By Joseph Richer

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” – Babe Ruth

The heat of summer has thankfully cooled, the Major League Baseball post-season is set to begin on Oct. 2 (without my beloved Blue Jays, unfortunately) and I can safely predict that the ultimate winner of the World Series will be the ball club that functions most effectively as a team, not as a collection of talented individuals.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of teamwork. When real estate salespeople and brokers take their consumer protection responsibilities seriously, and encourage higher levels of professionalism, it builds public confidence in the industry. That confidence is further enhanced when the public knows the umpire – in this case the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) – is calling the game fairly and squarely and reminding the competing teams of the rules they must follow. We all have a role to play in strengthening public confidence, and it’s worth discussing those roles from time to time.

Regular face-to-face meetings between RECO and the industry are crucial, which is why my colleagues and I will kick off RECO’s second annual Town Hall tour in Cambridge on Oct.15.

Last year’s town hall events featured discussions on subjects as varied as possible reforms to the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA), and the work RECO is doing to improve our Mandatory Continuing Education (MCE) requirements for salespeople and brokers.

The industry leaders who attended didn’t always agree with RECO’s policy ideas – or with each other for that matter – but the exchanges were thoughtful and respectful, and constituted a valuable learning experience for everyone involved.

Overall, I was extremely impressed by the passion I witnessed. Most of the individuals who made their way to the microphones to ask questions called for tougher standards and stricter penalties for registrants who break the rules. They agreed that consumer protection and increased professionalism are shared responsibilities between RECO and the industry, and they know that consumers are more likely to use a registered real estate salesperson when they buy or sell a home when it’s made clear the profession is subject to our Code of Ethics.

I really hope we can carry the momentum we generated last year into this year’s town halls. We want you to know that we’re listening and that we’re open to constructive ideas.

For example: many registrants told us they would like to be able to access RECO’s database of checklists, guides and educational materials even when they aren’t taking an MCE course. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to do that when the Knowledge Management System component of our Registration Education program is up and running.

Similarly, a number of registrants who attended last year’s town halls said we should offer in-classroom learning options for our MCE program. We’re looking at ways to make that happen that best meets the needs of those interested in classroom programming.

Listening is important, but my colleagues and I will have a lot to say about one of our favourite topics: broker of record accountability and ways that RECO and the industry can work together to “raise the bar” to encourage greater professionalism. I’m confident it will be a useful dialogue.

The town halls serve another purpose as well: generating feedback on key issues that we can provide to the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

Which key issues will we discuss this year? Well, last year’s attendees shared their thoughts about MCE, but a great deal has happened on that front since then. RECO is conducting an extensive review and there’s no substitute for in-person feedback. That’s a conversation we need to continue.

And we’re going to focus on the big picture. Ontario’s real estate marketplace is rapidly evolving, which means RECO must also evolve in order to effectively protect consumers in the years to come. The best way to start that process is to ask ourselves some key questions: how we’re doing, where we’re going and how we ought to get there.

The Town Halls may not have quite the tension or high drama of game seven of the World Series, but I am confident they will be highly informative, and a unique opportunity to help shape the future of the organization that regulates the real estate industry.  Teamwork is all about working together towards a shared goal. By working together to advance consumer protection and increased professionalism, I’m sure we can build confidence in the industry.


Note: The headline on this story was changed because the original headline implied these meetings are open to everyone. In fact, they are by invitation only.


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