Tag Archives: Policies

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Industry Report: Building Industry Continues to be Undervalued by Government

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Industry Report: Building Industry Continues to be Undervalued by Government

Despite considerable efforts, we have not succeeded in achieving a full, public understanding of the reasons why housing prices are so high

Writing this — my last column for HOMES Publishing Group — conjures bittersweet feelings for me since I retired from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) on January 1.

What brought me to BILD was the desire to have a positive impact on public policy. I thought this industry should have a voice that is heard by government decision makers. I wanted to elevate the debate that public policy is contributing to the cost of homes in the GTA.

As the president and CEO of BILD, I had the constant support of the members, the board of directors and BILD staff, all who allowed me to tell the industry’s story and do what was right. Their patience allowed me to persevere and to execute my vision, while having fact-based discussions.

I am proud of the progress we have made over the past five years. However, my biggest frustration is how undervalued the industry continues to be perceived by the province of Ontario and many municipalities.

Despite our considerable efforts, we have not succeeded in achieving a full, public understanding of the reasons why housing prices are so high in this region. Housing affordability and the ability to own a home are important components in quality of life, which — along with livelihood — are at risk for our future generations.

The residential and land development industry is one of the most regulated in the country and the prices of homes reflect the policy our industry must follow, and how those policies are implemented. At some point, policy makers will have to say “our policies are creating outcomes that are not in the public interest,” and they will have to listen to the experts that are responsible for building communities. Because what the development and building industry wants to do is to build homes people can afford to purchase — especially first-time buyers.

I have advocated for a streamlined approvals process, shovelready land with proper infrastructure and to update out-of-date zoning bylaws. It is time for all governments to show a true commitment to their promises to make things happen and enact policies that meet the challenges of the rapidly growing population. With that, housing people can afford to purchase may continue to be a reality.

I want to leave this message for young people and new residents who choose to make their homes in this great region: No matter how difficult the situation may seem, continue to maintain the dream of homeownership.

Looking back, what I am most proud of is that BILD has never been more stable from a business perspective with the purchase of the home shows in the GTA. This will enable the organization to be a champion of the industry and have an impact on public policy in Ontario for years to come.

Another important advancement for the building industry occurred on January 1, 2015, when our advocacy efforts were rewarded when the provincial government approved the construction of six-storey wood buildings. It will take time to see the true impact of this policy change, but initial results are very encouraging.

In closing, the best part of my five years has been the amazing people I have met and the wonderful relationships I forged. We really do work in the best industry, in the best city, in the best province and in the best country in the world.

BRYAN TUCKEY is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and is a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial governments. He can be found on Twitter (twitter.com/bildgta), Facebook (facebook.com/bildgta), and BILD’s official online blog (bildblogs.ca).

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Home Realty – Our Point of View On Ontario’s New Housing Initiatives

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Home Realty – Our Point of View On Ontario’s New Housing Initiatives

Educating and supporting buyers, and understanding the challenges that builders face every day is important to us. Why? Ensuring Ontario’s pre-construction market moves toward a common goal and provides enough affordable, well-planned new communities for Canadians helps people stay employed, creates new businesses and ensure continued economic growth.

The Ontario government recently announced several new policies and initiatives in an effort to help with housing supply and affordability in key markets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area (GGHA). Some of these policies have us concerned.

We reviewed a few of these policies to see how they help support the common goal of balanced supply and affordability using data from In2ition, including information we complied from the builders we work with and the hundreds of people who we meet in sales offices across the country every day.

Here’s our point of view.

AVAILABILITY OF HOUSING

There are not enough new homes or condos on the market to meet the demand of buyers. Why? The approval process takes too long. We’ve experienced delays of up to 10 years for land to be housing-permit ready, so what started out as a builder/developer problem has now become a consumer challenge too.

The Ontario government believes bringing its employees together with the development industry to examine how to deal with approval delays and fast-tracking processes will help solve this problem. It hasn’t in the past, and we continue to hear frustrating accounts from both our development clients and from potential purchasers who have been waiting for years for certain municipalities to approve new developments.

FOREIGN BUYERS TAX

Why tax a problem for a problem that isn’t there? A survey of our last 2,000 purchase deals across the GTA found that only 2.3 per cent were actually foreign buyers. How about a subsidy for first-time homebuyer deposits instead?

In Vancouver, the tax resulted in a temporary decrease in prices and sales. Foreign buyers will still buy despite the added tax. It will slow the market down, but only temporarily, as supply is still the issue. According to our statistics, there are not a lot of foreign buyers in the GGHA and taxing them is not going to have any significant impact.

BANNING ASSIGNMENT CLAUSES ON CONDOS

An “assignment” clause allows a condo purchaser to sell (or flip) their unit before it officially closes. While the idea of completely banning this practice might be a good idea to the Ontario government, some further thinking may be in order as it could cause a lot of issues in the long run for some purchasers.

In the case of a new condo, it can take upwards of five years or more from date of purchase to complete construction. What if family or employment circumstances change and they need to sell? I believe an outright ban could cause problems for purchasers.

RENT CONTROL POLICIES

We believe putting a standard lease in place for all tenants and imposing rent controls for all privately held units in Ontario would backfire. A study recently conducted by the research firm Altus showed that, internationally, Toronto ranked as the most affordable place in the world to rent out of the major global cities.

We have already seen cancellations of purpose-built rental projects right after this announcement was made because of the costs associated with building and renting units. This seems to be a contradiction to what the government is trying to achieve.

For landlords, managing existing tenants from old leases that are below current market rental rates and staying competitive will be difficult. And for small investors, including those buying one or two units as a way to fund their retirement savings plan, this seems particularly unfair.

Penalizing people who have worked hard and built businesses that shelter and employ others does not benefit or help grow our economy in the long run. Quick-fix solutions are not the answer.

Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years. She has sold and overseen the sale of over $15 billion worth of real estate and, with Debbie at the helm, In2ition has become one of the fastest-growing and most innovative new home and condo sales companies. In2ition has received numerous awards from the Building Industry and Land Development Association and the National Association of Home Builders.

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