On April 20th, the Ontario government announced a sweeping series of 16 different initiatives, all designed to slow the real estate market. Perhaps the most contentious proposal is to add a 15% tax for non-resident foreign buyers of residential real estate in southern Ontario. Here is my take on the new tax:
And here is a complete transcript of the video:
Hey there everybody. It’s Randy Selzer here. Welcome back to my real estate channel.
Today is kind of a red letter day. It’s actually April the 20th, 2017, and today our provincial government here in the province of Ontario rolled out a major initiative on real estate in trying to cool off the real estate market. They rolled out a plan with 16 different components that they’re going to be implementing, which is going to, I think, drastically affect the real estate market here locally.
Anyways, today we’re only going to talk about one thing, the first item out of the 16. That is the imposition of a foreign buyer’s speculation tax, is what they’re calling it, a non-resident speculation tax, which they’re going to be rolling out in the very near future, and, which will consist of a 15% tax to pay on closing when a foreigner, or a non-resident of Canada, purchases residential real estate in the province of Ontario.
Before we get into the details, this is going to apply for a large area of southern Ontario, basically going from Niagara Falls up to Hamilton, out to the west towards Kitchener-Waterloo, all throughout the GTA, north to Orillia and Barrie, over eastwards to the Kawarthas and Peterborough, so it’s a large chunk of southern Ontario where this tax will apply. Although it hasn’t been put into law yet, they have to put it through the legislature to make it into law, it will be retroactive to tomorrow, April the 21st. Anyone entering into an agreement of purchase and sale, if that purchaser does not live in Canada, and they’re a non-resident, non-Canadian, they will be obliged to pay a 15% tax on their purchase of residential property going forward. That’s going to be a major effect, I think, on the local market.
There are a number of different details, which they’ve released. I think some of the stuff is probably still being worked out. There’s going to be certain exemptions. For example, if a foreigner, non-resident, is married to a Canadian citizen, there will be no tax to pay. That’s interesting. I can foresee perhaps there will be a lot of marriages coming up to Canadians in the near future, because that will make them exempt from the tax. There’s also going to be some provisions where people can get their … If they pay the tax, they’ll be able to get that money back if they immigrate to Canada within four years of purchasing the property and paying the tax. They can get that money back, apparently, with interest. That’s in the press release that the government put out.
Also, there’s going to be some special provisions for students. I believe what they said was that if a student has been going to school here for at least two years, that student may be able to purchase some property without paying the tax. That’s a good thing, because I know for a fact that there are a lot of parents who send their kids here for university, and they like to buy a condo for them to live in during the course of their studies, rather than pay rent. Hopefully that’s going to mitigate things a little bit.
Let’s talk a little bit about the history of the tax. This 15% tax was originally rolled out in British Columbia last year, in 2016, in the greater Vancouver area. The people there, the politicians there, were trying to do the same thing to slow down the booming Vancouver real estate market. Vancouver’s a little different, in that they determined that about 10^% of all the purchasers in Vancouver were foreign buyers, people from other countries who are buying property in the Vancouver area.
Toronto’s numbers are a little bit lower. We had to complete a survey last year conducted by Ipsos Reid, was mandatory for all of the realtors to do, and they were able to determine that in Toronto, it’s about half that amount. Somewhere between 4% and 5% of all the purchases, all the buyers in the Toronto area, are foreign buyers.
When Vancouver rolled out the tax last summer, there was an immediate effect. Basically, all the foreign buyers dried up. They stopped … Very few people are going to pay on a $1 million purchase of a home, very few people want to pay $150,000 in tax, in addition to the basic land transfer tax on the day they get their keys. I think very few people, no matter how wealthy you are, are willing to spend that kind of money just to pay a tax. That dried up right away. But an interesting thing happened in B.C., where the local buyers, Canadian buyers, also decided to step back, because they wanted to wait and see where the prices would fall. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy, and prices and activity did fall rather dramatically in the Vancouver area over the course of last summer and fall.
What we see now is that the Vancouver market seems to have picked up again, and even without foreign buyers, and it seems to be headed upwards once again. Whether or not this drop will happen here in the Toronto area, we’re not sure yet. Again, this was just announced this morning, and we’ll have to be watching the market very carefully going forward to see where it’s headed.
