I had the opportunity to take the CREA Realtor satisfaction survey the other day and noticed that our national organization seems quite proud of their advocacy and political action efforts on behalf of Realtors.

I confess I’m not sure why – for this reason: General macro-economics and pipeline issues aside, the single biggest impactor on our industry, at least in the Prairies, has been the perverse implementation of a national Ministry of Finance monetary policy (via CMHC) apparently designed to “cool” the GTA and Lower Mainland regional markets: the Stress (me out) Test.

I certainly can’t speak with any authority on the need to cool the two markets of the finance minister’s greatest concern, but I can speak about my market: Rural Alberta.  It didn’t need any cooling off, believe me. Now, it seems even to us bumpkins out here on the Prairie that a Harvard Doctorate in Economics isn’t required to realize that Rural Alberta and Metro Toronto are pretty different markets, with different economics, different dynamics, despite (currently) sharing the same country.  And yet we have a national, one-size-fits-none mortgage qualification policy.  The result of which is (out here in Bumpkin-ville) that the bottom end of the Alberta market is (spin it anyway you want) basically in free-fall, and as we all know, if the bottom end stalls, it dominoes right up the line to carriage trade.

Let’s remember, when this policy was initially conceived, there was a real possibility that mortgage rates would go up.  However, as governments often do, the feds took long enough to get to it that they managed to interfere in the marketplace just in time to accelerate a slowdown in a real-time economic retraction. This when significant rate increases in the near to mid-term are now pretty unlikely.

Which brings me back to CREA. Where are you guys?  This is just the kind of well-meaning yet profoundly dumb political interference that I thought we were paying you guys to talk the government out of. This policy is like swatting flies with a 2×4. I know that it is sometimes difficult for CREA to see past the Ontario border, or even the Toronto municipal boundary, but honestly. You have the data. Aren’t you the teensiest bit concerned that CREB registered the fewest unit sales since (if I recall correctly) 1998?  When does the situation become serious enough that CREA makes a concerted appeal to the Liberals for some slack, at least in regions that are already stressed enough without Ottawa’s help?

So, show me some actual advocacy and political action and then send me a new survey. I promise my responses will be more enthusiastic on that one.

 

David Lowe
Manager
Century 21 Masters
Sangudo, Alta.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Kudos to David Lowe! On top of the crippling stress test and it’s impact on buyers- thise of us in “ small town” BC are struggling with additional issues. We have the new rules brought into effect in June 2018.Limited Dual Agency is now outlawed – the effect on realtors in a small town is dramatic. Buyers usually call the listing realtor-if the listing realtor shows his listing – and his knowledge of the property motivates the buyer to write an offer-the client must be referred to another realtor to write the offer. Result: listing realtor does the work and can only hope for a referral or no selling commission at all. Rules made because of activities in lower mainland are financially disastrous for us in small towns. The cumbersome disclosure paperwork adds new meaning to redundancy. How many times do we have to repeat? Is it any wonder that many realtors have left the profession? CREA needs to look beyond the big cities!

    • I am not necessarily pro union; but before they practically outlived their usefulness, it’s a small wonder they didn’t try to unionize REALTORS.

      Actually I do seem to recall an attempt having been made maybe thirty years ago. Even the bad guys in business have/had a union steward to stand ground for them. Someone to speak to the given industry on behalf of the worker-bees.

      I’m all for protecting the public, but there’s no one to protect agents to have a right to earn a living. The corp involved can’t, won’t, don’t; the given Board doesn’t (it’s not part of their mandate); the provincial ass’n’s won’t, don’t, can’t; and protection of the REALTOR is not the mandate of the nat’l ass’n. There’s no governor on overall rules across the nation as a whole. One nation under — (distress)…

      In some cases it’s like tossing a child into the water without a life jacket and telling it to swim. Chances are he will, but some would drown. Many agents are in fact drowning.

      I worked for 35 years, from day one in a large suburban city that has more than doubled in size. During the 80’s there were residential dwellings with as many as twelve people living in an ordinarily subdivision house, overloading the infrastructure and paying regular property tax.
      There were many things to be considered such as overloaded transit systems that had to accommodate the fast growth patterns, and waste mgmt, that weren’t fully prepared for such.

      On the topic of double-ending, as many REM readers have heard me speak, year after year typically 60% of my transactions were double-ends.
      I never had a complaint in all the years. And I was a full five years into the industry before I was warned I was double-ending far too often. That I had become dangerous doing so. Clearly I had misunderstood what I had been hired to do.

