Services Spotlight: From RAHB Government Relations…

RAHB Government Relations

Did you know that RAHB has its fingers on the pulse of what’s going on municipally, provincially and federally through its Government Relations Committee? And that RAHB has built relationships with business organizations to become an influential member of the community?

Your association is very much part of the local and wider communities so that your interests – and those of home buyers and sellers – are considered and protected when decisions are being made.Your association is very much part of the local and wider communities so that your interests – and those of home buyers and sellers – are considered and protected when decisions are being made.

 

Here are just a few of the ways RAHB has been involved in local, provincial and national issues:
  • RAHB’s leadership and Government Relations Committee representatives participate in annual CREA and OREA Political Action Conferences,  where the big event is meeting with local MPs and MPPs to discuss real estate-related issues. These relationships are built further at local visits with  the same representatives.
  • RAHB worked to dissuade Hamilton City Council from adopting landlord licensing and to encourage the city to develop and present a program to encourage landlords to safely create secondary suites through simple, legal means. As this conversation continues at City Hall, RAHB has  a voice at the table to ensure affordable housing is maintained in a safe way.
  • In 2015, RAHB’s Government Relations Committee successfully lobbied City Councillors to discourage them from considering asking for powers to impose  a municipal land transfer tax.
  • RAHB partnered with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and Hamilton-Halton Home Builders Association in the 2014 civic election. Together, as the Hamilton Business Leaders, the group hosted a Q&A with the mayoralty candidates.
  • Representatives from RAHB are consistently invited to participate on committees, as part  of focus groups and in other forms of stakeholder engagement in Hamilton, Burlington and beyond, allowing members voices to be heard as well and information to flow both ways.
  • RAHB holds membership in all Chambers of Commerce of communities within its boundaries,  and actively participates in Chamber activities in Hamilton and Burlington through sponsorship of events, including most recently, the Bay Area Economic Summit.

Thank you to our sponsor:

Ross and McBride

Queens Park:  We came, we saw, we met!

RAHB Government Relations Committee representatives attended OREA’s Political Action Conference in Toronto (November 20-22) and met with area MPPs to discuss issues of importance to REALTORS® and homeowners.

The two issues under discussion were the land transfer rebate for first-time home buyers and the government’s proposed mandatory home energy audits.

  • Ontario REALTORS® lent their support to the proposed increase in the land transfer rebate to first-time home buyers, from $2,000 to $4,000. While OREA originally hoped for a complete rebate for first-time home buyers, the doubling of the rebate is still good news.
  • As part of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan, the government proposed the implementation of a Home Energy Rating & Disclosure (HER&D), which mandates “time of listing” energy audits for homes advertised on a “listing service”. The proposal would add another cost to the home selling process and put home owners of old or energy inefficient property at a disadvantage.   In addition, it could cause an unfair burden on low-income home owners who may not be able to afford the improvements recommended by an audit.

OREA’s concerns are that the existing proposal would place an additional regulatory burden on REALTORS® and MLS® Systems, single family home owners would be unfairly targeted and the proposal lacks consumer protection from unregulated energy audit services.

Instead of the mandatory HER&D program, Ontario REALTORS® asked for a return to a program like the voluntary Energy Savings Program, which actually produced results, and regulation for the energy audit industry.

queenspark

RAHB PAC representatives at Queen’s Park:
(l to r) RAHB staff Valerie Webster, Kathy Della-Nebbia (Royal LePage State Realty), Nicolas von Bredow (Royal LePage Macro Realty) and Nikola Bucalo (Coldwell Banker Community Professionals). Missing from the photo
is Lou Piriano (L. Piriano Real Estate Brokerage).

 

 

 

 

 

Government Relations Update

A plan for more affordable housing in Hamilton
RAHB Past President Donna Bacher and GR Committee chair Nikola Bucalo re-presented the RAHB/HDAA Safe Sustainable Housing Compliance Program (SSHCP) to the City of Hamilton Rental Housing Subcommittee on September 15, 2016.

