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Is a GTA real estate deal that sounds like paradise too good to be true? – CBC.ca

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A million dollar-plus home in the Greater Toronto Area’s hot real estate market for only $700,000. A five per cent down payment. A 30-year mortgage at a 2.75 per cent interest rate. Those were the appealing terms of a real estate deal that local realtor Horace Dockery said has been circulating in Toronto’s Black community since last summer.

The offer was for pre-construction homes in developments constructed by Paradise Developments Inc. — a licensed developer currently building homes in the GTA communities of Pickering, Whitby, Brampton, Aurora and Vaughan.

Dockery said the seller — Paradise Development Homes Limited (PDHL) — had a nearly identical name to the builder, and a private lender called Empire Finance would provide mortgage financing.

To Dockery, who is Black, the terms weren’t an indication of a great deal, but rather one of several major red flags that prompted him to post a warning in a Facebook group for members of Toronto’s Black community interested in real estate. 

A Black man in a suit jacket stands in a city park.
After hearing about a real estate opportunity spreading by word of mouth among Toronto’s Black community last year, local realtor Horace Dockery posted a warning in a Facebook group telling people he felt the deal might be too good to be true. (Ryan Patrick Jones/CBC)

“The numbers didn’t make sense or add up,” Dockery told CBC News. “Those are the alarm bells that sort of sent my spider senses off, and I was like, ‘There’s a problem here.'”

His post alleged a group of men were selling Paradise Developments Inc. homes but convincing buyers to provide deposits to the company with the similar name — Paradise Development Homes Limited. In his post, Dockery said anyone who gave money to that company would be “homeless” and “out a lot of money.”

“Our community is the main target,” the post reads. “If it is too good to be true, it typically is.”

CBC News conducted a monthslong investigation that revealed Paradise Developments Inc. has been trying to prevent a number of individuals and companies — including two that have used the similar-sounding name — from collecting deposits for homes in its developments.

The numbers didn’t make sense or add up. Those are the alarm bells that sort of sent my spider senses off.– Horace Dockery, Toronto real estate agent

The investigation raises concerns about who is running those companies and whether they’re doing business legally. Amid all this, questions remain for buyers whose closing dates are still months or a year away and who have collectively put down hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

CBC News spoke to more than 10 people who say they either gave deposits to individuals connected with PDHL or Empire Finance, have friends or family who made payments, or who heard the sales pitch in person but didn’t invest. Most, but not all, are members of the Black community. Some raised concerns about the validity of the deals, while others believe they have legitimately purchased a home.

  • If you have information about this story, please reach out to CBC Toronto at torontotips@cbc.ca and use the subject line “Developer Story.”

Most wouldn’t go on the record due to fear of losing out on the deal, fear of offending community or family members who bought in, or because they are waiting for their closing dates.

CBC News can’t say for certain if these deals are legitimate, because the buyers’ closing dates are in the future.

Companies offered low rates, weren’t registered

Dockery, who is also a licensed mortgage broker, said there is “no way” a private lender would offer such a low mortgage rate.

Ron Butler, founder of Butler Mortgage and a 27-year industry veteran, agreed.

“The concept that a private mortgage can be offered at 2.7 per cent is so ridiculous, so impossible, that they should have picked a better number,” he said.

A typical interest rate offered by a private lender over the past year or so would be in the range of 6.5 to eight per cent, Butler said.

A white man with grey hair wears a suit jacket and stands in front of a brick building.
Ron Butler, founder of Butler Mortgage and a 27-year veteran of the real estate industry, said that in order for companies to offer 30-year mortgages in Canada, they must be designated as approved lenders by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

Butler pointed out that to offer a 30-year-mortgage, a lender would need to have securitized billions of dollars worth of mortgages, something only large institutions such as banks have the ability to do. 

Another red flag to Butler was the fact that PDHL and Empire Finance weren’t registered as approved lenders with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which, under the National Housing Act, they must be in order to offer mortgages with a five per cent down payment.

