The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) is asking its members to approve a special levy of $30 per member per year, for a period of three years starting in 2016, to fund the Realtor Value advertising campaign.

“Promoting the value of Realtors to the public across the province has been the subject of a mass advertising campaign for the past few years,” says the association in a note to members. “That’s because you, our members, have rated this as your top priority for the association. After an extensive survey, an overwhelming 97 per cent of you said your top priority for us at OREA was to promote Realtor value to the public. Moreover, 94 per cent of you said it should be done through a mass advertising campaign.”

The association says its “We do the homework” campaign, featuring television and billboard ads, has been running for two years and “has been a tremendous success, moving the public’s perception of Realtors in a positive direction that benefits all of us in this profession across the province.

“We want to continue running this amazing ad campaign for another two years. However, in order to continue funding it, we will need to find a new path. Delegates at the upcoming OREA Annual General Meeting and Assembly will be asked to vote on a special levy to continue to fund the ad campaign,” says OREA.

So far the ad campaign has been funded by OREA reserves, which will continue through this year, says the association. However, the reserves “will no longer be able to support this kind of campaign” after this year, it says.

OREA says its revenue is about $9 million annually, “but funding a professional and effective ad campaign will cost the association about $2 million a year. It is worth noting that OREA worked to trim back our budget in 2012 and 2013, and this involved staff layoffs and significant budget cutbacks. It is also worth noting that OREA has not had a dues increase since 2008. With an ad campaign representing over 20 per cent of the current member services budget, attempting to further cut a lean budget would not deliver the required funds and would have a negative impact on valued existing programs. We find ourselves with nowhere left to cut. That’s why we’ve had to explore a new funding model for the campaign,” says the association.

Voting delegates to the OREA Annual General Meeting and Assembly will vote on the recommendation on March 11.


  1. Maybe if more meeting and convention items were done via live feeds, How much we would save less drinking /dining/hotels/travel all on the members tab .If We could get more modern and operate smarter the $30 would not be needed.Heck we might even save money by operating smarter ! VOTE NO

  2. Received an email from OREA that the campaign continues. Does this mean the levy was approved? OREA didn’t say.

  3. There are a lot of good comments here from the contributors, and it is encouraging to see that most oppose the “special levy” based on principle.

    However, there will probably need to be three key elements in place before professional real estate will turn, in the correct direction: 1/ better educational standards. 2/ better enforcement of regulations. 3/ consensus on how to address the excessive number of registrants.

    The following quote from one of the submitter’s, pertains to my third key point, above: “Drawing in as many licensed practitioners as possible is the drive – the result, aggressive competition within the industry. Which naturally breeds underhanded behavior.” The aforesaid point is simple and it is exactly right!

    There are seven different “sources” that can prevent entry (or act as barriers) to a market place, by a new competitor:
    – Economies of scale.
    – Product differentiation.
    – Capital requirements.
    – Switching costs.
    – Access to distribution channels.
    – Cost disadvantages independent of scale.
    – Government policy.
    In my opinion, there may be just one of the above that may be argued as not being applicable to someone, who is contemplating pursuing becoming a new registrant to the professional real estate industry. However, what has OREA or any other Provincial Association ever done to enlighten a potential new registrant as to what they’re really up against, by coming into this industry? Perhaps OREA and other such organizations should divert some of their advertising budget towards the enlightenment of those seeking to join this industry. The aforesaid would be a good place to start, towards getting our registration numbers headed in the correct and ethically appropriate direction!

  4. If I work around the clock this year and do 30 deals it’s only a buck a deal. Trouble is my expenses are already too high. One of my listings was sold by another Brokerage last week, sale price $148,000! By the time I pay my broker 20%, add up all my expenses, the time & the liability, and then I think about my ever increasing job description as a Realtor these days… Geese, don’t even get me started on that one. Sorry I’ve had enough, I’m cooked, stick a fork in me. NO NO NO I need every last dollar!!!

  5. What other “Profession” needs to run advertisements to convince the public that it is a valuable resource? I don’t see Surgeons, or Lawyers, or Car Salesman having to defend how wonderful they are. To me, it makes REALTORS look like they have to defend themselves to prove their worth. I agree with the other comments below, that it starts with us as REALTORS being fully trained and accountable, not an ad campaign.

  6. LOL— This article should have been in the April 1st edition !!!
    Reading the other 17 comments, it appears that only one ( Barbara ) agrees with the $ 30 proposal , so, er, umm, the majority wins ?????—– No increase !!!.
    Next– there will be task forces , study groups , etc holding ” Information Symposiums ” all over the Country to ” sell ” this nonsense !
    Totally nuts !!

