The Greater Montreal Real Estate Board is leading an initiative among Quebec boards to present CREA with a common list of demands for changes.
At stake is the future membership of the Quebec boards in the national association. If they decide to leave, the Quebec boards have until the end of September to inform CREA that their membership will not be renewed next year.
“We don’t wish to leave CREA, says Patrick Juanéda, president of the Montreal board. “It’s our desire to work with everybody, but they need to respond to our needs.”
Several working groups comprised of presidents and directors from the Quebec boards will come up with recommendations to present to CREA.
Quebec has rules that are different than elsewhere and “we have to respond to those needs directly,” Juanéda says.
For example, Quebec members are paying for WEBForms despite the fact the service can not be used in Quebec because of the province’s different regulations. The solution, he says, is more à la carte services. “If a product is worthwhile, members will use it and buy it.”
He says CREA currently operates like it’s a big company and there’s a strong need for the association to review its spending practices. “The range of services offered to members is enormously expensive and action hasn’t been taken to resolve that situation.”
As an example of wasteful spending, Juanéda cites an alleged trip by a few CREA board members or members of its advertising committee to Mexico to oversee the shooting of an ad. “I find that totally ridiculous and unacceptable.”
Juanéda adds that while CREA has promised improvements to Realtor.ca, Quebec’s online listing service Centris.ca has become “enormously valuable” and is responding to customers’ needs. “Centris is doing the job extremely well in Quebec and performing better than Realtor.ca. We say, ‘why not allow us to use that platform and stop spending on the other?’”
There is a lot of duplication in what CREA does and adding services and stuffing them down members’ throats “is not the way to do things in 2013.”
Juanéda insists that the Montreal board doesn’t want to leave CREA at any price and notes that CREA offers a common national vision and government representation required by the industry. CREA also offers services that smaller boards can not provide to members.
At its annual meeting in March, CREA approved a motion that allows Quebec members to continue to receive a dues credit for advertising for the next three years. The credit reflects the fact that French-language TV and radio advertising promoting real estate in Quebec is no longer produced by CREA.
Aside from that positive step, discussions with CREA are currently moving at a snail’s pace, Juanéda says. Still, there seems to be an openness among members of the CREA board to listen to the demands of the Quebec boards, which augurs well, he says.
Recently two smaller boards that had previously opted out of CREA decided to rejoin the national association.
Last September, the GMREB board of directors decided to remain in CREA despite a vote by members that rejected the status quo.
Members were given three choices in the vote: leave CREA on January 1, 2013; postpone the decision until after the spring meeting; or remain a CREA member. The highest number (40.4 per cent) opted to leave CREA, while 31.5 per cent voted to postpone leaving CREA and 28.2 per cent chose to remain with the national association.