Ontario’s finance minister says the new housing measures introduced by the provincial government are starting to help cool its hot real estate market.

“Homes are still being sold, they’re still being maintained at [the] prices they’ve had over the last number of months, but at the same time they’re being more tempered,” said Charles Sousa, in an interview on BNN Monday.

According to data released Monday by the Toronto Real Estate Board, home sales fell 20.3 per cent on a year-over-year basis in May, the first full month after Premier Kathleen Wynne took steps to cool the market.

The finance minister says the new regulations are making prospective home owners take a bit of a breather before stepping in.

Toronto home sales feel chill from government intervention

Government intervention chilled Toronto's red-hot housing market in May, as sales fell and active listings surged. For more, BNN spoke with Robert Hogue, senior economist at RBC.

“They’re having home inspections now” he said. “We’re curbing some of that speculation in the marketplace that even the governor of the Bank of Canada was giving pause for concern.”

On April 20th the provincial government levied 16 new regulations as part of a ‘comprehensive housing package,’ including a 15 per cent non-residents’ speculation tax, expanded rent control to properties built after 1991, legislation to allow municipalities to implement a vacant homes tax and more.

Sousa believes the new measures are having particular effectiveness on speculative buying in the province.

“What’s happening is speculators, who in the past kind of did it under the radar without full disclosure of their activity, and I’m talking about local speculators as well, now they’re required to fully disclose their activity, to fully report to the CRA so as to not take exemptions through a capital gain. So, that has curbed some of their activity, it would seem,” he said.

He did caution, however, that similar measures introduced in British Columbia were not able to sustain a market cooling and that the province needs to consider what effect the measures are having on first-time buyers.

“In Vancouver they also took some measures and the market is now surging back. So, we just have to be mindful that investment will occur and in fact is encouraged … what we don’t want to do is crowd out families who are trying to get into the marketplace who are subject to some of these steps.”