for your situation.

Home inspection fee: A professional inspection is a definite must for buyers purchasing properties older than 5 years. A typical home inspection can cost anywhere from $300-$400, but that they are well worth the investment. Typically, a home inspection is not required if you are purchasing a new home.

Legal costs and disbursements: A lawyer or notary will charge a fee for their professional services for work involving drafting the title deed, preparing the mortgage, and conducting the various searches. The disbursements, on the other hand, are out-of-pocket expenses incurred, such as registrations, title search and supplies. These fees usually cost between $600-$800.

Mortgage appraisal fees: Lenders usually require a professional appraisal of the market value of the property in order to process your loan. This could range from $100-$250. This may be waived depending on how you negotiate the mortgage with your lender.

Land survey fee or title insurance fee: A recent survey of the property is usually required by the lender, and if one is not available, it normally costs anywhere from $600-$900 for a new survey. In lieu of a survey, most lenders today will accept Title Insurance, at a much lower price of approximately $225.

Land Transfer Tax: Most provinces charge a land transfer tax payable by the buyer. This tax, which is based on the purchase price, varies from province to province.

High ratio mortgage insurance: This is required if your down payment is less than 20%.

Fire insurance: All mortgage lenders will require a certificate of fire insurance to be in place from the time you take possession of the home. The cost can vary depending on the property size and extras being insured, as well as the insurance company and the municipality. The cost can vary anywhere from $250-$600 for most properties.

GST/HST is payable for newly constructed homes. Many builders include this cost in the purchase price so that the buyer does not have additional fees at closing. Therefore, on the offer, the purchase price will say "Plus GST" or "GST Included", and it will identify who will receive the new home GST rebate.

When budgeting for the closing cost don't forgot to add the moving cost and other expenses required to get your new house ready for living like painting, repair, new furnishings, etc.

The more aware you are of the true costs of purchasing a home you’re interested in buying, the better choices you’ll be able to make about that home. If you decide to buy, you’ll be able to do so with much more confidence.

Condo Buying Tips

Condo buying tips
Look for a condo that's in a development that has a high ratio of owner-occupants to renters. Some lenders won't lend on condos that have a high rate of absentee ownership. Also, owner occupants tend to be more concerned about keeping things going well in the development.

Find out what the condo fees are and what is covered by this fee and include it in your costing. Some condos prohibit pets, and some have parking, storage and renting restrictions. Read and understand the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) and any other pertinent governing documents before you complete a purchase.

It's usually best to avoid buying into a condo complex where the homeowner's association is involved in litigation. To find out if there are any other association issues that you might want to avoid, read copies of the minutes from recent homeowner's association meetings. One of the best ways to get the straight scoop on a condo project is to talk with some of the current residents. Find out what they like and what they don't like about living there before you decide to buy.

What are the tax, legal, and financing considerations?
If you decide to invest in a condominium rental property, many of your personal expenses may be deducted from income in addition to the normal tax deductions such as mortgage, interest, depreciation, and other condominium-related expenses. For example, you would normally be entitled to set up a small office in your current residence for managing your investments, which would include keeping your records. You could deduct a percentage of all your home-related expenses. The normal formula is to take the square footage of the office area that you are using relative to the total square footage in your home. In general terms, 10% to 15% or more is usually deducted for that portion.

In addition, you would be entitled to deduct a part of the car-related expenses involved in managing your investment portfolio, whether it is one rental property or more than one. The percentage of all your car-related expenses can vary, obviously depending on the usage of the car relating to your investment.

If you are seriously contemplating investing in a condominium, it is important to consult your real estate agent and seek the advice of a competent tax and accounting professional, and legal advice from a lawyer specializing in condominium law.

Condo as an Investment

Buying a Condo as an Investment

Condos are more affordable, particularly for first-time buyers who have a tough time breaking into the housing market. Until recently the cheap entry fee entitled you to apartment-style living, no yard to call your own and lusterless appreciation—not an attractive package to most home buyers.

This may be changing. Latest statistics from Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) show condos make sense for investment or ownership. Rentals are increasing every year according to recent market statistics.

New construction favouring condos.
Recent statistics show that construction of condos is actually increasing. New construction of singles and semis has fallen steadily since 2002. Young people seeking a downtown lifestyle, empty nesters downsizing, and people tired of commuting, all make condos extremely popular and support a robust market.

Hi-rise sales stable
Condo sales have had some ups and downs, but sales volume by year has been quite steady. The rental market for condos is improving as potential first-time buyers postpone home purchases in favour of renting. Renters are less inclined to leave their apartments and pursue home ownership.

Is a condo a good investment?

As with any real estate, a condo could be a good or bad investment. It all depends on the building and the market. There are some great condo investments in many areas around the country and there are also some bad investments.

The condo situation looks promising. The percentage of total sales is expected to continue rising this year. Condos are selling well and renting well, making them a good investment whether you're planning on moving in or leasing out.

Mold Inspection Before Buying a House

Why You Should Get a Mold Inspection Before Buying a House

Buying a home is likely to be one of the most important purchases you will make in your entire life, so it is only makes sense to take every possible step to limit the amount of risk you are exposing yourself to. For an increasing number of home buyers, calling for a professional mold inspection is a prudent way to verify a prospective home's quality before making a buying commitment.

Why mold is a threat
A serious mold infestation in a house has a negative impact on the home's indoor air quality. Although there are mold spores present to some extent in almost all of the air humans breathe, even a relatively minor increase in the density of airborne mold can cause health issues. Mold can cause a host of different respiratory problems, particularly for very young and very old residents and more serious and even fatal consequences are possible.

