By Karen Cox

The real estate business looks a lot different today than it did when I first started out as a Realtor 25 years ago. I know that anyone who has been in this business longer than five years would agree with me. The technologies we use today are different. Our buyers and sellers are more sophisticated than ever before. And the role we play in the transaction process has also changed.

Staying on top of the latest technological trends, threats and opportunities can sometimes feel like a lot, regardless of how long you’ve been a Realtor. Which is why I chose, 12 years ago, to get involved with my local board, the Realtors Association of Grey Bruce Owen Sound. I wanted to stay engaged and in-the-know on issues that affect my profession and my community.



And that is why I am thrilled to be president of the Ontario Real Estate Association today, an organization that has chosen to be at the forefront of change.

In 2018, we did a lot of new things and we also made some tough calls.

For one, we applied a new approach to our public affairs. Today, when we go to the government with our asks, we go with support from the people. We choose to be on the side of hard-working homeowners, the same people that we work with and advocate for every single day as Realtors and community builders. With this new approach, we have established ourselves as a go-to resource for the provincial government on issues that affect Ontario Realtors, as well as buyers, sellers and homeowners.

We also decided that we would have some difficult, but necessary, conversations with our members about the changes affecting their business. Our first ever REALiTY Conference was an unvarnished, clear-eyed and bold examination of the biggest issues confronting Canadian real estate today. We brought together some of the biggest disruptors and trailblazers for three days of information downloading. From blockchain to chatbots to artificial intelligence, our speakers covered it all.

Our decisions to try new things, to be bold, weren’t always the popular choice. But by challenging our conventions and taking a new road altogether, we accomplished some big things for our members, home buyers and sellers.

In 2019, I’m excited to continue building on these accomplishments.

At the top of my list is nailing REBBA. After ten years of knocking, we finally got the government to open the door on REBBA reform. The legislation that governs our profession is badly out of date, and it needs to be updated to reflect our modern real estate market.

A review of the entire act is officially underway, and OREA has a front row seat at the table. So far, the government’s paper on REBBA reads a lot like our recommendations that we shared with the government last fall. We will continue to push for things such as personal real estate corporations, a more demanding education program and a tougher regulator (RECO). The government’s official review of REBBA is a big win for Ontario Realtors and a giant step forward toward higher professional and ethical standards.

I am also committed to continuing the work we started on turning more young and first-time home buyers into homeowners. Our Keep the Dream Alive campaign forced attention to the housing supply crisis in Ontario, and the real-life agony that first-time home buyers face in today’s undersupplied housing market, something I see every day in my own markets of Meaford, Beaver Valley, Thornbury and Blue Mountain.

Today, OREA is acting as a key advisor to the Ontario government on its Housing Supply Action Plan, which was a direct result of our campaign. This plan will lay the ground work for where we need to go in increasing housing supply and getting taxes down to create a new generation of homeowners.

Finally, our members have told us themselves that they want more engagement with OREA. So, that’s what we’re going to do through things like our monthly President’s Podcast, live townhalls, leadership training, Standard Forms outreach, Ontario Realtor Party Conference and 2020 REALiTY Conference.

We have an ambitious agenda before us at OREA. But, if I’ve learned anything in my time as a Realtor, long-time local and provincial volunteer, it’s that Realtors are some of the most determined, hardworking, unstoppable professionals out there. Despite our challenges, I know that we will come together, rise above and persevere in our collective mission to help build stronger communities.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Karen:

    Were I in your shoes I would make “…a more demanding education program and a tougher regulator (RECO).” my primary concerns. The italicized words are your words.

    I hope that you are not like most political types once in the saddle; all talk and no action…but where’s the camera? Your job is to promote the interests of Realtors at large. Make sure that they are worthy of your promotion. You are only in the position of OREA president for a limited amount of time. Make it count for something other than puffing smoke and polishing mirrors. Better to be an unpopular disruptor-for-change than a popular protector of the status quo…especially for your own conscience’s sake when you look in the mirror every morning.

