'Removing people's choices': Realtor's association says blind bidding shouldn’t be banned

The Windsor-Essex County Association of Realtors (WECAR) is speaking out about the housing plans at the forefront of the federal election debate.

All three major federal parties have released long-term policy ideas to address the housing crisis. Here are the details of the platforms.

WECAR says they have concerns about some of these ideas, like the Liberal Party’s plan to eliminate the traditional offer process, also known as ‘blind bidding’. Instead, the Liberal plan would make it mandatory for families to sell their homes by open offer auction.

The realtor’s association says this is denying homeowners the choice of how to sell their home.

“To have it mandated or criminalized for us to have the blind offer process taken away," saysDamon Winney, president of WECAR. "I think that’s removing people’s choices in life.”

Winney says eliminating blind bidding in favour of a mandatory open auction process is a promise that focuses on the wrong issues and tries to sway voters into believing that open auctions will increase housing supply and affordability for first-time buyers.

“In fact, in other jurisdictions, such as Australia, where open offers are the norm, auction fever drives prices higher, often forcing buyers to make uninformed, snap decisions about tens of thousands of dollars,” says Winney.

Windsor-Essex has recently started experiencing the housing affordability crisis that has been occurring across Canada. WECAR says bidding wars and climbing prices are symptomatic of a much larger issue in the housing market: supply and demand.

“If we do not increase supply, we are going to face these similar problems of escalating prices,” says Winney. “Where a commodity or a property is in a restriction in terms of the supply, the prices of those will go up.”

The association says increased savings, low interest rates, lack of new supply, and shifts in consumer behaviors have all contributed to a situation where the demand for homes outpaces the available supply, driving prices higher.

For several years, Windsor-Essex and Ontario Realtors say they have been lobbying for much needed changes to help increase supply across the province and make housing more affordable, including eliminating dirty money from the real estate market, increasing rebates for first-time-home buyers, eliminating developmental red tape and redeveloping surplus land and commercial properties into housing.

“The high demand for homes across the country and in Windsor-Essex simply means more new housing construction is needed,” said Winney. “All levels of government need to focus their efforts on increasing housing supply, eliminating unnecessary government red tape, addressing affordability and ensuring both buyers and sellers have choice in how they engage in the offer process.”

Windsor-Tecumseh Liberal candidate Irek Kusmierczyk says eliminating blind bidding helps equal the playing field for home buyers.

“Right now a lot of real estate agents are doing quite well, folks that are selling their homes are doing quite well,” says Kusmierczyk. “The challenge is on the home buying front.”

He says the combination of strategies is needed.

“There is a housing crisis,” says Kusmierczyk. “There’s a lot of young people trying to get into their first home. This is going to help balance that home buying experience and transaction.”