Builders call on federal government to help first-time buyers

By NextHome Staff
April 05, 2024

The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) is recommending that the federal government rebate the HST to first-time buyers who purchase a new home and bring back initiatives from years ago to encourage re-investment by builders.

“Immediate action is needed as we are in a crisis that is likely to get worse. First-time buyers are leaving our cities in droves because they’ve been priced out of the market,” says RESCON President Richard Lyall. “The measures we are suggesting would boost supply and help homebuilders construct housing that is financially viable and affordable. We cannot simply sit on our hands and hope for the best as the challenge facing our industry is formidable.”

Practical measures

RESCON’s suggestions were made in a 2024 federal budget submission to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. The submission outlined three specific practical measures the federal government can take to address housing supply and affordability.

To support the creation of new housing stock, RESCON is recommending that the government implement an immediate and full rebate of the HST on new home purchases for first-time buyers and also re-introduce measures such as limited dividend programs and tax deferral policies from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s that encouraged re-investment by builders.

“First-time homebuyers have been disproportionately affected by the housing situation,” says Lyall. “High interest rates and increased material and labour costs, along with exorbitant taxes, fees and levies have pushed up home prices and are preventing them from entering the housing market. Major policy changes are needed in the budget to help first-time buyers.”

RESCON is also suggesting that the feds activate surplus crown and crown agency land for residential housing and support the ability of municipalities to build the infrastructure required to encourage more housing construction. Meanwhile, with many construction workers set to retire, RESCON wants the government to further reform the immigration system and increase targets for workers with the specialized skill sets to build homes and condos.

Desperate times

“These are desperate times as sales of new homes have literally ground to a halt, yet our population continues to increase,” adds Lyall. “The practical measures we are suggesting would help boost housing supply and contribute to ensuring affordability issues are addressed.”

In related news, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. confirmed on March 1 that it was discontinuing the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive program.

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