Everyone agrees that consumers have more information about real estate transactions at their disposal than ever before, and that has led to higher expectations for brokers and salespeople, and for the Real Estate Council of Ontario as the industry’s Ontario regulator. RECO expects transparency and accountability from the industry, but consumers and RECO’s registrants expect the same from RECO. That’s a big reason why RECO introduced its Service Standards Report Card in October 2017.
Published quarterly, the report card outlines the levels of service the public – including registrants – can expect for most services (wait times to speak to a RECO representative in person or over the phone, or to process either a complaint or a registration) under normal circumstances. For example, RECO established a benchmark of processing new salesperson applications within 10 business days, and a report card target of at least 80-per-cent success in hitting that benchmark; in the fourth quarter of 2018, RECO’s staff achieved a 94-per-cent success rate.
To be a modern regulator, RECO must provide timely and helpful service. Consumers and registrants who contact RECO with inquiries or to file a complaint need to know what they can expect in terms of timely service. RECO is committed to meeting those expectations. Let me share one success story that speaks extremely well of my colleagues at RECO.
Between 2014 and 2016, RECO had to cope with huge year-over-year complaint volumes. This created an inventory of complaints that made it difficult to move forward. At one point, it took an average of 241 days to process a complaint! This was unacceptable for a modern regulator.
My colleagues established a plan, rolled up their sleeves and worked through the inventory; bold action was required, so bold action was taken. RECO made brokers of record responsible for advertising compliance, and it refined the complaint handling process to better manage compliance inquiries and complaints. Today, RECO has a much more timely and efficient process: in 2018, the yearly average was just 82 days, but in the fourth quarter, on average, it only took only 59 days to process a complaint. That is a 75-per-cent reduction in average processing time.
The Service Standards Report Card is an important measurement, but RECO also ensures its complaints process is fair for all concerned by surveying individuals who contact RECO to lodge complaints, as well as the registrants who are the subjects of those complaints.
RECO’s survey data showed 69 per cent overall satisfaction with the complaints process, which is up from 59 per cent the year before. And RECO’s complaints process showed marked improvements in six out of seven categories from 2017.
There’s certainly room for improvement, but the numbers indicate RECO is on the right track regarding service standards. I’m confident those numbers will continue to improve in 2019.
Did you watch RECO’s most recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) on May 16? My colleagues, then-chair Jody Lavoie, CEO Michael Beard and I presented RECO’s Annual Report and audited financials and discussed a number of important issues, such as working with the industry to raise the bar of professionalism, getting the new Real Estate Salesperson Program ready to launch, and taking RECO’s Mandatory Continuing Education program from good to great.
I’m pleased to report that the AGM was viewed by a record number of people – registrants and interested members of the public. Michael and Jody provided thoughtful answers to some great questions, and we enjoyed an opportunity to hear from Ontario’s Minister of Government and Consumer Services, the Honourable Bill Walker, on his government’s plans for the industry.
If you would like to watch a recording of the livestream broadcast of the AGM, or download a copy of the Annual Report, check out the RECO website.