The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is one of Canada’s largest single-industry associations. Our membership includes more than 150,000 real estate brokers, agents and salespeople, working through 74 real estate boards and associations across Canada. This annual report is a collection of notable highlights and achievements from 2021.
As I entered my year as Chair, I placed a strong emphasis on connecting with people and I think I’ve been able to do that, regardless of the continued challenges COVID-19 has thrown us.
I’m unbelievably proud of the REALTOR® association community and the leadership we’ve shown during this global pandemic. I’m also so proud of our REALTOR® members from coast-to-coast, and how we’ve been so resilient during the ups and downs—adjusting to public health orders and record-breaking sales volume across the country.
Canadians sought out a safe place to call home, and REALTORS® continue to show their dedication and astute knowledge is invaluable.
I had hoped my year as Chair would have involved seeing a lot more of my fellow REALTORS® in person. I believe every opportunity to engage with people gives us more information to benefit the membership and that is a privilege. While I still believe in-person engagements are ideal, we’ve been able to reach more members with our communications virtually than we ever could in person. It’s almost impossible to go in-person everywhere we’re invited, but the ability to hop off one call and hop on another allowed me to travel across Canada in the blink of an eye.
This is a member-driven organization and we would be nowhere without the collaboration we have between local boards, provincial associations, CREA and our members. We must continue to foster this special relationship so we can achieve more and continue to lead the way in an everchanging real estate environment.
As we entered 2021, I know we had hoped lockdowns, virtual meetings and events would be a thing of the past.
Now in the second year of the pandemic, these virtual tools became second nature. Through screens, we were able to advocate for policies to address housing affordability and lack of supply during a federal election and our 36th annual Political Action Committee (PAC) Days. Instead of marching to Parliament Hill, we amplified our messages from devices and keyboards across the country. The power of our collective voice was even more vital, given housing was a central issue in the election.
Despite being able to embrace and thrive in a virtual environment, we were thrilled to welcome staff back to the office in Ottawa in a hybrid and voluntary capacity for part of 2021. Following public health and government guidelines, we returned to our home offices at the end of 2021. However, thanks to significant upgrades to our office, we’ll be ready to have team members collaborate in-person again whenever it’s safe to do so. We’re positioned to run hybrid meetings seamlessly, insuring we never miss a beat in our work supporting REALTORS®.
Virtual or in person – we remain committed to ongoing relationships, connection and growth. By embracing the virtual bridges we’ve made during the pandemic, we’re in a good place to continue our momentum and championing our diverse and inclusive industry.
Immediate Past Chair
The COVID-19 pandemic continued to heavily influence both real estate markets in Canada and the way REALTORS® supported Canadians during their homeownership journeys.
We also made significant upgrades to the office at 200 Catherine Street, including the HVAC system, installing HEPA air filters, re-arranging workspaces to allow physical distancing and increasing cleaning protocols.
In April 2021, CREA formally committed to fostering a diverse, equitable, inclusive and anti-racist environment for our employees, volunteers and members. Since then, CREA staff and volunteers have been working collaboratively to embed diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism (DEIA) considerations into everything we do.
Throughout the year, we started DEIA-related conversations with our members via blog posts and podcast episodes focused on important issues, including race in the workplace, the impact of anti-Asian hate crimes and microaggressions on the real estate industry, and the positive effects of inclusive spaces.
We committed to a new partnership with the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance to raise awareness of the challenges facing LGBTQ2+ home buyers, sellers and our members.
Our offices closed and our social media channels went silent as we paused and reflected for the first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
In November, our Governance and Bylaws Committee identified several DEIA-related opportunities for improvement to our committee application and appointment processes, which were implemented for 2022.
We recognize our work in this arena will never be complete. We look forward to sharing further updates on our progress as we hold ourselves accountable, build capacity, and make continuous improvement.
We’ve been building relationships with government officials, organizations and industry stakeholders for decades. It’s a cornerstone of our national lobbying efforts.
This year we all had to juggle the continued challenges and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, impacts of a national housing supply shortage and a federal election.
Our message this year was loud and clear: Canada needs more housing supply across the entire continuum.
We commissioned research and polling on a range of policy issues to leverage in our discussions with policy makers. This included the release of a white paper called The Homeownership Dividend for Canadians as well as a report from independent think tank Smart Prosperity Institute to explore how a ban on blind bidding would impact real estate prices.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the creation of the Ministry of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion during the cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. This appointment is recognition of the urgent nature of the housing crisis in Canada.
The successes we’ve seen to date are a testament to the influence and credibility we’ve earned, as well as the collective power we have when more than 150,000 REALTORS® join together and speak with one voice.
More advocacy updates:
81% of Canadians believe increasing homeownership in Canada will improve overall happiness and quality of life.
