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.
Century 21 Masters