'Families are pissed' about real estate bidding wars, says Finance Minister Charles Sousa

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Ontario budget 2017: Don't expect to find money for more ER beds, but surgery wait times should get shorter

Ontario budget 2017: Don't expect to find money for more ER beds, but surgery wait times should get shorter

Young families trying to break into Toronto's red-hot housing market are "pissed" about the bidding wars that are driving soaring prices, Ontario's Finance Minister Charles Sousa said Wednesday. 

Sousa's comment comes after making repeated promises to deal with the cost of housing in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.

"Families are pissed that they can't win bidding wars," Sousa told reporters outside the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday.

​"In times past, young families would get into the market with those entry-market homes. They're hard to come by, and so we're going to try to find a way to help do that."

Sousa did not say what steps he's considering taking in regards to bidding wars.  

The average price of all homes sold in the Toronto-area last month — from condominiums to detached houses — soared 33 per cent from the level a year earlier.

Both Sousa and Premier Kathleen Wynne are promising to bring forward measures "very soon" to try to cool the housing market.  

Premier declines to set target for house prices

Wynne is refusing to say specifically what she means by her pledge to make it easier for people to buy their first home. 

"This is a very urgent situation," Wynne told a news conference in Brampton on Wednesday. "People are very anxious about their ability to find a place to live. What we need to do is find a way to calm a bit of the frenzy."

Pressed by reporters for her target on house prices, Wynne declined to answer directly. 

"I don't think I can quantify that, but my hope would be that we can make the process of finding a place to live a bit more rational, a bit more predictable, a bit less frantic for people." 

Wynne met local mayors Wednesday afternoon to seek their solutions on how to cool prices, but there were no decisions announced.

"There's no easy answer to this because if there was it would have been implemented by now," Toronto Mayor John Tory told reporters after the meeting. 

Tory said the cost of housing is "a serious problem that's of great concern to a lot of people" but he cautioned about the pitfalls of intervening in the market.

"It's easy to have things you bring forward that people will think are going to solve a problem that is created by a marketplace, but it's much tougher to actually get that just right," said Tory. 

Tory is due to meet with Sousa and federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau on the same topic in the coming days, but the date of their meeting has not yet been set.

- Royal Bank CEO 'increasingly concerned' about Toronto house prices 

Among the measures being considered at various levels of government: a tax on vacant homes, a tax on purchases by foreign buyers, boosting the capital gains tax rate on real-estate profits, and various moves to encourage more supply of homes on the market, including freeing up surplus land for development.

Sousa has indicated he will include measures on housing costs in his upcoming budget. He hasn't announced the budget date, but it cannot be tabled before April 24 as the legislature does not sit next week.