By Marty Douglas

I’m in Las Vegas. Sin City. Overlooking the vast rooftops of the Mandalay Bay Resort. The pools aren’t open yet – they’re waiting for Spring Break.

Having just emcee’d the Banff Western Connection, I’m adjusting to the leisure of a regular attendee at my brand’s international conference. Nearly 10 times the number of delegates are here but the routine is familiar. Opening receptions, keynote speakers, awards, educational sessions, motivational speakers and the big closing bash – the difference is in the name dropping. The opening session features Brian Buffini and the closing party headliner is rocker Steven Tyler.

Other than that, Realtors fill the rooms, swap business cards, renew old friendships and embark on new journeys. The trade show bazaar is shrill – “Buy from me! Look here Mister – almost free!” Tech tools abound and each shiny item is a temptation – to be avoided. Forty-five years in the business whisper in my ear – “You only need a pen and/or a QWERTY keyboard and they have been around for more than 100 years!”

In between Banff and Vegas, I attended my home board’s annual general meeting – as every member should because the world is run by the ones who show up. Not much excitement this year, and that’s a good thing compared to last year’s mea culpa: “Oops, we seem to have misplaced a tad more than a hundred grand!”

AGMs often struggle with membership attendance, causing innovative amendments to the constitution and bylaws such as reducing the size of the necessary quorum. (My solution – evolve to a benevolent dictator, as long as it’s me!) Our board has tried lavish balls, innovative speakers, educational credit and the ultimate in bribery, the free lunch. It all produced a similar result – poor representation except by those who are paid to be there, those within a few minutes driving distance and those few of us who think membership deserves attention to the governance of our multi-million dollar asset.

After all, we trust them to handle a couple of million dollars in revenue every year, most of it mailed in by the members. Perhaps we should check in and by doing so, hold them accountable. But then, many of you don’t vote in our other common membership – federal, provincial and municipal elections – so why am I surprised?

One of my heroes, Phil Edgett of Royal LePage with 30-plus years in the business, hasn’t missed an AGM since becoming a member. Sadly there are no awards for perfect attendance and while others are recognized for charitable gestures and years of tenure on the board of directors, Phil has refused recognition, preferring to keep private the work he does, the passion he has and the value he brings as an example of perseverance to our industry. If I could transfer my Realtor of the Year Award to Phil, I would.

CREA is a welcome presence at our AGM and the presentation reminded us to get and stay involved at the CREA level. Hey, it’s not just about Webforms! Want to own your name as your domain? Get to the CREA website. Need to send a blizzard of protest to your MP over – oh I don’t know, FINTRAC? Make sure you are enrolled in the Realtor Action Network. Want to embed some great video in your website? CREA resources. How do those folks at Point2 get your listing? Check in to your settings on the DDF. How many views on that listing last week as you try for a renewal? Personal stats. All on the CREA website.

But you knew that.

VIREB’s keynote speaker, morning television personality Riaz Meghji, presented Every Conversation Counts, the importance of the influence of conversations in our own lives, and of our conversations on others.

In thinking back to conversations that got me where I am today, they occurred 46 years ago. One was with a complete stranger in a job interview who, in turning my application down, commented that as a recent university student I wasn’t likely to stick with his company. Without my help it became Telus.

And my mother, who after I complained about the lack of job opportunities asked, “Why don’t you try real estate?”

Thanks Mom. I’m still trying.


  1. I encourage all members of CREA and any MLS system to sit on the sidelines and remain uncaring. I encourage you to elect Presidents with less than 20 year membership and less than 500 sales experience to lead your associations. I encourage you to sit back and pay your fees while other determine your future. I encourage you to allow Governance discussions to occupy the majority of your leaderships focus for at least another 5 years and for you to pay millions to consultants who have never listed a home for sale in their lives.

    I encourage you to allow staff who don’t know what you do or the risk you assume in making their jobs possible, to be the speakers for your industry and for them to get better jobs elsewhere from all the PR and implied credibility you give them. I encourage you to pay for the retirement plans of staff, the maternity leave of staff while those members who are retiring themselves or giving birth don’t get a paycheck.

    Apathy is good isn’t it. AGMs where the wages your CEO is paid are never disclosed are great. I encourage you all to sit back and “watch Rome burn” because unfortunately that is what happens when you don’t speak up.

  2. Marty> I entirely agree with your comments regarding apathy and annual general meetings. My problem is that over the last few years, CREA has down graded the Annual General Meeting & Conference to just an Annual General Meeting that is basically attended by only those members who’s way is paid for by a local Board or Provincial Association. I believe that CREA should look at once again have National Meetings & Conferences every two years open to all members which would be presented at different venues across Canada not just in Ottawa. I would also like to see the voting to be returned to each member instead of it being done by Boards & Associations who technically are not members of CREA unlike the individuals who pay annual membership dues. Allowing members to participate in the decision making of CREA as a voting member whether at the meeting in person or on line. Todays Technology can provide involvement by members at the meeting regardless if they are there in person or on the internet. I enjoyed the Annual General Meetings & Conferences which gave me an opportunity to learn more about an industry that I have become to love and appreciate over the years. Should not forget about the networking and contacts one meets at these national events. If the opportunity was provided me to be able to vote on motions that are presented by CREA, I really believe it is time for CREA to open up the voting to all members. Thank you for allowing me to express my opinion as your article stimulated me to do so.

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