Greetings From CREA's New CEO
On December 11, 2017, I started my journey with the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and for the next two weeks, had the opportunity to work alongside Gary Simonsen, who retired at the end of the year. What a terrific introduction it was for me to work with someone who had been with CREA for over 20 years and CEO for the last seven. Gary knows everyone in the industry and everything about the state of "organized real estate." Throughout the transition, Gary was professional, helpful, kind and diplomatic.
My background couldn't be more different. I "self-identify" as a lobbyist, having spent the last 30+ years in politics and government relations as an advocate for the pharmaceutical and chemical industries and, for the past five and a half years, as President and CEO of the Railway Association of Canada. The rail sector, like real estate, is a foundational industry with deep ties to our country's history and formation. Like real estate, it is a national enterprise that is a backbone of the Canadian economy.
But real estate is not foreign to me. I grew up in a large Ottawa family and my father, grandfather, uncles and cousins were in real estate as developers and entrepreneurs and my brother Paul is a long-time REALTOR® who guided my wife and I into our first home.
Over the past few weeks, I've been meeting with CREA staff and the Board of Directors and learning about what we do for REALTORS®. We have a lot of excellent information about what members want, how consumers see us and how they interact with information on REALTOR.ca.
Although it's still early days, so far I'm seeing three important areas of focus. The first is REALTOR.ca, which is (perhaps behind Google) the first place Canadians go for information about real estate. A whopping 92% of Canadians are aware of REALTOR.ca and it is seen as the go-to place when buying or selling a home. Many people don't know that the U.S.-based REALTOR.com is a private company owned by the publishers of the Wall Street Journal. But REALTOR.ca is owned by you, the 124,000 REALTORS® who are members of CREA. In 2017, REALTOR.ca produced 2.6 million leads for REALTORS®, each one coupled with analytics such as how often the consumer visited the listing, looked at photos and so on.
The second area of focus is advocacy (perhaps not surprising, given my background). We are currently facing a significant tide of negative opinion from policy makers at all levels of government, based on the myth that real estate needs to be "cooled off" through measures such as the new 20% mortgage test and higher interest rates. The public policy environment with respect to real estate is very immature, considering its significance to the Canadian economy. There is no understanding of the fundamentals of supply and demand; no discussion of the impact of new policies on middle income consumers or of the allocation of resources from new taxes derived from real estate transactions.
Finally, we should be very focused on the reputation of the industry. REALTORS® have a great story to tell: from the countless ways you help people every day to the charitable efforts through REALTORS Care®; we need to communicate our value proposition and defend ourselves against those who want to regulate our industry.
In short, we are doing great things on your behalf at CREA and we have the team to be even better. All we need to do is provide our members, REALTORS®, with the tools they need to drive the industry and profession forward. It's an exciting challenge and I'm looking forward to reporting our progress in the months ahead.
Kijiji Is Joining the REALTOR.ca DDF® Network
We have an exciting new partnership to announce. This February, we will welcome Kijiji, the popular online classifieds site, to our REALTOR.ca Data Distribution Facility (DDF®) network of real estate advertising websites.
We know this will be welcome news to many REALTORS® especially those of you who have been manually posting your listings on Kijiji and spending valuable time ensuring they're kept up-to-date.
If your board or association and brokerage owner have opted in to taking advantage of the REALTOR.ca DDF® real estate advertising websites, you can soon have the ability to send your MLS® listing content to Kijiji at the same time as REALTOR.ca and all of the other 11 approved real estate advertising websites.
In addition to extending the reach of your listings and saving time by simplifying the process of distributing your listing content online, you can enjoy the following benefits of DDF®:
- Leads and statistics: You'll receive leads and be able to measure traffic to your listing content on your selected real estate advertising websites, including Kijiji, via your existing workspace on member.REALTOR.ca.
- Peace of mind: You can rest assured your listing content will remain consistent across all of the destinations you've selected. CREA has agreements in place with all approved real estate advertising websites, including Kijiji, to protect our REALTOR® and MLS® trademarks and the integrity of your listing content.
Want to learn more? Visit our DDF® How-to Guide on REALTOR Link®.
A New Reason to Binge REALTOR.ca: Living Room
We're very excited to announce that in mid-February we're launching Living Room, a blog hosted on REALTOR.ca, along with REALTOR.ca social channels across four platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Living Room is filled with useful and entertaining articles about everything in and around your clients' homes and is organized in six main categories: Market Trends, Home Improvement, Neighbourhood Guides, Unique Homes, Interior Design and DIY Projects.
We want REALTORS® and REALTOR.ca to become synonymous with all things "home" for Canadians. Living Room will create more opportunities for consumers to connect with you by bringing them back to REALTOR.ca time and time again. Living Room and our social platforms are filled with the type of content you can also share directly with your clients; helping you keep in touch on a regular basis, even in between transactions.
Watch for more info about Living Room in the coming weeks. And if you have ideas about content you think your clients will like to see, be sure to let us know.
FINTRAC Ministerial Directive on North Korea
On December 9, 2017, the Minister of Finance issued the first-ever Ministerial Directive under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (FINTRAC Regime). The Ministerial Directive requires all reporting entities (including brokers and sales representatives) to treat all transactions originating from, or destined to, North Korea as high risk.
It is the responsibility of each brokerage to:
- document in the brokerage's risk assessment that transactions to and from North Korea are high risk;
- update policies and procedures to include information on how the brokerage becomes aware of ministerial directives issued by the Minister of Finance (that is: subscribe to the FINTRAC RSS feed, join the FINTRAC email list, visit the FINTRAC website);
- implement specific measures to mitigate the risk posed by high risk transactions (for example: take additional steps to identify clients involved in such transactions, keep a record of all actions with the client, report a suspicious transaction); and
- ensure the measures are understood by all sales representatives.
Learn more about the Ministerial Directive on North Korea.