Q: What was the most important takeaway/message of the conference?
A: “The most important takeway/message for our members came from general Hillier’s keynote address and that is that during tough times, leaders have to be perpetual optimists. They need to be upbeat and positive. Generally, people in a community reflect what they hear and see. If that’s negative, it has the effect of bringing everyone else down along with you. If it’s a sense of optimism and a positive attitude, others tend to be positive and upbeat as well.”
Q: Based on recent reports from the Toronto and Vancouver housing markets, where does the St. John’s marketplace, and other N.L. markets, fit in this scheme of things?
A: “All real estate markets are local. Our market here has no relationship to what’s happening in Toronto or Vancouver. Our market is still a buyer’s market in the sense we have lots of listings, but we haven’t seen a drastic dip in prices. Average prices are down, because we are seeing a shift away from the oil-money-funded high end of the market, but we aren’t seeing a corresponding drop in values.”
Q: What is the biggest challenge facing the industry right now?
A: “There are several challenges. The biggest one is probably the relentless focus on the ‘overheated Canadian housing market’ and the potential impact on personal debt levels. The recently announced changes to mortgage rules, for example, were an attempt to deal with issues in two markets. The unintended consequences of those changes on the rest of the country, including here in Newfoundland and Labrador, could significantly impact the buying power of certain first-time buyers. We heard from a variety of panelists on this issue and they all agreed that reducing personal debt levels of Canadians could be much more effectively accomplished through other means focused on such things as credit cards and other consumer credit products. Home ownership helps Canadians build wealth and save for retirement — which should be something supported by governments, not undermined.”
Q: How much money was raised at the Realtors Care fundraising gala dinner and who will be the beneficiary of that fundraising endeavour?
A: “We raised about $2,500 for the Realtors Care Foundation. The funds will be used to support charitable causes here in Newfoundland and Labrador. This follows on the heels of raising $10,000 by realtors for the Fort McMurray relief effort in May.”