Background information about RECO
The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) is committed to protecting the public interest and enhancing consumer confidence in the real estate profession. We work to fulfill this goal through the day-to-day regulation of Ontario’s more than 100,000 real estate registrants.
The Ontario government sets the rules that real estate salespersons, brokers and brokerages must follow. Those rules are contained in the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA) and its associated regulations. RECO administers these on behalf of the government.
RECO was established in 1997 as a delegated administrative authority (DAA) to enhance professionalism in the real estate industry, increase consumer protection and provide an effective and responsive regulatory framework.
RECO is committed to protecting the public interest through a fair, safe and informed marketplace. This includes:
- Registration: We assess each applicant’s eligibility to obtain and maintain registration as a brokerage, broker or salesperson based on legislated requirements.
- Education: We establish educational requirements for registration, broker, and continuing education. The education program promotes continual learning and competent, knowledgeable, and professional conduct.
- Inspections: We conduct routine inspections of brokerage offices to ensure they comply with REBBA and to educate brokerages.
- Complaints: We address inquiries, concerns and complaints about the conduct of real estate professionals. Depending on the severity of the offence, RECO conducts a thorough investigation by gathering and reviewing evidence, and determining the appropriate course of action.
- Investigations: We investigate alleged violations of REBBA, the Code of Ethics, and other REBBA regulations. Violations may be prosecuted in Provincial Offences Court, and some matters may result in the registrar issuing a proposal to revoke, refuse or suspend the registration.
- Insurance: We establish and administer an insurance program that includes consumer deposit protection.
- Consumer education: We provide helpful buying and selling information to consumers.
- Inquiries: We receive thousands of inquiries every month in the form of calls and emails, which we respond to or triage, as appropriate, to other departments, such as registration, complaints, and education.
How RECO is reaching consumers
RECO has a number of initiatives to educate consumers about the home buying and selling experience and the value of a regulated real estate sector. Our website has a wealth of information for consumers, including:
- Real Estate Professional Search: Our search feature allows consumers to confirm whether they are dealing with someone who is legally registered to trade in real estate in Ontario, and whether that person has been the subject of a charge or conviction.
- Complaints: Consumers can submit a complaint if they have concerns about a registered real estate professional or someone holding themselves out as such. The complaint form and information about the process are available on RECO’s website.
- Ask Joe: This column by RECO Registrar Joe Richer appears each Saturday in the Toronto Star. Joe answers questions on a variety of topics such as protecting your deposit, bully offers, bidding wars and how real estate agents get paid.
- Social media: RECO maintains an active presence on social media to reach out to consumers and real estate professionals. Twitter/@RECOhelps | Facebook.com/RECOhelps | YouTube.com/RECOhelps | LinkedIn/Real Estate Council of Ontario
- Consumer education campaigns: Each year, RECO engages Ontario’s home buyers and sellers through educational campaigns that include, advertisements, articles and online resources.
RECO has made consumer outreach a major priority, and we continue to get better at it every year. Here are some of the ways we have improved our approach, with highlights from our 2016 consumer survey:
- As of 2018, 33% of consumers are aware of RECO, down from 39% in 2017;
- We interacted with about 9,650 people at consumer shows;
- 27,462 visits to 3 audience-specific microsites geared towards first-time home buyers, move-up buyers and downsizers;
- Reach of RECO messages: 7.2 million impressions, 23,000 article page views, 566,000 video views, and 27,000 visits to reco.on.ca
- Increased followers on social media channels to 12,344 on Facebook (5.3% increase over 2017), 6,151 on LinkedIn (36.3% increase over 2017), and 8,005 on Twitter (9.2% increase over 2017).
Complaints and enforcement
Real estate professionals in Ontario must follow REBBA, including a Code of Ethics. If they breach these rules, there are various discipline paths and outcomes, depending on the severity of the offence.
In 2021, RECO opened 2,524 complaints, two per cent more than in 2020, and closed 19 per cent more than in 2020. 74% of complaints came from consumers, 24% came from registered real estate professionals, and 2% came from others (internal, anonymous, police, financial institution, others, or registrar).
When a complaint is filed, RECO will make inquiries and conduct an investigation as required. There are a number of potential outcomes to the complaint process:
- In about 40% of cases, the Registrar will determine the appropriate action, which may include mediation, a written warning, educational courses, referral to discipline committee, immediate suspension, or provincial offences prosecution.
- In about 5% of cases, if RECO’s Registrar believes a real estate professional will not carry out business with honesty, integrity or in accordance with the law, they have the authority to refuse registration or registration renewal, revoke or suspend registration, or apply conditions to a registration to ensure the public interest is protected.
- In about 55% of cases, complaints are closed with no action because there was not enough evidence to support the complaint or the complaint falls outside of RECO’s authority.
RECO investigates alleged violations of the law (REBBA). In 2021, RECO opened 121 investigations and closed 126.
- $85,000 total fines
- $35,000 total restitution payment ordered
- 12 months total probation sentenced
RECO conducted a total of 1,385 inspections in 2021 to ensure brokerages are following the rules and regulations.
RECO does not…
- Have the authority to resolve monetary or contractual disputes or to assess or award damages.
- Have authority over buyers and sellers, or over the valuations of properties.
- Collect, maintain or distribute sales figures or market data. Sales figures are maintained by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
- Regulate the sale of new homes. The regulation and licensing of new home builders and vendors in Ontario are the responsibility of the Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HRCA), and Tarion is accountable for all issues related to homeowner warranty protection.