A long time ago, Albert Einstein said: “Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

It’s a fact of life that you’ll find stup… (sorry, “dreamers”) in any profession and institution and, certainly, the government and the Ontario Real Estate Association are not exceptions. As proof about the government’s stupidity (about real estate) is that they are still keeping FINTRAC in spite of its uselessness, its $77-million annual budget and the lack of real results.

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If that “stupidity” at the federal level was not enough, now they are chasing a new mirage at provincial level with OREA’s help and its recommendations to the cute More Homes for Everyone Act (funny name, eh?).  In order to reduce the price of properties, what OREA recommended sounds a little bit ridiculous:

1) Use financial incentives to encourage municipalities to speed up zoning bylaw amendments.

2) Increase the certainty of development charges to bring down prices on new homes.

3) Strengthen consumer protections for purchasers of new homes by doubling fines and extending building license suspensions to address unethical conduct by developers.

Do they really believe that prices will go down just by applying these incongruent measures? Or is this just a show before elections? I don’t know what happens where they live but here, on planet Earth, it doesn’t work that way. The current prices, simply put, are the prices of this market. Probably the only way to get a reduction would be by flooding the market with thousands of properties next week. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

As everybody knows, supply and demand is a basic principle. If supply is higher, prices go down. If demand is higher,  prices go up. If you could buy diamonds by the pound from a big basket in No Frills, certainly they would be cheaper than the price you see in a jewelry store.

It seems to me that the government didn’t realize yet that, unfortunately, affordable housing (at least in Toronto and the GTA) is a naive and impossible dream. Do they think that in the next neighbourhood to be built (even with the above recommendations) will they see houses 40 per cent or 50 per cent cheaper than other locations around that area? Don’t try to artificially reduce the price of houses. Try to realistically increase people’s income!

In a nutshell: If you can’t afford a Mercedes, buy another car. Do not expect that the Germans will reduce the price for you. If you can’t buy a house in Toronto or the GTA, then do what Shrek did and move to The Land of Far Far Away.

You have to adapt to the market, not the other way around. I know that it’s not your fault, buyer, but like the rest of us, deal with it.

Jorge Branca
Sales representative and ABR
Century21 Leading Edge Realty
Toronto

13 COMMENTS

  1. I just wish OREA would fade away!

    To be fair, the plan is more than just those three points you chose on which to make your case. It also includes others that would attempt to slice through bureaucratic red tape and builder induced delays that only serve to reduce supply and increase prices including limiting government consultation time; impose time restrictions on approvals, which is needed.

    But still that’s far from enough. The government allows builders to cancel projects which they do simply because it is more profitable to payback the deposits and interest and resell at significantly higher prices – tough penalties need to apply here to dissuade such a practice. For some reason they see a need for a 10 day cooling off period for condo purchases but not for freeholds where the affordability problem actually lies – it ought to apply here as well. Builders also should be placed on a strict building timeline once all approvals are given where if they fail to start, they must go re-apply from the beginning and lose all previous fees paid.

    While I agree most of these are half-assed measures intended to buy votes – the change to non-resident ownership, for a number of reasons including its plethora of exceptions is just a strawman, still, perhaps the few that matter will help.

    Anything that reduces or subsidizes associated expenses to end-user buyers is going to have the complete opposite effect on prices because that reduced expense is then considered as additional offer price affordability.

  2. Michael E. STone University of Massachusetts offered the following perspective on housing affordability.

    “There is no such thing as “affordable housing”. Affordability is not a characteristic of housing: It is a relationship between housing and people. For some people, all housing is affordable, no matter how expensive. For others, not housing is affordable, no matter how cheap.”

