Toronto housing market frenzy may be subsiding, some realtors say

Toronto buyers driving local real estate market
Rene Johnston / Toronto Star

It is like a tap has been switched off. That’s how realtor Louise Sabino describes the housing market in the wake of the Liberal government’s provincial plan aimed at cooling Toronto’s scorching property prices.

“I think it’s shocking that it did make the impact so fast,” the Royal LePage Signature Realty agent said.

In a city where few topics draw as much interest as real estate, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the Liberal government’s 16-point Fair Housing Plan is undergoing intense, immediate scrutiny.

Some realtors say they have already noticed a shift in the market. But other industry experts say it’s too soon to know if the plan, particularly its centerpiece — a Vancouver-style, 15-per-cent tax on non-resident foreign buyers — will have the desired effect of making housing more affordable and available by dousing property speculation.

Although Ontario’s tax hasn’t delivered the same shock as the Vancouver version, it will undoubtedly make a difference to some buyers and sellers, said Brad Henderson, CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.

It definitely has postponed or put on hold a number of (Toronto-area) trades where people have said they aren’t going to buy and sell because of that foreign tax,” Henderson said.

But other sales will go ahead because they’ve watched Vancouver, believed to have a far higher level of foreign investment, survive the shock.

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