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16 Sep

Cut red tape, end harmful stress test Realtors urge politicians


Posted by: Kimberly Walker

Real estate organizations from across Canada are urging federal election parties to cut barriers to homeownership.

Several bodies representing real estate agents have united in their message to politicians to reduce the challenges facing homebuyers including the mortgage stress test and zoning restrictions.

They are also keen for the next government to allow 30-year amortizations to help boost affordability and give more flexible options for homebuyers.

“We need concrete results in the Greater Toronto Area to address the lack of supply by reducing red tape for building, relaxing zoning to expand mid-density (e.g., townhomes) housing, facilitating more transit-oriented development, accelerating infrastructure improvements and lightening the taxation burden facing home buyers. The Ontario government and the City of Toronto are working on solutions to bring more supply on-line, but specific milestones should be set,” said John DiMichele, Chief Executive Officer of Toronto Real Estate Board.

Ashley Smith, president of Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver added that, while the board believes in responsible lending and regulation, there’s a balance.

The stress test is causing more harm to hopeful home buyers than it needs to. It’s hurting affordability and stifling people’s ability to meet their housing needs,” he said.

No one-size solution
Matt Honsberger, President, Nova Scotia Association of Realtors said that one-size-fits-all policies do not work in the housing market and urged political parties to focus on the economic contribution that real estate makes.

And Julie Saucier, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers, highlighted the homeownership rate in Quebec, which at 61% lags the other provinces where rates are above 70%.

“We believe that there needs to be better support offered to buyers of residential properties, particularly first-time buyers,” she said. “We also support the implementation and maintenance of home renovation tax credit programs to encourage the purchase of properties requiring upgrades, a refund of transfer duties for first-time buyers, and the introduction of mortgage rules that are adapted to regional and provincial differences.”

Alan Tennant, Chief Executive Officer, Calgary Real Estate Board, added that leadership in government is needed to end ad-hoc policies and create a clear housing strategy.

Stolen equity
“To help Canadians, the real estate market must have liquidity, but the federal government’s anti-homeownership policies have made it difficult for millennials to purchase their first home, difficult for families to upsize or downsize as their needs change and difficult for seniors to exit the market,” commented Michael Brodrick, Chair, Realtors Association of Edmonton.

He added that the stress test was introduced nationally with no regard for regional differences and has cut the level at which buyers can enter the market.

“This has lowered prices and stolen equity from homeowners. Home equity is a substantial asset for many Canadians, and this equity will not be easily or quickly rebuilt,” he said.