Ontario Real Estate Association CEO, Tim Hudak says with consumers becoming more sophisticated and demanding new technology threatening to tear apart the real estate industry’s business model and pressures from a hot GTA housing market, this is an extremely complex and challenging time for Realtors.
It’s also a time when some Ontario Realtors are questioning whether OREA is still relevant or needed, especially after losing the licensing education side of its business as of 2020.
To that, Hudak says OREA is needed “even more so, than ever.”
“Just look at what happened in Vancouver,” says Hudak. “The provincial government threw the (real estate) industry under the bus and dramatically interfered with day-to-day business and blew up the regulator. So that’s where OREA’s strengths in government relations, communications and research become increasingly vital to the success of Realtors in our province.”
Hudak says OREA has been a stronger and important voice in the public debate. He points to the recent Ontario Fair Housing Plan put together by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government as a successful example of OREA’s impact. He says OREA was given “extraordinary access to government” while the plan was being developed. It included no less than 16 separate meetings with the premier, her ministers and executive team.
OREA, Hudak says, he had three goals for the plan and was successful in having them all realized: to make sure supply was an important part of the solution; to consider a vacancy tax (“because no one has any sympathy for a speculator who buys a house and then leaves it sitting empty”) and to have the provincial real estate act reviewed and updated to help raise industry standards; something Hudak says the province has committed to doing.
“It was rewarding that (the Ontario government) actively came to us for good advice on policy changes to ensure affordable home ownership,” says Hudak.
Again, he points to British Columbia as a good contrast.
“You had the same situation (in B.C.) where you had a long-time government heading into an election with rapidly increasing housing prices,” says Hudak. “But B.C. threw Realtors under the bus. In Ontario, we were seen as active partners, and (the provincial government) responded to our advice.”
There’s no denying his 21 years of political experience as a member of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party helped pave the way to ensure OREA was heard.
“Look, it’s sometimes a lot like wrestling, where you make a lot of noise for the cameras and then go and have a beer afterwards,” says Hudak. “I didn’t burn any bridges and (the Ontario government) has been very kind and receptive to what Realtors are putting on the table.”