Working at all levels of real estate in Ontario, David Rossi helped write the Real Estate Council of Ontario’s Code of Ethics. He says Realtor ethics are improving but there’s still some work to be done.

Interview by Kathy Bevan
At the 2007 Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) appreciation dinner, one of the special honourees was David Rossi, who was given the President’s Award in recognition of the contributions he has made to all levels of professional real estate in Ontario.  Among Rossi’s many past and present board, association and council roles:  past director and honourary life member – TREB; chair of Ethics & Arbitration Hearing Panel – OREA (since 1987); and  founding director and past chair of the Board of Directors, Real Estate Council of Ontario.  He is currently a director with RECO. Recently he spoke to REM’s Kathy Bevan.
REM:  A common thread seems to run throughout a great deal of the committee work you’ve been involved in – your commitment to ethics within the real estate industry, which was perhaps most evident in the creation of RECO’s Code of Ethics?
Rossi:  At RECO I was very fortunate to be one of the 12 chosen in 1997 by the Ontario government as one of the founding directors, and to be Chair of the Code of Ethics Committee.  That was one of my most cherished roles, to actually develop with a group of very knowledgeable people, a Code of Ethics that lives on.   It demonstrated that we wanted to be professionals, and that we were willing to do what it took in terms of a Code of Ethics and education.
REM:  From your perspective, chairing Ethics as well as Complaints, Compliance and Discipline Committees, what’s the biggest challenge facing the real estate industry?
Rossi:  In Ontario, I see one of our biggest challenges is to get the salespeople and brokers to understand how they must disclose their representation and services to the consumer. And the biggest challenge of all that I see in our market is getting the consumer to appreciate and understand what the services they’re utilizing mean to them.  And I’d like to see consumers being loyal to those agents whose services they are going to use.
I do a lot of arbitration and this is the biggest issue that we have, where buyers go from one agency to another.  These buyers get agents fighting among themselves over a deal.  They sign a buyer’s agreement, and then they go and sign a second buyer’s agreement.  I would like to see the buyers respecting agents the same way that sellers respect agents.  It took many years to get a listing agreement, for sellers to appreciate it.   
REM:  If we can shift that thought over to RECO, would you say that the council has finally gained appreciation for its role within the Ontario real estate marketplace?
Rossi:  Ten years ago – even five years ago – we were defending the concept of consumer protection, and getting complaints from real estate people saying, “You’ve betrayed us!”  Today, we get meaningful calls from registrants, dealing with trust money, with disclosure, with questions such as “They want me to do this with the deposit – do you think this is okay?”  People in the industry are trying to do the right thing – that’s a big difference from 10 years ago. 
I think the tipping point for the public and the membership was when the new act, REBBA 2002, finally came of age. The questions that arose as the Act came into being gave everyone a better appreciation of what it takes to get a profession into shape. As a result, I think registrants now appreciate the council a lot better.
REM:  After working for 33 years in the real estate industry, what advice do you have for Realtors who are new to this business?
Rossi:  Our profession was founded on the cornerstone of professionalism and of putting homes and people together. That’s an old cliché, but there’s a lot of good merit there because our profession has built itself.  It hasn’t been done through subsidies or donations – it’s been done by hardworking people long before me.  And those of us who contribute would like to see the profession survive. 
To the new professionals who are coming in, I’d tell them to learn about all the business models, but not to forget from whence we’ve come.  If I can pass anything along to anybody, it’s to appreciate the heritage of our industry while creating new and wonderful ways of serving the public. 
Another philosophy of mine is that there are two bottom lines in business:  one is to make a lot of money; two is to enjoy the journey.  I’ve always concentrated on enjoying the journey, because when you do, the money comes. And if you focus on making money, you may not enjoy the journey. That’s what newer people don’t understand yet.  There’s a lot of pressure on them to do a lot of presentations, get a listing, make a sale – but they have to enjoy what they’re doing.
In the photo: Dave Rossi is not a casual Blue Jays fan – he has a very personal connection to the team. Rossi’s son Michael was team ball boy when the Jays won back-to-back World Series Championships in 1992 and 1993.
Rossi’s 10 ideals that never go out of style
From David Rossi’s website, the most important things he’s learned over 33 years in real estate that never go out of style:
– Relationships
– Honesty
– Dedication
– Integrity
– Follow-through
– Knowing the territory and doing your homework
– Paying attention to details
– Troubleshooting problems before they occur
– Striving for perfection- And most importantly…putting client’s interests ahead of your own


Leave a Reply