A new era for real estate is coming to Saskatchewan in 2020. Realtors across the province have voted overwhelmingly in favour of forming a single association for the industry.
The decision brings together members of the Association of Saskatchewan Realtors (ASR), Association of Regina Realtors (ARR) and Saskatoon Region Association of Realtors (SRAR). The new entity will be called Saskatchewan Realtors Association and will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
A previous vote for amalgamation in December 2017 did not get the required two-thirds majority vote.
“At that time, members told us they were in favour of one association but you don’t have a good enough plan,” says Dave Markus, co-chair of the provincial reorganization working group and also the president of ARR. “So, we went forward and we built the best plan we possibly could. We hired some external experts and consultants and we worked our way through building the best plan we could.”
Markus says the plan will lower membership fees. In addition, “It eliminates redundancies. It’s going to give us a more credible and influential association. This was not a staff-cutting measure. Our commitment is to give our members equal or greater service than they had before. We will be taken more seriously as a larger association when it comes to things like lobbying.” He says the new association will create “economies of scale with 1,600 members with buying power.”
In the successful vote, Saskatoon had 96.6 per cent approval, the ASR had 81.4 per cent approval and Regina had 72 per cent approval.
For the provincial association, 415 approved and 95 were against. Saskatoon had 261 approved and nine against and Regina had 306 approved and 119 against.
The new association will have two physical offices, in Regina and Saskatoon. They will take over the space where the current associations have their offices.
Now the business of putting together the new association will unfold as it gears for its launch at the beginning of the new year.
“We have a 12-Realtor working group that built this plan and brought it to the members and now those 12 Realtors are going to become the transition committee and for the next nine months they will be building out all the details to get us to where we need to be on Jan.1,” says Markus.
While there will be one single provincial association, the Realtors Association of Lloydminster and District will not participate in the amalgamation, due to its dual-provinciality in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Markus says the group sought the assistance of external consultant MNP LLP and legal advisor Miller Thomson LLP. It engaged members from the onset through surveys, interviews, meetings and informal discussions.
“It’s a win-win-win solution, where associations will no longer be duplicating work, members will see increased services for fewer dollars and home buyer and sellers will benefit from consistent practices throughout the province,” says Steven Bobiash, past-president of SRAR and working group co-chair. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us to get a new organization ready to go in the next nine months, but we’re up to the challenge.
“It’s a pretty major decision. We’re very happy with the engagement and connection we had from members across the province. It was a very decisive decision by Realtors.”
Bobiash adds, “Things just keep getting more expensive. This gave us the opportunity to come together to try and save some money for our members, to shield them from inflationary pressures for a few years and to basically have the focus of where we’re spending our money on member services and to cut hopefully a whole bunch of overhead out. It was a good business decision.
“But as well, real estate is always evolving. Saskatchewan has had a long tradition of working together.” He says he wonders if that’s because “many of us grew up in small communities where you learned at a very young age to work together to achieve goals. Maybe that’s just part of our heritage or the development of our province that people grew up learning that.”