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A column I wrote last week on a millennial home-seeker’s frustrations trying to buy a house has generated some comments I want to share with you.

Up until very recently, the sharp rise in home sales and prices has been treated as almost a pleasant surprise. Who would have thought the real estate market would flourish during economic lockdowns and layoffs? But the scale and persistence of rising house prices has lately become alarming to some people.

Check out these comments on the column I wrote:

  • “Without a correction we are heading to a world divided between the ones that have and the ones that have not. And that is perpetual social unrest ...”
  • “The housing market resembles the stock market: people paying any price to acquire overvalued positions, only to find that all frenzies end badly.”
  • “I think we are at the point of no return ... to deflate the bubble is possible but at a great human and political price.”

Readers suggested a few different measures to contain the housing market, including deterring speculation by adjusting or eliminating the capital-gains exemption on the sale of a principal residence.

“Let me suggest a solution – gradually end the unlimited capital-gains tax exemption on primary residences,” one reader said. “It seems to encourage this speculation.” Another idea from the same reader is to pair the change in taxation of houses with an increase in the annual contribution limit on tax-free savings accounts to $10,000 per year from the current $6,000.

Another idea on taxation: No capital-gains exemption even on a primary residence if you flip it in the first 36 months of ownership.

Rumors that the federal government has considered taxing houses have circulated for a while, but such a move would be politically explosive. To start with, how would the government apply the tax to the boomers and Gen Xers who revel in the home equity they’ve built and have understood from the beginning that it would be tax-free? And there’s the question of how much of activity in housing is generated by speculators as opposed to young couples who just want a house with a backyard.

I’m interested in your thoughts about this and other aspects of the housing story. Please take this quick poll and don’t hesitate to send me your thoughts at rcarrick@globeandmail.com. I’m especially interested in hearing from first-time home buyers.


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Rob’s personal finance reading list

Women need to save 18% of their income

Women make less than men on average. Here’s some smart, practical advice that acknowledges this reality and then explains how women can build wealth. Saving 18 per cent of income – not the usual 10 per cent – is one of the suggestions. Now for a recent column I wrote that backs up the argument about women needing to save more.

Bitcoin in your retirement portfolio?

Pros and cons on adding cryptocurrency to your RRSP or RRIF, which you can now do via exchange-traded funds that hold crypto assets. Lots of reasons for caution are mentioned here, which is appropriate.

Racial discrimination affects home appraisals

CBC Marketplace runs a test to see if a homeowners’ race can affect appraisals of their home’s value. Yup.

Canada’s best birthday freebies

A fun list of restaurants and retailers that offer free stuff on your birthday. DQ, David’s Tea, Harvey’s, Panera, Starbucks and more.


Ask Rob

Q: How can I fix my credit report if a collection agency has reported to Equifax Canada? I already paid the amount, $342, that was reported in 2015. The account was closed in my credit report, and I was happy because my credit score reached 805. In September, 2020, I was disappointed to see my credit score dropped to 723. I couldn’t believe it until I saw that [the earlier debt] was transferred to the NCRI collection agency, who reported it to the credit bureau. What should I do to clean my record?

A: For an answer, I consulted Julie Kuzmic, director of consumer advocacy at Equifax Canada. “This sounds like a scenario where a collections item has been passed between agencies and some erroneous reporting may have occurred,” she said by e-mail. “If the individual follows the dispute process outlined here, Equifax will investigate.”

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.


Today’s financial tool

Take this quiz put together by securities regulators to see if you can spot investment fraud.


The money-free zone

A reader of this newsletter was inspired to recommend the song A Dollar Down by the Limeliters after reading my recent thumbs-down take on a new generation of apps that let you pay for even small purchases on an instalment plan.


What I’ve been writing about
  • Shut out: A well-qualified millennial home seeker throws up his hands after losing multiple bidding wars
  • Soaring stocks add to retirees’ worry about the ‘tax bomb’ hit on their investments when they die
  • 2021 ETF Buyer’s Guide: Best Canadian bond funds (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)
  • Three mistakes investors are going to be tempted to make in the months ahead

Join us

How have employee rights changed during COVID-19? On March 11, join employment lawyer Daniel Lublin (Whitten and Lublin Employment) and Globe Careers editor Stephanie Chan for a live Q&A on LinkedIn. They will tackle some of the largest and most controversial questions surrounding the current landscape of work during COVID-19.


More Rob Carrick and money coverage

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