The prime minister promised two key policies to help the Canadian housing market Wednesday if the Conservatives win the election. Stephen Harper said that foreign ownership will be tracked and reported: “If, in fact, foreign speculators are driving the cost of housing to unaffordable levels, that is something the government can, and should, find a way to address.”

Secondly, first-time buyers will be allowed to use additional funds from their retirement plan to buy a home through the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP). Currently the limit is $25,000 but this will be raised to $35,000.

The Canadian Real Estate Association welcomed the news; president Pauline Aunger commented: “Maintaining the value of the HBP by increasing withdrawal limits is critical. In my own real estate business I have seen so many hard working families and first-time home buyers use this program to build a more secure financial future for themselves,” Aunger stated. “By reducing or avoiding mortgage default insurance fees and building home equity sooner, Canadians can put their own money to work for them.”

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