  3. About time someone told it like it is!!!!
    In 1974, when I was just 20, a girlfriend had returned from Europe, and we talked a great deal about how life was over there. I was shocked when she told me that most of the young folks there were not striving to own a home. They spent their money on concerts, partying, travel, and designer clothing.(sound familiar?)
    They lived with family and when that got old, moved into a flat with room mates. There was no expectation that government would force the price of housing down just for them. Home ownership was not expected.
    In Canada we have one political party that tries to get folks to face reality, and yet, it has been years since they were in power.
    And…..it may be too late for our country to change its’ path. We are so far in debt from all the vote buying, unrealistic expectations, and carrying “dead wood”.
    I’d like to see equality in responsibility for carrying the load!
    Then we might really be a democracy.

  4. I agree, the fact is “government” work for themselves due to how the “system” is set up. They continually try to manage the real estate market and have created this idea about affordable housing because these are buzz words for the voters they want to impress. It seems a bit late now! Yes increase wages would be a great idea but they just keep working towards squeezing out the middle class so many will end up poor, many are living in their cars or on the street now. Goverments could care less. This problem of homelessness just gets worse due to so many reasons. I feel the government needs to simplify what their actual mandates are and have some balls and tell the public “you the taxpayers can not afford this and that” Why are people so stupid aboit their money? Because our leaders have always been stupid with it. Terrible role models. My rant is done. Good for you to speak your truth.

  5. Apparently the Price of Money and the Value of the Currency also are factors in the Price of Houses and the attractiveness of houses as an investment.

    The Central Planners control both.

    Interest rates were too low for too long after 2008-9 and now THAT lever cannot be utilized to quell demand without strangling the rest-of the economy (and The Fisc) and has little room to decrease to stimulate/ re-stimulate when the time comes.

  6. In 1977 I purchased my first home in Oshawa. At that time the government was offering first time home buyers an interest and or principal free portion of their mortgage loan (I can’t remember which it’s been a long time), including a 30 year amortization. You were required to pay it all back when you sold.

  7. Right on !!! I’m thankful that I’m not the only one that sees this. And more than likely, everyone sees except those whom are entrusted to make legislative decisions concerning the same. Every level of government is hanging themselves in so much red tape that they can’t see the people they’re supposed to protect anymore. Changes are needed , BIG ONES , and the first change is getting them to open their eyes.

  8. The article reflects a wide-spread sentiment, perhaps even among a large portion of the population/ Unhappily, the article only states that the government’s More Homes for Everyone Act with OREA’s assistance is stupid, and states that government must increase supply.

    Some constructive criticism would help such as suggestions from the author on what government (and OREA) could do would go a long way towards making the rest of the article more credible.

    Albeit, while the Act is relatively toothless it DOES address increasing supply rather than most government actions which attempt to reduce demand.

    Speeding up zoning bylaw amendments will bring housing to market “faster” … but not in a meaningful way.

    Increase the certainty of development charges to bring down prices on new homes … development charges can be 10% or more of the cost of a new home so theoretically it might improve affordability … again a vague theory with no empirical evidence and likely won’t have any impact on speeding up housing construction.

    Strengthen consumer protections for purchasers of new homes by doubling fines and extending building license suspensions to address unethical conduct … the classic government brute force strategy of trying to fix everything with a hammer. Or, perhaps just as likely, another cash grab to pay down Ontario’s debt, which is larger than 168 COUNTRIES, including Russia.

    • Dear Christopher: Thanks for your comment. Anyway, my vision is that the Government should NOT be involved in ANY private matter, in this case, THE MARKET or giving orders about how sellers should sell their homes.
      For whatever reason, the prices at this time are these, and that’s it. Every time that they tried to fix a situation, they made it even worse (they have no clue).
      In any case, one suggestion for them in case they want to offer a little help with an IMMEDIATE EFFECT would be this: Eliminate the Ontario and Toronto LTT for the next two years in order to help buyers with the closing costs.
      Having said that… Do you think they would do it ?? Ha ! My guess is that they’ll play “idiot and deaf” because that would be a terrible loss for them and because it’s easier to be “generous with other people’s money”.
      Thanks again.

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