Agreement warned buyers not to talk to builder 

A draft purchase agreement provided to a potential buyer by PDHL for a home at the Seaton community in Pickering, Ont., where Paradise Developments Inc. is building homes, contained irregular clauses, according to Dockery.

CBC News reviewed that agreement.

The agreement lists the model for sale as “The Eaglewood” — a 2,360 square foot detached home that is one of dozens built by Paradise Developments Inc. The purchase price is $705,000, and the deposit amount is $35,250.

Two typewritten clauses in a sales agreement. The first is highlighted, the second is crossed out in pen.
A purchase agreement for a home provided to a potential buyer by Paradise Development Homes Limited contained one clause, top, that indicates the buyer must not contact the builder under any circumstance. Another clause, bottom, encourages buyers to consult a lawyer if they don’t understand aspects of the agreement, but is crossed out. (Name withheld)

Dockery said when he contacted Paradise Developments Inc., he learned houses at Pickering Seaton weren’t on the market yet and hadn’t even been priced, something CBC News later confirmed.

This is information he says potential buyers would know if they contacted the builder, which the agreement reviewed by CBC tells them specifically not to do.

One clause states that the buyer risks losing their deposit if they share information about the deal or contact the builder (Paradise Developments Inc.); a section stating the buyer should consult a lawyer is crossed out. 

“They don’t want you to ask questions, and they don’t want you to share it so you can be informed,” said Dockery. “That was the biggest concern for me.”

What the developer says

In a statement, Paradise Developments Inc. said it has no connection to or business relationship with Paradise Development Homes Limited or Empire Finance and that the two companies have no right to be marketing or selling its homes.

In spring 2021, the developer became aware of “illegal real estate activities and improper use” of its name, marketing and corporate materials, according to an email sent in May by Daniel Salerno, vice-president for operations, sales and marketing at Paradise Developments Inc. 

A blue building with a sign that says Paradise Developments.
A drone photo shows the Paradise Developments Inc. presentation centre for their New Kleinburg subdivision in Vaughn, Ont. In a statement, the developer said it has no connection to or business relationship with Paradise Development Homes Limited or Empire Finance. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

“We immediately retained legal counsel and began an investigation,” he wrote. 

That investigation revealed use of the developer’s marketing materials on Facebook Marketplace, he said. After Paradise complained, the platform removed the posts. 

He said the developer informed police in Peel and Toronto and sent out cease and desist letters in 2021 to Paradise Development Homes Limited and another company called Estate Financial. 

“Our counsel … asked that any deposits be returned to the affected purchasers or potential purchasers,” said Salerno.

He said a second round of letters was sent once the lawyers learned a new company with the name Paradise Development Homes Limited had been incorporated at the end of 2021 but with different corporate leadership.

Peel police said in a statement in May that they were investigating a situation similar to what Dockery described in his Facebook post.

Two men wearing hard hats do work on the frame of a building under construction.
A drone captures construction workers doing framing work on a home in the New Kleinburg subdivision being built by Paradise Developments Inc. in Vaughan, Ont. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

A tale of two companies

Two corporations with the name Paradise Development Homes Limited have been incorporated within the last year and a half, documents filed with the Ontario Business Registry show. 

The registry contains the only online documentation for either company. CBC News could not find a website or social media account associated with them.

The first PDHL was incorporated in February 2021, with an individual named Hassan Zafar as its sole director, according to its articles of incorporation.

That company changed its name on Oct. 28, 2021, to Dezi Cars and Autobody Limited and then to Dezi Development Corporation on Feb. 16, 2022, registry records show.

Paradise Developments Inc. told CBC News that in 2021, it petitioned the provincial ministry responsible to force the name change. A spokesperson with the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery confirmed this.

A new, separate company called Paradise Development Homes Limited was incorporated on Dec. 24, 2021 — two months after the first changed its name. 

This time, the company listed a different director on its incorporation documents — Conan J. Hamdani, a 38-year-old Milton resident. In June, at an unrelated plea hearing, an Ontario court judge called Hamdani a “career fraudster.”