  7. Ya no…it is not the $30: They are throwing money at a problem that needs the root cause fixed, Bad Realtors. Realtors who have created a public image that needs an ad campaign to somehow convince the public that their perception is incorrect. This will not change until OREA/RECO stops focusing on volume instead of quality of product, the Realtor. Charge us more, make it harder to get, and keep, a license, and publicly pursue and prosecute the cancers.

    • Bang on !!! However, because Real Estate is a FEES based Industry that supports ( pays for ) the Administration of the Canadian, Provincial, and local Boards, nothing will change.
      Where is the money going to come from?
      Just look at RECO’s Convictions , Disciplines, Fines in the past few years—very few—
      With due respect to the ” Professionals ” in the Industry— Regarding the Continuing Education courses ( FEES grabbing )—- If there were exams that the ” Professionals ” had to pass in order to continue— the field would be cut by 90 % and the FEES would increase by 1000% ( ??? ) .

      • Here is how you do it. The Realtors that are GOOD re-claim the value of their listings AND their services.

        In the same way that there is Good marketing and Bad marketing (property photos taken with a cell phone etc.) there are good Realtors and lousy ones. At issue for both is the core subject of QUALITY.

        First, you start with decoupling. By establishing a new marketplace that demonstrates the listing AND with equal quality promotes the good Realtor.
        Think of a group of good Realtors, who are members of a vetted collective, with a web based platform that promotes them collectively. (now this is begins to sound like what MLS is, but we know that MLS is a lousy marketing tool – It’s success is only due to the aspect of a Monopolized position).

        Imagine the result: what would happen if an Advertising/Production company decided to provide Realtors with a one stop promotional tool (photography, graphic design, video, feature sheets, signs, website listing, google indexed mapping, QR codes etc). Membership would allow you to differ paying for services until the sale closes (or the listing is terminated) + other freebies like banner adds. Non-membership would offer access to an a-la-carte range of advertising services.

        This same advertising tool would in turn provide referrals to vetted members for both buyer client and listing services, as membership promotes the Realtor as well as their listings. Members would have more “about me” presence in the listing – encouraging consumers to interact with them. If you provide this kind of quality (+ third party vetting) to the public they will recognize it.

        With this you’ll establish a foothold in defining a good Realtor and his/her value.

        …and guess what, it’s under development. (and no, they don’t take a referral fee)

      • You can not solve the whole problem in 1 shot, take the low hanging fruit to start with. Work with what we have, and start the process. I would suggest 3 things, it takes time to fix a problem of this magnitude:
        1) Triple fees (this will weed some)
        2) Make it much easier to register complaints against realtors. I registered a complaint 2 years ago and it was ridiculously time consuming and onerous. RECO has no idea how many complaints would come in if the process was easier and more automated, or maybe they do.
        3) Inflict pain in the pocket book for violations, and publicize the fact that there is an effort underway to clean up Ontario Real Estate, and to provide consumers with high quality Realtors who can be held accountable.

  8. By the way, OREA’s revenue is NOT $9 million. In 2013 it was $36 million — $8 million from member service fees and $28 million from the “College” (education fees).
    In 2014 it was $34 million — $9 million from member services and $25 million from the College.
    Either REM got it wrong, (which I would give the benefit of the doubt to) or the statement was presented in such a way as to deflect focus on the incredible amount of fees OREA received from it’s past exclusive licensing arrangement with RECO for providing education services.
    Notwithstanding the above, with all the cutbacks cited in OREA’s statement, where did the extra $1 million come from in the member services fees increase last year?

    • The design of this arrangement provides a predictable result – bastardization of motive.

      Drawing in as many licensed practitioners as possible is the drive – the result, aggressive competition within the industry. Which naturally breeds underhanded behavior.

    • Yes, Caroline. Anyone know how many people are on the OREA payroll, titles, and job descriptions?

      Benefits? Retirement plans?
      Salaried? Full-time, part-time? Independent contractor status, with no benefits? Volunteers?

      Is/was Merv Burgard an employee? As prior counsel? As columnist at the Edge, and et al?

      Not wanting to speak out of turn – are we permitted to ask such questions? Just curious…

      Carolyne L

      • Carolyne L – “Not wanting to speak out of turn – are we permitted to ask such questions? Just curious…”

        I’m guessing we’re somewhat estopped from doing so on a public venue since the corporation is private.

        Further to Cseepe’s comments, OREA wants $2mm per year to fund the campaign. The financial report can be accessed by members, it’s worth a gander to see the allocation of expenses.

        Only the boards get to vote but if as individual members we could mine would be a resounding NO!

