Determined to cool the hot real estate market

Belleville Councilor Kelly McCaw holds up the type of sign seen throughout the community from out-of-town property buyers. (Photo: Quinte News)

Belleville Council will not give up on its efforts to have the provincial and federal governments tighten regulations in a real estate market whose prices are so high that many local residents cannot even afford to buy a first home.

Councilor Kelly McCaw was disappointed to learn that the council itself could not regulate the market. She had recently asked city staff to investigate what options the city might have to curb real estate speculation in the city.

McCaw, a former real estate agent with 25 years of experience, says the real estate industry has changed dramatically.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of out-of-town real estate agents bringing their out-of-town clients here and cannibalizing our local housing economy.”

McCaw said most residential properties attract multiple bids, many of them out-of-town buyers, who buy properties unseen in a frenzy of speculation and drive prices beyond the reach of Quinte area residents.

“We have to put pressure on our higher governments, something has to be done,” McCaw said, holding up a yellow “We’re Buying Houses” sign with out-of-town phone numbers.

McCaw implored out-of-town realtors to “please stay out of the community.”

Meanwhile, most council members have agreed with councilor Tyler Allsopp that the provincial and/or federal governments should mandate that a person is only allowed to own two primary residences.

“That way it doesn’t impact people’s lifestyles, but then you’re not able to own sections of houses in multiple areas that end up driving up prices for buyers and drive up rents for people who end up living in those units.”

Councilor Chris Malette said he handled an estate for a deceased friend and colleague and put his house up for sale. Malette said the house was in a very dilapidated state and, in his opinion, “should have been bulldozed.”

The house received 13 offers. It was listed at $190,000 and sold for $270,000 and in just a few days. “Now it has been cheaply refurbished and has two apartments.”

The out-of-town buyer never set foot on the property before the sale.

Councilor Paul Carr said up to 30% of properties sold in the province are being bought by investors who more often than not realize a 17% to 20% return on their money.

All a municipality can do is offer “band-aid solutions”. It is up to the province to regulate the market. A house should be a house, not a commodity.

Councilor Bill Sandison said the provincial and federal governments must give municipalities the legal tools to curb real estate speculation, saying there is no “quick fix and this is a problem to be faced.” multifaceted”.

Mayor Mitch Panciuk said while many people believe in the sanctity of the free market, the current system has created a perverted real estate market.

“It’s a problem for the higher government and I agree that there should be a limitation on the number of houses a person can own.”

Councilor McCaw will draft a resolution on real estate speculation that will be circulated to all municipalities in Ontario for their support, with the goal of getting it to higher levels of government.

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