There’s something I’d like to mention. This was rolled out, again, this morning. They’re calling it a non-resident speculation tax. I have a problem with this, the way they’ve packaged this, because think about it. If a Canadian buys a house in Florida, does that automatically make them a speculator? Or if a wealthy Canadian buys a condo in New York City, does that automatically make them a speculator? Or could it just possibly be that they want to invest in that property in Florida, or in New York, just for their own benefit, or to rent out, or just simply as an investment?
The fact that they rolled it out as a speculation tax, I think is a little bit disingenuous. Let’s not make these people into the bogey man. This 5% of the buyers out there, they’re not the ones that are driving the market. The fact that they’re calling it a speculation tax is really not at all the situation. You can’t call anybody who buys a house, a foreigner who buys a property in Canada, automatically a speculator. I just wanted to mention that.
Anyway, so anyway you look at it though, this is going to take effect once they pass it into law. It will take effect, and the lawyers are going to be busy if there’s anybody, foreign countries, who decides to purchase property.
It’s just for residential properties. It is only for units up to six residential units. It’s going to apply for houses, and semis, and townhouses, and condos, up to six units, so duplexes, and triplexes, up to six-plexes. Anything over that, like a large apartment building, for example, if an investor wants to buy that, and they happen to live overseas, there’s no tax to pay on it, so only up to six units.
Anyways, that’s the first of the 16. That’s all we’re going to talk about today. I’m not sure this is the best thing for our government to be doing. It’s not addressing the primary problem that we have in the real estate market here, which is so simple. We have an imbalance of supply and demand. There’s more demand than there is supply. For every house that comes on the market, every house or condo, there’s 10, or 15, or 20 buyers that want to buy it. That’s an imbalance. By imposing this tax, I think it’s too superficial. That’s not really the problem we have, but we’ll talk about that another time.
Anyways, thank you for joining me again today. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you. If you have any comments, if you’re on YouTube, I welcome them. If you’re on any other social media, I always like to talk to you guys. If you want to call me or text me, 416-433-3556, and I’d be happy to talk to you.
Thanks a lot, and have a great day. Bye.
Here is our latest video on the Mississauga real estate market. We take a look back at 2016, and a look ahead to 2017. All signs point to continued strength in the market, as the three ‘pillars’ which are driving it – low interest rates, a decent local economy, and ongoing immigration into the Greater Toronto Area, are maintained. Will the ‘wild cards’ of the election of Donald Trump in the U.S.A., and the increased tightening of mortgage approval requirements by regulators in Canada, have an effect? Watch the video to find out.
January numbers are already in the books, and local newspapers are publishing reports of incredible bidding wars on average houses. It looks like we are in for another interesting year.
and here is a transcript of the video:
Hello everybody, it’s Randy Selzer here. Once again, thank you for joining me here on my YouTube channel, and how are you? Hope all is well, welcome back. Today, we’re going to look back a little bit at 2016 and see what happened in the market, and we’re also going to look forward to what to expect in 2017 in the real estate market here in Mississauga and also in the Greater Toronto Area. I think most of you are well aware that the, 2016 was incredible. The numbers have come out from the real estate board, and they’re showing about a 23% increase in average prices year over year, which is just an incredible amount to look at, and that’s a historical amount.
So that’s all great news if you’re a homeowner. If you’re a home buyer, it was very difficult throughout the year, trying to chase these listings when they came out, so many bidding wars, and pretty well every house had multiple offers on it, and condos, too, really picked up, especially in the last half of the year; so, as we look forward to 2017, I see a couple of competing things. I think the fundamentals are still there, which is what I like to talk about, the three pillars which are driving the market, and that is low interest rates, a decent economy in general, as well as immigration into the Greater Toronto Area, so those three things are still in place, and that’s all good news for real estate.