  9. OREA, RECO, local boards, brokerages……too many levels of bureaucracy that trip over each other and ad little or no value to the industry. RECO is there to supposedly protect the consumer. I question the necessity of OREA and there are definitely too many local boards. Also, the quality of agents is not in the equation. Brokerages are in business to make a profit. The quality of their agents is secondary

  10. Monopolistic, democratically unaccountable, elitist, behind-the-scenes inwardly-looking bureaucracies possessing well entrenched downward-looking patronizing cultures operate on the principle of “Create a secondary problem to override a primary problem which the bureaucracy is responsible for creating in the first place”–in this case setting loose waves of incompetent amateurs with ‘professional’ real estate licenses on an unsuspecting public–“and thence offer to save the tax-payers from said secondary problem by taking more of ‘their’ money to fix that problem… with Band-Aid ads”.
    Next (if OREA succeeds in duping the majority of its tax base on this bright idea), the dye will be cast and more pay-as-you-go requests will emerge when more emergencies arise as the fire-fighters light more money-producing fires.
    The fix is simple; the fix is in; just throw more money at it.
    I guess the OREA theory is “If we fail at our primary job we can collect even more from our benefactors to create a smokescreen to mask our failure.”
    Only within a bureaucracy does the concept of a meritocracy get regularly trumped by the reality of the there-forever top bureaucrats’ communal mindset of comfortable self-satisfied under-performing job security complicit with expectations of regular union-style pay raises/bonuses…at the expense of their non-income-secure tax-payers. Can you spell R-I-P O-F-F ?

  11. I don’t really care where the funding comes from but the promotional advertising for us as Realtors has been very well done in my opinion and must be kept up. This is a business that is fraught with Independent people who most have a difficult time seeing beyond themselves. As a broker of 35 years I have seen more than my share. If we don’t have an association either Provincial or Federal working on our industry for the betterment of all of us then it will run amuck so fast no one will see it coming. $30.00 ??? really that’s a problem ? – I bet most of you spend that any given day before noon.

  12. I completely agree that OREA’s usefulness has come to an end. There is NO way I will contribute ANY funding to an advertising campaign. How do I make sure my vote is heard and counted?

  13. This request is unconscionable. Firstly where is the market research to even prove that the recent advertising has made any significant impact on the general public to start with. There is a reason why the public feels the way they do and it’s not something that advertising can fix. The level of professionalism within the real estate industry is declining in my experience in the field and no amount of advertising can fix that. As long as there is a proliferation of agents that do a half baked job the public will continue to feel the way they do. Too many agents being pumped through the system, most failing to sustain themselves cannot possibly be expected to ever deliver the kind of services the public deserves for the money they pay. I say an overwhelming NO to paying one more red cent to OREA…who I would like to see teach with more relevance to begin with.

  14. OREA is a bureaucracy that is out of control. No more money. There should be a serious look at OREA and there continuous history to simply “pump out” more and more real estate agents every year, simply to make more profits. The province needs quality real estate agents not just more real estate agents.

  15. Better idea would be to scrap OREA. Crea is advertising. OREA is advertising. Who else wants to advertise on my behalf? No, thanks

  16. Absolutely not! If you read the REM Feb. 2015 article about RECO’s Nov. 05/14 survey, allegedly about 45% of Realtors are not meeting the public’s expectation of duty of care and skill. OREA was the training agency in Ontario.
    The quality of Realtors must rise to meet public expectations before telling the public to use Realtors that are not qualified.
    Doesn’t CREA and various boards also run similar “use Realtors” campaigns?
    Where is the metrics of proven success of the past campaigns from OREA to justify this massive cash outlay?
    I’m finding it increasingly difficult to understand what value OREA brings. It is becoming irrelevant and Realtors shouldn’t have to be forced to fund that agency. Let it operate on the basis of its non-profit status and raise funds like any other non-profit organization does — on the merits of its services.

  17. OREA spends way too much money on staff travel and perks. They need to get their finances in order. They have already lost continuing education and it appears they may lose licencing education so they want to become an advertising agency. This is an outrage and hopefully the delegates will vote this down. It is time for a new direction at OREA.

    • I agree 100% with you Paul. They should have focused on fighting with CREA AND TREB to keep our MLS system ours, after all we own and operate it. Now that they have lost continuing education courses to RECO we have no use for that agency. We don’t need an adverting agency to pay for. Let CREA do advertising with all the money they take from us. Agents have left the business thanks to mere postings and non licenced companies selling real estate taking business away, maybe OREA will loose their positions. Let’s see hope they like it!

    • It’s time for a new direction at TREB too! If the heavy-handed tactics and dismissive and/or insulting treatment of the member base by executive staff is any indication of their approach to handling difficult challenges, then TREB and Realtors in general are in for a lot of trouble and pain.
      There needs to be a LOT more accountability by senior staff to its members of TREB’s actions.

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