Big bank calls for real estate policy action

CEO calls on entire industry, as well as government officials, to come together to determine solutions.

“Longer term, I believe all parties need to come together -- governments, developers, realtors, banks, community groups and others -- to accelerate our progress in finding policies and solutions for this issue,'' said RBC CEO Dave McKay.

McKay spoke Thursday at a shareholder meeting about his “increasing” concern about Toronto and Vancouver’s housing markets.

He is in favour of government intervention, saying increased housing prices are the result of an unhealthy combination of factors and that “all of these factors are mixing to push prices up to unsustainable levels, stressing household balance sheets and locking many people out of the housing market.”

The comments follow the latest housing stats releases from Toronto and Vancouver.

The average home price in Toronto jumped 33.2% year-over-year to $916,567. Vancouver’s prices, despite prices dampening over the past few months, still sit at an average of $919,000.  

While it would be admirable to see all interested parties mentioned by McKay work together to find a solution, chances of that happening are likely slim.

Government officials seem intent on implementing taxes to curb real estate speculation and foreign investment; real estate boards, meanwhile, have vehemently opposed those ideas, instead arguing in favour of increasing housing demand.

It remains to be see what, if anything, the government will do to further address affordability in Vancouver and Toronto.

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