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Saturday, September 26, 2015

CMHC to look at foreign ownership of Canadian real estate

Data indicating how much of Canada’s real estate is being snatched up by foreign buyers is scant, but the country’s national housing agency is working to change that.

In a briefing note dated May 15, 2015, obtained by The Canadian Press through an Access to Information request, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., says it will be hosting “bi-lateral meetings” and roundtables with industry stakeholders to fill a number of data gaps, including the share of new and existing homes owned by foreigners.
The initiative will go beyond the limited data the agency currently gathers, including a survey of property managers indicating how many condo units are owned by people whose permanent residence is outside of Canada.
“Currently there is no perfect source of information on the level of foreign investment in the housing market,” chief economist Bob Dugan said in a statement to The Canadian Press.
“CMHC has undertaken steps to address this data gap. As a result, we know a lot more about it today than we did a year ago and are continuing our program of work to determine the level of foreign investment in Canadian residential real estate.”
The contentious issue has been in the spotlight recently, especially in Vancouver, where some have blamed demand from offshore buyers for the city’s soaring home prices.
In August, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper waded into the debate, saying that if re-elected, the Tories would gather data on foreign ownership of Canadian homes — and would even consider implementing taxes and other rules to govern the practice.
However, the briefing note prepared for Pierre Poilievre, the minister responsible for CMHC, suggested that work was already underway at CMHC.
“For high priority data gaps that it cannot address on its own, CMHC has started to engage in discussions with other data providers and organizations,” the document reads.
“Although this work is at an early stage, CMHC will keep you informed regarding progress.”
Other gaps that CMHC intends to address include the total volume of mortgages issued and outstanding and mortgage data broken out by lender type, characteristics of borrowers, property type and geographic location.
In another briefing note, the agency said it is keeping a close eye on the rise of unregulated mortgage lenders such as mortgage finance corporations, mortgage investment corporations and individuals.
“The exact number of unregulated lenders in Canada is not known since this includes private individuals and a multitude of small private firms,” the note, dated May 26, 2015 and also obtained under the Access to Information Act, reads.
“CMHC and its government partners continue to closely monitor developments in unregulated mortgage lending.”

From the Toronto Star
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Monday, May 25, 2015

What!? Vancouver could implement a speculation tax on real estate?!

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is calling for a new tax on real estate speculators to cool the city’s white-hot real estate market. 

Debate has been raging over the impact of foreign investment on Metro Vancouver house prices. Robertson says speculators are to blame, forcing young people and the middle class out of the city. He says he’s asked Premier Christy Clark to impose a speculation tax to increase affordability.
“We definitely need taxation tools that discourage speculation on real estate,” said Robertson in a statement. “It’s clear that rampant speculation on real estate is driving up prices in Vancouver. Vancouver needs the B.C. government to take action on creating a speculation tax and recognize that we need a fair and level playing field to make housing more affordable for residents in Vancouver, and throughout the province.”
Prominent developer Bob Rennie of Rennie Marketing Systems was the first to propose the idea at Friday’s Urban Development Institute’s luncheon.
“So if you buy in a presale today…you pay your deposit today and you complete in two-and-a-half to three years, there’s often a higher value at completion and at completion if you sell within three months, six months, nine months, 12 months. Perhaps we should tax that profit because it’s interfered with affordability,” he explains to Global News.
However, Tsur Sommerville of UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate says flipping condos may not be what’s driving up the Vancouver real estate market.
“I don’t see what the evidence is that all of the sudden we’re in a raft of quick flips on housing. So taxing something that’s probably not the problem — quick sales and turnarounds — seems to me kind of silly in terms of trying to address the affordability problem,” he tells Global News. “What we’re seeing is really large price increases in the single family product, but that’s the product where there’s not more supply, there’s less supply of that.”
The province has not ruled out the idea of a speculation tax, but says changes must be weighed carefully and not destroy the equity owners have in their homes.
“By trying to move foreign buyers out of the market, housing prices overall will drop,” said Clark in the legislature earlier this month. “That’s good for first-time home buyers but not for anybody who is depending on the equity in their home to maybe get a loan or use that to finance some other projects.”
The Ministry of Finance issued the following statement to Global News with respect to a proposed speculation tax.

The Province recognizes that home ownership in British Columbia can be challenging for some people.
  • Governments need to be careful that any tax would have the desired effect, without undermining the equity that people may have built up in their homes.
  • Programs designed to relieve some of these challenges are targeted toward those who need it most, while ensuring that municipalities continue to receive the full benefit of assessed property tax.
  • If you purchase a home for the first time, the First Time Home Buyers’ Program reduces or eliminates the amount of property transfer tax BC residents pay when they purchase their first homes. The threshold for the first-time home buyers program was increased to $475,000 from $425,000 in last year’s budget. This exemption can save first-time buyers up to $7,500 when purchasing their first home. A partial exemption continues and now applies to homes valued between $475,000 and $500,000.
  • In preparation of each year’s provincial budget, the Minister of Finance reviews all taxes and considers whether changes are appropriate within the context of a balanced budget and other spending priorities.
Robertson says Ottawa also needs to step in.
“Limiting speculation is an important action for the B.C. government but we absolutely need the federal government involved in affordable housing,” said Robertson. “Their complete absence in supporting low- and middle-income housing is making it extremely difficult for people, especially young people, to live and work in Vancouver.”
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Monday, May 11, 2015

Storage Solutions for Small Spaces

Tiny homes hold the secret to clever storage, with their well-placed shelves and multi-functional furniture. They demonstrate that if you get creative, you can maximise even the most miniscule sliver of space. Keeping this in mind, we searched room by room to find the best storage solutions forsmall spaces - including ideas for small bedroomssmall bathroomssmall kitchens and more. Intrigued? Come see how others added storage to a small space with these ideas…

7 Sneaky Solutions for Small Outdoor Space

While large backyards are certainly dreamy, small outdoor spaces are often the reality, yet equally able to provide a place to entertain, relax and frolic in the sun (or shade if you prefer). Take these tips and a healthy dose of inspiration from seven tiny backyards that demonstrate myriad ways to maximize your time outdoors.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What to Do the First 24 Hours in a New Place

The first 24 hours in a new place are vital — they can make a difference on how the first few months go and set the tone for the rest of the time you live there. So how should you spend the first 24 hours in a new place? Consider this list as your guide for those precious first hours.

