Members of the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board and the South Okanagan Real Estate Board have voted to merge and combine their financial and operational resources. The new Association of Interior Realtors will be formed on Jan. 1, 2021 and will serve approximately 1,600 Realtors from Revelstoke south to the U.S. border, east to Rock Creek and west to Eastgate Manning Park. It will also encompass the communities of Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge and Dawson Creek in the South Peace River region.
Kim Heizmann, currently the president of OMREB, will be president of the new association and Lyndi Cruickshank, SOREB’s current president, will be vice-president. The CEO of the organization will be George Greenwood, who currently holds that position at OMREB. All the staff from both boards will be retained, as will SOREB’s office in Penticton and OMREB’s office in Kelowna. Local support for SOREB’s northern members will also continue.
Heizmann told REM that one of the members’ biggest concerns about the merger centred around which MLS provider would be used, since they currently use different program. For now, both Xposure and Corelogic will remain in place.
The merger was initiated in August when SOREB approached OMREB. As a small board, SOREB has limited financial resources and has run a deficit budget for many years. It has been getting help from nearby boards – the Fraser Valley board has been handling SOREB’s professional standards files, OMREB’s on-staff communications specialist has helped out and the Kootenay board helped with education.
Among the benefits the merger provides, according to a discussion paper that was distributed to members, is increased board buying power, the elimination of duplication, establishing common rules and policies, expanded territory, no more need for interboard listings or the need to belong to two boards, and “a more powerful voice to reinforce value of the Realtor and help combat new market entrants that might disrupt the Realtor’s role as a trusted advisor with consumers.”
In 2016, a proposal to amalgamate all 11 real estate boards in British Columbia was defeated.
“I don’t think that will ever happen,” says Heizmann, stating that each board has to decide what’s in the best interest of its own members. It would be very difficult to get 11 Boards of Directors to come to an agreement, she says.
The Association of Interior Realtors will be the 13th largest Realtor Association in Canada. OMREB currently has more than 1,300 Realtors and 88 real estate offices, while SOREB has 306 Realtor members and 34 real estate offices in the southern interior of B.C. and six real estate offices in northern B.C.