Realtors from across Saskatchewan may be taking another shot at amalgamating all of the province’s real estate boards into one after a failed attempt a year ago.
In September 2017, a vote to fold the current boards and provincial association and create one new entity was rejected by members.
Dave Markus, co-chair of the provincial reorganization working group and also the president-elect of the Association of Regina Realtors, says he expects another vote on the issue to take place, likely in the early part of 2019.
“This isn’t a do-over. It’s a do-better. That’s what we’re working on. We’re doing a better job this time,” says Markus.
He says the firm MNP, with its expertise in business planning and change management, has been hired as an external consultant to ensure objectivity on the issue. MNP is putting together a report about what Saskatchewan Realtors are looking for in a proposed amalgamation.
Markus says MNP is crafting a plan from the information provided from member Realtors. Members have been engaged in the process through surveys and interviews. The idea is to completely understand the concerns that members have had and address the challenges and move forward with what the members want. Markus added that it’s important this be a member-driven initiative, not “just a handful of guys in the backroom.”
It’s possible that MNP can come back with a report advising against an amalgamation, but Markus says he believes the idea will go forward and he assumes a vote will take place early next year.
“Members expressed concerns on key issues. They want to know what our governance models look like. They want to know what the fees are going to look like. What services are going to look like. Make sure these things are transparent to the membership. That’s why we’re using this consultant to iron these things out to work our way through a plan that will work for our membership,” says Markus, who is also a sales rep with Century 21 Dome Realty in Regina.
“The members (are) telling us this is something we need to examine. At the end of the day, it’s about what the members want. We’ve got a pretty small population of Realtors in Saskatchewan …about 1,600. Economies of scale are definitely not working for us when we’re split into different associations. What we’ve realized over time is that we already collaborate on a number of things. There’s a number of services that are produced out of one location but affects all members. The way our MLS system works or our lock boxes. Member databases. These are already collaborated between the associations. In addition to that we have shared staffing in some cases as well as shared office space.”
Markus says Saskatchewan has been on this path for a long time, adding that about 10 years ago the province had about 10 associations. During the last decade, smaller boards have folded and joined the larger associations.
In recent years, for example, Moose Jaw Realtors moved into the Regina board and Prince Albert Realtors joined the Saskatoon board.
“We’ve also changed what we call our regional council models. So, over the years, where we’ve had members who are operating in small towns, they might have different sets of rules that they operate under. They might have slightly different fees, slightly different services.
“In the last year, we’ve made some changes to that.” Markus says many of these differences have been eliminated so “a member is a member is a member” and rules and procedures have been standardized.
Today, the associations across the province include the Saskatoon Region Association of Realtors, the Association of Regina Realtors, Association of Saskatchewan Realtors and the Realtors Association of Lloydminster & District.
The vote in September 2017 did not go forward with the proposal because it did not receive the required two-thirds majority approval from each of the associations.
“When we did a post-survey, we asked our membership if they were in favour of a single association model and we found that 90 per cent of our members surveyed were in favour but they had concerns. The words we heard over and over were: need more information,” says Markus.