Industry professional blames government for supply shortage

by Neil Sharma15 Nov 2017
The Greater Toronto Area is hamstrung by a supply shortage, and one industry professional is so fed up that she’s running to become a member of the Building Industry and Land Development Association’s Board of Governors.

Debbie Cosic, founder and CEO of In2ition Realty, is tired of waiting for government to solve issues plaguing the industry, the chief of which is the lengthy amount of time it takes to bring a development to market. Cosic says that has greatly contributed to the supply shortage in the GTA, and not only is it adversely impacting the entire real estate industry, it is hurting purchasers too.

“It’s one of the biggest challenges the building and land industry is facing,” she said. “There are a lot of layers to it, but the lack of supply has driven the prices up. It’s a simple supply and demand issue. The government red tape is why it’s taking so long to get pieces of property approved so that renters can become homeowners and people can have new housing.”

Like much of the industry, Cosic is perplexed by recent government intervention. She says there aren’t enough homes for all the people living here and moving here, nor are there enough for future generations. Moreover, instead of a housing strategy that endeavoured to put more people—especially younger, first-time buyers— into homes, the government has discarded the homeownership dream out the window.

She believes the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions’ 200-basis-point stress test, which comes into effect January 1, is the government’s latest bungle.

“You can get a mortgage at 3% now,” said Cosic, “With a $100,000 salary, under the current lending rules you apply for a $750,000 house, but a month from now you’ll only be able to qualify for a $550,000 house. That’s a huge reduction of buying power. We know that going with $ 700,000, it can be a semi or possibly smaller bungalow, but now pushing it down to $500,000, people will only be able to afford condos, or maybe a townhome.”

Cosic believes there are already solutions in place to the homeownership crisis. In2ition is overseeing a development called The Loop, and half of its 68 units have been set aside for subsidized mortgages.

However, even then there were inexplicable delays, and the project took three years to get approved. Cosic says 800 people showed up for those 34 units.

“We were speaking to these amazing people who worked four jobs, were new immigrants, who were living in basement apartments or inadequate rentals, and it was heart-wrenching because they just wanted to better themselves and give their children better futures,” she said. “They just want to own a home and not have to not raise their children in a basement apartment or low-income rental apartment.”

Cosic lauded the developer’s scheme and says it should be replicated in municipalities throughout the GTA. She also says it’s important to educate the public about these issues because they ultimately pay the price.

And in the GTA, that price is rising.

If Cosic wins her bid to get elected to BILD’s Board of Governors, expect to hear more about these issues.

Related stories:
A remedy for family housing in Toronto
City needs more inventory, says sales agent

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