Los Angeles Miracle Mile Block

Around the corner from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in L.A.’s Miracle Mile, local firm Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) outfitted a six-unit residential building with a recycled structural steel skin surrounded by muted stucco in what has quickly become a distinctive addition to the area.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Foolproof Decorating Tricks to Always Keep In Your Back Pocket

You can't go wrong with recurring decorating advice that pops up again and again — the little nuggets of wisdom whispered in our ears by mentors or mothers — and make sense every damn time. Keep these go-to tips in the forefront of your minds when approaching a space.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

7 Ideas to Steal From a Super-Stylish Scandinavian Home

This beauty is the home of Swedish blogger Tant Johanna, and if you happen to be looking for a place in Gothenburg, Sweden, you're in luck, because it's for sale. But if you're not, there are still plenty of design ideas here that are worth stealing for your own home. Here are seven of our favorites.

7 Classic Pieces That Will Never Go Out of Style

Trends in home decor can be fickle. They come and go. And sometime they're hard to predict — something that's all over design blogs this year could feel dated five years from now. Which got me thinking: what are some designs that have been around for a long time but still feel fresh? What are some pieces that will look as good ten, fifteen years from now as they do today, not because they're trendy, but because they're timeless? Here are my picks for classic pieces that will never go out of style.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tips for designing on a budget!

Living on a budget is a simple fact of life, for most. Who says that should equate to missing out on good, modern design for the home? Here are some great examples of great modern living on a tight budget!

To some, this Austin, Texas home’s interiors might appear unfinished, but to architect Sean Guess, it’s simply a modern and cost-effective solution. The trick for keeping costs low on the poured-in-place concrete island was finding a subcontractor who wanted this type of job under his belt. Nate Francis of Countertop Creations "didn’t charge an exorbitant amount of money because it was sort of an experiment for him as well," says Guess.

When working on a budget inside an older, traditional structure, small touches of modern design can make a big impact. In this this Brooklyn brownstone, the design firm MADE implemented a black-and-white color scheme and added the Torroia pendant light by David Weeks in the dining room to modernize the space.

Check out more ideas here >

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dining Room Ideas

Need some dining room ideas? This room is all about crowding a group of friends around the table with some delicious food, good wine and plenty of conversation.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Narrow Dwelling in Toronto Converted Into Bright Family Refuge:The Contrast House

Situated on a corner lot in a dense neighborhood in Toronto, Canada, the Contrast House by Dubbeldam Architecture + Design is a modern rehabilitation of a 120-year old dwelling. According to the architects, the primary design challenge was to “increase natural light in the space, accomplished through both physical and perceptual means. The long, narrow house was reorganized in plan and in section, introducing new sight lines to the expanded openings at the rear of the house and updating the layout for a growing family.” The name of the project hints towards the contrasting elements spread around the house with the purpose of brightening internal spaces with no direct access to natural lighting.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hallway Ideas To Steal

Need some hallway ideas? Your corridor deserves to be a stylish room of its own and we have some hallway pictures to help you make the most of the space. From ingenious storage solutions to stylish furniture and lighting, our hallway decorating ideas  will show you how to make yours so much more than just an entryway. So get inspired by these amazing hallway design ideas. Your home will thank you for it...

Lofty Ambitions

Looking for loft conversion ideas? If you're lucky enough to have an attic that is as yet untouched, we say it's time to make better use of it. Converting loft space can not only provide much needed extra space, whether it be an additional living room, home office or bedroom and bathroom, but when done well can provide financial rewards, should you ever sell your property. We take a look at examples of crafty loft conversions that tackle tricky design stumbling blocks. Follow our guide to transform your attic from cluttered dumping ground into a chic, practical extra room. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The 3 Principles of Interior Design

A beautifully decorated interior not only functions well but it creates a mood or a feeling and shows off the personality of the family that lives there. It's attention to these three important ingredients — function, mood and personality — that ensures decorating success.

Variable or fixed-rate mortgage, that is the question

The decline in interest and prime lending rates is providing investors with unique opportunities – but with uncertainty still ahead, the question remains: variable or fixed-rate mortgage?

Given the state of the economy, it’s more appealing to secure a variable rate mortgage, says one mortgage broker, but the fixed-rate mortgages have also become more attractive over recent months.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Futuristic Apartment Design Integrating a Time-Capsule Elevator in Taipei

This futuristic apartment design in Taipei, Taiwan comes with many interesting elements, including a life-sized iron man and a time-capsule elevator. Developed by White Interior Design, the project known as La Fatte Residence unveils an unconventional approach: “I used the industrial elements as its base while combining a hint of retro. The colorful designer furniture are used to accentuate the owner’s exceptional taste. The time-capsule elevator brings the two levels of the house together and adds a sense of futurism“, explained the designer. 

Yes, We Can Afford to Plan for Smarter Growth and Better Housing

Critics of smart growth are not comparing apples to apples when it comes to housing costs. We need to consider the full cost of housing under different development scenarios.
So you think that smart growth, the Greenbelt and planning for Places to Grow is ruining the housing market? Think again.