York Region municipal councillors have proposed a municipal land transfer tax, but the CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association is imploring them to consider the ramifications such a tax will have on homebuyers.
“Governments at all levels just need to hit the brakes,” said Tim Hudak. “Cumulative interventions into the marketplace have made homeownership harder to achieve and are limiting the abilities of growing families to move up into the housing market and get a larger home as the kids grow.”
Although the provincial government declined the councillors’ request, the door remains open. The proposed land transfer tax would add $15,000 to the cost of the average price of a York Region home, according to OREA and the Toronto Real Estate Board.
In emphatically urging MPPs in the region to reconsider the tax, both OREA and TREB cited the additional strain Toronto’s land transfer tax has put on residents already struggling with affordability.
“We understand municipalities will always look for revenue sources, but the answer is not to punish aspiring homebuyers by putting the starter home further out of reach,” continued Hudak. “We were very pleased that all three parties in the past said no to another tax grab on the backs of homebuyers, and, certainly, each can speak to other ways to fund infrastructure, but let’s not do that by breaking the dreams of millennials who are looking for a place to call home.”
Moreover, OREA and TREB believe the proposed land transfer tax is superfluous in light of recent measures, like the mortgage stress test, that were introduced to cool the housing market.
Sandra McMunn, a sales representative with Keller Williams Realty Centres, says that York Region has already suffered through slower cycles because of the foreign buyer tax, not to mention the new mortgage rules, and an additional tax is overkill.
“Various communities, like Aurora, Newmarket Stouffville, have the greatest decline in overall month-to-month sales as a result of the government implementing the foreign buyer tax and then the new stress test that came in for buyers,” she said. “Any more taxes put on our buyers are not a good thing.”
Stouffville, in particular, has what McMunn calls a large foreign buyer influence, but it’s waned in the last year.
McMunn is one of many sales agents to have petitioned the councillors through OREA, and she believes they’ve made their voices heard.
“I have a lot of confidence and hope that the councillors will listen to this,” she said.
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