By Joe Richer

Happy New Year! January isn’t everybody’s favourite month; most people associate it with cold weather, a lack of sunshine and larger-than-normal credit card bills. But January is also an excellent time to plan for the future and reflect upon the year that passed. As I mentioned in a previous column, the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) will be well-served by a Strategic Plan that will carry us into the next five years, so RECO’s future looks secure.

I’d like to take this opportunity to look back upon a year when we worked closely with the industry to protect consumers and raise the bar for professionalism.

At last year’s town hall events, industry leaders told us there was strong support for making classroom instruction available for those who wish to complete their Mandatory Continuing Education requirements (MCE) that way (we also heard from many people who appreciate the convenience of eLearning), and we should introduce new ways to detect cheating by some registrants who may get other people to complete their MCE courses.

We listened, and we took action in 2018 by hiring an independent consultant and launching a formal review of the MCE program that asked all of our registrants to provide feedback. I look forward to sharing key findings of the MCE review with you in the near future and discussing next steps. We have work to do together.

In the midst of the formal review, RECO’s Education Department continued to improve the MCE program by introducing new elective courses with more assessments and knowledge checks. They also worked diligently with their counterparts at Humber College and NIIT Canada to prepare for the launch of our new Registration Education program in mid-2019.

The MCE review wouldn’t have been possible without some honest and candid feedback from our registrants. Last year’s town halls generated so many thoughtful discussions on key issues that we knew we had to organize another tour, with this fall’s events going to Cambridge, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, Orillia, Windsor, Ajax and Vaughan. We discussed possible reforms to the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA), and the steps we’re taking to become a modern regulator and to work with the industry to raise the bar of professionalism.

Many local board members and brokers of record said they appreciate the work RECO does to oversee the real estate brokerage business because it builds public confidence in their profession. They understand the industry needs rules, and they ask us to do everything we can to ensure those rules are clear and understandable. I see their point: drivers know that red and green lights are easier to interpret than a flashing yellow; we are working to provide greater clarity with plain language communications about the issues our registrants care about. A great example would be the Registrar’s Bulletin I issued in the spring regarding the use and misuse of lockboxes.

Most registrants understand their duties and responsibilities when it comes to lockboxes, but we saw the need for a clear message to help everyone better understand the importance of using them properly.

In most cases, lockbox rule violations can be chalked up to laziness, carelessness or simply bad judgment rather than any malicious intent but giving somebody free and unsupervised access to someone else’s home is a serious breach of trust and privacy.

We expect brokers of record to take a leadership role in ensuring compliance with the REBBA and the Code of Ethics across their brokerage. One salesperson’s failure reflects on the brokerage and the profession as a whole; every registrant has a stake in doing it right.

It’s still too early to assess the impact of the bulletin, but local boards have applauded its release, and a number of them have told me it has prompted brokers of record provincewide to inform their employees that rule violations won’t be tolerated. I find that very encouraging.

Let’s build upon the momentum of 2018 by making 2019 the year we work together to raise the bar for professionalism. If we don’t do it together, who will?

2 COMMENTS

  1. Concerned:

    The last newly-minted Realtor’s comment within your list says it all, and it bears repeating for full effect. It should be re read to let the reality of the writer’s newly-acquired sense of awareness sink in…

    “As the real estate course taught me: The best skill an agent can have is marketing themselves…I got the licence to reveal the lie so many agents told me.”

    So what is it that this so-called professional got out of real estate university?

    FLASH TRUMPS SUBSTANCE

    aka: BULLSHIT BAFFLES BRAINS

    What did this graduate learn about “so many agents”?

    THEY’RE LIARS

    Nice.

    I know of no profession wherein seeking out shortcuts—and being rewarded for doing so—creates a better professional.

    Hmmmm…it seems that the powers-that-be—knowing full well what the astronomical graduate failure rate is, and accepting same as being inevitable—can’t get new dues-payers (incompetent as they most invariably are) into the system fast enough to keep the bureaucrats well fed…and the money ball relentlessly rolling.

    Easily conquered licensing exams exploited by heretofore know-nothing applicants knocking on (and being allowed passage through) the gambling-casino entrance door does not bode well for the hoped-for improvement of the public’s poor perception of real estate sales people’s communal attitude toward said public interest…which is: “They’re in it for the money only; you can’t trust them.”…generally speaking…which makes it hard on the minority…the actual REALTOR professionals.

