Realtors feel plan to ban blind bidding erodes sellers’ rights

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The Ontario and local real estate associations panned the federal Liberals’ plan to eliminate blind bidding in the home market saying it does not address the root cause of soaring house prices and it limits Canadians’ options.


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“One aspect of the Liberal Party of Canada’s housing plan would criminalize the ability for hardworking Canadians to choose how to sell their homes, by regulating real estate practices through the criminal code,” Ontario Real Estate Association president Davie Oikle said.

“You cannot fix Canada’s housing crisis by denying millions of hardworking families the choice of how to sell their home and by pitting homeowners against buyers,” Oikle said. “In fact, this plan would have the opposite effect — negatively impacting Canada’s housing market and making home ownership even more unaffordable.”

By limiting the options now available, Oikle said it will lead to open auctions that are common in New Zealand and Australia.


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“Auction fever creates a three-ring circus on front lawns, as hopeful buyers crowd in front of a home with a live auctioneer, or online, and the bidding begins.”

“Far from making homes more affordable, auctions can drive prices higher, and dangerously push buyers to make rushed decisions involving tens of thousands of dollars in just minutes.”

The Liberals say house prices are soaring too much, making home ownership unattainable for many.

“Every Canadian deserves a place to call home,” reads the Liberals’ housing platform. “And for many – young people in particular – the dream of owning their own home feels like it’s moving further out of reach.

“You shouldn’t lose a bidding war on your home to speculators. And you shouldn’t have to move far away from your job, your school, or your family just to afford your rent.”


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The Liberals say they will help get 1.4 million families into new homes by securing faster down payments and cracking down on “predatory practices.”

Still, some real estate agents wonder about the approach.

Windsor-Essex County Association of Realtors president Damon Winney is a native of New Zealand and has said that system has proven not to be a solution to his homeland’s housing situation.

“We want a result that’s best for consumers,” Winney said.

“Auction-style bidding is difficult to ascertain what happens with a property. In Australia and New Zealand, we’ve seen big increases in prices.

“Ultimately this is a supply issue. It’s the position of the Windsor-Essex County Association of Realtors that this (policy proposal) is a way to try and fix a problem by regulation that reduces people’s options.”


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Frank Binder, broker of record for Royal Le Page Binder Real Estate, is pictured on Wednesday, August 25, 2021.
Frank Binder, broker of record for Royal Le Page Binder Real Estate, is pictured on Wednesday, August 25, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Royal Le Page/Binder Realty broker/owner Frank Binder admits he’s shocked by the Liberals approach on regulating blind bidding.

He suggested that OREA’s strong statement against the proposal indicates to him there was no consultation with the industry.

“The suggestion that they might want to make that a criminal act, I’m just quite frankly disturbed by that kind of thinking,” Binder said.

“We have an inalienable right to sell our property. When you start toying with how that’s going to be done, that’s a broader discussion.

“This should alarm any householder.”

Binder feels making such an arbitrary change without extensive consultations with the industry changes the balance of the equation.

“We can’t erode the rights of a seller,” said Binder, a past president of the local realtors’ association.


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“They have a right to obtain the value for their property. The method of obtaining that value can be talked about.

“This is the first time anyone has approached it by talking of criminalizing the method.”

Binder added the problem of housing prices is a complex one with many solutions needed. For instance, industry officials are currently studying whether agents should be allowed to represent both ends of a deal.

Manor Realty general manger Rob Agnew admits there needs to be something done to try to curb people overpaying dramatically for homes, but isn’t sure government intervention in this way is the solution.

“I’m nervous any time the government wants to intervene in the real estate market or any other market,” Agnew said.


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“The jury is still out for me. More detail has to come out.”

Agnew said while banning blind bidding would help buyers know what they’re up against, it does little to address what’s really driving the problem.

“We have a shortage of housing and, as the COVID pandemic eases, immigration and students start returning to normal levels, the problem is going to get worse,” Agnew said.

Agnew added there’s nothing stopping open bidding or more transparency from occurring under the current system. He said all parties have to agree to that for it to happen.


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“We used to do one or two auctions a year, but that was years ago,” Agnew said.

“Often the bids didn’t even reach the minimum price required. There’s been no interest, so we haven’t done one for a number of years.”

Winney said for most people the buying-selling equation balances out once they’re in the market.

“Usually people are involved at both ends — they’re selling and then buying something else,” Winney said. “They benefit from the process at one end and find it harder on the other.

“The real impact comes on those trying to get into the market and those trying to get out of the market. That’s where more supply of product would help.”

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