The SSHCP was originally presented to the City of Hamilton as an alternative to rental housing licensing.  The Program presents easily-made amendments to Section 19 of the Hamilton Zoning Bylaw which would make it easier for property owners to safely bring their rental accommodation into compliance with zoning bylaws, which would in turn open up more safe, affordable housing in Hamilton.

The Subcommittee has taken the report under advisement.

RAHB representatives will soon be meeting with area Members of Parliament at the upcoming PAC Days in Ottawa!
REALTORS® from all over Canada will meet in Ottawa from October 16-18 to discuss REALTOR® issues with MPs.  RAHB representatives will meet with the six MPs from the greater Hamilton-Burlington area.  Watch for more information about what happened in the next issue of REALINFO!

LRT Update
Plan to come to the RAHB office on October 20, 2016 to hear an update on the proposed Hamilton LRT!

Paul Johnson (Director, LRT Project Coordination, City of Hamilton) and Jamie Robinson (Director, Community Relations & Communications, Metrolinx) will be on hand to update RAHB members on what’s happening to date with Hamilton’s LRT, and to answer members’ questions.

The update will be held from 10:30 a.m. – Noon on Thursday, October 20, 2016.  Register now with Sheila at sheilas@rahb.ca or 905.529.8101 x 234.

Open Houses – Commercial and Mixed Use (CMU) Zones
The City of Hamilton will be holding a series of Statutory Open Houses to discuss the draft Commercial and Mixed Use (CMU) Zones as part of Phase 2 of the Public Engagement process. The Public Open Houses for Wards 5-13 and 15 have been scheduled for:

openhouseschedule

Information on the draft CMU is now available for review online at:  www.hamilton.ca/CMUzoning.

 

Government Relations – CREA’s take on the 2016 federal budget

FB2016Following an extensive pre-budget consultation process, the Minister of Finance Bill Morneau tabled Budget 2016, the first budget for the new Liberal government after rising to power on an ambitious plan centered on strengthening the middle class.

The current fiscal reality has seen the national deficit increase to $29 billion as the federal government works to fulfill its election commitments, combat climate change and introduce measures to stimulate the economy amid a collapse in oil prices.

Given the government’s concerns about home prices in high-priced markets (like Toronto and Vancouver) and its recent decision to increase minimum down payments, CREA did not expect our industry’s lobbying proposals for the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) to be included in this year’s budget.

CREA will continue to press for changes to the HBP in meetings between MPs and PAC representatives during our spring constituency visits and the PAC Days conference this fall.

Budget 2016 also contains additional initiatives of interest to the
REALTOR® community:

  • Middle income taxes are cut from 22 per cent to 20.5 per cent.  A new tax bracket of 33 per cent for individuals earning more than $200,000 each year has been created.
  • The government will invest in social infrastructure, including affordable housing and senior facilities. They plan to increase Canadians’ access to affordable housing by building more units and renovating existing stock. They will also provide operational funding support for municipalities, including renewing support for Housing First initiatives that help homeless Canadians find stable housing.
  • An important investment will be made to First Nations communities to address on- reserve urgent housing needs as well as the renovation and retrofit of existing units.  The government will focus on establishing a National Housing Framework to support the construction and maintenance of on-reserve housing.
  • On December 11, 2015, the Government announced coordinated actions to strengthen the resiliency of Canada’s housing finance system, increase market discipline in residential lending, and promote long-term stability and balanced economic growth. The budget notes that the government will continue to closely monitor vulnerabilities related to housing and consumer debt and is prepared to implement further measures, should they be needed.
  • Budget 2016 proposes to address this data gap by allocating $500,000 to Statistics Canada in 2016-17 to develop methods for gathering data on purchases of Canadian housing by foreign homebuyers.
  • The government is not proposing any modifications to what is known as the “5 person rule” that defines an active business.
  • The government will invest $30 million over 3 years starting in 2016-17 to homeowners affected by Pyrrhotite, a mineral found in foundations in certain regions of Québec.
  • $3.4 billion over three years will be invested to upgrade and improve public transit systems across Canada.

