NewsAlert: Ontario to tax foreign buyers, expand rent control

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The tax "would apply ‎to transfers of land that contain at least one and not more than six single family residences" and affect buyers who are not citizens or permanent residents as well as foreign corporations.

Ontario's move comes after Ottawa tried to rein in the market by tightening mortgage requirements and closing tax loopholes used by speculators, and after British Columbia imposed a 15 per cent foreign buyers tax on Vancouver-area homes. In January B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced the tax would be lifted for those who have a work permit in order to encourage more people to come to the province to work. In Toronto, the average price of detached properties hit $1.56 million, an increase of 32.8 per cent from March 2016.

Resales of Canadian homes rose 1.1 percent in March from February and prices were up 18.6 percent from a year earlier as strong demand in Toronto offset cooling elsewhere, a report from the Canadian Real Estate Association showed on Tuesday.

"Ultimately at the end of the day, you probably end up in a situation where the market absorbs the tax and keeps pushing higher", said BMO economist Robert Kavcic.

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Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa announced he will table Ontario's 2017 budget on April 27.

A spokesperson for Minister of Housing and Poverty Reduction Chris Ballard said the rules do not apply to rent increase notices given before Thursday April 20.

A sizable real estate correction in a market with as much weight as Toronto could affect people's expectations well beyond the city limits, he added.

Sousa told reporters last week speculators are reselling contracts for pre-construction homes multiple times before closing, using assignment clauses.

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"Most of those projects are now on hold pending a review of this announcement and many of them will be cancelled and not proceed", he said.

Sousa said he wants the federal government to close a "loophole" that allows so-called property scalpers to treat their profits as capital gains, which means only 50 per cent is taxable. "All real estate is local, and REALTORS® remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future".

He says the measures will also look at how to expedite housing supply, and he has appeared receptive to Toronto Mayor John Tory's call for a tax on vacant homes.

"It's coming from a good place", said Tal. Seniors who had paid into the Canada Pension Plan for five to 10 working years would be exempt.

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Canadian officials across all three levels of government vowed to be vigilant in monitoring the Toronto region's rapidly accelerating housing market, including possibly taking formal steps aimed at curbing speculative activity.

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