*Abacus Data, REALIdeas.ca.
In the lead up to 44th Canadian federal election, CREA underscored the importance of homeownership and housing supply to all political parties, making it clear that housing affordability was a priority issue for most Canadians—especially millennials and new Canadians.
REALTORS® and the community of real estate boards and associations successfully ensured housing affordability and supply was top of mind and very much part of the election conversation. Our message on housing supply resonated, with each of the major parties devoting portions of their platform to housing commitments and increasing housing supply.
In turn, CREA launched a campaign and election website (REALideas.ca) during the election, centered on how the lack of housing supply is putting homeownership out of reach for future generations of Canadians.
After a 36-day campaign, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada formed a minority government again and the distribution of seats in the House of Commons was little-changed.
+1,110 interactions on social media during PAC Days.
As the dust settled from the federal election, Political Action Committee (PAC) Representatives had the opportunity to virtually un-PAC the results with new and re-elected Members of Parliament (MPs) during our 36th annual PAC Days.
With housing being such a prominent issue during the federal election, PAC Days was a great opportunity to remind MPs that REALTORS® are both experts with access to valuable housing market data and involved, generous pillars of community.
Despite following the heels of an election, we were able to organize meetings with more than 80 MPs across the country, before the new Cabinet was even sworn in.
CREA is proud to celebrate the generosity of the REALTOR® community and support our REALTOR® members in making a positive impact on communities across the country through our national REALTORS Care® program.
In April, we were pleased to announce Gregg Bamford as the recipient of our Canadian REALTORS Care® Award 2021 Proudly Presented by REALTOR.ca. For close to 20 years, Gregg Bamford of RE/MAX Saskatoon has been a committed volunteer, passionate about giving underprivileged children a fair chance. After participating in a life-changing charity-led challenge to walk in the shoes of a person experiencing homelessness in 2018, Gregg was inspired to step up and do more to help vulnerable members of his community. Since then, Gregg has worked tirelessly to help design and launch an innovative new website, OneSmallStepSK.ca, which connects prospective donors with the real-time needs of charities.
In mid-November, CREA held our third-annual REALTORS Care® Week in partnership with 36 real estate boards and associations across the country. More than 500 REALTORS® participated in volunteering and fundraising events organized by their local and provincial boards and associations. Read highlights from this year’s events.
In late November, we launched a call to action on behalf of our members to raise funds for those affected by flooding, landslides, mudslides, power outages, and other incidents caused by extreme weather in British Columbia via the Canadian Red Cross. The REALTOR® community was encouraged to make tax-receiptable donations through our REALTORS Care® fundraising page. Thanks in large part to the support of many boards and associations across the country, more than $52,000 was raised*. This national fundraising campaign was in complement to additional local REALTOR® led efforts, including amazing work by local REALTORS® to organize the delivery of much-needed supplies to isolated victims by helicopter and the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board’s allocation of the more than $134,000 raised via their 2021 REALTORS Care® Blanket Drive to this cause.
*fundraising continued into 2022.
666,995 residential properties traded hands via Canadian MLS® Systems in 2021, surpassing the annual record of 552,423 sales for all of 2020.
2021 was a year of extremes for Canadian housing markets.
National home sales set a new annual record around Thanksgiving weekend, beating the previous record set in 2020. On a year-to-date basis, 666,995 residential properties traded hands via Canadian MLS® Systems in 2021, surpassing the annual record of 552,423 sales for all of 2020.
When we talk about the dollar value of those sales, a new annual record was in the books before Labour Day!
National home prices also set records this year, with record growth of more than 20%.
We also set several records we don’t want. We hit new record lows of listings left on the market at the end of each month. Months of inventory also hit record lows. Meanwhile the sales-to-new listings ratio reached a record high.
The one stat that was no better than average in 2021 was new listings—the thing the market needs most. In fact, the fluctuations in sales over the course of the year that many might see as changes in demand—soaring in the early spring, dropping more than 25% into the summer, and then rebounding in the fall—were likely more a function of when and how many properties became available to buy. The demand was always there.
The year 2021 started with the lowest number of active listings on the market ever and just over two months of inventory nationally—which is extremely low. As such, the behaviour of prices was not really surprising. Heading into 2022, those inventory numbers were even lower. This imbalance is not getting better on its own.
Reputation is built over time and is the product of consistency and trust.
Every tweet, email, ad or blog we publish to Canadian property buyers and sellers is crafted to help promote and strengthen the reputation of REALTORS®.