In 2008, Hamdani was sentenced to 31 months in jail after he and his father were accused of producing and possessing fake passports, traveller’s cheques and money orders. In the 14 years since, he has been charged with multiple criminal offenses including fraud, most recently in June 2022.

While there is no public link between the two PDHL companies, CBC News has uncovered a connection.

Purchase documents obtained from the online incorporation company hired to register the second firm show Zafar placed the order to incorporate it on Dec. 23, 2021, listing Hamdani as its sole director. 

When reached by phone in June, Hamdani said he was unaware he was listed as director and knew nothing about the company. 

“This is not my company, and I don’t own it,” he said. “I’ve never registered this company. Maybe somebody did something under my name.”

Zafar did not respond to multiple attempts to reach him by email, phone and at his Etobicoke home.

Paradise Developments Inc. confirmed one of the cease and desist letters it sent in 2021 went to Zafar while a second was sent to Hamdani this year.

The developer also launched another objection against the second PDHL upon learning of its existence this year. The ministry spokesperson confirmed in late June that it issued a certificate of amendment forcing the second company to change its name to 1000063697 Ontario Limited.

Zafar, Hamdani and the companies that list them as directors are not licensed as vendors with the Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA), which they legally have to be to build and sell homes in Ontario. 

The HCRA said it hasn’t received any complaints about this situation.

Mortgages, financing and deposits

When people approached Dockery with information about the real estate deal, they told him the mortgages for homes purchased through PDHL were being provided by Empire Finance, which is not registered as a company in Ontario. 

Empire Finance had its headquarters on the fourth floor of an office building at 2 County Court Boulevard in Brampton, Ont. That address appears on a business card belonging to a man named Moiz Kunwar, whom a source told CBC met them at the office to talk about a potential deal for homes in a Paradise Developments community. 

The card lists Kunwar as president.

A business card lists Moiz Kunwar as the president of a Brampton company that is a private lender and developer and has a website and email related to Empire Finance. (Name withheld)

According to the description on the card and an archived version of its website, the company is involved in mortgages, private lending and pre-construction development.

CBC News spoke to four individuals who did not want to go on the record who indicated Kunwar was offering deals on homes in Paradise Developments Inc. communities as recently as this spring. Two of those sources said they or others they know paid their deposits to PDHL.

Some said Kunwar told them he provided an early investment to the established developer in return for access to discounted homes. They alleged he pledged to provide mortgage financing and collected deposits from would-be buyers, sometimes in person at the Brampton office.

The fourth floor of the building is also the address of the second company formerly known as PDHL, according to its articles of incorporation.

Two sources said Kunwar has returned deposits to buyers who got cold feet.

A woman stands in her salon.
Guerline Cribe, seen in her Toronto salon, and her son say they provided a $10,000 deposit to buy a home from Kunwar. Cribe says she hasn’t heard from Kunwar since their closing date in March 2022. (Ryan Patrick Jones/CBC )

‘I’m not going to have a home’

This isn’t the first time concerns have been raised about Kunwar’s real estate dealings.

Toronto resident Guerline Cribe told CBC News that she and her son, Edward Noel, met Kunwar at his home in May 2020 and signed a purchase agreement for a brand new three-bedroom townhouse in the New Kleinburg subdivision being built by Paradise Developments Inc. in Vaughan, Ont. 

Noel says he gave Kunwar a $10,000 bank draft to secure the $545,000 property. CBC News viewed a photo of the draft. 

“You have to have a house in order to build your wealth,” Cribe said in an interview at her Toronto hair salon.

“So, I was thinking: ‘Oh, finally, I’m going to move forward with that.'”

WATCH | Guerline Cribe discusses meeting Moiz Kunwar: 

Toronto woman describes meeting Moiz Kunwar to buy home

3 hours ago

Duration 1:03

Toronto resident Guerline Cribe describes visiting Moiz Kunwar’s home with her son in May 2020 to sign paperwork to buy a home in Vaughan, Ont. Kunwar denies any involvement with selling homes.

Cribe said Kunwar had represented himself at that time as the president of a mortgage company called I.L.Y.A.S. Pvt. Ltd., which isn’t registered anywhere in Canada.