    You use the word “advocate” when describing what a Realtor’s true role should be. Therefore, why not advocate for changing a Realtor’s license definition from “salesperson” to “advocate”? A change in definition and its relevant expectations thereof must come before behavioural change can be expected of the licensees. A salesperson tries to sell, sell, sell. An advocate tries to protect, protect, protect. A worthy advocate succeeds at his/her calling. The art of selling (it ‘is’ an art after all, largely based upon manipulation) is not a calling for most who become real estate salespeople. But real estate sales ‘is’ a calling for those in pursuit of big, easy commissions. For this latter described personality type, the pursuit of short-term big money trumps the long-range development of professionalism almost every time. It is time to separate the wheat from the chafe. There is no better time to start than right now. (Back to line one herein)

    Good luck.

    • Brian, I don’t always agree with you (at all) . However, I am totally in tune with your suggestion to remove the job description as “salesperson” . I thoroughly dislike having to use this in my working life. I have never been a sales person and never want to be one. There are plenty of options, advocate, consultant, advisor and I am sure there are some other ideas. Thank you for your comment.

      • Sabine and Brian

        I was a sales rep for ten years before I became a broker, and opened my own boutique real estate corp. An anomaly in my trading area at the time. I was successful from the get-go, in 1980, and managed to become the corp Regional number one “agent/sales rep.” Yet I have never sold anything to anyone in my whole career.

        I saw myself as a counsellor, advocate, facilitator, conciliator, contract adviser/advisor, go-between, representer, (as in agency-representation), even the glue that holds the bits and pieces together not unlike particle board. But I never ever saw myself as a salesman. And I believe my “clients” witnessed to that.

        Isn’t that an odd contrast of terms? My “clients?”

        Do salespeople have “clients?” Do salespeople use that term for the people they sell to? Just thinking out loud.

        You might recall my having said that once I completed my courses and got my “licence,” I felt adrift at sea. Thrown to the wolves. I was told I was the wrong personality type to “go into the black world of ‘sales,’ and that I was far too serious.” That I would never make it. I applied ALL the wrong techniques, methodologies, modes of operation, and had no “salesmanship” attributes to bring to the industry. I was indeed far too serious.

        I’m sure there are plenty of replicas of me and my mindset out there, just no one talks about it. There is so much negativity talked about. There are good, honourable people in the real estate business. And they should be applauded not identified and characterized as rough, tough and tumble “salespeople.” Yes, REALTORS® deserve a different “title.”

        I think business friend, colleague, teacher, instrumental in encouraging me to become a REALTOR®, OREA’s Ozzie Logozzo would agree.

        The term licensee (agent) was changed to “registrant” in the mix, and I never learned why. We still practised “agency.” And when buyer agency was foisted upon us in the Province of Ontario, nearly twenty-five years ago, the term buyer-agent became the identifier moniker, not buyer-registrant.

        Yet we were instructed not to call or refer to ourselves as agents or licensees. Perhaps just the semantics of the English language. Kleenex will always be Kleenex (interchangeable as tissues), and Xerox will always be seen to mean photocopies. A few generations will have to die off before new interpretations in our industry will be on the tip of anyone’s tongue.

        The late Merv Burgard (d) contacted me one day years ago and asked when I was going to stop using the word “agent” in my written consumer education articles. I replied that as soon as he rewrote all his materials and educational textbook publishers started doing so and calling upon him and them to do reprints.

        I did however, add a direction at the beginning of my written articles that the reader was required to read, instead, the word “registrant” wherever they saw the word “agent,” replacing it, required in the Province of Ontario.

        Google says: (note “broker” is in the list, but salesman is not) .
        More Facilitator Synonyms
        For more words similar to facilitator, see synonyms for:

        Executor springboard expeditor moderator leader intercessor judge peacemaker negotiator inspiration intermediary broker diet conciliator mastermind founder

        ===

        Carolyne L 🍁

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