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.”
Caterpillar Inc and Rio Nuevo last week released design renderings of Caterpillar’s new 150,000 square‐foot Tucson Mining Center to be located in the Mercado District in downtown Tucson. The Tucson Mining Center, being built by the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District, will be occupied by about 600 company engineers, product development, and support positions working on the next generation of mining equipment, vehicles, and technology. It is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2019.SmithGroupJJR of Phoenix in collaboration with WSM Architects of Tucson designed the three‐level building to blend into the desert environment and to represent the Native American history of the land, identified as Tucson’s Origins. Representatives from Rio Nuevo, SmithGroupJJR + WSM, and Sundt Construction have been meeting regularly with neighbours and historians to create a site plan and design that will become one of the Southwest’s most recognised buildings.The building site is northeast of A Mountain and Mission Garden, and is bounded on the north by Cushing Street, on the east by the Santa Cruz River and The Loop shared‐use path, and on the west by an extension of Avenida del Convento Street still to be built. The modern structure will be visible to motorists on Interstate 10 and Congress Street.“Caterpillar is excited to take this next step, and we appreciate the strong partnership and support we’ve received from all members of the team. This will be a site that will make us all proud, fitting well into the community and helping show the world some of what Tucson has to offer. When finished, it will be a cutting edge and modern office space where our team will collaborate, design, and innovate solutions that drive customer success around the world,” said Jean Savage, Caterpillar Vice President for Surface Mining & Technology.“Rio Nuevo is honoured to be part of the Caterpillar family and will forever be grateful to the company, not only for coming to Tucson, but for selecting this historic site. SmithGroupJJR + WSM have done an extraordinary job designing a world class building,” said Fletcher McCusker, Chairman of the Rio Nuevo Board.