BY HEINO MOLLS
The reason why organized real estate and the technology it takes to operate their information systems is in such an unco-operative state is because of two organizations within the Canadian real estate community. They are the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), and the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). They just can't seem to get along with the rest of the country.
There, I've said it. It's out there.
Now permit me to explain, that I am not by any stretch of the imagination suggesting that anyone connected or working for these organizations is bad or do not have the best interest of Realtors in mind, regardless of what they do. I think the good people at TREB and CREA care deeply about their members. Just as much as any other board or association.
They are just different. They are different because they are bigger than the average real estate board or association. The difference between TREB and the average real estate board in Canada is the enormous size of membership and the huge amount of money that flows within it.
There is no other real estate board in the country that has a membership size near TREB’s. TREB has about 22,000 members (over one-third of all Realtors in Canada work in and around Toronto). CREA has more than 60,000. This is a staggering difference!
Who wouldn't understand that TREB and CREA look at things differently when it comes to dealing with members or delivering technology and services?
Most real estate boards in Canada have embraced computers and new technology with a robust
enthusiasm. Often they are the pioneers of information systems and are viewed as examples of how new applications work by other industries. The committees who approve new technologies are made up of real estate people, who by their nature are willing to take chances and take on new ideas. These boards have made mistakes in the past, sometimes costing thousands of
dollars of their members' money, but they work together. They can, and do solve their problems. It is almost always worked out in the spirit of camaraderie and understanding. Sure there are politics, but relative to CREA and TREB they pale in comparison.
TREB and CREA are different. A minor mistake at TREB could cost millions of dollars. A wrong decision at CREA may affect over 60,000 Realtors in their day to day working lives. Is it any wonder that new initiatives are reviewed over and over before action is taken? Is it any wonder that during the mid-‘80s when new MLS technology was rolled out in the real estate industry, TREB was the last board in Canada to introduce a computer-based MLS system
to its members? They had to be! Is it any wonder that CREA is front-end loaded with second guessing staff and legal wranglers? They have to be!
Yes, the politics at TREB and CREA are frustrating. Yes, they have too many committees. Yes, it seems that the staff runs the place instead of the members. But be fair. You cannot have organizations of this size, with this amount of money at stake, without the bureaucracies that have to be in place to operate them. It is the nature of the beast. You could point your
finger and say they don't work for the members. But I would remind you that this is the only way they can work.
I believe that if we are going to try to bring a co‑operative spirit, between the boards and associations in Canada, we must first come to terms with the fact that all real estate boards and associations are not the same. There are real estate boards and there are real estate associations. And then there are TREB and CREA.
If we are all going to begin to get along together, maybe the first thing we should do is admit that we are different.
Heino Molls is publisher of REM.