Photos of the signed sales agreement, viewed by CBC News, list Paradise Development Inc. — no ‘s’ in development — as the seller and list Kunwar as the person to whom cheques can be made payable. Kunwar is also listed as president, although it’s unclear for what company.

The document lists the terms of the 30-year mortgage: monthly payments of $1,526.23 at an interest rate of 2.7 per cent. 

Cribe and Noel were supposed to take possession of the home in March 2022. Five months later, they’re still without keys despite multiple attempts to contact Kunwar. 

Two black and white documents for a home sale are seen in a side-by-side composite image.
The first and last pages of a sales agreement signed by Cribe and her son, Edward Noel, for a home sold by Paradise Development Inc. are seen in a composite image. Kunwar is listed as the person to whom cheques can be made payable. (Submitted by Guerline Cribe)

Cribe says she has mixed feelings about the situation. 

“We in the community, Black community, we’re so used to people doing … bad things to us.”

Without a home, Cribe said the plan she had for herself is gone, and she must continue renting for now.

“I’m supposed to have a home, and I’m not going to have a home, so that’s going to be like a step back,” she said.

In its statement, Paradise Developments Inc. said Kunwar has no authority or legal right to sell any of its properties, including those in the New Kleinburg community where Cribe and Noel thought they would be living by now.

An aerial view shows rows of detached homes and an under-construction townhouse development.
A drone captures an aerial view of part of the New Kleinburg subdivision being built by Paradise Developments Inc. in Vaughan, Ont. Cribe says the home she thought she was buying was in this neighbourhood. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

Kunwar denies being responsible for deals

Salerno, the vice-president of Paradise Developments Inc., said cease and desist letters were sent to Kunwar and Estate Financial in 2021 after its investigation connected them. 

Estate Financial also isn’t registered as a company in Ontario and has little presence online.

Kunwar, Paradise Development Homes Limited, Empire Finance and Estate Financial aren’t licensed to sell mortgages in Ontario, according to Ontario’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA). The authority notes on its website that it’s illegal to act as a mortgage agent or broker without a licence.

CBC News repeatedly contacted Kunwar to arrange an interview. After he didn’t respond to a detailed list of questions sent by email, CBC News spoke to him outside his home in Brampton on June 16. He denied any involvement in real estate. On a phone call later that day, he said he works as a cryptocurrency investor and does construction on the side. 

A barefoot man wearing a grey t-shirt and red shorts stands on the steps of a home.
Kunwar, seen outside his home in Brampton, Ont., said he was not involved in any real estate deals. He later admitted passing on information about real estate deals to other potential buyers, but denied taking deposits. (Lane Harrison/CBC)

When reached again by phone weeks later, Kunwar said he passed on information about the deals to people he knew but denied taking deposits. 

He said he had put down deposits for two homes himself and expressed concerns over his investments but wouldn’t provide any documentation.

“I told friends that told friends, and those friends contacted me via cellphone and said, ‘Hey, what did you do? What’s going on? We’re hearing [about] this deal,'” he said. 

“I said, ‘Bro, this is exactly what I did. This is the guy. If you want to go see him, here’s his number … go talk to him.’ That’s all I did. I didn’t meet nobody. I didn’t see nobody.”

Kunwar said another man was responsible for the deals, but CBC News could not reach that person using the contact information Kunwar provided.

WATCH | Home ownership powerful motivator, mortgage expert says: 

Desire to own may make home buyers less vigilant, expert says

11 hours ago

Duration 0:28

Mortgage expert Ron Butler says the desire to own a home is so strong among many Greater Toronto Area residents that they may ignore red flags when it comes to real estate deals.

Hot housing market creates desperation, realtor says 

Dockery, the Toronto realtor, says a historical lack of access to financing and home ownership, combined with a general desperation for affordable housing in Toronto, may have made the Black community a target.

He also said the way news of the deals spread may have contributed to how willing people were to believe them.

“You’re not going to dig as much if someone — your church pastor or your church elder — says, ‘Hey, this is a great opportunity, believe me.'”

