Part III: Canadian Real Estate and a complete lack of transparency
Fact: non-resident citizens of Canada pay a 35% down payment on a house in Canada. That puts my family in the same category as non-citizen money launderers who are buying up properties in Canada without ever having to step foot inside the country. So for the government’s sake, two Canadian citizens and their kid with intent to use their property as a home base to one day live there full-time are treated the same on paper as international gangsters who park their money in Canadian real estate. That means that legitimate citizens have to work harder and save longer to have property, whereas international money just swoops in and grabs it or builds it in such abundance that it keeps driving up prices across the country, thus consistently keeping that carrot dangling further and further way for people who are not international criminals.
You’re probably thinking “wait a second, there is a lot to unpack there. You can’t possibly just imply Canada’s entire economy is afloat on international criminal money.” But I can, and I did. Because it is*.
Supply and demand, right? People working in the real estate industry or adjacent to it have been defending soaring costs for years. Maybe because it results in increasingly higher commissions for them, because they think everyone in the world wants to live in Vancouver or Toronto. Not to be confused with investing in. It might also have something to do with these real estate talking heads hiding their hands under the table as they deal.
It was easy to justify the numbers in the years leading up to the great grinding halt of Covid-19. Immigration was the first reason; supply simply couldn’t keep up with the demand that immigrants were putting on the system. Oh, those immigrants! Takin’ all of our properties. Yet during Covid-19, immigration took a nose-dive and still, somehow, the prices of real estate kept shooting up. Oh, it was all that demand to get out of the city for more space since people were working at home. That’s right, people leaving the city were causing condo prices in the city to continue climbing. Perfectly logical. There are a list of asinine explanations as to why real estate kept climbing, but let’s get to the meat: property flipping, real estate agents flipping pre-constructions, and money laundering. On the honest, side, it was Canadians trying to take advantage of low interest rates in a market that would otherwise exclude them. Hard to blame them for just wanting a place to live. This is a system which has greatly benefited those working within the real estate industry (look at the links, the braggarts are shameless!), but has completely screwed over regular families. Canada’s real estate industry has completely priced them out in the interest of the commodification of places we need to live. That’s how bad the corporatocracy has gotten.
Endless articles are being written about it, and many families are now overextending themselves in debt just for a shot at having a home. To quote Bill Pullman from David Lynch’s Lost Highway… “that’s fuckin’ crazy, man.”
So while real estate will continue in on some completely non-predictable direction, eventually Canadians will be tapped-out but at least the empty houses and condos around them will mean lower population density, right? Great! Maybe our next single-source economy can be built on debt collection. Oh wait, we’re already headed in that direction.
And so we come back to exploitation. From Canada’s Indigenous people to living within a corporatocracy to families who just want to buy a home, Canada has a long history of exploiting the people who actually live there. The question is, do I want to return there and sign up for that, or do I want to look around the world and buy somewhere else? Maybe somewhere where the food tastes real and isn’t modified to just look good on the supermarket shelf, and I don’t have to pay a premium on everything just for the privilege of amassing debt.
My family currently lives debt-free, so let me think about how badly I want to change that.
Happy Canada Day!
*Try to read Sam Cooper’s Willful Blindness and try to hold any sense of pride in what Canada is doing. It’s absolutely disgusting. And enraging.