Quebec watching spillover from Toronto tax

MONTREAL — Quebec’s finance minister says he has no plans in the near term to introduce a foreign buyer’s tax on Montreal homes but is open to the idea if one is needed.

Carlos Leitao says his department is closely monitoring whether a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers in the Greater Toronto Area will have a large spillover effect on Montreal real estate prices. Ontario introduced the tax in late April and British Columbia implemented a similar levy in Vancouver last August.

“We just want to be prepared that if it needs to be done then we can do it quickly, but I don’t have any plans to do anything in the short-term,” Leitao said in an interview Friday. “The red flag is the behaviour of prices.”

The number of foreign buyers in Greater Montreal is ”relatively marginal,” he added.

“When we look at housing market bubbles the presence of foreign buyers is one element but I’m not even convinced that it’s the main element.”

Montreal may be Canada’s second-largest city and one of the world’s most cosmopolitan, but when it comes to house prices it remains a relative bargain.

The average prices of all homes in the Montreal area was $364,373 in April, roughly a third of what they are in Vancouver and 40 per cent of property prices in Toronto. And while that represents a year-over-year rise of 7.9 per cent, that still lags the national increase of 10.4 per cent over the last year.

The number of homes purchased by foreigners in Montreal increased by 62 per cent during the first nine months of 2016, but they still only account for about 1.5 per cent of all transactions, according to the Canada Mortgage Housing Corp.

Two large mortgage providers and commercial lenders in Quebec — National Bank and the Desjardins Group — have said they see no need for a foreign buyers tax, with Desjardins Group CEO Guy Cormier recently saying he sees “no real estate bubble forming.” But Citi Research analyst Dana Peterson said Montreal could be the next logical place for foreign investors to park their money.

Valerie Plante, the leader of Projet Montreal, the city’s main opposition party, said she fears there will be a rush of foreign buyers that could make it more unaffordable for lower-income residents. She has vowed to fight this fall’s municipal election in part on gaining powers from the province to impose a tax on foreign buyers if conditions warrant.

“We should be doing everything we can to make sure that Montreal stays a city that is affordable to all kinds of people, not only the lucky, the rich ones,” she said.

Leitao said he has no plans to grant that authority to the city.

Just Posted

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

WATCH: Setters Place grand opening in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Setters Place officially opened to the public Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month