As someone trying to educate the community about the ins and outs of the real estate business, Dockery said he finds the situation unfortunate.

“There needs to be more awareness put out and action by the authorities to stop this,” he said.

In his view, these too-good-to-be-true deals are exactly that: A way to attract unsuspecting people dreaming of home ownership to part with hefty deposits they might never get back for homes they’ll never live in.

  • If you have information about this story, please reach out to CBC Toronto at torontotips@cbc.ca and use the subject line “Developer Story.”

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The Commercial Real Estate Market: Crash, Train Wreck, Or Apocalypse? – Forbes

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Dire warnings about commercial real estate appear almost daily these days. While office markets are stressed due to increased working from home, some real estate professionals see an increasingly bifurcated market, divided “into haves and have-nots.” Investors, renters, and cities—especially those with older, declining buildings— will need to pay close attention in the coming months to see where they fall and how bad things might get.

Dramatic negative evaluations of commercial real estate are easily found. The San Francisco Standard foresees an “epic commercial real estate crash” looming over that city, comparing it to an approaching train with “the city, its budget, and its ability to provide services tied to the tracks.” Not to be outdone, Bloomberg tweeted “remote work is killing Manhattan’s commercial real estate market” with similar problems extending to other cities.

But even that language pales against what NYU professor Arpit Gupta and his colleagues are saying, predicting an “office real estate apocalypse.” Using New York City data, they estimate “a 45% decline in office values in 2020 and 39% in the longer run, the latter representing a $453 billion value deduction,” which could plunge the city into a “fiscal doom loop.” Similar damage could hit other cities, and by extension the national economy.

How then do we make sense of other bad—but not apocalyptic—data? CommercialEdge’s monthly “National Office Report” for September found stagnant average office listing rates, $38.70 per square foot, “down 0.1% year-over-year.” Bad, but not apocalyptic. And as I recently noted, some cities, especially in the Sunbelt or those with strong life sciences industries, are seeing strong rental markets.

What do other data tell us? Moody’s documented that securities backed by commercial mortgages saw “a huge spike in elevated delinquency rates” in the second quarter of 2020, right when the pandemic hit. But banks, life insurance investors, and others restructured loans and offered forbearance, lessening their delinquency rates. That strategy will be harder to follow if new pressure comes on the office market, especially with the Fed raising interest rates, making borrowing more costly across the board.

So far, at least commercial banks now seem to have their real estate loans under control. Their charge-off and delinquency rates hit 0.07% in the second quarter of 2020, the height of the pandemic. But in the first two quarters of 2022, the Fed reports those rates at zero, not a signal of dramatic falls in loan quality.

And even 2020’s bad numbers were nothing like the 2008 financial crisis. Between 2009 and 2010, commercial bank loan delinquencies were over 2% for seven consecutive quarters. Tighter regulation has since helped control loose bank lending, so thankfully we don’t have signs that commercial lending failures are pulling down the entire economy.

Going behind the aggregate numbers shows some positive signs in commercial real estate. In the past year, Sunbelt cities like Charlotte and Austin, or cities with concentrations of life sciences like Boston, saw double-digit increases in rents. Google
GOOG
and other tech firms have been leasing large amounts of space in cities like New York and Chicago.

The biggest risk in commercial real estate is older, less desirable office space. The amount of that in any city is central to assessing its overall risk. A magazine roundtable from PERE, which tracks private equity real estate investing, found a “very challenged” but uncertain market, with risks ranging from inflation in construction and financing costs to a looming recession.

PERE’s experts see a “bifurcated” market, with more modern buildings (especially those that are ESG compliant) and some cities in good position to weather the crisis. The PERE investors see a “new normal” with less full-time office occupancy, but with offices still facing “unknown” overall demand from clients.

But these the views of real estate investors, who could be (as they say on the Street), “talking their book” and putting a positive spin on the numbers. In contrast, consider the “apocalypse” analysis from NYU and Columbia professors. By combining working from home data with financial information from real estate investment trusts (REITs) other financial information, they predict “long-run office valuations that are 39.18% below pre-pandemic levels” with “lower quality office stock…a more substantially stranded asset.”