The REALTOR® Code is the underpinning of our REALTOR® trademark. Without a code that enforces standards in ethics and professionalism, the value and meaning of our trademark is eroded. At our virtual 2021 Annual General Meeting, a technical change in the wording to Rule 9.3 was made to include provincial associations with direct members, and allow them to either take on the enforcement of the REALTOR® Code independently or delegate it to an outside body. While this change served to clarify a rule, we continue to refine the Code to ensure it is still seen as the high standard of professionalism for REALTORS® and serves to create trust between REALTORS® and their clients.
CREA also now has the power to enforce the REALTOR® Code, in addition to member boards and associations.
Throughout the year, we increased our promotion of the REALTOR® Code across our REALTOR.ca social channels, to help reinforce the message that REALTORS® are the professional standard for trusted, experienced real estate advisors.
81% of Canadian homeowners active in the housing market have used the services of a REALTOR® for their last home purchase or sale.*
In August, we launched our latest National Ad Campaign with a new television commercial and digital suite of ads, including on popular platforms like Spotify and TikTok.
The new campaign, titled “Welcome Home” reflects consumer sentiment surrounding purchasing a home and was designed to target first-time buyers and promote REALTOR® value. With a clear call to action to REALTOR.ca, the campaign sought to boost awareness of and draw traffic to the platform and, ultimately, REALTORS®.
To complement the National Ad Campaign, we partnered with Canadian lifestyle content creators to tell their home buying stories and how a REALTOR® helped during their journey. Our Facebook and Instagram posts from these influencers had more than 6.4 million impressions and more than 2.2 million impressions on Pinterest, all while encouraging traffic to REALTOR.ca Living Room.
This year we brought our Search Engine Marketing (SEM)—Google ads—in house to better integrate them into our overall marketing strategy, while also allowing us to be more agile with our approach. We used data-centric tactics to target the right audience and optimized ads to create a lead generation funnel for members. As a result, our click through rate increased by 60% and, for the first time, we sent more than 100,000 leads to members from our SEM campaigns—all without increasing our budget.
We continue to create content of interest to Canadians on our REALTOR.ca social profiles and blog, REALTOR.ca Living Room. This is content REALTORS® can share with their clients and helps position REALTOR.ca as the platform for all things home.
This year, our readers loved articles like:
National Ad Campaign received +298.7 million delivered campaign impressions and 177.6 million completed video views.
CREA remains a trusted resource and leader in Canadian real estate for media outlets across the country and beyond.
Our monthly stats and quarterly forecasts are eagerly awaited and covered in media outlets nationally and internationally.
This year, we also had a number of op-eds published in the pages of the Globe and Mail, the Financial Post, the Hill Times and REM Magazine on our policy suggestions, further demonstrating and cementing our credibility.
Throughout the year, we create and curate content for REALTORS® on our CREA social media channels and our official blog, CREA Café. We enlist the expertise of professionals to discuss topics such as:
We released 12 episodes of our REAL TIME podcast and four episodes of EN DIRECT this year. Our vision for our podcast is simple: to engage with, inspire and empower REALTORS® through conversations with exciting guests about all things Canadian real estate and impacts to our industry, profession and communities.
Over the past year, podcast episodes have been listened to more than 230,000 times. On REAL TIME, we talked to Dr. Naheed Dosani on why housing is a healthcare issue, Heather Bayer discussed the evolution of vacation properties and Tiffany Pratt talked about bringing joy and wellness into your home through design. On EN DIRECT, our listeners heard from Valérie Paquin on the non-financial benefits of homeownership, Jean Stéphane Beauchamp on thoughtful interior design and Hélène Bégin discussed real estate market activity.
You can listen to all episodes at crea.ca/podcast and crea.ca/balado or wherever you get your favourite podcasts.
In 2021, we used email campaigns to highlight our services and technology products with an aim to increase adoption and usage. This focus on increased engagement isn’t for us, it’s for you. For example, our REALTOR.ca DDF® communications resulted in 45,453 leads generated to REALTORS® (a 9.8% increase from 2020).
We put more effort into nurturing our relationships with brokers, providing tailored programming and content including the Brokers’ Corner email, Broker Summit and broker-specific training/courses.
We published 355 CREA Café articles and increased pageview traffic by more than 50%.
CREA’s Learning Hub is instrumental to elevating the profession and REALTORS® as industry experts. The Hub champions national education standards and supports boards and associations, while collaborating on education initiatives at all levels.
The broader scope of education beyond the Canadian REALTOR® Association Executive (CRAE) and National Leadership Program (NLP) courses has been implemented over the past year.
This year we reached 60,000 Hub users and launched new courses on FINTRAC, flood protection, new member orientation and Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). We also presented fully virtual courses for designation programs including the popular Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation.
We ran four Certified Real Estate Brokerage (CRB) designation courses, with each course offered twice. Registration at all sessions were maxed out this year.
