REALTORS® love to talk. So does CREA.

REALTORS® are consummate communicators. They spend much of their time in face-to-face and other forms of interactions with clients, prospects, colleagues, service partners and others. So it should come as no surprise that CREA, your national association responsible for representing the interests of REALTORS®, also loves to talk. We have several audiences for our communications and engagement activities, spanning the full spectrum of Canadian society.

We talk to federal policy makers.

CREA was brought into existence to lobby the federal government and to ensure that the interests of our members and their clients are well represented in a whole host of initiatives – from lending policies to consumer protection legislation – that can have a profound impact on the real estate market in Canada and on the business practices of our members. This report outlines a number of key successes we recorded this year in our federal affairs efforts.

We talk to other key players in the real estate sector.

We are active participants – indeed, it could be argued we play the lead role – in analyzing the economic factors that characterize the health of Canada's residential real estate market and communicating our findings widely. Once again this past year, we saw all the other players – governments, financial institutions and the media – in this huge and important sector of the Canadian economy rely on our research reports for a clear picture of what's going on in Canada's housing market.

We talk directly to consumers.

Not only do we conduct ongoing consumer research, including the launch this year of a regular Consumer Panel, we also carry out a multi-million national advertising campaign every year to inform consumers about what REALTORS® do and the value to them of using a REALTOR® when buying or selling their home.

And, of course, we talk to you, our members.

This year, we began a deliberate effort, to expand and improve our engagement with our members. In the first instance, we are responsible to you, our members, for the dues you pay to CREA, and a big priority of our member communications activities is to account for how those dues are being spent. This report is our second electronic annual report and it is intended to do just that.

We recognize that you are also hearing from your local and provincial boards and associations but, understandably, they have their own priorities, so it is critical that we have our own communication channels directly to our members. This past year, NEWS2Me, a monthly e-newsletter was our first ever regular direct communications vehicle to all 107,000 of our members. We significantly ramped-up our social media efforts across a variety of channels including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and our CREA blog, CREA Café. And we have been far more active in face-to-face engagement, sending our volunteer leadership – our president and directors – as well as expert members of our staff to speak, listen and participate in local and regional events.

This past year, we also launched two new initiatives to increase member participation and to gain regular member input to our efforts. Our new REALTOR® Member Panel will help make sure that we're getting timely, statistically relevant and useful information to ensure that we're providing our members with the services and support they're seeking. On the advocacy front, we launched a two-way interactive mechanism, the REALTOR® Action Network that allows individual members to participate more directly in our federal affairs efforts.

Come talk with us. Join the REALTOR® Member Panel and the REALTOR® Action Network. Respond to what you're reading in the NEWS2Me newsletter and on the CREA Café blog. Follow us and interact with us on our social media channels. We know you love to talk, and so do we.

Futures Initiative leaves a lasting legacy

A major section of this report last year was dedicated to the Futures Initiative, a massive consultative effort we undertook to look at the future of organized real estate in Canada and how our REALTOR® members wanted us to respond.

Most critically, Futures set a new tone within your association, one that has seen a forward-looking orientation become a more ingrained part of the overall thinking at all levels of organized real estate in Canada. That's more than a bit of a cultural shift. Beyond CREA, Futures has been a catalyst for some local and regional Boards to look at other models for shared services, including the possibility of merging some Boards together.

The second legacy of Futures was that we had identified a series of specific projects, or initiatives, related to it. Quite a number of those have been concluded, and some of them are very exciting. For example, Futures was a catalyst for recent changes we've made to CREA's governance that have resulted in a reduction in the size of our Board of Directors. Still left to be fully addressed is professionalism – what is it CREA and all levels of organized real estate can or should do to raise the bar of ethics and professional conduct.

The final report of our Futures team will be delivered at CREA's Annual General Meeting in March.