To say the week of October 26 was an auspicious one for REALTORS® in Manitoba would be an understatement.
On Tuesday, October 27 — the same day that 200 Realtors attended the Manitoba Realtor Network Symposium, Focus 2016, at The Fort Garry Hotel — Premier Greg Selinger and Finance Minister Greg Dewar officially proclaimed the first Realtor Week in Manitoba history.
The proclamation, which took place at the Manitoba Legislature after Focus 2016 had concluded, gave Realtors some long-overdue credit for their efforts in building communities on a day-in, day-out basis.
“Realtors are hands-on community builders that contribute to the multi-billion dollar real estate industry in Manitoba by helping support local and provincial economies through job creation and consumer spending,” said Dewar, before presenting the proclamation to Manitoba Real Estate Association (MREA) president Roberta Weiss.
Weiss said there was no better place to receive the honour than the Manitoba Legislature, where important, community-shaping decisions are made daily.
“This week is an opportunity for our profession to reflect on our community-building contributions,” said Weiss. “Most importantly, it’s a change to focus forward on ways we can contribute to building a stronger Manitoba.”
The vital role of Realtors in building communities across the province wasn’t lost on Premier Selinger. “I would like to take this opportunity thank the Manitoba Real Estate Association and their members for their work. From helping with the purchase of a first home to meeting the needs of a growing family, you play an integral role in the lives of Manitobans,” he wrote in his message from the premier.
Kevin Chief, Minister of Jobs and the Economy (MLA for Point Douglas) expanded on the Premier’s remarks during his keynote address at Focus 2016.
“A 22-year-old friend of mine bought a house recently, and said it was an experience that was both exciting and terrifying,” he said. “Realtors bring stability to people like first-time home buyers during that transition.”
He added that the assistance Realtors provide to help people find a good neighbourhood to put roots down in can’t be overlooked.
“Nothing makes you feel belonging in a neighbourhood than owning a home. When you own a home, you feel a sense of pride and belonging, and feel like you can contribute. Realtors make that happen.”
Not only do Realtors lay the groundwork for singles, couples and families to purchase a home, but they do that on a regular basis.
“Realtors help people every day,” said Chief. “For that, I’m proud of the incredible work you do. You help entrepreneurs find opportunities, and you help families find homes. Thank you for all you do.”
Focus 2016 was no mere pat on the back for Realtors in Manitoba. During the symposium, five key questions were at the core of each session: 1) What is Manitoba’s competitive advantage? 2) What does a better province look like in five years? 3) What are the issues that matter most? 4) What roles do Realtors play in improving Manitobans’ quality of life? 5) If you were premier for a day, what single thing would you change to improve quality of life in Manitoba?
True to form, Manitoba Realtors came up with several action plans/ proposals designed to meet the needs inherent in that series of questions. The first action plan involved expanding First Nations affordable homeownership by extending down payment and subsidies for a total of 40 Manitoba Tipi Mitawa-qualified families, which would enable more children to grow up in a stable home environment.
The second action plan addressed the need to reduce the barrier to homeownership.
To do that, Manitoba Realtors proposed a $750 land transfer tax rebate (LTT) for first-time buyers and people with disabilities to realize homeownership.
And third, Manitoba Realtors outlined an initiative that would stop the province’s practise of cottage owners being taxed on education twice by establishing a single provincial mill rate for the education taxes – with a gradual shift to funding education through general revenue.
During a current issues segment at Focus 2016, Manitoba Political Action Committee Chair (MPAC) Lorne Weiss and MREA David Salvatore said that REALTORS will continue to act as advocates for communities across the province.
“We are going to continue to lobby province-wide on issues such as the the (First Nations affordable) home ownership program, land transfer tax and paying fair on education finance,” he said. “I think we’re on the right track, but it (progress) isn’t going to happen overnight.”
“Advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint. The only way to achieve progress is to bring forward well-researched issues to our political representatives.”
As has long been their custom, Realtors across the province will continue to strive to help people find homes, and do what they can behind the scenes to build stronger communities.