We reached 60,000 users on CREA’s Learning Hub and launched new courses on FINTRAC, flood protection, and CASL.
92% of Canadians know about REALTOR.ca and intend to use it again, according to a Nanos Consumer Survey. There’s no denying this powerhouse brand we've built.
"We" means all of us; including REALTORS®, local boards, franchisors and provincial/territorial associations. But this hasn’t been an overnight success. It has matured and changed with the times.
Owned and operated on behalf of REALTORS®, REALTOR.ca continues to perform extremely well and remains the front runner in national market share for real estate sites in Canada.
2021 was another record year for REALTOR.ca in which we’ve been hitting more than one million visits each weekday since early in the year.
When we compare numbers to the same time last year, we’ve seen a 39% year-over-year increase in visits and 43% in leads*.
According to Comscore, REALTOR.ca continues to hold the top market share in Canada (45% of all web and mobile traffic to Canadian real estate sites on average per month – up from 36% in 2020). In fact, REALTOR.ca stands as the only remaining platform that has shown continued year-over-year growth every month in 2021.
That traffic translates directly to our members in the form of leads; 5.3 million leads in 2021 alone*. Despite the historically low inventory levels of the past couple of years, this number of leads is also up from 3.7 million in 2020**.
Highlights from 2021 on REALTOR.ca
Of course, that’s barely scratching the surface of REALTOR.ca insights. The full report is available at insights.REALTOR.ca.
Other technology updates throughout the year included:
*January 1, 2021 to December 9, 2021.
**January 1, 2020 to December 9, 2020.
With more than two-thirds of REALTOR.ca traffic coming from mobile devices, improving the mobile experience for REALTORS® and consumers remains a top priority. We redesigned the REALTOR.ca app on a completely new technology platform in the spring. We listened to and received a lot of feedback and the new platform enabled us to quickly make significant improvements to it ever since.
By making enhancements to the user experience to keep up with consumer expectations, the REALTOR.ca brand is ever growing and well-poised to remain at the centre of the Canadian real estate journey. We were in good company when Apple included REALTOR.ca in their iOS 15 launch.
We also continue to evolve the REALTOR.ca Listing Stats app, which is used by more than 20,000 members. The app makes it easy for members to access all their analytics reports surrounding their listings and leads from across the REALTOR.ca platform.
We’re Top 5!
Data from CIRA shows REALTOR.ca is the fifth most visited .ca site in Canada in 2021. Further proof we’re the most trusted real estate platform in the country.
We continue to add new partners sites and Real Estate Advertising Websites to the REALTOR.ca DDF® portfolio. Changes have been made to make the opt-in process much easier and more straight-forward. Despite the simpler opt-in process, REALTORS® can still take comfort in knowing that all REALTOR.ca DDF® partners sites and Real Estate Advertising Websites continue to be obligated to adhere to strict terms and conditions to ensure listing content is protected.
There continues to be growth in both the number of feeds being pulled from REALTOR.ca DDF® and the number of brokerages using it. Since the beginning of the year, more than 6.3 million leads to REALTORS® have been generated through REALTOR.ca DDF®.
Established partnerships through the REALTOR.ca DDF® are growing the reach/footprint of members under the “Powered by REALTOR.ca” umbrella.
Our newest partner is Microsoft Bing. Following similar implementations in other countries, Bing’s new Canadian search experience displays active real estate listing summaries in search results via an easy-to-use map interface. The Bing partnership is generating more than 3,000 direct leads for members every day.
The volume of leads created for our members is not our primary goal. Instead, our focus is on the quality of leads.
In 2021, we added more information to the lead emails sent to members to help REALTORS® assess incoming inquiries. For example, the email will inform members if the person is pre-approved for a mortgage, already working with a REALTOR® and if they have a preferred time for a showing.
Remember, 100% of all leads from REALTOR.ca go directly to the listing agent as a member benefit, there are no referral fees and no other agent can buy their way onto your listing page.
CREA Global makes it easy for REALTORS® in Canada and international real estate professionals to network, exchange referral opportunities and gain knowledge of international markets.
While borders remained closed for much of the year, it didn’t stop us from hitting the virtual road! The Great Canadian Road Trip showcased insights from local experts and participants from provincial associations in different parts of the country in a series of webinars.
We also hosted monthly webinars to help our members and affiliates expand their knowledge on topics such as trends in commercial real estate and immigration.
We released valuable information for members on how COVID-19 impacted international activity in Canadian real estate markets in our 2020 Profile of International Activity in Canadian Real Estate survey.
Under the CREA Global umbrella, REALTORS® can earn their Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation. During the National Association of REALTORS® 2021 REALTOR® Conference & Expo, CREA was named the top CIPS Provider of the Year.