The year 2020 was truly remarkable. It demonstrated why we have associations; to help shine a light forward when the path ahead is dark and the future is unclear. There was no playbook for the challenges and obstacles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Despite it all, OREA shone. OREA’s advocacy was already in full swing by the time the pandemic struck in early March. The Trust in Real Estate Services Act (TRESA) had passed third and final reading in February and was on its way to being enacted into law.

After 10 years of advocating for higher professional standards and better consumer protections, the passing of TRESA was a historic accomplishment, but the celebration was cut short as the province went into lockdown and Ontarians were forced into isolation. Real estate transactions were halted and Realtors, home buyers and sellers were left in the lurch, not exactly sure how to proceed on closing deals.

OREA responded quickly. We convinced the province to maintain real estate as an essential service, which meant Ontario Realtors could continue to help clients who urgently needed to buy or sell property, while also moving other business to virtual or remote channels. We are very proud that throughout the pandemic Realtors across Ontario have stepped up to keep people safe by putting client and community safety first.

On the recovery from COVID-19, our lobbying secured two big successes for Realtors in the 2020 Ontario Budget – a Home Seniors Safety Tax Credit (HSSTC) and property tax relief for businesses. In the fall of 2020, we finally convinced the province to implement Personal Real Estate Corporations (PRECs) – a change that over 6,000 members are currently benefiting from.

In 2021, OREA’s lobbying priorities at Queen’s Park are laser focused on four broad priorities.

First, when it comes to Ontario’s economic recovery from COVID-19 we believe housing can be the locomotive that pulls the province out of the ditch created by the pandemic. Notably, building on our success in the 2020 Ontario budget, OREA is lobbying in support of a temporary Land Transfer Tax holiday for middle-class homes; creating opportunity zones in underprivileged communities; and expanding on the HSSTC by introducing a broad-based home renovation tax credit. These measures will boost housing supply, get people spending in our economy again and create jobs.

Second, after finally giving Realtors the ability to form PRECs, OREA is now lobbying the province to implement another round of regulations under TRESA that will increase professional standards in our sector. This round of regulation development will update the TRESA Code of Ethics, improve disclosures around multiple representation and update the abilities of the Real Estate Council of Ontario to punish those who violate the trust of consumers.

Our work on this round of regulations has just started and we are pushing the province to have new rules in place for 2022.

On housing affordability, OREA has had a number of victories in recent years, culminating with the introduction of the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019, which will increase the supply of new homes in our province for generations to come. This year, we are focused on new measures to introduce badly needed supply in markets right across Ontario. In January, we released a policy report calling on Queen’s Park to take action to build more homes in non-urban markets. We are also prioritizing investments in broadband internet, which is badly needed in many rural and Northern communities. We are releasing a report later in the year that will discuss the need for more investment in infrastructure like broadband internet.

Finally, as the largest provincial trade association in Canada, OREA is committed to using our voice to champion efforts to fight racial inequality and promote more diversity in real estate. To that end, OREA has struck a Presidential Advisory Group (PAG) chaired by Realtor Davelle Morrison.

The PAG is working this year to develop an action plan to eliminate racism and promote inclusion in the real estate profession. To accomplish this ambitious goal, the PAG is undertaking likely the largest and most comprehensive research effort into racism and diversity in housing and real estate in Ontario’s history. It will reach out to consumers, Realtors, BIPOC organizations, LGBTQ2+ groups and academics to identify issues, opportunities and areas for public policy reform that will get included in our action plan. It is exciting work, and we are proud that your association has taken a leadership role in this critical area.

As we begin to emerge from this pandemic, we want our members to know that OREA’s advocacy is focused on supporting their success by fighting to maintain a strong real estate market that’s underpinned by affordable home ownership for all Ontarians.

Advocacy works best when we work together with our 37 member boards on advancing our members’ priorities at Queen’s Park and at the local level, so that is what we will continue to do this year.

Our priorities this year are ambitious, but we have the team of volunteers and leaders to get it done.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I am confused as to who wrote this article, as Sean Morrison and David Oikle are noted as the authors of this article, yet “we” is used multiple times throughout. Does this mean that they only allowed OREA to provide them with the article’s content, that they truly represent OREA, or that this was an oversight? After re-reading it again, it only looks like it was authored by OREA and submitted to your publication. This is not journalism, but rather an “advertorial” and surprising given the high standard your publication represents and that I, and likely many others in the real estate business, have become accustomed to. I hope to receive a response to my post so that I understand what I can expect from REM in the future. Thank you.

    • Hi Robert:

      Yes, the column was written and submitted to REM by OREA’s current and president-elect and outlines the association’s plans for advocacy in the coming year. The story is marked as a guest column and has the authors’ bylines. As a long-time reader of REM, you’ll know that we have always welcomed guest columns and opinion pieces from everyone involved in the real estate industry.

