Ontario Finance Minister hints upcoming housing measures will target property scalpers

Graeme Roy/ The Canadian Press Sousa’s office would not comment on whether the government would introduce rules similar to those imposed in British Columbia, but the finance minister has floated a number of possible measures, including implementing a tax on foreign buyers, vacant homes and speculators.He has said that at least some of the housing measures will be included in the Ontario budget, set to be tabled April 27.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 per cent is taxable. His efforts to get the Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau to include capital gains changes in the federal budget were unsuccessful.The two finance ministers and Toronto Mayor John Tory will meet Tuesday to discuss house affordability in the region.The provincial government’s lack of data on the housing market and other real estate-related issues, and Sousa’s comments on “property scalpers” — admittedly based on conversations he’s had with some developers — are causing some concern among builders.Michael Peake/Postmedia Network TORONTO — Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa is giving strong hints that the government’s much-anticipated house affordability package will include measures targeting real estate speculators, or as he calls them “property scalpers.”In public comments last week, Sousa said speculators are reselling contracts for pre-construction homes multiple times before closing, using assignment clauses.“There are those who go into new developments, buy up a slew of properties, and then flip them, while avoiding paying their fair share of taxes,” he said. “I call them property scalpers.”However, the finance minister admitted there’s no data to show how widespread “property scalping” is in Ontario.Graeme Roy/ The Canadian Press A similar practice — called “shadow flipping” — became increasingly common in Vancouver. It typically involved a real estate agent reselling the same previously owned home multiple times before the closing date, driving up the price of the house, sometimes by hundreds of thousands of dollars.In May 2016, the B.C. government put in place new rules that require real estate agents to draft offers that require the seller’s consent to a contract transfer, and any resulting profit to be returned to the seller.In Ontario, according to Sousa, property scalping involves only new developments.“What’s worse is young families who are actually trying to get into the queue, into the lineup to buy that first home, are getting crowded out,” he said.Brent Lewin/Bloomberg files One major Toronto-area developer says “property scalping” is not a major phenomenon in the region.“Not in any widespread way,” said Christopher Wein, president of Great Gulf. “We’re certainly, in our organization, not seeing a lot of evidence of that.”Wein said his company builds condos and houses throughout the Toronto region and generally requires that buyers get permission from Great Gulf to reassign their contracts for new homes.Typically, his company only sells one pre-construction property per family, Wein said.Has ‘a little bit of air’ been let out of the Toronto housing bubble ahead of meeting?‘Deep pockets are driving up the cost of homes’: Finance minister vows to cool Ontario housing market“We don’t allow a person to buy five or 10,” he said. “We sometimes get requests to buy multiple units, and I don’t allow that to happen, because I question why anyone would need more than one unit and it sort of sparks the idea that maybe they’re speculating on real estate.”Wein said everyone, government included, needs to be careful not to rely on “anecdotal” stories about the real estate market.The Liberal government has come under increased pressure to do something about housing in the Greater Toronto Area, where the average price of detached houses was $1.21 million in March, up 33.4 per cent from last year. In Toronto, the average price of detached properties hit $1.56 million, an increase of 32.8 per cent from March 2016.Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said last week that the current rate of price increases suggests demand is being driven more by real estate speculators and investors than homebuyers. Poloz said the rate increase was unsustainable and reminded homebuyers that house prices “can go down as well as up.” read more

On margin of G20 Summit UN chief meets with world leaders to

According to his spokesperson, Mr. Ban held meetings with Mr. Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council and Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. They exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine as well as the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, the Secretary-General’s Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in statement.The Secretary-General stressed the need for a political rather than military solution for the on-going situation in Ukraine and emphasized that the crisis has an impact far beyond the region.Mr. Ban also thanked the European Union (EU) for its help in containing the spread of the Ebola virus and its support for the most affected countries. He specifically expressed his gratitude for the European Unions backing of medical evacuation of first responders. During the meeting, they also discussed climate change and the EU recent and welcome decision to further limit greenhouse emissions. The Secretary-General underscored the leadership of the EU on this issue and encouraged the EU to generously support the Green Climate Fund.Also today, the Secretary-General met today with Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Prime Minister of Turkey, to discuss the priorities for Turkeys upcoming chairmanship of the G20. The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister exchanged views on the situation in Syria, including international efforts to combat the threat posed by ISIL and Turkeys humanitarian assistance to the refugees in the region. They also discussed the ongoing diplomatic efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, to create momentum for a local freeze in Aleppo.Additionally, the Secretary-General and the Prime Minister also discussed the status of the negotiations to achieve a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, as well as Turkeys role in supporting the process. read more

From handbags to sex toys Hello Kitty turns 40 this week

first_img Source: www.sanrio.comThe moon-faced mouthless white cat first appeared in 1974 on a coin purse in Japan and has since built up a worldwide fanbase, appearing on everything from handbags to sex toys.Her image is licensed by Japanese company Sanrio, which says on its website that it makes more than US$5 billion dollars in retail sales each year. Hello Kitty is its flagship brand.Yamaguchi, at the Hong Kong fair to tie in with its new Japan Pavilion, has been the lead designer of Hello Kitty since 1980 and promotes herself as the character’s best friend.“She is very motivated and open and wants to face the future,” she says of the character.There are plenty of detractors of Hello Kitty’s sweetness — entire blogs are dedicated to tearing down the cute icon, with online spoofs depicting her like a horror movie character.Enduring appealBut Yamaguchi insists her appeal can endure. There are already three generations of fans that like Hello Kitty, so I hope that there will be more fans like that in the future, like people in a family loving Hello Kitty together.The main Hello Kitty 40th birthday celebrations will take place later this year, including the first ever fan convention, hosted in Los Angeles at the end of October.- © AFP, 2014In pictures: Is this the cutest plane in the world?> Source: WIkimedia CommonsTHE FLAMBOYANT DESIGNER of Japanese cartoon and global mega-brand Hello Kitty defended the cute cat against new rivals as the character prepares to celebrate her 40th birthday.Speaking at the Hong Kong Book Fair, Yuko Yamaguchi took the concept of life imitating art to another level, wearing a Kitty-style strawberry dress with dyed auburn hair piled into two buns topped with a red ribbon — the cat’s signature accessory.Growing old in a digital ageAs Kitty enters her next decade, she faces increasing competition from more cutting-edge cartoons like Brown and Cony, the bear and rabbit mascots of Tokyo-based messaging app LINE, which has taken Asia by storm in recent months.But Yamaguchi insisted Kitty would cope with growing older in a digital age.“There are new cartoon characters that are coming out daily… (but) I think Hello Kitty is the only one that can adapt to the changes in the world,” Yamaguchi said.last_img read more