Canada

CREA will continue to monitor developments on these issues and keep the REALTOR® community informed as further details are disclosed.

Liberals promise modernization of Home Buyers Plan

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) reports that Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada Justin Trudeau has pledge to modernize the Home Buyer’s Plan (HBP) if elected, by enabling Canadians impacted by significant life changes to access the program and use money from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSPs) to buy a house without tax penalty.

The HBP is a REALTOR®-driven initiative, introduced by the government as a short-term stimulus measure in 1992 and made a permanent program in 1994. Since its inception, over 2.8 million Canadian have used the HBP  to help make home ownership more affordable. The program allows Canadians to borrow, on a repayable basis, from their own RRSPs to purchase a home.

For more information on the Liberal Party of Canada’s announcement, please review the Affordable Housing for Canadians backgrounder on the party’s website.

For more information on CREA’s proposal on this topic, please review CREA’s Support Canadian Workers Through Job Relocation infographic on REALTOR Link®.

Have they been knocking on your door?

Federal candidates, that is.  If you have the opportunity to meet with any of the candidates over the next few weeks, consider asking them some of these questions.   Responses can be submitted to Megan at meganp@rahb.ca or through the REALTOR® Action Network, www.realtoractionnetwork.ca.

Sample Questions

  1. A strong, stable housing market is important for Canada’s economy. To that end, how can the federal government continue to support Canadian homeownership, especially for first time buyers, a significant percentage of whom borrow from their parents to buy a home?
  2. Have you heard of the Home Buyers’ Plan? Have you or someone you know used the Home Buyers’ Plan?
  3. REALTORS® are urging the government to index the Home Buyers’ Plan so it keeps pace with inflation. If you’re elected, will you lend your support?
  4. How will your government support small-business people, like REALTORS®, to ensure their businesses thrive? How do you feel about lowering tax rate for small businesses?
  5. Canada’s infrastructure is important – it is the backbone of the communities in which we live and work. If you are elected, what does your party propose to do to ensure our infrastructure meets our needs today and the needs of our kids in the future?
  6. What are your thoughts on urban development, and how will your government support cities’ growth?
  7. What is your party’s position on increasing the availability of environmentally friendly transportation alternatives (such as High Occupancy Vehicle lanes,
    public transit, cycling infrastructure)?
  8. What are your thoughts on public transit, and how will your government help cities move people more efficiently?

2015 REALTOR® Election Toolkit and Election Headquarters on RAN

toolkit

The REALTOR® Action Network

(RAN) is the REALTOR® community’s one-stop shop for everything and anything political.

The federal election is an excellent opportunity for all REALTORS® to get involved in the political process.  Not only does your individual participation strengthen Canada’s democracy, it has tangible benefits for your business and community.

 

How you can do it

  1. Download the Election Toolkit 2015 to learn about the political landscape and how to get involved.
  2. Volunteer and participate in election events hosted by your Board, Association or other local associations, organizations or community groups.
  3. Ask candidates questions at events or when they come to your door.
  4. Check out the ‘”Issues” tab on RAN to learn more about each party, their leader and how their platform impacts the real estate industry.
  5. Follow iPolitics, a free subscription for RAN members on the ‘News‘ tab.
  6. Fill in an Election 2015 PAC Reporton the ‘Surveys‘ tab any time you meet with a candidate or attend an election event.

The information you provide helps us know their background, interests and priorities so we can more easily interact, build rapport and position our issues.  CREA will be updating RAN as the election progresses so check in frequently!

#HamOnt says #NOtoMLTT

We are happy to report that the City of Hamilton’s Audit, Finance and Administration Committee defeated a proposed motion for the City to study a municipal land transfer tax (MLTT).  This is a big win for Hamilton REALTORS® and in the ongoing fight to stop the spread of the MLTT.