If they are right, cities—and the economy—are in for a rough ride. Although some older buildings might be converted into housing, that’s not an easy or immediate process. Collapsing real estate values could lead to substantial fiscal problems for many cities, resulting in cuts to social services, education, public health, and other essential government functions. We aren’t in an apocalypse yet, but we all need to keep one eye on the possibility.

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Sale of real estate shares by non-Mexican residents – International Tax Review

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According to the Mexican Income Tax Law (MITL), the transfer of shares by foreign residents triggers Mexican source income when more than 50% of their accounting value derives directly or indirectly from immovable property located in Mexico. These types of shares are commonly referred to as ‘real estate shares’.

This implies that from a domestic tax perspective, whenever a non-Mexican entity transfers shares issued by another non-Mexican resident which, in turn, holds assets or participation in a Mexican resident company, two concepts have to be taken into account to determine if there is taxation in Mexico: (i) the value of the shares that are being transferred; and (ii) the value of the immovable property located in Mexico.

Although in principle these calculations may seem simple to compute, there have been many doubts from a practical perspective that have led to different interpretations.

As it relates to the accounting value of the shares, neither the MITL nor any other legal provisions provide with a definition of such concept; nevertheless, pursuant to the Mexican Financial Reporting Standards, the accounting value could be interpreted as the value at which a right or obligation is recorded under accounting records (i.e., the ‘book value’). Accordingly, the book value of an entity is the stockholders’ equity, which is computed by subtracting total liabilities from total assets.

Article 13 of the Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD Model Convention) does not make reference to the accounting value of the shares, but only to ‘the value’ of such goods. The same applies with Mexican double taxation treaties. This may lead to different interpretations regarding the value that should be used (i.e., the accounting value or the market value, both of which may vary considerably from one to another).

Additionally, the fact that the shares being transferred are not issued by a Mexican resident, the accounting principles applicable under the issuer’s jurisdiction may differ from the Mexican Financial Reporting Standards.

If the entity that is being transferred holds the Mexican assets directly, no distortion should exist as both the shares’ and immovable property’s accounting value would be registered under the same accounting principles.

Conversely, if the entity that is being sold holds shares or participation in a Mexican company, distortions may exist as the latter may be registering the immovable property under different accounting principles. The shares’ value of the company that is being transferred (as registered by the transferor) may not reflect the value of the immovable property in Mexico consistently.

In addition, if the entity that is being transferred directly or the Mexican entity indirectly has debt, the immovable property value could exceed the accounting value of the shares. To clarify this scenario, commentaries on Article 13 of the OECD Model Convention provide that the computation will be normally done by dividing the immovable property’s value (numerator) by the value of all assets owned by the entity (denominator) without taking into account debts or other liabilities.

As it relates to the ‘immovable property’s value’, the Mexican tax laws are silent; however, under the OECD Model Convention and its commentaries it could be interpreted that the ‘book value’ shall be applicable, as opposed to the fair market value or the actual value of the transaction.

If an entity that is being transferred holds a participation in different entities that are resident in different foreign countries, the determination of the immovable property’s value could be even more complex due to differences in domestic provisions (e.g. differences in depreciation rates).

In addition to the doubts that exist about the correct approach to determine these values, categorising an asset as immovable property is also a common issue that many taxpayers face on these types of transactions.

Under the OECD Model Convention, ‘immovable property’ has the meaning which it has under the law of the contracting state in which the property in question is situated. From a Mexican legal perspective, immovable assets are, among others, land and constructions attached to it; docks and constructions that, even when floating, are intended to remain at a fixed point of a river, lake or coast; as well as everything that is attached to an immovable asset in a way that it cannot be separated without deterioration (i.e., gas pipeline).

In terms of the MITL regulations, examples of assets that are considered to be ‘attached’ to the land, are houses, buildings, industrial and electrical plants, warehouses, highways, bridges, railways or dams.