There are a couple of things, the kind of wildcards that are out there. One of them was the election of Donald Trump in the United States, and whether or not he messes around with NAFTA and some of the agreements we have with them could affect Canada, and certainly, the Auto Pact, if that gets canceled, that could have a huge effect on Southern Ontario, so we’re not sure where that’s going to go. We’ll have to just watch very carefully to see as it unfolds. The other thing to keep an eye on is that the Canadian Government has done a number of steps to try to slow the market down, it’s a little bit alarmed, I think, that the prices are so high; so as we talked about in another video, they recently required people to, with high-ratio mortgages, to get approved at a higher rate than what they’re actually getting, sort of as a buffer. In case the rates do increase, they’ll still be okay, and …
Also, just very recently, the CMHC fees were increased, and those are the insurance fees that a high-ratio buyer has to pay when getting a mortgage loan, so those two things have combined to make it considerably tougher, especially for first-time buyers, to get into the market. I think what we’re going to see is continued strength in the market for the first half of the year, and I think as these sort of legislative changes take effect, or they’ve taken effect, but as they kind of sift through the market, you may see some decrease in demand perhaps in the second half of the year, but I don’t have a crystal ball. These are just best guesses that I can come up with for where the market is headed.
For investors, the news, also, has been really good. The rental market has been extremely strong, rents are extremely high, and basically, everything is getting snapped up the minute it comes out; so for a rental, if you’re looking at making an investment and renting it out, specifically condos in Mississauga or wherever, that is, we predict that that’s going to continue, because a lot of people are simply priced out of the market to purchase, so they’re going to continue to rent, and that’s going to provide a nice pool of renters for investors.
Anyway, stick with me, we’re going to continue to do videos throughout the year. Hopefully, we can keep abreast of any of the changes that take place, and I wish you all well. Once again, if you have any comments, please feel free, on YouTube or any of the social media, to make comments, and I hope you get a kick out of these videos as much as I get a kick out of making them. Anyways, have a great day, and we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye.
The Canadian government made changes to the approval process effective October 17th, 2016, for buyers who have less than a 20% down payment. These buyers are now required to qualify under higher interest rates than previously. We have created a short video to explain the new mortgage rules as they pertain to CMHC, and other loan insurers in Canada. Here is the video:
It remains to be seen as to what effect this will have on our booming Canadian real estate market, but for high-ratio buyers, they will now qualify for about 20% less than they did prior to October 17.
The throngs of people who visit Celebration Square have a new piece of public art to enjoy. A large sculpture of painted steel, shaped like a giant book, was recently unveiled at the southeast corner of the square in the heart of Mississauga.
Entitled The Book, the sculpture features an open book with a red cover and pages that appear to be billowing in the wind. A few feet away from the book itself is a separate page which has become detached from the book. Artist is Ilan Sandler, who runs an art studio located in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The sculpture has been in existence for a while – it was previously located along the north side of Highway 401, adjacent to Pearson International Airport. It was recently relocated to the Square One location and unveiled on May 10.
In a local interview, Sandler explained that the sculpture is covered with symbols, which symbolize early alphabets.
The centre of the pages show clusters of Roman letters. Surrounding each one of them are figures of various alphabets which predate the Roman system. The Book celebrates the history of the English language, and its alphabet.
Originally commissioned by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), the sculpture was always planned to be eventually moved to a more pedestrian friendly site.
Sandler has other public art commissioned in Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Toronto, as well as in Denmark, and South Korea. Born in Johannesburg (South Africa) in 1971, Ilan Sandler and his family immigrated to Toronto six years later, in 1977. Sandler studied at the University of Toronto, where he received a B.Sc. in Physics, and at the Ontario College of Art and Design, where he completed an Honours Fine Arts certificate. In 2000 he was awarded an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. He then went on to teach at the University of the Arts and Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, and most recently at NSCAD University where he held a SSHRC Research/Creation Fellowship until 2011. He is currently running Sandler Studio Inc. in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The Book is just one more reason to visit Celebration Square, and is sure to become yet another identifiable landmark in the area.
One of the hottest topics in real estate circles in Canada these days is the proportion of offshore buyers, and if and how they are inflating prices in local markets. This month, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has released a report which investigates the extent of foreign ownership in the condominium markets of Canada’s major cities. One of the interesting stats to come out of the report is that foreign ownership of condos tends to be higher in newer buildings – those built since 2010 in the cities of Toronto and Vancouver.
CMHC reports that the rate of foreign ownership in the overall Greater Toronto Area (CMA) is less than 2% for condominium projects completed before 1990, but foreign ownership rises to 7% for condos completed since 2010.
For Toronto, foreign ownership of condos is highest in the downtown core of the city, where the numbers approach 10%. CMHC does note that the methodology used for their study allows for some leeway in the exactness of the numbers.
