Real estate agents in Quebec don’t want to be blamed for higher prices.

There are all sorts of things to blame for historically high home prices (including … divorces?), but an organization representing Quebec-based real estate agents aren’t the problem.

With the federal election days away and housing shaping up as a major issue on the campaign trail, real estate organizations from across the country have rushed to comment on what they’ve called a supply crisis. Prices have increased by hundreds of thousands of dollars across the country through the pandemic.

The biggest problem, according to the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers in a brief to the provincial government, is that governments have failed to provide enough incentive to the builders who could help put more homes on the market.

“Because the work of real estate brokers has sometimes been wrongly blamed for the rapid increase in property prices, the QPAREB, in the first part of its brief, analyzed the underlying context that has truly led the market to such a great imbalance,” it wrote. “It identifies a series of factors arising from the pandemic that exacerbated the situation and created what might be called a perfect storm, where supply was clearly insufficient to meet the unanticipated demand.

Agents have come under criticism in some quarters because their pay is often based on a percentage of the final sale price. The Quebec association (which represents agents) says it has “unequivocally” proven low supply and high demand should be the source of the public’s ire.

It said “like so many other professionals” brokers have had to deal with “the effects of the pandemic in their daily work: health constraints, sellers’ apprehensions as well as the frenzy and emotions of their buying clients.”

“To balance all of this and to ensure the safety of everyone concerned, brokers have had to show initiative, resourcefulness and empathy, in addition to dealing with an incredible workload,” the organization wrote. “It is also important to remember that brokers have an obligation to obtain the best possible outcome for the clients they serve. It’s normal for a seller to take steps that will maximize the price and terms of the sale.”
The federal parties don’t point the blame at real estate agents. Instead, they are focused on building more affordable housing units and limiting the amount of foreign investment in Canada real estate markets.

It offered a few more reasons for higher prices:

“Construction delays and costs have limited the supply of new properties. Numerous sanitary constraints, scarcity of materials and competition for labour are delaying deliveries from construction sites,” it write. “Older people who fear moving to a retirement home are postponing their plans.

“In the context of the lockdown, many sellers postponed their plan to put their home up for sale, while others took their property off the market strictly for fear of possible contamination.
The stress, fatigue and anxiety created by the extreme lockdown measures led to the breakup of many couples, resulting in one spouse seeking a new home.”

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