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Could housing policy decide the federal election?

by Neil Sharma on 01 Sep 2021

Fifty-seven percent of respondents aged 18-34 in a Royal LePage survey said housing policy will influence who they vote for in the federal election on September 20.

The survey also found 96% of respondents who say a candidate’s housing policies in the federal election will influence their vote believe a growing number of Canadians won’t become homeowners because prices are too high. Overall, 84% of respondents shared that sentiment.

“Access to housing is a fundamental human right, for without adequate shelter, a family lacks the foundation upon which they can live and work safely and with dignity,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage. “In this election, Canadians are demanding ideas, answers and a commitment to address the nation’s housing supply and affordability crisis. The growing housing deficiency in this country is one of the great threats to our prosperity as a people.”

The three major federal parties, which have all released strategies to tackle Canada’s housing crisis, have acknowledged supply scarcity is the underlying issue driving home prices higher and higher every month. Soper says that tax and grant programs will only do so much for homebuyers, and housing supply shortages in key markets is the crux of the issue.

In Vancouver, Canada’s most expensive housing market, Adil Dinani says the city’s supply problem is a consequence of municipal red tape, which slows project completions down to a snail’s pace. He reckons that it takes about 48 months for a developer to bring a project to market from the day the land is acquired.

“Streams of red tape and bureaucracy at the municipal level is the first thing; the second thing is Vancouver has a lot of high-density living environments, but the challenge is you only get a little bit of supply at a time, which is absorbed fairly quickly,” said Dinani, a broker with Royal LePage West Real Estate Services.

The other issue for homebuyers is they’re competing against investors who are taking advantage of the current low interest rate environment. Although that isn’t a problem in and of itself, says Dinani, when housing supply is as constrained as it is, end users pay vastly more for their primary residences.

“There are folks saying it may not make sense to keep money in the bank, so some buyers search for secondary properties, investment properties, and now the end user is competing with the investor and it becomes more challenging for them to purchase real estate, and prices generally rise because you have different buying groups at the table,” he said. “If immigration opens up in a meaningful way next year, we’ll continue seeing upward pressure on prices. It’s an issue that really needs to be worked on collaboratively by all levels of government.”



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