In order to avoid some risks of possible conflicts between domestic law and a tax treaty, the OECD Model Convention also clarifies that the term ‘immovable property’ shall, in any case, include property accessory to immovable property, livestock and equipment used in agriculture and forestry, rights to which the provisions of general law respecting landed property apply and usufruct of immovable property and rights to variable or fixed payments as consideration for the working of, or the right to work, mineral deposits, sources and other natural resources.

At the time of writing, there are no court precedents or guidance from Mexican or international tax authorities to clarify these issues. Thus, when transferring participation in a non-Mexican resident entity that owns directly or indirectly immovable property in Mexico, non-Mexican tax residents have to be careful in their analysis as to whether Mexican source income exists and have evidence on the computations and position taken.

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Priced out of Toronto's housing market? Alberta wants you to turn your eyes west – CBC.ca

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If you’ve been priced out of Toronto’s real estate market, Alberta hopes its latest ploy will have you looking west to achieve your white-picket-fence dreams. 

In a move to lure fed-up prospective home buyers, the province has unveiled the second phase of its campaign dubbed “Alberta is Calling.” 

“We’ve got Canada’s lowest taxes and the lowest cost of living, plus the highest wages and incomes and lots of big opportunity,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in a video on Twitter.

The campaign touts slightly higher weekly earnings in Alberta over those in Ontario, averaging $1,245 to $1,186, respectively.

While the average income is comparable, there’s a significant difference when it comes to real estate. According to Kenney, the average cost for a detached home is $490,000 in Edmonton and $700,000 in Calgary — in Toronto it’s $1.4 million. 

Figures like those are what enticed Yash Chauhan to uproot his life in Toronto.

“I moved to Canada three years ago, and given the extremely high rents in Toronto and then how real estate prices moved up during the pandemic — obviously everyone wants to own a house — Calgary seemed like a good idea,” he told CBC Toronto. 

In February, after pre-purchasing a home in Calgary, Chauhan packed up his Toronto apartment, put all his belongings into his car, and drove west. 

“Initially I moved here as an experiment,” he said. “It was an impulse move.” 

But after just a few days, Chauhan said he knew he wanted to stay. 

Ontario offers more job variety, experts say

In return for the “many cost-of-living, career and lifestyle advantages of life in Alberta,” the province hopes people like Chauhan will fill some of its 100,000 job vacancies — a shortage it says is restricting 78 per cent of Alberta businesses from meeting demand. 

Despite that shortage, the province says it has still seen the largest employment growth in the country so far in 2022. Between December 2021 and August 2022, employment in Alberta increased by 61,700 compared with an increase of 28,600 in Ontario, despite it having a larger population.

But some experts say finding work in lesser populated cities like Calgary and Edmonton isn’t so simple. 

In its campaign dubbed ‘Alberta is Calling,’ the province touts its high average wages, low taxes, ‘unprecedented economic growth,’ and affordable housing market. (Government of Alberta)

“Some of the other factors that are much bigger than the housing costs are job opportunities,” said Rotman School of Management professor emeritus Anil Verma. 

Verma argues that Alberta’s economy — and therefore job opportunities — is largely restricted to oil, gas and other extractive industries like mining. 

“Ontario has much of the same but it’s much more broad in scope,” she said.

“So for dual career couples or families, there’s a greater chance you’d find something in the GTA than in Alberta.” 

‘It’s just easier here’

As for Chauhan, his move out west has worked out so far. 

“It’s just easier here because I’m paying the same amount — my mortgage is basically the same as my rent in Toronto,” he said.

“So I’m building equity, I’m not just paying all that money in rent.” 

Alberta’s nature, Chauhan says, is just an added perk. 

“When I get out of my home … I can see the mountains in two minutes,” he said. 

“What I imagined — it turned out to be way more beautiful than that.” 

Located in Alberta, Peyto Lake is a glacier-fed lake in Banff National Park. Yash Chauhan says the province’s beautiful scenery helped him decide to pack up his Toronto apartment and move further west. (Submitted by Yash Chauhan )

He’s encouraging others to follow in his footsteps. 

“If you want to live a rich life and maybe die poor and if you want to live poor and die rich, you should probably stay in Toronto.” 

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