It’s been almost a year since COVID-19 hit Canada. A year of social distancing, restrictions and masks. For Realtors, COVID-19 meant finding ways around traditional activities such as open houses and showings. Virtual showings are now a thing of the present.

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But what about the associations that serve Realtors? How are they faring during COVID Times? REM recently spoke with Darlene Hyde, CEO and Corinne Caldwell, COO of the British Columbia Real Estate Association to see how things have changed and how they have stayed the same at BCREA during COVID.

“We serve 10 real estate boards and 23,000 Realtors,” says Hyde. “Real estate is a huge part of the economy in B.C. Yearly it’s a $50-billion business in buying, selling, trading and the construction of homes in the province. . .When COVID first hit, we took a weekend to pivot and we’ve all been working at home since.”

She says the staff misses the water cooler talk and the social gatherings, but they do a lot of virtual meetings and have Zoom trivia nights. This has helped keep everyone connected.

“We’ve been able to move forward through existing and new initiatives,” says Caldwell. “The technology has made this possible. We flipped our education to a virtual platform and there are some things which we can put into (place now in) non-COVID times.”

Although Hyde says it’s been the best of times and the worst of times (Dickens), part of that best includes distractions that went away and the ability to focus on the essentials. She says BCREA may even be further ahead than it might have been without COVID’s restrictions guiding how things were done.

“Our focus has been a little different. We’ve learned how to be more innovative; we’ve thought more about how we move forward and meet the needs of our Realtors (within the COVID restrictions),” says Caldwell.

Hyde says, “How we work together is a little different. We question how we’ve always done things, and within the context of this we found more productivity.”

Although the office has been mostly empty, the educational and professional development people have gone in to use it for making videos and teaching courses to Realtors across the province.

Caldwell says, “How our team thinks is different. We were able to step up, see the productivity, and feel proud of how it’s going. We really knocked it out of the park. We pulled together and moved forward in a meaningful way.”

Although things shifted around for BCREA, there were no plans that had to be cancelled or postponed. Caldwell says that in-person meetings were shifted to be virtual, and like the rest of the country, BCREA “just kind of anchored down and does things virtually.”

“We are hoping by the fourth quarter we can get back together,” says Hyde. “We want to do an in-person strategic planning session by September in Vancouver. The worst-case scenario with that is that we do it virtually.”

Hyde and Caldwell feel the staff has all learned new things since changing how they work at BCREA. Hyde says that some of what was learned during the pandemic are good, effective practices that will be kept for non-COVID times.

“(It’s going to be) a new world,” says Caldwell, “Some things might look different, and that’s the exciting part.”

Hyde calls the future “nimble and unencumbered”.

Both executives received recognition from Business in Vancouver for their work in business and leadership.

Hyde received the 2020 B.C. Chief Executive Officer of the Year Award for the Not for Profit category. She was chosen for her vision and strategy, financial performance, development of employees, innovation, social responsibility and sustainability.

Caldwell received a Business in Vancouver Forty Under 40 award for young entrepreneurs, executives and professionals. She was recognized for demonstrating excellence in business, judgment, leadership and community contributions.

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