As the year comes to an end, I can’t help but to reflect on 2019 and what an exciting year it has been for Canada’s real estate professionals and their provincial regulators.
The world is rapidly changing and we must do our best to keep up with new standards by educating consumers and registrants. Much like other regulators across Canada, the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) is committed to stewarding a safe and informed marketplace. Thanks to constantly evolving technology, consumers have more information at their fingertips than ever before. Yet, navigating through that can be difficult, which is why RECO provides a variety of tools to help support education and meet the ever-changing standards for both our registrants and consumers.
We have worked hard to establish strong public trust in the industry by continually raising the bar on professional standards. This year, I’m happy to say, RECO launched our new Real Estate Salesperson Program.
In Ontario, we’ve spent much of the last three years preparing for the program, in partnership with Humber College and NIIT Canada. Upon completion, new graduates will have the knowledge and skills to be more practice ready on day one. We’re confident the program will not only support an informed real estate market in Ontario, but also engage registrants to promote consumer protection.
As a regulator, RECO establishes salesperson and broker education requirements for registration, articling and continuing education. RECO provides a Mandatory Continuing Education (MCE) program that promotes continuous learning and professional service, allowing registrants to upgrade their skills and knowledge.
Earlier this year, we used registrant feedback to implement key enhancements, meaning courses are faster, easier to navigate and more balanced in order to provide rich content for both experienced and newer registrants.
It is important to provide greater clarity for registrants with plain language communications. RECO reaches out via bulletins, newsletters, e-blasts, in-person events and webinars. Through these channels, we address current matters affecting real estate professionals, consumers and the industry. In Ontario, that currently includes topics such as leading practices and the rules governing advertising and social media within the industry.
Regular face-to-face meetings between regulators and the industry are extremely important to give members an opportunity to ask questions, which is why we attend industry events and participate in speaking engagements.
An educated consumer is an empowered consumer. As a regulator, our most important responsibility is to educate consumers, to ensure that they are protected by providing them with all the information they need when buying or selling property.
It’s a lot easier when you and the consumer are both well informed – you can really show your value by drilling into the complex issues, and you don’t have to spend time explaining basic information.
A great example is RECO’s Registrant Toolkit. The Toolkit is an online resource where you can download content that can be shared with your buyers and sellers. If you haven’t yet checked out the Toolkit at reco.on.ca/toolkit, I invite you to do so. The Toolkit includes customizable materials on topics such as understanding representation agreements, open house safety and the value of working with a registered brokerage, as well as checklists for buyers and sellers.
Keep in mind that we all learn things differently. Using a variety of tools and channels to educate ensures that the consumer is getting the information they need, in a way that works for them. We engage with consumers through a combination of social media and traditional media outreach (including Ask Joe, a weekly column in the Toronto Star).
To better meet the demands of tomorrow, it’s important to remember that there is always room for improvement. RECO will continue to raise the bar on professional standards for real estate professionals and brokers in Ontario, to ensure that consumers are well-served.
We had some great momentum in 2019, and I hope to continue building on that in 2020. Happy holidays from my RECO family to yours!