OREA is considering expanding its government relations and advocacy function to include regional expertise, starting with four new regional government relations professionals, and expanding the function in the future based on demand.
These government relations professionals would work in concert with local Member Boards to implement a full suite of government advocacy services that strengthen the REALTORS®’ voice and influence in local and regional policy making.
This suite of services would include:
- • Government relations strategy development and implementation
- • Building a local army of REALTOR® grassroots advocates
- • Advocacy positioning and messaging
- • Fighting back against municipal government overreach
- • Advocacy campaign development and execution
Developing and maintaining relationships with 444 municipal councils and mayors on top of the 124 MPPs from four different parties requires a critical re-think and a new financial investment in the profession’s government relations and advocacy capacity.
Strong local relationships will help prevent poorly thought out policy decisions from being implemented and, better yet, ensure pro-REALTOR® decisions are the default position of mayors and councilors across the province community leaders. Instead, OREA is proposing additional supports to help local Member Boards develop more policy expertise and have greater resources to draw on when advocating for their local REALTORS®.
By focusing on both provincial and municipal issues, OREA will be an advocate for REALTOR® issues from the beginning to the end of Ontario’s political decision-making process. Strong local relationships will help prevent poorly thought out policy decisions from being implemented and, better yet, ensure pro-REALTOR® decisions are the default position of mayors and councilors across the province.
OREA is proposing to create a Commercial Overlay Board (COB) that would focus services for commercial members in one provincial organization. In addition, OREA is proposing that the COB would house commercial real estate property information and make it available to commercial-focused REALTORS® across Ontario.
It should be noted that this idea comes with many complexities that will require further research, including the structure of the COB, commercial property data and information requirements, and corresponding costs and funding approaches – among other items. Therefore, as part of this ambitious consultation process, OREA will be using its Commercial Committee’s expertise to study and make recommendations on how best to establish a COB that creates value and is sustainable over the long-term. This Committee will be focused on specifically engaging Member Boards with Commercial Divisions, commercial REALTORS®, and commercial brokerages to involve them in the design of a COB.
At a high level, OREA would provide seed funding to allow the creation of a self-sustaining COB, including seeding the acquisition or development of a Commercial Information Exchange (CIE). The COB would have its own membership that would then pay a membership fee. Commercial REALTORS® who join the COB would also continue to have the option of being members of their local Member Board.
The primary service the COB would pursue would be the creation of an embedded Commercial Information Exchange (“CIE”). The Board would explore contracting a third party to provide verifiable province-wide commercial property information. For example, the U.S. COBs provide commercial property listings that contain information such as demographic info, plats, and census data.
OREA is considering the creation of a continuing education service offering to Individual Members and Member Boards. Continuing education, and the support and desire for it, is like the support and desire for “mom and apple pie.” However, continuing education can be a difficult sell as busy schedules can overtake even the sincerest of intent to take additional courses. That is why OREA is proposing to enter the continuing education space cautiously by first focusing on its key strengths, which is standard forms and leadership development. These initial programs would be developed and delivered in-house by OREA and would be entirely voluntary. Courses would be offered both in person and online.
Should the courses prove successful and helpful, OREA may expand its continuing education offering to include other topic and subject areas. To expand the continuing education offering over time, OREA will consider partnering with other established institutions, such as the Real Estate Institute of Canada (“REIC”), to develop and deliver program content and credentials.
Another potential component of the continuing education offering would be a Speaker’s Bureau service. This offering would see OREA create a list of pre-vetted speakers who would be available to attend various local Member Board events for a fee paid by the local Member Board. These speakers would be experts in their field and offer a new tool for Member Boards to inform and educate their membership about new and emerging challenges in the real estate industry. Together with the expansion of continuing education courses, these two offerings could significantly increase the professional standards in the industry.
Continuing education is intended to be a high value offering to individual REALTORS® and to the entire real estate industry. The industry and individual REALTORS® will benefit through the increased professionalization and commitment to high standards, best practices, and up-to-date real estate knowledge that would be taught in these courses. This is especially timely as the Ontario Government’s new real estate legislation, The Trust in Real Estate Services Act, is targeted at improving professionalism in the real estate industry.
This idea would involve OREA making financial resources available to fund facilitation services and contribute to technology investments that are critical to bringing Member Boards together to agree on policies, standards, and enabling infrastructure to share MLS® data. OREA would not invest or create its own process or technology. Any investment would be in existing, or expanded, Member Board initiatives to expand MLS® data sharing and access.
This funding would be particularly helpful for smaller Member Boards who may not have any reserve funds to explore these options and potential benefits despite wanting to do so. Some Member Boards may not need the resources, but by providing access to facilitative funding, they may be more willing, or better able, to pursue the change sooner – thereby benefitting more Members faster. Additionally, cost-sharing of technology investments to permit data sharing would be included for consideration as part of the offering.
There are several benefits related to REALTORS® on the ground – including the ease of movement if a REALTOR® moves from one part of the province to another and can still use the same data system they were previously familiar with. Other examples include if a REALTOR® is selling properties within the jurisdiction of multiple different Member Boards at the same time. In this case, they would be able to operate seamlessly despite the physical difference in location.
Even further, better geographic data would enable Members to have better insights into how property sales trends in one area may be affecting sales in other areas of the province. A shared data catalogue would even improve the professionalism of the industry by avoiding the potential for a consumer to have access to information that their REALTOR® does not.