With Quebec’s provincial elections approaching, real estate brokers are clear on what they want politicians to do for the housing market.
The Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards, representing more than 13,000 brokers in the province, want the main parties to be equally clear on how they plan to better support the market and provide stronger protection for consumers.
"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," explains 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."
Better protection, deeper trust
The federation has five key requests that it says will protect consumers’ trust in the real estate industry:
1. Guidelines for companies assisting salespeople
Some companies provide consumers with real estate sales consulting services similar to those used by licensed realtors; not all of these companies are audited for compliance with the Real Estate Brokerage Act (REBA). Although the 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.
2. No marijuana growing in the home
Quebec's real estate brokers have started noticing multiple problems as a result of home grown their own 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.
3. Adoption of a co-ownership reform
In order to fully protect buyers, the rights, powers and obligations of joint ownership condominiums need to be regulated. 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.
4. Oversight of building inspectors
In their daily practice, real estate brokers have started to notice 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.
The QFREB is of the opinion that more uniform regulation of building inspection is needed to safeguard the quality of training and the standardization of building inspector expertise.
5. 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. The QFREB is asking the next administration to implement new government programs and maintain existing ones to provide some financial assistance for homeowners confronted by such detrimental issues.
Support for homebuyers
The federation also wants parties to pledge new support for homebuyers.
It highlights the province’s homeownership rate of 61% which is below the 68% Canadian average.
Among the measures QFREB would like to see is a program to reimburse the welcome tax for first-time buyers; and maintenance of renovation credits for the Upgrading of Residential Waste Water Treatment Systems and the RénoVert Tax Credit.
“For most Quebecers, buying a home is the most important financial transaction they will conduct in their lifetimes," says Mr. Juanéda. "They spend significant amounts of money, time and energy on this decision; housing remains a very complicated issue. The government should do its utmost to provide the public with some real protection and ensure that buyers and owners have the best possible support."