The Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB) and its 13,000 real estate brokers are taking an active role in the provincial election, asking the four main parties to outline their positions on issues affecting real estate brokerage and housing.
The QFREB says it wants the next government to provide homebuyers with better support and defined safeguards in place to protect both buyers and sellers. It says it is essential that the next premier commits to appointing a minister responsible for housing in their cabinet.
“Despite the recent review of the Real Estate Brokerage Act, the law still has a number of grey areas that make for an unfair situation and open a major breach in the general public’s protective wall,” says QFREB president Patrick Juanéda. “The incoming government needs to institute constructive measures to help Quebec catch up in terms of ownership percentages, which are lower here than in other provinces.”
The QFREB is proposing:
- Guidelines for companies assisting consumers: Some companies provide consumers with real estate sales consulting services similar to those used by licensed Realtors but not all of these companies are audited for compliance with the Real Estate Brokerage Act (REBA), says the federation. It says although QFREB respects the right of consumers to buy, sell or rent property by themselves, “it is essential for the Office de la protection du consommateur (consumer protection bureau) to oversee and regulate such companies to make sure Quebecers using their services are aware of the fact that they may not be protected.”
- Marijuana growing in the home: The federation says its members “have started noticing multiple problems as a result of home-grown marijuana. In order to avoid numerous problems, notably the spread of mould, which can have major impacts on human health and the resale value of properties, the QFREB is asking the political parties to maintain a hard line on the ban on home marijuana cultivation.”
- Co-ownership reform: The rights, powers and obligations of joint ownership condominiums need to be regulated, says the federation. “The QFREB feels that it is crucial for the next government to commit to re-introducing the provisions of Bill 401, notably to ensure better management of contingency funds.”
- Oversight of building inspectors: QFREB says brokers see a lack of consistency in the inspection process “and the negative impacts that the absence of professional oversight is having on consumers, whether they be buyers or sellers.” It says the uniform regulation of building inspection is needed to safeguard the quality of training and to standardize building inspector expertise.
- Institution and maintenance of government programs: “There are countless homeowners held hostage by invasive species like Eurasian water-milfoil, dry-rot fungus or by major construction problems like pyrrhotite,” says QFREB. It is asking the next administration to implement new government programs and maintain existing ones to provide some financial assistance for homeowners confronted by these issues.
The federation is concerned that the homeownership rate in Quebec is just 61 per cent, considerably lower than the Canadian average of 68 per cent. It says it is important to reduce that gap, and one way to do so is to support current owners.
In addition, the federation is calling for the government to reimburse the welcome tax for first-time buyers and extend the Tax Credit for the Upgrading of Residential Waste Water Treatment Systems and the RénoVert Tax Credit.