Mold has become increasingly important to Canadian homeowners in the last few decades because of the growing interest in energy efficiency in the home. More energy-efficient homes are generally more tightly sealed, leading to less air circulation. When combined with other factors that encourage residential mold growth, this low-circulation environment can become ideal for mold.

Beyond its health issues, mold is also a serious strike against a home's value. Buying a home with a pre-existing mold condition can lead you to significantly overpaying for the property. The remediation process required to get rid of the mold can be extremely expensive and even after cleaning the home thoroughly, it may still be difficult to sell.

How professional mold testers work
It is important to understand that there is a distinct difference between a mold inspector and an ordinary home inspector. Although a good inspector who tries to deliver a comprehensive report on the condition of a home before you buy it can spot the most obvious signs of a major mold infestation, rooting out hidden problems and diagnosing the exact nature of your mold issues calls for specialized expertise.

Residential mold testing typically starts with airborne sampling throughout the home, concentrating especially on areas with high humidity like basements. Elevated mold levels in the air may indicate the presence of a hidden infestation that can't be seen. In cases like this, mold inspectors will perform an "invasive" inspection by opening wall cavities and other normally-inaccessible spaces.

When mold testing is vital
Mold testing can be extensive, especially if it involves demolition work and repairs. Many home buyers are hesitant to invest in comprehensive testing but going without it can be a serious risk. A serious mold infestation as confirmed by a qualified inspector can significantly impact the value of the home due to the health risks it poses. It can even be difficult to secure the financing you need to buy a home that has a confirmed mold problem.

It is always smart to invest in a professional mold inspection if you have any reason whatsoever to suspect a mold problem. Homes that have gone through significant water damage are prime candidates for inspection.

Fortunately, buyers and sellers can often work together to deal with mold issues in a manner that is safe and satisfactory for all concerned. Motivated sellers sometimes offer to cover the costs of testing and any required remediation work, while in other cases, the costs can be divided between sellers and buyers in an

equitable fashion.

While threatening levels of mold are still relativ​ely rare in Canadian homes, you don't want to invest in a piece of property and then discover that it poses a health risk to your family. A mold inspection can be vital in giving a home a clean bill of health before you buy. This issue is too important to leave up to guesswork. Entrust the matter to a professional mold testing firm and know for certain what is lurking in a house you are thinking of purchasing.


Canada's House Prices 10 Years From Now, If This Keeps Up!

Canada's House Prices 10 Years From Now, If This Keeps Up​!

Last year, Vancouverites fed up with the cost of housing banded together as part of the #donthave1million campaign.

In 10 years' time, they could find themselves rallying around the fact that they don't have $5 million to buy a single-family home.

HuffPost Canada has put together projections of house prices in Canada's largest cities, based on the trends seen over the past three years. The prognosis? Things are going to be really, really expensive, if this keeps up.

A single-family home in Toronto will run between $2.26 million and $3.582 million by 2026, by our projections. In Vancouver, a single-family home will run you $2.8 million to $5.1 million by then.

But the bad news doesn't just affect people who haven't bought yet. Upgrading from a condo to a house in these cities would become a mere fantasy for many in the middle class under these scenarios.

In Toronto today, upgrading from an average condo to an average house costs $758,000. By 2026, it will cost between $1.68 million and $2.95 million. Good luck.

In Vancouver, it takes $879,000 to upgrade from an average condo to a house today, but 10 years from now it will cost between $1.99 million and $4.05 million.

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Toronto, Vancouver housing markets continue record-setting pace


The Toronto area's hot housing market continued in March with monthly sales up more than 16 per cent year over year, leading to a record first quarter.

Figures released Tuesday by the Toronto Real Estate Board, showed that within the City of Toronto the average price of a detached house sold in March was $1.17 million, while the average sale price of a semi-detached house during the month was over $817,000.

For the GTA as a whole, the average March sale price for a detached home was more than $910,000, while the average price for a semi was over $637,000.

Jason Mercer, TREB's Director of Market Analysis said demand was strong, but the supply of listings "continued to aggravate many would-be home buyers."

"We could have experienced even stronger sales growth were it not for the constrained supply of listings, especially in the low-rise market segments.

TREB said listing on its MLS system were down in March and in the first quarter when compared to the same periods in 2015.

Vancouver red hot too

The release of the Toronto housing figures came a day after data out of Vancouver showed that city's real estate market is also red hot.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said residential property sales in March were up 24 per cent from February.

"March was the highest selling month the (board) has ever recorded," said president Dan Morrison in a news release.

The composite benchmark price for all residential properties across Metro Vancouver is $815,000, a 23.2 per cent hike in one year. 

The average price for detached properties soared to above $1.34 million in the same period, a leap of 27.4 per cent.

"Odds are that if this kind of price growth (especially Vancouver) continues, it will end badly – but that still looks to be sometime down the road," said Robert Kavcic, a senior economist at BMO Financial Group.

with files from The Canadian Press

Toronto Average price of Home

Toronto realtors report average price of home up 12 per cent from last year

Toronto Real Estate Board says it's had record number of sales in 2016

The Toronto Real Estate Board says it had record high sales volume and another jump in prices during the first quarter, anchored by a strong March.

There were 22,575 sales through the board's members during the first three months of 2016, including 10,326 in March.

The number of sales was up about 16 per cent, compared with the same month and quarter last year.

For the Greater Toronto Area as a whole, the average selling price for all types of residential property in March was $688,181.

That's up about $74,000 or 12 per cent from the March 2015 average price of $613,815.

The average price within the City of Toronto itself was $699,745 last month, with the average price for fully detached homes at $1.17 million and the average condo price at $416,251.