Federal finance minister, Sousa and Tory to talk GTA housing market today

Toronto real estate for sale sign

In the end, it may be voter anger that drives Sousa to act first, with the provincial Liberal government suffering in opinion polls and measures to address "affordability" already promised in his April 27 budget.

One option under consideration is a foreign buyers tax, similar to the 15-per-cent tax introduced by the British Columbia government previous year.

Sales were up on a month-over-month basis in more than half of the local markets measured, led by Greater Vancouver and the nearby Fraser Valley region in B.C.as well as London, Ont., St. Thomas, Ont. and Montreal.

Sales leapt forward in the last month and prices climbed 12.3 per cent year-over-year to almost $1.2 million in the first three months of 2017, according to a report from Royal LePage released Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday a tax on non-resident speculators is one of the measures being considered.

Late past year, Ontario announced it would double the rebate on its land transfer tax for first-time homebuyers to $4,000 in an effort to help them enter the housing market.

A foreign buyers tax will slow but not stop money coming from Chinese investors, said real estate broker Tony Ma, whose HomeLife Landmark Realty Inc is one of the largest brokerages in Toronto serving buyers of Chinese descent. "Some of the practices that have evolved over time in terms of how people buy houses may be contributing to the frothiness of this market".

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Sousa told reporters last week speculators are reselling contracts for pre-construction homes multiple times before closing, using assignment clauses. However, Sousa hasn't said exactly how he'll make them pay more in tax.

Assignment sales are not illegal, but Sousa said he wants to close a loophole that allows so-called property scalpers to treat their profits as capital gains - which means only 50% is taxable. Possible steps include taxing homes left empty for speculative purposes, Tory said.

Gordon has suggested the province could implement a progressive property surtax, which would be an annual surtax that only applies to homes appraised over a certain value.

The province said institutions who purchase property for a mutual fund trust, real estate investment trust or specified investment flow-through trust will not have to complete the form.

But even Ma, who said only 5 to 8 percent of the 10,000 deals his 1,100 agents did a year ago involved foreign investors, thinks it is time for the government to do something about the housing bubble.

A spokesperson for Toronto Mayor John Tory has revealed what the municipal leader plans to bring to the table on Tuesday during a scheduled meeting with the Ontario and Canadian ministers of finance. The city says the goal of the tax is boosting housing affordability and opening up more rental units.

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