Budget money for housing data hailed by experts (Metro News)

In an article published on March 23, 2017, Metro News discusses the importance of having a Housing Statistics Framework to gather and analyze data in efforts to manage Toronto's housing market.

You can view the article below or here at: http://www.metronews.ca/news/toronto/2017/03/23/budget-money-for-housing-data-hailed-by-housing-advocates-.html

Budget money for housing data hailed by experts (Metro News) 

Data on the real estate market is sorely needed to make sense out of Toronto's housing crisis.

It's hard to get a clear view of what's happening in Toronto's housing market without good data.

ISTOCK

It's hard to get a clear view of what's happening in Toronto's housing market without good data.

From a three-bedroom home in Don Mills that went for $1.5 million over asking to a west-end house that recently sold for 62 per cent more than two years ago, we’ve all heard the horror stories about how hard it is to buy a house in Toronto.

But there’s still so much we don’t know, advocates say, and a lack of data is preventing us from making decisions about how the crisis can be curbed.

That’s why Wednesday’s federal budget pledge of $241 million over 11 years for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. and $39.9 million over the next five years to Statistics Canada is critically important, said Coun. Ana Bailão, Mayor John Tory’s housing advocate.

"We all recognize that we need it,” she said. “I wasn't expecting to see it as a line item, but it was good to see." 

Bailão said all levels of government need to work together to get the data.

“I’ve been jumping up and down for a long time and I’m happy that people are finally coming to the conclusion that this is a priority and we need to closely look at these issues,” she said, “we need action now.”

Some of the new budget money will be put towards the creation of a Housing Statistics Framework, a nationwide database of all properties in Canada with information on all purchases and sales, including foreign ownership.

Money to the CMHC will support expanding research through university networks, something that is already being done in B.C.

Cherise Burda, executive director of Ryerson University's City Building Institute, said data is crucial to understanding why prices are “way up in the stratosphere.”

While there is basic information on things like average price, provided by organizations such as the Canadian Real Estate Association, the city needs a more detailed picture of the market.

It’s not something that would be difficult to find, it’s more a question of just having the political will to do it, she said.

“We need the data on vacant properties, people who are buying multiple properties, not just foreign investment, domestic Canadians,” said Burda.

“There’s a bucket of information that we need to collect, which shouldn’t be that hard.”

These are five areas where experts say more data could have a massive impact on solving Toronto’s housing crisis

1. What’s needed: Number of Empty Homes

Why it’s important: Would help gauge how many investors instead of families are buying property, making it easier to decide if an empty homes tax, home-flipping tax or a foreign buyer’s tax would cool the market.

2. What’s needed: Location of purchases, residency of the buyer

Why it’s important: Would help show who is buying homes and if a foreign buyer’s tax makes sense.

3. What’s needed: Number of homes owned by multiple users

Why it’s important: Key to understanding if people are buying for investment purposes.

4. What’s needed: Percentage of homes available for under half a million dollars

Why it’s important: Some argue there’s still affordable stock out there and the top end of the market drags up average figures. This data would show if that’s true.

5. What’s needed: Average Airbnb occupancy rates by location and host revenue

Why it’s important: Would determine how many units are being taken off the market for short-term stays. It’s something the city could ask Airbnb to provide as part of regulations being developed.

With files from David Hains

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