The vote was overwhelmingly opposed by five to one. The fact the motion was defeated means the issue was not referred to the broader city council.  In short, it means that even if the province gives municipalities the ability to levy an MLTT, it is unlikely Hamilton would implement the tax in the near future.

Kudos to President Donna Bacher, Ettore Cardarelli, Chair of the OREA Government Relations Committee, and Matthew Thornton, OREA’s Director of Government Relations on delivering an excellent presentation to the committee.  There were a number of RAHB Directors and Government Relations Committee members who attended the committee meeting and added support to the delegation.

While this is a significant victory for OREA and Hamilton REALTORS®, we are not out of the woods yet on the MLTT. The province continues to review the Municipal Act and is signaling that it may give municipalities new revenue tools. Both RAHB and OREA will be submitting comments to the Province as part of the review.

Say #NoMLTT in #HamOnt

Tax

On June 22, Hamilton Councillor A. Johnson filed a notice of motion regarding a Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT).  The motion, if passed on July 8, would instruct City staff to investigate the pros and cons of asking the Province for special taxation powers.

Come out to City Hall on July 8 at 9:30 a.m. to show your opposition to this tax.

According to the report Potential Economic Implications of the Municipal Land Transfer Tax in the Selected Ontario Municipalities conducted by Altus Group Economic Consulting, the economic impacts of an MLTT in Hamilton alone are predicted as follows:

  • Loss of $342 million in economic activity
  • Loss of 2,240 jobs
  • Loss of $116 million in wages and salaries

For more information, visit http://donttaxmydream.ca/.

E-signatures on the way!

Effective July 1, 2015, buyers and sellers in Ontario will be able to use electronic signatures on agreements of purchase and sale.

This was made possible by the recent proclamation of an amendment to the Electronic Commerce Act, 2000.

Electronic signatures on agreements of purchase and sale will help improve transaction efficiency by reducing the time required to complete a deal, help improve the consumer’s experience and save REALTORS® time and money.

The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) advocated vigourously over the last five years to have e-signatures become a reality for real estate transactions in the province of Ontario, and are to be commended for their efforts.

Go to http://rahb.ca/memberinfo/2015/electroniccommerceact.pdf.

 

Special  Professional Development course offering!

As of July 1, 2015, electronic signatures are permitted on Agreements of Purchase and Sale.  Learn more about electronic signatures in this important session.

Go Paperless
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
10 a.m. – Noon
Cost: Free
RAHB – McCullough Room

Click here for information and registration or contact Angela (angelam@rahb.ca) or Camryn (camrynh@rahb.c).

Personal Real Estate Corporations – tax fairness for real estate professionals

Representatives from RAHB’s Government Relations Committee will be meeting with local MPPs in early April  to ask for support for an amendment to REBBA 2002 which would allow real estate salespeople to incorporate.

A study by the Centre for Spatial Economics found that Personal Real Estate Corporations (PRECs) will have a small but positive impact on Ontario’s economy.  The study found incorporation would increase provincial revenue by $0.8 million to $2 million annually, and would increase Ontario’s GDP by an average $9 to $25 million annually.  In addition, PRECs will create 33 to 89 new jobs per year.

In Ontario, other regulated professionals such as chartered accountants, lawyers, health professionals, social workers, mortgage brokers, insurance agents and others can form personal corporations.  Since 2008, B.C., Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia have all moved to allow real estate salespeople to incorporate.

Our Government Relations representatives will be asking MPPS to amend the legislation and treat Ontario REALTORS® more fairly.

Government Relations – Calling all REALTORS®

You know first-hand the critical importance of the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) to helping first-time buyers afford a home. Your clients are likely some of the over 2.6 million Canadians who have withdrawn up to $25,000 from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) under the HBP to put towards their first home purchase. (more…)