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.


  1. The regulatory system is stunted by slow moving politics both from inside and out.

    For example, it’s been more than 2 years since Ontario’s Consumer Services Ministry launched a review of the industry’s regulations because of serious concerns coming from the public. Tightened regulations were brought to the fore and subsequently allowed to be beaten down by OREA – itself one of our organizations which, under a lifelong politician, Tim Hudak, because it seems he’s never left politics, is steadily being morphed into a very political – organization and a leaning in one direction only PAC lobbying for his particular bent of politics as the ‘Realtor Party’.

    Hudak and OREA – that is, enabled by the real estate board appointees, have managed to absolutely derail the regulation that would have cracked down on dual agency, and any meaningful changes for the protection of the consumer. No other promised reviews have come since and so, here we are almost 3 years later with virtually no change with teeth to the regulations except for entrance education and a new offer tracking format – neither of which is actually going to work to clean up the industry and rid it of the bad actors.

    So when the big guy collectives aren’t interested in cleaning up the industry, the individual sure as heck doesn’t have a hope in hell of effecting change.

    • “ new tracking system”…. this is substantial, well thought out and effective in protecting clients offers. What more do you suggest?

      • A tracking system that consists of submitting a form is substantial? I was one of 6 buyer reps offering on a $3 million property last year that unbeknownst to the 5 of us who weren’t the listing representative, the 6th buyer who happened to prevail in the purchase was represented by the listing rep. That form which we all submitted worked as well as the one where the listing rep was supposed to get their seller and buyer to agree to multiple representation yet by RECO’s own reporting, didn’t bother and the only thing that came of it was a warning by RECO.

        Yes, very substantial indeed!

        When that’s the best substance one can think of instead of tougher regulations that have teeth for entrance, throw out multiple offenders and those that engage in any criminal act even just once, limit the bloody dual agency nonsense to the same levels as lawyers, ban conflicts of interest such as providing to a single client any combination of mortgage brokerage, appraisal, inspection with real estate buy/sell service – this industry will remain a mess and at the top of the most untrustworthy industries.

        And those are just for starters.

        • You have made some good points and suggestions.
          I agree that it is problematic when the listing realtor has their own offer in multiple offer situation, and they are handling presentation of offers to the seller.

  2. Having left the business because of all of the above outlined problems perhaps more initial courses should be mandatory, high standard exams with a higher passing grade, no coaching by instructors as to what will be on the exam should be required before a licence is issued. Forget about Brokers providing much needed guidance or asking for compliance or for professional behaviour from existing agents as they are running a business and intent on making a profit. In addition, update training should continue on-line but the person be required to attend a facility, provide proof of identity, write and pass an exam on the material in order for their license to be renewed.

    • Linda ,
      Some wonderful ideas if only someone would listen. Many times over the years I too have thought about leaving because of all of the issues mentioned here. May I ask how long you were in the business? I remember being a newbie and I was so excited with so much passion and an idealist reality ( that was taught by the instructors). I believed that everyone knew the rules and would follow them and if not be tossed out quickly…yet it seems to take a long time to get them out and in most cases they are allowed back in..after fines and some education.

  3. I find as time goes on I am becoming more confused…the rules say, one must have knowledge..that is why we choose a professional to assist us in our largest financial transaction (for most people).. the regulators say they are there to protect the public?? Why do they make me take course to stay up to date (a good thing)… CREA advertises we are there to assist, guide and direct and have knowledge ..yet they allow people outside of their normal trading area to list and sell in a market they are unfamiliar with? I am personally having a difficult time in my mind feeling like we are all part of any industry that is very hypocritical

    • I work very hard for my clients, listing their properties. Getting information and being Knowledgeable. Only to be derailed by incompetent uneducated out of area agents who do not even know how to complete a transaction. This industry needs to be Professional.
      Stop the insanity and remove the “numbers” that are saturating and diluting our profession.
      They are making us all obsolete and cost so much hard ache and time for the sellers. Being a serious Professional is very difficult and frustrating. There needs to be a way to call out these incompetent agents and brokerages who either don’t care or don’t know what they are doing without costing the real Professional more time money and reputation.
      Stop the degradation of our industry and seriously self regulate.

      • Marg,
        Our industry is the one allowing this to happen and it sickens me and it seems all I get from the powers that be is a nod..they agree..yet do NOTHING. The ads from CREA are lies as they say use a professional realtor ..they know the condo is going next door or where the high water tables are ..or the road that floods out every spring. Yet it is our industry that allows this incompetence to continue and do nothing. If we continue to allow this incompetence right in front of us then we are giving one message to the public and the reality is totally different..much like our politicans..yet these are people trusting us with their biggest investment. How can we stop this from continuing on? Why are the regulators turning a blind eye? Why is CREA allowed to run ads that are false and misleading?

  4. The problem is simply that the regulators do not transact; the salespeople do. The bad-apple salespeople continue to operate within the confines of rules and regulations by flying under the radar; i.e., via too many of their counterparts keeping their mouths shut when witnessing wrongdoing…especially so when said behavior results in a closed deal for the witness. In that all-too-familiar case the willfully blind witness becomes an accessory to unethical behavior…by being unethical him/herself…by strategic choice no less.

    Perhaps the first phase of real estate university should focus entirely on the rules and regulations, with 100% being the passing grade on a three hour exam; no three-option multiple choice questions with one option being ridiculous in nature, leaving a test-taking dummy with a 50/50 chance of getting it right. What a great way to graduate dummies and keep the mill churning. 99% right doesn’t cut it. Either one knows ALL the rules and regulations, or one does not.

    “Oh! That would be too hard!” some might say. Yes, it would be too hard…for the less then able to comprehend the importance of their hoped-for vocation wannabes.

    We want serious professionals populating the ranks of a serious profession, not money-chasers pursuing dreams of quick wealth at the expense of their marks. Money-chasers within the business continue to put a stain on the reputation of the good guys/gals who operate with integrity amongst too many sharks and vipers displaying well-practiced mercenary smiles on their hard-ass faces.

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