19.5 C
Thursday, October 6, 2022
Letter: Eliminating blind bids is first step toward housing affordability

The following is a letter sent to Premier Doug Ford and Housing Minister Steve Clark.

The recently released Housing Affordability Task Force report could only have been produced by a select group of developers, builders and service providers ancillary to that industry.

The recommendations contained therein, if enacted by your government, would lead to the disembowelment of the entire level of municipal and regional governance in Ontario.

It would hand the entire planning process over to the development industry and their financiers and destroy the concept of heritage designation, community planning and environmental protection in the supposed name of “dealing with the housing affordability problem.”

The development industry and its coterie of experts have for years been carping about a lack of supply driving prices to unattainable heights because of municipal red tape and drawn-out approval processes precluding builders from getting building permits to construct residential dwellings.

And yet, according to Statistics Canada, in the last four months of 2021 the lowest total in any month of existing building permits in Ontario was more than 2.5 million, which hardly represents any form of lack of supply. 

Having been a realtor for over 40 years in Ontario I find your government's proposed response to the “housing affordability” problem completely lacking in common sense and slanted entirely to prolonging the problem at the expense of the public to the benefit of your developer friends and their wealthy investors.

The essential problem with housing is the concept that housing is not a place to live for citizenry but rather a commodity to be traded in for profit of speculators, wealthy investors and developers.

The first and cheapest, easiest solution to steeply rising home prices would be to outlaw the blind bidding process entirely in the province. Almost all sales in the past year have been through blind auctions where buyers bid with no idea what the other bids are in the marketplace.

This entirely slants the process in favour of the seller and leads to escalating prices not based on market values, but rather on how much a buyer can be duped into paying without the information as to how much other buyers are offering.

Would the same hold true in the stock market, or any other market for goods or services? Perhaps there shouldn't be any price tags on the food we buy in grocery stores and it should go to the highest blind bid? 

The second action you should take would be an immediate and effective speculation tax on all residential property, which would make it unprofitable for speculators and speculative syndicates to profit from trading in residential real estate.

According to Teranet, investors accounted for a quarter of all housing sales in Ontario in the month of August 2021, the highest percentage in over a decade. They were the biggest group of buyers, underscoring the heightened risk to the market which is perhaps why Swiss Bank UBS ranked Toronto second behind Frankfurt in the 2021 Global Bubble Market Index. 

I'm hoping that you and your government will be crystal clear in your position on your plans for the future of Ontario and the roles of municipal and regional levels of governments in those plans, such that the voters in Ontario will have a clear choice when heading to the voting booth. 

Robert Bader