Veteran Bay Street money manager John Stephenson is blasting the federal government’s paucity of detailed real estate data. In an interview with BNN, Stephenson, the president and chief executive officer of Stephenson & Company, said any discussion of a foreign buyers tax or other intervention to cool the nation’s hot housing markets are made much more difficult given the lack of accurate figures.
“It’s just a disgrace how bad our data is. How can you make informed policy if you don’t have better data?” Stephenson said. “We don’t know who the buyers are, we don’t know where they come from, we don’t know if they live here. There’s very little data, there’s very little transparency.”
The Federal government allocated $500,000 to Statistics Canada in the 2016-17 budget to develop methods to gather data on foreign buyers of Canadian real estate, but Stephenson is unimpressed with what a half a million dollars has yielded.“I think there’s a whole series of issues that are complicated [by a lack of data,]” he said. “I think we need a better handle on ‘who are the buyers?’ and be a little more clear on that.”