    True professionals do not make marketing themselves their number one priority. Only greedy commissioned sales people—hungry for the next hit…or the first hit—do that.

    I do not claim that all salespeople are greedy short-cut artists, only that too many are…especially so within the real estate game…because the potential gambling payoffs are so large. A couple of real estate deals per year in Toronto provides a living for most who too easily get to the big leagues from a lower salaried background. I doubt that a doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, appraiser etc. (for whom all only became licensed after completing many years of demanding post secondary education and thence only after subsequently completing extensive in-the-field training requirements) who completed just two diagnosis/prescriptions/operations, fillings/extractions, wills/real estate transactions, tax returns, appraisals etc. respectively, per year, would survive for long under such ridiculous performance standards. Yet still, so-called ‘professional’ wannabe REALTORS get sucked in and thence predictably go down like not-yet-dead flies on fly paper ’till the fully engulfed fly paper needs to be replaced for the next generation of professional failures.

    The real estate sales game ain’t no profession…yet, but, there are professional Realtors who manage to operate amongst the riff-raff. I say, kudos to them for taking the time to properly educate themselves and thence for devoting themselves to becoming the best that they can be at their chosen craft…not to become rich, but to become trusted advisors to their clients over the long haul.

    In the meantime, it is just too damned easy to clamber aboard the low-riding money-ferry prior to finally walking-the-plank and drowning, and it is just too damned easy to fool the public with slick marketing aids prior to drowning. This business is chock full of self-deluded fraudsters without life-jackets, who can’t swim, but who nevertheless shamelessly masquerade as professionals.

  2. RECO does indeed still have more work to do. These are examples of comments made by current students which highlights how uncaring these future registrants are when it comes to securing the knowledge to carry out their duties.

    I am dismayed by what is being unleashed upon the public because of legal cheat shortcuts (passit) allowed. The general public doesn’t know the person they’re hiring and depending on their knowledge is actually woefully under-educated because they chose the easiest way to passing the courses.

    And as far as I’m concerned the new changes do nothing to fix the problem. That RECO after all these years had to get tough on lockbox management of all things speaks volumes and what does that say about the more serious issues not addressed in agreements of purchase and sale?

    Comments:

    “would love to get some advice from you on the FASTEST POSSIBLE WAY to finish pre-registration. As I understand, for the 5 exams in pre-registration, you have to complete one before starting the next and that there’s e-learning option for each and every one of them. I also checked there’s basically an exam for each and every course almost everyday. This would mean it is possible for someone to finish all 5 exams in a month or even less.”

    “I have two textbooks to get through and have not yet started. I have used passit and skimming text book for the previous exams. I have been told the third exam is a different animal. I plan on skimming and using passit again for both course 3 text.

    In addition to above, do you folks (those that have taken and passed course 3) suggest I purchase minicram? Someone is also selling notes on reddit for $60. What helped you and how did you folks get through?”

    “I did my 5 pre-registration exams in 4 months, could’ve have done in even less time, if not for exam dates availability + 2 10 day vacations in the summer, so time wise 3 months is definitely doable especially if you find dates for Ipad exams. Also, i did just Minicram (3-4 days) and Passit (3-4 days) before each exam, never looked at the textbooks and still scored over 90% on all exams. Am not saying it works for everyone, but it definitely did for me.”

    “Which elective did you guys take?…I’m looking to finish it by end of the year. Just looking to pick the easiest elective to finish it all off.”

    “I just passed the exam for Course #2 (Land, Structures and Real Estate Trading) with an 80% after doing another 4 or 5 hours of studying.

    I definitely found this exam more challenging than the last one, but it really reinforced the idea of focusing on the essentials instead of reading through the textbook and trying to synthesize the information.
    The MiniCram notes are a great way of getting through everything in a hurry. I didnt use PassIt this time around. The OreaPrep notes are a blatant rip off of the MiniCram material. Stay away from them.”

    “As the real estate course taught me: The best skill an agent can have is marketing themselves…I got the licence to reveal the lie so many agents told me.”

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