      It was such an anomaly that apparently head office warned the branch that although I had never had a complaint, I needed to be told my way of thinking that I had been hired by the owners to “sell” their property didn’t really mean that in real life.

      Lots of “definitions” would have to change, rules rewritten. Thus, we have what we have today. But along the way someone forgot to tell (warn) the public that who they hired to represent them, meant that the agent was forbidden to “sell” said property, that the agents were being hired to “market” the property. Not in fact to “sell” it. Verboten in many domiciles. Not forbidden here at the time, just frowned upon.

      My problem was that I seriously undertook to “sell”my clients’ properties. 60% of the time, year after year, I actually did. And no one ever complained. Everyone got treated well and good, and fully transparent contracts were consummated in a timely manner.

      Oh what a tangled web we weave…

      The public expects/demands a sale from the listing agent. And gets upset when the engaged agent doesn’t show the house to prospective buyers, because it’s less fuss and bother to encourage a would be buyer to write an offer on another company’s listing. Go figure. And we are meant to explain that transparency to the homeowner, and still have him “hire” us. Not to “sell” his property, only hiring us to “market” his property with the hope that another friendly agent from another company will provide a buyer.
      What is the definition of the highest and best use “of an agent?”

      There’s a special breed of cat (agent) out there who needs a designation saying that he is a double-ender and understands how it is done in a proficient, efficient manner where everybody wins, respectfully. It CAN be done, and I’m historically living proof.

      Let the contract do the talking is the secret to mission accomplished. Total transparency all round. No complaints. Job well done for and by all involved. Plenty of written compliments helped bring in more of those kinds of sellers who specified they were “hiring me to ‘sell’ their property.” Because of my reputation in the field for so-doing.

      Carolyne L 🍁

  2. Well written and to the point. Btw, I find CREA useless. Quebec was wise enough to say NO we don’t need CREA. and No it doesn’t help them so why should their agents pay the CREA membership.

  3. I am terribly disappointed with CREA PAC as well. We too are regionalized and are timid provincially in BC. We could be a very effective lobbying group – we are not.

  4. I agree with David Lowe on the question..WHAT IS CREA doing for the membership ?
    In my 43 years as an agent, the “OVER GOVERNING ” of our industry without bettering it has discouraged quality Companies and people from continuing in our business. ENOUGH with more rules and LESS with the POLITICAL stuff.

  5. Agree 100%, certainly rural ontario but even mid to moderate size cities like Kingston have been dramatically affected. Crea needs take their head out of the sand and make a really concentrated , loud and visible effort to change this stress test.

  6. Agreed! It’s affecting Ontario as well, we have little to no listings as a result. People are afraid to list and not find anything else in their budget so it’s created panic. I had 5 potential listings last year that didn’t list because they wouldn’t qualify for the mortgage they would need to make the move they wanted. As a newer agent that hits hard! Limited listings means high prices, add to it outside pressure from Toronto investors and cash buyers and then buyers who don’t qualify for that high of a mortgage so as a buyers agent you work hard for your money and listing agents are struggling to find listings. Everything that seems to be decent gets gobbled up in multiple offers and grossly overpriced. This is crippling first time buyers who struggle to save a healthy down payment only to find out they don’t qualify for the mortgage they thought they would. They end up with ridiculously low budgets and some just give up. They get beat out in multiple offers and can’t find anything worth buying in their price range. We have new and seasoned agents who are struggling because of this. If your lucky enough to land a listing you better pray you can find them somewhere to live. CREA needs to step it up and pressure the feds to correct this stupidity.

  7. I couldn’t agree more we need our National governing body to wake up and realize that there are lots of markets outside of Toronto and Vancouver! Rural Ontario is I suspect not much different than rural Alberta but we seem to always be tagged by what is happening in the big markets. Whatever happened to keeping your fingers out of the market and letting them find their own level. Remember . “Eyes ON Hands OUT’

  8. We don’t like the stress test in Toronto, either. A better: a restrictive policy for non-resident buyers. This would tame inflated urban markets with no negative impact on our friends in rural Alberta.

  9. Politicians/CMHC should join the real world and see what it is like. Ottawa should start listening to the rest of the country instead of believing that Canada consists of 4 cities Toronto(scientist are wrong…the universe revolves around Toronto, not the sun), Ottawa Vancouver or Montreal

  10. Amen! Profoundly dumb would be a moderate way to describe the Stress Test. I have some friends in our business who would describe it with greater thrust and with a high level of profanity, just for good measure.

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