With the federal election now in full swing, Realtor associations from Canada’s largest real estate markets have launched a campaign to get “all levels of government to take meaningful action to make home ownership more accessible to people across the country.”

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Real estate boards in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton, along with the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB) and the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors (NSAR), are asking the federal political parties to adopt several housing affordability recommendations, including:

  • Revising the mortgage stress test to take into account its impact on different real estate markets across the country. “The federal government should view the stress test as a flexible policy and adjust it based on changing economic trends and interest rates,” say the associations.
  • Replace the $750 First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit with a $2,500 non-refundable tax credit for first-time home buyers.
  • Reintroduce 30-year mortgage amortizations.
  • Consider regional differences when implementing nationwide measures that affect home buyers.

The associations say there is too much regulation, at all levels of government, focused on curbing demand and providing ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions that do not take local market conditions into account.

“With increasing pent-up demand and accelerated price growth, recent policies focused on demand such as the mortgage stress test have made home ownership less attainable. Affordability pressures need to be addressed by restoring a 30-year allowable amortization period on mortgages,” says Michael Collins, president of the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), in a statement.

“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 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,” says John DiMichele, CEO of TREB.

Ashley Smith, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says, “We believe in responsible lending and regulation, but 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.”

“No two real estate markets are the same. The one-size-fits-all housing policies, like the mortgage stress test, are simply not solutions that will work across our diverse country,” says Matt Honsberger, president of NSAR, in the statement. “In Nova Scotia, transactions through the NSAR MLS System generated an estimated $513 million in spin-off spending last year. This economic impact is recognized by all levels of government, who we encourage to continue working with Realtors to ensure that policies encourage growth in our market and make home ownership more affordable and accessible.”

In Quebec, the “home ownership rate continues to lag, according to the 2016 Census, as it stands at 61 per cent in Quebec compared to more than 70 per cent in Canada’s other provinces,” says Julie Saucier, president and CEO of QPAREB. “We believe that there needs to be better support offered to buyers of residential properties, particularly first-time buyers. 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, CEO of the Calgary Real Estate Board, says, “The time has come for Canada to have a clearly articulated housing strategy that brings all government agencies onto the same page. We are supportive of initiatives that facilitate Canadians in achieving their dream of home ownership. Leadership in government is needed to bring an end to ad hoc policy changes that makes tough economic conditions harder in some markets or introduce measures too late.”

The chair of the Realtors Association of Edmonton, Michael Brodrick says, “Home ownership is a key component of the national economic fabric and its role in creating economic diversity cannot be overlooked. 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. For example, the mortgage stress test, implemented as national policy with total disregard for regional differences, has had a significant downward impact on the price point at which buyers can qualify and purchase. 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.”


  1. Is there anything funnier than a REALTOR Association failing to understand the benefits of the Federal Banking Regulator implementing rules to drop home prices.

    The best in the business who have a dozen or more Buyer Agency Agreements signed up and active understand the benefit the stress test returned to the market. Those highly skilled professionals understand
    that Canadian families have been best served maintaining a sub 30% GDS ratio in the first few years of owning their next home. You can be sure Mr. Flaherty did not believe his allowing a 39% GDS to facilitate the move to 25 yr ams would have used against Canadians by the Banks and Desk Rental Industry.

    Sadly so few active CREA members exist today who have witnessed the financial devastation caused by greed to make a commission. The lessons learned through out the 1990s are as forgotten as the rotary dial.

    It is unethical to guide a young family into 32-36% GDS as CMHC data has now recorded was ongoing from 2015-2018. That’s why returning GDS to a maximum followed by Canadian families for decades was the only ethical choice to make.

    We all know the list of names quoted above care not for the damage they have done.

  2. We should also be concerned with the attempt to place a tax on sale of primary residences. This is going to affect all of us especially seniors who have lived in their home a long time and built up equity! I am surprised that no one is picking up on this.

    • I so agree with you Valerie. My husband and I have lived in our home for 39 years. Why on earth should we have to pay a tax on the equity we have built up? What about the money we have spent over those 39 years for upkeep and upgrading on our home? Will we get to deduct that from the equity? I would bet not. It is grossly unfair. When we were required to report the sale of a primary residence on our income tax last year a tax on equity is the first thing that came to my mind. Otherwise why would that question even be asked.

  3. What you have to find fascinating is that local Boards are now taking the lead on National advocacy issues. In the midst of a national election, on a topic of huge Industry concern (the stress test) CREA and most of the Provincial Associations (so it appears) are silent. When I opined in the spring that perhaps CREA needed to hire outside lobbyists to advance rank and file concerns – it never occurred to me that might mean my local Board . (but thank God it`s someone) – Dave Lowe

  4. The article is somewhat inaccurate. 30 year amortizations already exist for conventional loans.
    The restoration would apply therefore only to insured mortgages.


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