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Ontario Foreign Buyer Tax 2017

April 24, 2017 Leave a comment

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.

Saks Fifth Avenue Sherway Gardens

February 27, 2016 Leave a comment

First Impressions

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.

Saks Sherway Gardens 003

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.

Saks Sherway Gardens 002

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.

Main Floor

Saks Sherway Gardens 005

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.

Second Floor

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.

Saks Sherway Gardens 010

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.

Saks Sherway Gardens 009

Lower Level

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)!

Saks Sherway Gardens 006

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.

 

Massey Tower Construction Video

October 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Interesting new video showing the pending construction of the Massey Tower condominium, located on Yonge Street in downtown Toronto….

House Prices – Why Most ‘Experts’ Have it Wrong

August 22, 2011 Leave a comment

A steady stream of experts in the mainstream media have been predicting a fall in Canadian real estate prices. How can prices be so high? And how can they keep on rising? Surely we are due for a correction!

Some nationally known authors such as Garth Turner have been preaching doom and gloom for over 10 years now, Turner for so long that he has actually missed the entire bull market….and yet he still gets press attention, even after being dead wrong for so many years..

Most of these so-called experts make a fundamental mistake when examining the Canadian real estate market – they confuse Cause and Effect. The high prices in Toronto and Vancouver, you see, are not the Cause of the market – they are the Effect.

So when they decry high prices in Canada, they are missing the point..they are attacking the Effect of the market, not the Cause – a fundamental mistake.

The causes of the bull market we have enjoyed in Canada for the last 15 years or so are three fold:

1.) low interest rates

As long as interest rates remain low, the market will continue

2.) a decent economy

As long as the Canadian economy remains decent, and there are jobs being created, the market will continue

3.) continued immigration into Canada

Here I am talking about the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), my area of expertise, although the same rule applies for any Canadian cities where there are large numbers of people moving into the area.

As long as government policy facilitates continued immigration into Canada’s large cities, the market in those cities will continue.

If we look at these three Causes – the Causes of the real estate boom in Canada, there is still room for optimism. Our Federal Government is loath to increase interest rates, as it boosts the Canadian dollar too high, killing our manufacturing industry vis a vis the United States. The U.S., with its current set of problems, has indicated that it will retain low rates for at least the next two years, so the outlook for Canada’s rates remains low for the foreseeable future.

As for a decent economy, the Canadian economy actually seems to be improving; everywhere I look these days in my home town of Mississauga, or anywhere in the Greater Toronto Area, there are ‘help wanted’ or ‘now hiring’ signs….so the economy, in spite of some global macro issues, seems to be on the right track.

And finally, unless there is a change in government policy, Canada continues to welcome new immigrants from all across the globe. All these folks (reportedly 100,000 per year moving into the Toronto area) need somewhere to live, and many arrive in Canada with money to buy property. God bless ’em..

So there is my take on the Canadian real estate market. Sure, there are issues of absolute affordability, but we in the GTA have only to look at Vancouver to see that much greater prices are indeed possible, as long as the three causes of the market remain in place. If any of these change – is rates start rising, if the economy goes in the tank, or if immigration dries up – then the market will slow. Until then, the future is bright. Whenever you read a self-proclaimed ‘expert’ in the mainstream media saying that the market will fall because prices are ‘too high’, know that they are mixing up cause and effect; they are addressing the effect of the market, not the cause.

High-Rise Condo Market Shifts to 905

August 23, 2010 Leave a comment

from today’s press release…..

High-rise condo market shifts to 905


GREATER TORONTO, Aug. 23 /CNW/ – The high-rise condo market in the Greater Toronto Area continues to rise high while the low-rise suburban (905) housing market remains constrained by the acute lack of product available for sale, the Building Industry & Land Development Association revealed today.

While high-rise sales in July slipped a modest 10 per cent from July 2009, sales in the January-July period were up 104 per cent with the 11,327 units sold representing the second highest total (behind only 2007 at an astounding 13,365 units) in the last 11 years.

In what may be the first signal of an emerging trend, nearly half (46 per cent) of high-rise unit sales in July were recorded in the 905 Regions of the GTA. “Toronto has consistently commanded an 80 per cent share of all high-rise sales while 80 per cent of low-rise sales have been in the suburbs. However, that balance is expected to shift as municipalities start to conform with the Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan,” said BILD President and CEO Stephen Dupuis.

With continued strong sales, the high-rise price index rose exactly 10 per cent year over year, and currently sits at $430,782 compared with $391,673 last July.

Meanwhile, on the low-rise side of the equation, sales dropped 65 per cent from last July although they still remain up 8 per cent over 2009 on a January-July basis. As noted, the inventory of low-rise homes available for sale in the GTA remains near all-time lows.

“The shortage of supply of new, low-rise housing product is reflected in the fact that nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of all new home sales in July were high-rise condos compared with the new norm of around 50 per cent,” Dupuis said, adding that the low-rise price index jumped 9.2 per cent year/year, rising from $447,950 to $489,088.

————————————————————————-
July ’10      Low Rise                     High Rise                               Total
————————————————————————-
% % %
Region   2009   2010  Change   2009   2010  Change   2009   2010   Change
————————————————————————-
Durham 238     199    -16.4%        2          1      -50.0%    240       200      -16.7%
————————————————————————-
Halton     321     47      -85.4%     35        21     -40.0%     356         68      -80.9%
————————————————————————-
Peel         453     140    -69.1%     85     328     285.9%    538      468      -13.0%
————————————————————————-
Toronto  102       40     -60.8% 1,091  658      -39.7% 1,193      698      -41.5%
————————————————————————-
York       810     252    -68.9%      145   214      47.6%     955      466      -51.2%
————————————————————————-
GTA    1,924    678    -64.8%  1,358 1,222   -10.0% 3,282  1,900     -42.1%
————————————————————————-
Jan-
July   9,372 10,157      8.4%  5,543 11,327 104.3%  14,915  21,484    44.0%
————————————————————————-
Source: RealNet Canada Inc.

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