It's a powerful word that blame. It implies that things aren't always as they first appear. It suggests some outward, untoward force may be the root cause of an issue, or somehow be responsible for adding to an outcome.
You'd have to be living under a rock in Victoria right now to not know that home prices are falling fast - or you'd have to not care. It's quickly becoming an issue for real estate industry associations, like the ones that represent REALTORS® or the builders of the products they sell. These are government policy savvy organizations; organized, collaborative and intelligent. They know how government works and they employ people whose primary responsibility is to lobby government to adapt policy and legislation to make it easier for them to conduct their business. Fair enough. It's a time honoured tradition in our system of government.
But this is just disingenuous and misleading. By taking advantage of the misconceptions and misinformation surrounding the newly rolled-out HST, Royal LePage agents remove themselves (and by default all other real estate transaction services actors) from having to do anything about the situation. Blame the government. Apply pressure for policy changes (this is step one in what will be a long series of real estate market bail-out requests, mark my words). Maintain the industry status quo.
Home prices are extremely high. Home ownership levels have never been higher. Prices are now falling because extensive supply outstrips weak demand. Prospective buyers move to the sidelines because, hey, the longer they wait the cheaper the house gets - it is a no-brainer. Agents have a tough time making a sale. They want us to believe its not their fault and they want us to believe their commissions aren't out of line.
Here's the thing though. The HST is ultimately good for all independent business people as most agents are. They are now able to write-off the full 12% portion of their sales taxes paid against the full amount of HST sales taxes they collected (previously, they could only write-off the 5% GST). In the past, they just paid PST out without collecting any and didn't have a corresponding tax write-off. This occurred throughout the entire real estate industry. Simply put, the HST has decreased the business operating costs for agents, lawyers and builders alike. These are the groups that would have, should have and very likely were supporting this tax policy change in BC. And now they are crying foul.
Government didn't educate the people about the tax, instead letting the naysayers have a free run with all kinds of negative information - some true and some false - leading to widespread confusion amongst the public. Tough sh&t, I say, for the business people who have done a poor job of educating their clients on the changes, despite VREB president, Randi Master's claims to the contrary:..."we have tried so hard to get the message out." Cry me a river. I don't recall seeing the special advertisement in the Times Colonist titled The HST and resale homes, what you need to know, do you? The VREB has nothing about the HST effects on the resale market in the two most logical places here or here on their website. Try harder guys.
The only rational reason I can think of why industry actors didn't want you to understand the HST effects, was an effort to effectively garner a 7% increase in pay without disclosing their costs went down (it's not actually 7%, it will be all over the map depending on the business volume and operating costs etc, but operating costs decreased across the board for these business people because all of them benefit from new tax write-offs on the operating side of their balance sheets).
So to all of those agents, builders, lawyers, inspectors and appraisers out there who want to cry foul over the HST miss perceptions: shut up, drop your fees or spend the difference educating YOUR clients about why the HST doesn't impact your product. Don't expect my tax dollars to do it for you.
The last point in my rant goes like this: I don't actually care what Royal LePage agents say they believe their clients think about the HST. I want to hear whether or not prospective home buyers believe the HST impacts the resale market, how and why. Where's that supporting evidence? They couldn't even drum up an "agent's friend" to give an anecdotal piece of "prospective buyer" BS evidence to support their claims for their press release. And once again, the Times Colonist didn't bother to make a phone call outside the VREB office either. This whole issue is trumped-up poppycock.