As the name suggests, WinnipegREALTORS® represents real estate agents who choose to be members of the organization. WinnipegREALTORS® does not have any authority to grant real estate licences, as that responsibility and power rests with the Registrar of Real Estate under the Manitoba Securities Commission.
Membership in WinnipegREALTORS® is not mandatory — it’s a voluntary business decision. Once a member of WinnipegREALTORS®, the agent is automatically a member of the Manitoba Real Estate Association and the Canadian Real Estate Association (the three component parts of “organized real estate”) and becomes a REALTOR®.
On a monthly basis, WinnipegREALTORS® issues media releases and produces columns in this newspaper on market stats for the month and year-to-date. These numbers cover market activity for REALTORS® in the city who put their listings through the WinnipegREALTORS® Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®). Again, putting a listing on the MLS® is not mandatory, but is a business decision.
But REALTORS® are more than just listings, sales, dollar volume and market statistics. REALTORS®, through their three levels of organized real estate — WinnipegREALTORS®, Manitoba Real Estate Association, the Canadian Real Estate Association — are aggressively advocating for home buyers, home sellers and homeowners on a wide variety issues at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.
Some of these lobby activities are very visible and widely recognized while others are behind-the-scenes initiatives. In any event, the issues are not about REALTORS® and licensing and market activity, but rather are matters that directly affect consumers.
Several years ago, REALTORS® successfully lobbied the federal government to permit first-time buyers to access their RRSP savings and use some of this money for a down payment when buying a home. This file is still open, as REALTORS® continue to lobby to get the amount withdrawn indexed so that as home prices go up, the amount that can be withdrawn also goes up.
At the municipal level over the past two years, REALTORS® went to bat for homeowners and apartment owners. In 2009, the city was prepared to require a mandatory Residential Compliance Certificate on the sale of every house within Winnipeg. This would have imposed on every buyer the necessity of getting an inspection of his/her newly-purchased property within 90 days of closing to ensure all renovations done to the house by previous owners were done to code — any deficiencies would have to be corrected and paid for by the new owner. That was stopped through effective lobbying by REALTORS®.
In 2010, the same concept resurfaced with the city contemplating a mandatory Building Location Certificate requirement on every resale, which would have imposed a $500 to $700 “tax” on every resale. REALTORS® were again effective in getting this initiative tabled.
Monitoring governments at all levels on behalf of consumers is what REALTORS® do. Some of the files we currently have open at all three levels of government include:
• Infrastructure investment.
• Expediting the permit process.
• Housing development strategies to meet projected population growth.
• Creating a vibrant downtown with increased living opportunities.
• A comprehensive user-friendly rapid transit system.
• Fair treatment of rental property owners.
• Monitoring the tabled restriction to convert apartments to condominiums.
• Supporting Winnipeg’s green initiatives.
• Education tax burden on property owners.
• Excessive Land Transfer Taxes (exempt first-time buyers).
• Long-term solutions to the rental shortage problem.
• Creative solutions to residential resale property
• Determining a selective, accountable Tax Incremental Financing application.
• Protecting and enshrining property rights in the constitution.
• Indexing RRSP contributions.
• Deferring capital gains tax and recapturing capital cost allowance for individuals reinvesting in income producing real property.
So, it’s not all about statistics and market activity.
REALTORS® care and continuously lobby all levels of government on behalf of consumers to help protect the hard-fought and well-deserved property rights we all
expect and cherish.
REALTORS® actively monitor restrictive regulations that would chip away at the expectations we all value when it comes to homeownership.