AlNoor Teja and Aman Bath are two happy Fraser Valley REALTORS® attending GL Days 2016.

Fraser Valley sends the largest group of REALTORS® to Victoria

The BC Real Estate Association held their annual Government Liaison (GL) Days conference in Victoria from April 24 to 26 this year. Our Board always takes part in this high profile event and is usually the largest group from any real estate board, and this year was no exception.

Over three days, 15 REALTORS® on our Government Relations (GR) committee and Board of Directors learned about advocacy and provincial issues and met with our 15 local MLAs – in arranged meetings at the Legislature, conference sessions or at an MLA dinner we hosted with the Chilliwack and District Board.

Our MLAs have come to expect our visit each year.

Aman Bath, one of the GR volunteers attending the conference for the first time says, “It was clear to me that our ongoing efforts to build relationships with our local MLAs has been very successful – many of our MLAs even knew our names. During our MLA dinner, the atmosphere was positive and relaxed, even though elected officials from both political parties were in the same room together.”

One of the issues we tackled head on was the negative attention REALTORS® have been receiving lately from both the media and provincial government. We emphasized in our MLA meetings that the majority of REALTORS® in the province are ethical professionals who work very hard to protect the interests of their clients.

Our MLAs understood that a few bad apples were affecting the reputation of an entire industry and had encouraging words for us.

Minister Responsible for Housing Rich Coleman meets with BCREA President Deanna Horn and FVREB GR volunteer Joel Schacter.
Minister Responsible for Housing Rich Coleman meets with BCREA President Deanna Horn and FVREB GR volunteer Joel Schacter.

Rich Coleman, the Minister Responsible for Housing, told REALTORS® at the conference, “Be proud of your profession. You’ve self-regulated your industry for decades but in a hot market, people will sometimes do unethical things. You need to act fast if someone breaks the rules – I think you’re pretty good but you can always get better. So you’ve got a bit of work to do but we (the provincial government) will work with you. Let’s go forward and protect this industry long term.”

The Minister had to cancel our pre-scheduled meeting in Victoria but our GR volunteers have already put in a request for a meeting in his constituency office later this month.

When we met with the MLAs, we thanked them for making changes to the Property Transfer Tax (PTT) to help people buying new homes valued at up to $750,000 as their principal residence and for introducing a third tier of three per cent under the PTT for homes over $2 million.

We also presented the following recommendations to them on behalf of all REALTORS® in BC for their consideration:

1. Increase the two per cent PTT threshold from $200,000 to $525,000.

2. Index the following PTT thresholds using the MLS® Home Price Index, and make adjustments annually:

  • 2% and 3% thresholds
  • First-Time Home Buyers’ Program exemption threshold, and
  • Newly Built Home Exemption threshold

3. Publish buyers’ residency data and the government’s analysis of that data, while respecting privacy legislation and practice.

The GL Days conference was an opportunity for our Board to strengthen our ties with locally-elected MLAs in our provincial capital, discuss what’s happening in the real estate industry, and keep the lines of communication open, and by all accounts it was a success.

In the fall, representatives of the Board will be making their annual visit to Members of Parliament in Ottawa for Political Action Committee (PAC) Days and hoping for the same success.