2020 was trying, but I believe we’ve pushed the needle in the right direction when it comes to our profession. REALTORS®, we pride ourselves on how we relate to and communicate with people. We want to be there for our clients as they navigate the complicated home buying process. We are an important step in helping Canadians achieve their dreams and that’s never been clearer than it was in 2020."
2020 forced us all to shift how we work. Once the pandemic hit, we channeled our resources to helping our REALTOR® members through the uncertainty and changes. Where our advocacy efforts are typically dedicated to pushing for policies to help homeowners, in 2020, those efforts were prioritized to members and we saw tremendous success. Ultimately, in a year that was anything but expected and filled with struggle, we made great progress and, in fact, grew."
It’ll be no surprise, the dominant story of 2020 was the COVID-19 pandemic. From the initial lockdown orders put in place on March 13, 2020, continuing to the end of the year, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and the entire REALTOR® community joined the rest of the country in adapting to a new and shifting environment and reality.
Despite the turmoil caused by the global pandemic, there were silver linings throughout 2020. We had ongoing and meaningful conversations about the unique challenges facing REALTORS® and brokerages. Government responded to our call for significant action and listened when we outlined relief program shortcomings as well as our proposed solutions to make them accessible to the Canadian businesses who need them most. Many of our recommendations were adopted, resulting in enhancements to existing relief programs and the launch of new initiatives.
In October, we hosted our first-ever virtual PAC Days to help mark the important progress made throughout the year and as a chance for REALTORS® to remind MPs of the significance of housing to their constituents.
PAC Reps were able to give updates on the state of housing in their communities and convey the need to advocate for policies helping Canadians find their ideal home.
In April, we had the pleasure of announcing Ron Antalek as the recipient of our Canadian REALTORS Care® Award 2020 Proudly Presented by REALTOR.ca.
November featured our second-annual REALTORS Care® Week, which focused on the issue of homelessness and what REALTORS® can do to help ensure all Canadians have a safe, affordable place to call home. More than 1,000 REALTORS® came together for our free Virtual Conference on Homelessness, hundreds more signed our call to action letter to the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister for Families, Children and Social Development and more than 30 real estate boards and associations across the country supported homelessness-related organizations on behalf of their members in safe and physically distant ways.
In March, the Bank of Canada responded to the increased risks of major supply chain disruptions resulting from growing COVID-19 rates by cutting interest rates twice from 1.25% to 0.75% and finally 0.25%.
Heading into 2020, we had already forecasted that inventory shortages would be a major story for the year. In March, with much of the spring national sales activity sidelined by the then-confirmed pandemic, we joined the rest of the country in waiting to see what the impact to housing markets would be.
We saw the beginning evidence of rebounding numbers in April and May sales activity. To the surprise of many, by June, home sales, new listings and the average Canadian home price had all bounced back to their pre-COVID-19 levels.
Towards the end of the year, we saw the best month of November ever by a margin of more than 11,000 sales—which is a lot. Effectively, the same story as July, August, September and October. We were on track to make 2020 a record year for Canadian home sales and – with 551,392 recorded sales by the end of December, it was.
The story was similar on the tech side, with much of our focus dedicated to helping Canadians and REALTORS® navigate the pandemic.
After the initial lockdown we pivoted quickly and, in April, announced the release of REALTOR.ca’s new livestreaming feature to empower members to continue to run their business and show their listings in accordance with public health guidelines and rules.
It took an incredible and collaborative effort across CREA staff, members, and the entire REALTOR® community to adapt to the challenges and changing needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. These efforts had to be balanced with the work required to see through projects that had been in progress for weeks and months before.
We launched a social media ad campaign highlighting the importance of using a commercial REALTOR® and two quizzes to raise awareness of the importance of using the REALTOR® and MLS® trademarks properly. We also re-launched our National Ad Campaign highlighting its flight of ads on a variety of platforms. As always, these projects were in addition to the new content created and shared for members on our CREA social profiles and blog (CREA Café) and consumer-facing REALTOR.ca social profiles and blog (REALTOR.ca Living Room).
We announced two exciting new products for REALTORS®: the REAL TIME magazine and REAL TIME/ EN DIRECT podcasts. We hosted our first-ever virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM), pivoting from the planned in-person event in mere weeks. During the event, we voted on new rule changes, welcomed our new Board of Directors and its Chair, Costa Poulopoulos. We then started a new “Ask Me Anything” video series with members of our Board of Directors.