Bob Rennie says HST referendum is an industry setback
Published Thursday, September 16, 2010 4:49PM PDT
Premier Gordon Campbell's promise to put the harmonized sales tax to a referendum next year is a major setback for the real estate industry, says household-name marketer Bob Rennie.
Rennie took issue with the premier's pledge this week to hold a binding, simple majority referendum on Sept. 24, 2011, on whether voters will accept the HST.
The uncertainty that now hangs over the HST -- which is only applied to new homes and services such as commissions and home inspections -- could further hinder a market that's seen inventory fall off. Total active listings in Greater Vancouver have decreased by 6.1 per cent since July, when the tax was introduced.
Rennie argues that uncertainty over the HST being repealed is worse than the actual HST.
He has been in the media spotlight lately as the marketer responsible for having to sell off the remaining 400-plus units at Olympic Village. He says consumers don't need confusion.
"I have to look at investors differently today, Wednesday, than I did 48 hours ago," Rennie told his audience. "Because 48 hours ago, the HST was a fact. Now, nobody knows."
"We need certainty," he said. "Gordon Campbell, for everything amazing that he has done for my province, is the weakest salesperson on the planet. Seriously.
"In this new economy, it is all about resolve. It doesn't matter how we got here. It's how we are going to move forward. We have to turn on a dime."
Rennie went on to criticize the premier for using "tough love" instead of communication skills to sell the sales tax.
Dan Scarrow, vice-president for corporate strategy for Macdonald Realty Group, said he's also been talking with his project marketers about the effect of the referendum.
"Given the call for a referendum on the HST in 2011, the uncertainty surrounding the tax will likely hit some developers hard as buyers wait to see whether it will be repealed," Scarrow told ctvbc.ca. "Why buy a new unit now and pay 12-per-cent tax if you could simply wait a year and potentially save 7 per cent on the cost of a new home?"
Rennie says he has an appointment later this month to meet with the premier about the issue.