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Former Tory leader visits Sault, laments 'bad guys' in real estate industry

Tim Hudak says standards for real estate agent training must be higher to get those who would 'rip off' consumers out of the business
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Tim Hudak, Ontario Real Estate Association CEO, spoke with the Sault Ste. Marie Real Estate Board, June 9, 2017. Darren Taylor/SooToday

Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak visited the Sault Friday in his new role as Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) CEO.

Hudak spoke with the Sault Ste. Marie Real Estate Board and local real estate agents at the Heritage Discovery Centre’s auditorium.

As Minister of Consumer and Business Services in the PC government of Mike Harris, he brought in the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act of 2002.

He served as Progressive Conservative leader from 2009 to 2014.

These days, Hudak is concerned the standard of real estate training real estate agents currently receive through the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) may decline in future years.

He fears more dishonest real estate agents may appear.

“I think RECO’s doing a very poor job (province wide). You read about some serious violations of the real estate agents code and people get a slap on the wrist.  It’s pretty serious stuff if you rip off somebody. If you rip somebody off, you want their licenses pulled or suspended,” Hudak told his audience.

“Over time, the regulator RECO and the government have let the standards slip, the bar is too low.  What I’ve heard from real estate agents here in the Sault and across the province is we need to make it harder to get into the profession, and for any realtor who breaks the rules, make it easier to kick them out,” Hudak told SooToday after Friday’s meeting.

“If you break the rules you’re taking advantage of people in a very vulnerable, emotional situation when they’re trying to buy a home.”

“You’re now seeing a much more assertive OREA on behalf of real estate agents to call on RECO to do their job better, to get the bad guys out, and I believe the government has its ears to this as well.”

Hudak is also concerned about some of the current Liberal government’s policies affecting the real estate industry, home buyers and sellers.

In 2016, the province announced the Home Energy and greenhouse gas Rating and Disclosure (HERD) program.

“This is a program where there would be a mandatory energy audit before you could sell a house. It’s going to profit the energy auditors but it’s not going to help the retirees who are trying to sell their house,” Hudak told his audience, calling HERD bad for consumers.

Kim Clouthier, Sault Ste. Marie Real Estate Board president for 2017, agreed.

“That’s a big concern because although the concept could be a great idea, it needs to be more fair as to who it’s applicable…it’s hard because it pushes consumers to sell privately, and selling privately can be a big liability potential, not having an educated real estate agents involved.

“There are a lot of grey areas.  Who’s going to do these audits, are they going to be licensed?  The concept is a great idea because we’re all for being more energy efficient, but it has to go back to the table and be thought out more,” Clouthier said.  

Hudak has visited 36 of 39 real estate boards in Ontario since becoming OREA CEO in December 2016, the group stating it aims to become “Ontario’s most effective lobby organization on issues that matter most to real estate agents and the home owners they champion.”

“We want to sustain that Canadian dream of home ownership.  In Sault Ste. Marie we want to see young people get a good job so they can buy a place of their own and raise a family, and when that happens there are tens of thousands of dollars of spinoffs when you fix up a place, buy furniture and appliances,” Hudak said.

While the real estate market is tough in the Sault, both Hudak and the real estate agents gathered at Friday’s meeting expressed hope for the future.



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