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For some inexplicable reason, the Competition Bureau has been on a witch hunt against the Canadian Real Estate Association for some time now. It may be that someone thought that this highly effective and progressive industry was an easy target. Certainly with the right spin, and with the media on side, it is easy to create an unsympathetic picture based on old charicatures of REALTORS(r).
 It is unfortunate that they are attacking one of the truest free market sectors in the Canadian economy. The Real Estate Industry is one of the most competitive industries in North America. Each Brokerage competes aggressively with it's rivals because remuneration is based on performance. Even within an office, the agents compete against each other for Listings and Buyers. Despite this,  the Competition Bureau is smearing CREA and it's almost 100,000 members. The media has been allowed to create untrue pictures of what the issues are surrounding the Competition Bureau's concerns.
Meanwhile, the Bureau does not acknowledge the important changes that CREA has made to address those concerns. Changes that the Bureau itself had recommended.
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The Canadian Real estate Association (CREA)  posted recent statistics showing the change between January and February of this year. A total of 42,799 homes were traded last month, down 1.5% from January, as a gains in Toronto were offset by a decline in units sold in Vancouver.
The Winter Olympics were cited as a possible factor in lower sales in the province last month. Unit sales were down 13.3 %. Compared to Ontario's growth of 3.3% during the same period.
Continuing low interest rates could further prompt home resales this spring ahead of new mortgage rules set to take effect in April. The introduction of the harmonized sales tax will also add to the buying mood of the consumer this spring, as buyers seek to purchase before the tax change takes effect.
The average Canadian house price in February rose by 18.2 % from last year.
Currently the most affordable Canadian city for housing is Thunder Bay, Ontario with a February average house price of $142,280, up 23.6 % from a year ago.
The most unaffordable Canadian city for housing continues to be Vancouver, BC with a February average house price of $658,984. That is also an increase in price from a year ago of 22.4%
Most experts agree that the Canadian housing market will be moving to a more balanced market in the fall, while the spring will continue to heat up to answer demand.
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FINTRAC fines brokerage $27,000

The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) has assessed its first fine against a real estate brokerage. HomeLife Effect Realty in Hamilton was fined $27,000 for violating the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.

FINTRAC says the brokerage was fined for committing four violations:
- Failure of a person or entity to appoint a person to be responsible for the implementation of a compliance program;

- Failure of a person or entity to develop and apply written compliance policies and procedures that are kept up to date and, in the case of an entity, are approved by a senior officer;

- Failure of a person or entity to assess and document risk; and

- Failure of a person or entity that has employees, agents or other persons authorized to act on their behalf to develop and maintain a written ongoing compliance training program for those employees, agents or persons.

FINTRAC has had the authority to issue administrative monetary penalties in response to non-compliance with the act and related regulations since December 30, 2008. It says penalties are used as a last recourse after other measures to ensure compliance with the law have been exhausted.

“FINTRAC remains committed to working with reporting entities in ensuring compliance with the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and related regulations,” says the agency in a news release. “The new penalties are a tool to encourage compliance.”

FINTRAC is an independent federal government agency with a mandate to assist in the detection, deterrence and prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities.

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The indications all point to a very active market for this fall in Vancouver. Following the excitement and energy of a successful hosting of the 2010 Olympic games, Vancouver is poised to experience a gold medal spring in terms of the real estate market in the lower mainland.
Several factors point to continued growth in development, sales activity, and price. Firstly, the market fundamental of supply and demand has never been stronger on the demand side. Vancouver is desirable as a world class city with it's amazing urban amenities. The city is in a natural setting that is second to none in the world. It is nestled between mountains and sea. The incredible landscape also provides for a mild temperature, something unusual for a Canadian city. The forests are lush, with moss and ferns under the canopy of giant spruce and cedar trees. Vancouver is a mountain metropolis surrounded by a rainforest. Following the exposure the area received during the games, inquiries from around the globe have increased, signalling continued demand for Vancouver real estate.
The price of land will continue to climb as long as there is more demand than available supply. Despite the fact that Vancouver is already categorized as "severely unaffordable" in comparision studies between average wage and average house price, the allure of living in this amazing city continues to drive the market.
In order to continue to keep up with the demand, developers seek out new locations for high density housing. Projects are fanning further and further away from the core of Greater Vancouver, ahead of mass transit infrastructure projects. This activity on the development side brings employment and opportunity, which continues to feed the demand for housing.
Sales activity remains strong as baby boomers seek to use the sale of their homes to leverage their retirement plans. Many long time Vancouverites are benefiting from the surge in prices and demand for property in Great Vancouver. This demand has created many new millionaires, who can now consider selling and retiring by downsizing and cashing in on their new found equity.
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