With the 43rd Parliament coming to an end and an election on the horizon, the spring session delivered some important wins for REALTORS®. Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, CREA’s government relations team and REALTORS® have been working with key decision-makers to ensure a supportive environment for homeownership remains a priority. These successes highlight the effectiveness of our membership’s lobbying efforts and are examples of what we can accomplish by keeping the interests of REALTORS® and Canadian homeowners at the forefront.
Green Home Initiatives
Retroactive to December 1, 2020, the federal government committed to providing up to 700,000 grants of up to $5,000 for energy-efficient improvements to homes, and up to one million free EnerGuide energy assessments for Canadian homeowners. These initiatives directly involved our membership, who lobbied to help homeowners make their homes more energy-efficient and fight climate change.
On April 19, Budget 2021 was announced and proposed $4.4 billion for homeowners to make deep home retrofits through interest-free loans worth up to $40,000.
Update to the CMHC First-Time Home Buyer Incentive
On May 3, the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive Program (FTHBI) was expanded for buyers in Toronto, Vancouver, and Victoria. The new income eligibility threshold is $150,000 (up from $120,000) and the new home price limit is now 4.5 times household income (up from four times) for buyers in these three regions. First-time home buyers in these cities now have more buying power when purchasing their first home with help from the FTHBI.
Roundtable on Housing Affordability
On June 15, CREA CEO Michael Bourque, along with leaders and key stakeholders from the Canadian real estate and housing industries, sat down for a roundtable discussion with the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. The discussion was focused on the importance of updated housing policy, the need for increased housing supply, housing affordability for vulnerable populations and the middle-class, and what plans the federal government has for addressing these issues.
Both ministers Freeland and Hussen took the opportunity to reaffirm the federal government’s commitments to affordable housing and acknowledge that all levels of government need to work together to address the growing imbalance between housing supply and demand, in order to achieve the goal of true affordability. Advocacy efforts like these continue to be a top priority for CREA on behalf of REALTORS® and their clients.
With the announcement of Budget 2021, the federal government allocated $2.1 million over two years to support the implementation of a publicly accessible corporate beneficial ownership registry by 2025. This announcement will assist REALTORS® in their efforts to eliminate money-laundering activities in the housing market.
New FINTRAC rules and obligations came into effect on June 1. To help mitigate the effects of these changes on REALTOR® members, CREA worked closely with FINTRAC officials to establish a grace period, allowing REALTOR® members more time to familiarize themselves with the various resources developed by CREA to assist with compliance.
CMHC Backtracks on underwriting rules
On July 5, CMHC returned to their pre-July 2020 underwriting practices for homeowner mortgage loan insurance after implementing temporary changes in response to economic uncertainty driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. CREA CEO Michael Bourque has spoken with CMHC’s new President and CEO, Romy Bowers, and both have committed to maintaining an open dialogue about housing affordability challenges.
2021 Election Speculation: To be or not to be… that is the question!
Amidst what we can only describe as one of our most eventful years to date, election speculation looms as housing markets dominate headlines. Election 2021 could see housing play a prominent role on the campaign trail and expect the election trigger to be pulled in short order. CREA is ramping up its outreach to all political parties about the importance of homeownership and housing supply to all Canadians. Currently, we’re working to finalize an election toolkit that will help prepare our Political Action Committee reps to effectively engage with candidates and propose effective solutions for future homeowners and our REALTOR® members.