A message from the President

We REALTORS® love to say that ours is a "belly-to-belly" business. We relish the highly personal and face-to-face nature of interacting with our clients, with fellow REALTORS® and with the wider community. Given that reality, it has been a real incongruity that for years CREA, our national trade association, did not or could not make a concerted effort to talk directly with REALTORS® beyond the participation of regional CREA directors in updating members at their local AGMs. That changed in a big way this past year.

Over the last number of years, we at CREA have been beefing up our efforts to communicate directly with REALTORS® and to build a greater sense of understanding and trust. A big step in that direction this year was hosting a series of member Open Houses across the country. The impetus for them was a recognition that members need to understand a bit more about CREA in order to trust and support the decisions and directions that we are taking on their behalf; and we needed to better understand local expectations by finding more opportunities to hear concerns directly from our REALTORS®.

I think it's important, particularly for the volunteer leadership at CREA, to get out and let the members see that we are also working REALTORS® like them. We're not a faceless bureaucracy. The decision making at CREA is done by REALTORS® with REALTORS® in mind, and when we host our open houses across the country, it's the best opportunity to articulate that point. Real estate is a belly-to-belly business but if the CREA leadership is never seen by anybody, we are missing that opportunity to build relationships.

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My priority at these open houses is to establish a two-way dialogue with our REALTOR® members. Events like this are not just about CREA trying to push out our agenda and why we think it's important. They are much more an opportunity for members to ask questions and to tell us what they're looking for and what they need from us.

For the members that get out to our open houses, it can be a true eye opener. They hear other REALTORS® talk about how they use REALTOR.ca, or how they participate in the REALTOR® Action Network and the benefits they receive from it. And it's very gratifying to have people come up to me afterwards and say, "I'm going to go home and do that now."

People attending our open houses get a much more nuanced picture of what we do, and how sometimes what may appear as a setback is actually a big win for members. For example, at one open house, there was a spontaneous ovation after Randall McCauley, the head of our federal affairs practice, talked about how the advocacy efforts of his team prevented unpopular regulations like FINTRAC and CASL from being far more onerous for REALTORS®, for example by ensuring CASL allowed referrals.

The reason we made such a commitment to continue to expand our communications and product-development efforts with REALTOR® members was revealed in the strategic planning exercise CREA conducted at the beginning of 2014. It established that REALTORS® are our customer, and it set the tone for everything we achieved last year and will achieve this year and onwards.

But REALTORS® are not just CREA's customers; they are also the customers of the provincial and territorial Associations as well as the local and regional Boards. With that in mind, we are collectively a community of service providers to REALTORS®. When the decision is being made about whether a new tool or service is going to be offered, the question is going to be asked: is it CREA that is best situated to offer it, or is it something that should be offered by a different part of that community?

In this manner we will begin to decrease any unnecessary duplication of activity within this community. On a different, but equally important note, in 2014 all the local Boards in Quebec that had previously voted to withdraw their membership from CREA reversed that decision and re-joined. This move not only restored access to REALTOR.ca for real estate professionals working in that province, but also restored full strength to the Canadian real estate community and to CREA in its efforts to represent REALTORS® across the whole of Canada.

In organized real estate in Canada, we are more than 100,000 strong, and when we start to leverage those numbers and truly work together, the result will be even greater benefits for all members