Housing policy has been fractured and, at times, contradictory; one influential professional is arguing in favour of a more unified approach to addressing the issues.
“The federal government puts out a lot of effort into creating a national strategy for education and for health. I think they need to put the same amount of focus, resources, and political energy into creating a national housing strategy,” Phil Soper, president of Royal LePage, told REP. “2016 was a perfect example of how government can play ‘push-me pull-me’ and take the housing market in exactly in different directions.
“In BC and Toronto you had different levels of government trying to cool the government and tying to stipulate the market at the same time.”
Indeed, last year saw British Columbia attempt to cool the market with its 15% foreign sales tax as well as stimulate it with a first-time homebuyer tax free loan incentive.
Countrywide, meanwhile, there were national mortgage rule changes that were aimed at cooling the market.
“What is it? Are we trying to encourage the housing market or are we trying to cool it? Without a unified policy we’re going to have affordability issues, we’re not going to address the critical need for more affordable housing particularly for our poor and our young,” Soper said. “And we’re going to be throwing fuel on an overheated housing market for political expediency.”
Still, there is some reason for optimism that the government will learn from its past mistakes.
“The new federal government appears to have a more contemporary management style than the previous government; in contemporary business we consult with our clients, our business partners, and our senior staff before we put in place policies. The autocratic management style went out of fashion some time ago,” Soper said. “The previous government operated very much top-down; the current government seems to be willing to consult and listen to a variety of opinions before policy is put into place.”
A plan to improve housing affordability
Association on affordability