January 31, 2018

RECO welcomes new CEO

RECO welcomed a new CEO this fall. Michael Beard brings a history of public service and strategic leadership with a strong commitment to protecting consumers. His vision for real estate regulation in Ontario includes greater transparency and accountability from the industry to the public, as well as more openness between RECO and its registrants.

Michael’s career has taken him to a number of organizations, including the Technical Standards Safety Authority (TSSA), where he served as President and CEO. Michael has a strong regulatory background, familiarity with the Delegated Administrative Authority (DAA) model and knowledge of how to lead an organization with a wide array of stakeholders.

Michael and his wife have two sons in university. Now that they have left the nest, Michael has more time to pursue his other interests such as motorcycling and photography.

Here’s a short Q&A with Michael:

What attracted you to working with RECO?

RECO is widely recognized as a highly effective regulator, and it has set a high standard for how a Delegated Administrative Authority ought to operate. I strongly believe in RECO’s mandate of enforcing the law to protect the public interest, and I’m proud to work for an organization that plays such an important role. Given my business experience, familiarity with business models and planning, and the time I spent with the TSSA, I saw a number of ways I could help RECO build upon its past success.

RECO just completed a series of town hall events with registrants. How did they go, what sort of feedback did you receive, and how important is it for RECO to meet regularly with people who work in the real estate industry?

I am pleased that I joined RECO in time to participate in the last three. They went really well, and I would say that it’s very important for us to have regular face-to-face interactions with professionals in the industry. The town halls were an excellent learning opportunity for everyone: we at RECO took the opportunity to discuss and clarify our role as a regulator, and explain where we stand on a number of important issues, and registrants had a valuable opportunity to tell us about their priorities and concerns.

Registrants had a lot to say about Mandatory Continuing Education, and the government’s review of REBBA, especially regarding the issue of multiple representation. The opinions they expressed varied considerably from person to person, but the overall discussion was thoughtful, and served a useful purpose. RECO listened carefully to everyone who spoke and the information gathered will help inform our initiatives going forward. I heard the passion of many registrants who are clearly committed to being professional, and a strong desire to maintain the integrity of the profession.

What sort of relationship should RECO have with the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA)?

RECO has a good working relationship with OREA. I’m interested in OREA’s policy ideas, but we always need to remember that RECO and OREA both serve important, but distinct roles in the real estate sector. OREA is a trade association, and it lobbies the provincial government on behalf of its members. RECO regulates real estate salespersons, brokers and brokerages to ensure consumers are protected. During the town halls, we heard from many registrants who said they value effective regulation and education to ensure the sector is held to professional standards. We are pleased they see the value of what we do, and we look forward to an ongoing dialogue with industry representatives to discuss how we can work together to best serve the public interest.

The Government of Ontario has announced that changes are coming to the Real Estate Business and Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA). Talk about RECO’s recommendations and involvement in the process.

Buying or selling a home is a significant emotional and financial event that can seem highly complicated, especially if you’re a first-time buyer or seller. RECO’s mandate is consumer protection. That’s why RECO supports stronger measures to toughen the rules around multiple representation, and eliminate the customer option so all buyers and sellers would either be clients or unrepresented.

RECO recommended a Mandatory Designated Representation model in January 2017, and we look forward to working with the government, and representatives from the industry to develop reforms that best serve the public interest. Any changes the government enacts won’t be implemented until 2019 at the earliest. RECO is committed to providing information, and educating the sector about the changes and their impacts.

What are your goals and priorities for RECO?

There’s a lot of wisdom in the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but that doesn’t mean we should ever rest upon our laurels. RECO does a very good job of regulating the real estate marketplace, and the fundamentals are fully embedded. It’s really a matter of fine-tuning; we need to keep our focus on improving service standards while continuing to expect high ethical standards from our registrants. I am pleased that staff at RECO are enthusiastic about the commitment to continuous improvement.

One reason why it’s so important to reach out to registrants is that improvement requires candid feedback about the job we’re doing, and suggestions for how we can do better. Another reason is to provide guidance on how the industry can do better. RECO is always interested in engaging with registrants about how they can elevate professionalism in the industry, and we can all protect consumers.

We’ve seen a lot of change in the real estate industry recently. Market activity has grown, the business model has evolved, and RECO remains responsible and accountable as a regulator but I can see there’s still a lot of uncertainty out there. Consumers are demanding greater openness, transparency and accountability from real estate professionals to help them make informed decisions, and they deserve it. Ontario needs more open channels of communications between RECO, the real estate industry and the public.