The foreign ownership totals are higher in Toronto, somewhat surprisingly, than they are in the Vancouver area, where foreign investors count for less than 2% of the projects built before 1990, a number which increases to about 6% for those completed since 2010.
Also interesting to note, there are some fairly large statistical jumps from 2014 to 2015 – for example, in the overall Toronto CMA, foreign ownership of condos in that single year jumped nearly a full 2 percentage points – from 5.5% to 7.4% – for buildings completed 2010 or later. It’s important to remember, however, that some of these numbers can be skewed by condo construction completions, and when there are a large number of completions in a single year, the foreign ownership numbers will grow correspondingly. The growth in foreign ownership of condos, nevertheless, as shown by these CMHC statistics, is obviously real , and hard to ignore.
So what are we to make of foreign ownership of condos, and how does it affect our local market in the Greater Toronto Area? I think that the numbers are still relatively low, although certainly 10% foreign ownership of newer condos in the downtown core of Toronto will have a effect on the market. Toronto’s growing role as a global city brings added pressures on real estate market pricing, it’s a simple matter of supply and demand. That new offshore investors are most interested in newer projects indicates that attention is being paid to many of the latest condo project launches, many of which are being marketed globally. It appears that the word is getting out there that Toronto, and its environs, are a good, stable, and safe place to invest. Going forward, I believe this trend will continue.
We went to check out Saks Fifth Avenue at CF Sherway Gardens this afternoon, which opened on Feb 25th. This is the second location of the Saks brand in Canada, after the downtown Bay location, which opened a week ago.
The Sherway Gardens store is located in suburban Toronto (Etobicoke), and is about 143,000 square feet in size. The store occupies three floors, in a space previously occupied by Sears Canada (east end of the mall). The mall seemed busier than usual, even for a Saturday afternoon, and the parking lot was full when we got there in the late afternoon. When we eventually got inside, there were large crowds of people.
We approached the store from inside the mall, and just at the entrance, we came across two metal statues of horses – one fully grown, and one colt, created by local artist John McEwen. They feature his trademark ‘stars’ incorporated into the metalwork, and are quite intricate in their design. The artwork is titled ‘The Miracle’. Between the two sculptures there is a fountain. We saw several people taking selfies in front of the statues.
Entering the Saks store, first impressions: extremely luxurious, with a very American vibe to it – which is a good thing, in my opinion. The store was busy, lots of people milling about, and we saw quite a few people purchasing goods. We first spent time on the main floor, which features shoes, accessories, & perfume, and the selection seemed vast. There are designer highlighted areas with every brand I have ever heard of, and many that I haven’t heard of. Everything from Gucci to Prada, Dolce & Gabbana to Stella McCartney, from Armani to Jimmy Choo.
I am no fashionista, but my girlfriend, who was with me, was impressed. Prices are not cheap, but these are some of the highest-end goods on the planet.
Next we went up to the second floor, which is dedicated to women’s fashions. At the top of the escalator there is an interesting display.
The second floor features another vast selection to choose from, with everything from lingerie to furs. This is not a bargain discount store, but we managed to talk to a couple members of the staff, and they were very friendly and welcoming.
Next, back down the escalator to the lower basement level, for a look at men’s fashions. Lots of high quality stuff here, including everything from business attire to casual, shoes, ties, and so on. The basement level is not quite finished, and although the men’s section is open, they are still finishing a Saks Food Hall, which is planned to open by March 7. On this lower level there were staff serving hors d’oevres, which we sampled, a nice touch!
There is a functioning restaurant on the main floor, Beaumont Kitchen, operated by Oliver & Bonacini, which we somehow managed to miss (too dazzled by those Stella McCartney purses, I guess)!
I think one of the biggest eye openers for most Canadians when they shop in the U.S., is that there always seems to be a much greater variety and selection of merchandise available there. Today at Sherway Gardens we saw a lot of high end merchandise which may have been difficult to find here in Canada prior to the entrance of Saks into the Canadian market. I mentioned some of the well known brands, but there are literally dozens and dozens of lesser known brands with large displays in this store. Overall, I think Saks brings a very upscale addition to CF Sherway Gardens, and we wish them success. They are a class act all the way.