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Two Perspectives on Surging Canadian Housing Costs

Real estate prices in Toronto and Vancouver continue to rise, but there is not consensus about what is behind the growing housing crisis and the best solutions to pursue.
December 20, 2019, 8am PST | Camille Fink
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A.H Mansouri

A debate piece looks at the issue of rising housing costs in Canadian cities and whether foreign buyers are the source of the problem. Bob Hutchings argues that non-residents are buying up a large percentage of housing in cities like Vancouver and leaving many of these units vacant. The result is increasing property costs, which is putting a strain on Canadian buyers and renters.

"What needs to be done, and with some great urgency, is to pass a law stating that non-residents can no longer buy in Canada, or, at the very least, have a 50 to 75 per cent tax on foreign buyers," says Hutchings.

Philip Cross, however, believes that restricting non-residents from buying homes is misplaced blame and will not solve Canada’s housing problems. The issue, he says, is a housing market that has not kept up with the increase in demand, fueled by lower interest rates and a crash in oil prices.

Supply has not met demand because of policies, such as zoning regulations and rent control, that have hindered construction, according to Cross. "The only sustainable long-term solution to soaring home prices in Toronto and Vancouver is to loosen the regulations stifling supply — a process underway at least in Ontario — while reining in demand."

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Published on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 in The Star
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