      Jim Adair
      Editor
      REM: Real Estate Magazine

  2. Chris says “COVID is driving Canada…into a nation of savers.” Yup.

    Pro? Many of those ‘saver’ folks will likely never go into needless debt ever again as they save and wait to pay cash for stuff they don’t really need, but only want. By the time they have the cash, the rush to buy is often over. Prices will drop.

    Con? There will be less purchasing of stuff we don’t really need, but only want. The luxuries market will slow down. Personal debt levels will fall. People will have more money to spend on necessities whilst incurring less debt. The false economy based upon the production of, and purchasing of, wants, will slowly become a reflective economy of reality. Saving money on stuff we don’t need will lead to a more responsible citizenry…except for the emerging socialist class of youngsters—the under-fifty crowd—who want/expect everything to be provided for free by tax-and-spend Liberals/fast-becoming Marxist elites, for whom power is the only god worth worshipping. The economy will slow, and slow, and slow. People will look more favourably on Marxism to bail them out…with other peoples’ money. Big CON.

    There’s nothing like a pandemic to bring people back down to earth re what really matters in life. It’s called security…provided not by government, but by one’s own efforts. It’s the most self-satisfying result.

    Watch for credit-card and debit-card spending to start dropping off, as Stompin’ Tom sang…
    “Savin’ money we don’t got”. I hardly use the plastic nowadays. Cash is king once more.

    Of course, I could be wrong, and there could be a buying surge of needless stuff as people emerge from under the heel of the pandemic shut-down, wildly plastic-spending like drunken sailors with money they don’t have, behaving like two-year-old kids upon first escape from their playpens. The artificial economy might recover yet. Debt; ain’t it great? Actually…no, it ain’t. There’s nothing like getting that yoke off of your shoulders, pulling your head out from within that yoke, stepping into the light of freedom from debt, and breathing easily. If you’re a Realtor—-once out of debt—you could become more of a professional; you wouldn’t be so desperate for that commission before going bankrupt tomorrow. You might not withhold information to your buyer client that could cause same to reconsider that offer. You would know that there’s always another property….and you could wait until same is found and transacted successfully. Amazing what this damn COVID could be doing re public behaviour changes, isn’t it?

  3. OREA is slow to this hi-octane hi-performance stance. WHY only after you lost the cash-cow Education portfolio did you start representing us so well?
    Stop and announce how you are dispersing the $70million in reserves?

    Wow adaptively INDUSTRY reuse for that huge parking-lotted Don Mills location?
    Mebbe-perhaps turn it into a REIT/Tax Sheltered Investment (held by Registrants ONLY) as an INCUBATOR for Individuals, Teams and Brokerages?
    Refurbish the space as an “executive office rental” Weee-Work type of thing provide support staff, meeting/Boatrd rms, back-office storage/warehousing and fab internet — you could get BIG$/SF for it?
    I’d rather rent off-premises sp[ace FROM myself/my colleagues than from anyone else

  4. The lowest interest rates in Canada since 1935 coupled with the highest demand in living memory isn’t compelling builders to construct more homes—except grossly over-provided dense condo buildings. Tax incentives like a moratorium on LTT for home owners won’t compel them to sell if there’s nothing new for them to move into.

    The lowest cap rates (and highest resale) value on residential investment properties isn’t driving new sales for the sale reason. What are the sellers going to re-invest their money in?

    COVID is driving Canada (and perhaps the world) into a nation of savers, which has significant pro and con implications for our economy.

    OREA is taking full credit for relatively accomplishments that have been pursued by many other real estate-related organizations including GTAA, FRPO, TRREB and even RECO.

    We’re entering the spring 2021 real estate market with the lowest inventory levels for more than 25 years, probably longer.

    OREA’s strategies and supposed successes are driven by what the government thinks is wrong with the housing industry. The housing pandemic existed long before the COVID government, created wholly by 25+ years of consistently failed government programs and policies.

    OREA is an organization looking for a raison d’etre that remains elusive in an industry that doesn’t recognize it’s the sea change in their own real estate-related roles and responsibilities.

    You can’t discuss “affordable-anything” unless you understand the business model dynamics of personal and commercial real estate investment and neither OREA or any level of government—especially the Ministry of Housing—has demonstrated that they have a clue about how to solve the housing pandemic.

    Once thing’s for sure, tax holidays, improved realtor ethics, improving race relations and giving realtors better writeoffs collectively have no effect on increasing the availability of affordable, or even unaffordable, housing.

    • I am still trying to figure out what OREA”s purpose is. I took a webinar today and it was rather poor (to be polite). I really would like to know what they are doing for realtors and wha value others think they have. You are absolutely right I have gotten more emails from OREA since they lost the education side of the process than I got over the previous 13 years (since I am a realtor) Definitely looking for a raison d’etre.

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