By Karen Cox
Our mission at the Ontario Real Estate Association is to help all 78,000 members succeed in building stronger communities. We do that by providing products and services that make a difference to the business success of Ontario Realtors.
OREA’s more than 200 Standard Forms are used by Realtors every day across Ontario. And every day, OREA lobbies Queen’s Park on issues of importance to Ontario Realtors and the people you work for, such as personal real estate corporations, higher professional standards and helping create the next generation of Ontario homeowners. We also help keep the foundation of our industry strong by developing and training volunteer leaders at Ontario’s 38 real estate boards – people who help lead our profession forward in good times and in bad.
We are always looking for ways to build on that strong foundation of services. In the last two years, we doubled-down on each of our foundational products and services, added new member benefits like the REALiTY Conference, and enhanced our two marquee events, the Ontario Realtor Party Conference and Peak Leadership Summit.
Today, we are presented with an opportunity to further build on our foundation. This opportunity is a result of strong financial management, prudent cost cutting and enhanced activity at OREA’s Real Estate College, which accepted its last applicants on April 30. In the four months leading up to that day, our college experienced a sharp unanticipated and unprecedented increase in enrolments – over 45,700 students, which is a 67-per-cent increase compared to the same period last year.
What that means is that we are standing on solid financial ground and we are in a position to think big about how to use some of the funds from our reserves for new member programs. As the College continues to wind down (the last day for all courses and exams is Dec. 31, 2020), we are approaching our future at OREA with a renewed sense of purpose.
The goal guiding our ideation and decision-making process is simple: to create products and services that will benefit our members. It only makes sense then, that we would share this opportunity with you, our members, and ask for your input on ideas we are considering but also to get fresh, new ideas.
Think of this as a massive brainstorm, where 78,000 Realtors have the opportunity to share ideas that could significantly improve how Ontario Realtors do business.
Some of the ideas we have heard so far include province-wide data sharing, a provincial professional standards tribunal, greater access to legal advice, better benefits, a dues reduction, expanding government relations programming and enhanced continuing education for Realtors.
Other professional associations, like the Virginia and Arizona Realtors, provide a tech helpline to members, offering support for hardware, software, networking and digital devices. In Florida, Realtors have access to extensive market research that includes monthly, quarterly and annual statewide reports to help them master the housing market.
Right now, these are simply ideas. You may have your own. If so, we encourage you to share them with us. We will evaluate all of these ideas on clear criteria and then put them out for broader consultation in the fall. From there, we will determine where these ideas rank with our membership.
If you would like to submit your ideas, please send them to [email protected]. All ideas will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
- Impact: offering provides clear substantial net benefit to a critical mass of members with consideration to measures that serve to help under-represented segments feel the full value of OREA membership
- Industry: offering is in the long-term interests of the industry and the profession
- Sustainability: the offering is financially sustainable over the long term
- Partner support: member boards and other key partners align on the value of the offering
- Core business and competencies: the offering is aligned with OREA’s core business and its existing (or readily accessible) competencies and capabilities
This fall we will release a consultation paper that will include a short list of big ideas that we’ll be asking for your feedback on. Be sure to look out for that.
After evaluating all member feedback, and in accordance with our obligations as a not-for-profit corporation, the OREA Board of Directors will determine which ideas to pursue.
We are looking for ideas and insights with the potential to greatly enhance the real estate profession in Ontario. No idea is too big.