I want to learn all I can about the real estate industry in Ontario, but it’s hard to keep track of all the organizations — RECO, TREB, OREA and CREA. What do they do, and who’s looking out for me?
At first glance, acronyms for organizations involved in real estate in Ontario may resemble a bowl of alphabet soup. It’s not necessarily easy to understand the roles these groups play, and the interests they represent.
Let’s start with the organization I’m proud to represent: the Real Estate Council of Ontario, or RECO.
Established in 1997, RECO is a consumer protection organization that regulates real estate salespersons, brokers and brokerages on behalf of the provincial government. In a nutshell, RECO enforces Ontario’s real estate laws. Our goal is a fair, safe and informed marketplace, and registration with us (with certain exceptions) is mandatory for anyone who wishes to legally trade in real estate in the province.
Providing helpful buying and selling information to the public is one way RECO acts in the public’s interest. We establish education prerequisites and mandatory continuing education for salespersons or brokers. We routinely inspect brokerage offices to check that they’re complying with the law, and we address inquiries, concerns and complaints about the conduct of real estate professionals. We also administer an insurance program that includes consumer deposit protection.
As a regulator, RECO takes professional ethics very seriously. Real estate salespeople who are caught breaking the Code of Ethics may be hit with fines of up to $50,000 or get kicked out of the business, depending upon the severity of the offence. Last year, 28 people were denied registration, or had theirs revoked following a RECO investigation. We sent 41 cases to a discipline panel, conducted over 1,000 brokerage inspections and achieved 29 convictions in provincial court.
That’s RECO, but what about the other organizations? Many real estate professionals voluntarily choose to join local real estate boards for the services they provide and for a stronger voice with elected officials.
TREB — the Toronto Real Estate Board — is one of 39 real estate boards across Ontario. Salespeople who join a real estate board automatically become members of both the Ontario Real Estate Association, and the Canadian Real Estate Association, which lobby legislators at Queen’s Park, and on Parliament Hill, respectively. Generally speaking, TREB and other local associations deal with local issues.
OREA, the Ontario Real Estate Association, deals with provincially focused issues. CREA, the Canadian Real Estate Association, works on the national scale.
It’s important to remember that TREB, OREA and CREA are industry associations which represent the interests of real estate salespeople. All three have played important roles in the development of the real estate industry, and they continue to perform a valuable service by speaking up for their members.
As you can see, each organization has a constructive role to play in the formation of public policy. But when it comes to protecting the public, RECO has the consumer protection mandate, as delegated by the Ontario government.
Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.