By Trevor Koot
Are Realtors proud of the fact that they are part of a regulated industry? Are they disappointed? Are they indifferent?
I wouldn’t say that it is the former, nor the latter. And, I really want to believe that disappointment is not the emotion that is felt when considering the circumstance of their industry having regulatory oversight.
As a former Realtor who proudly wore a regulatory hat, I know firsthand the feeling of walking into the conversation of a group of my peers, only to have some immediately depart the group when they notice my name tag sported the word “Commission”. In fact, I distinctly remember a respectful conversation with our friend, Andrew Peck, at a Banff Western Connection social function where we debated this very topic.
There is no question that provincial associations and real estate boards across the country generally say all the right things when it comes to supporting their regulatory colleagues’ mandate of protecting the public. And, generally, I believe that these are not hollow sentiments. I think organized real estate supports the idea of holding our profession, and those who are in it, to a high enough account that the public feels safe and supported while they navigate the single largest transaction of their lives.
At the 2018 Canadian Realtor Association Executive conference in Montreal, I had the good fortune of joining some of my CEO colleagues on a panel about jurisdictional relationships between organized real estate and regulators. Then, in September of the same year, I hosted an inverse panel at the annual conference of the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials in St. Louis that saw a panel of regulators unabashedly discuss their relationship with Realtor organizations from within their respective jurisdiction.
What was evidently clear during both experiences is that there is a tremendous amount of respect from each group to the other. There is a lot of collaboration at times but an understanding that each have their stakeholders and there is bound to be lobbying and constructive disagreements.
But does the Realtor feel the same way?
With the consumer being exposed to more unregulated for sale by owner platforms, unregulated property advertising companies and unregulated technology, can the Realtor embrace this distinction and proudly promote the value that this differentiation offers their clients?
In my experience as a Realtor, as a regulator and now as an executive officer, the broad sentiment that I see from Realtors toward the regulator is negative. What if this mentality could be augmented slightly to provide constructive feedback to our regulatory colleagues when changes to the legislative framework are recommended, and positive messaging shared publicly to endorse the role that the regulatory structure provides in setting our profession apart from unregulated influencers?
Can organized real estate play a role in broadcasting this message?
Perhaps in addition to satirical ads that elude to the implications of not engaging a Realtor, or ads that contemplate the importance of choosing the right Realtor, there could be an awareness campaign that informs the public of the value in choosing the services of an industry that benefits from regulation, oversight and enforcement.
Beyond advertising campaigns, what can organized real estate do to create an environment where Realtors embrace and promote the benefits of the regulatory environment to clients and prospective clients?
Realtors and organized real estate are very good at ensuring the consumer understands that by engaging a Realtor, they are getting significantly more than just marketing of their property. I believe that the regulation of their industry must begin to be part of that narrative.