Good governance is good for REALTORS®

CREA is currently undergoing a review of its governance structure. Try to control your excitement. People might be watching.

Granted, governance is not the sexiest thing in the world, but it is something that REALTOR® members should care about because it affects each and every one of them. As a trade association, CREA is owned by its members. That means you. Everything we do is for the benefit of the REALTOR® member. The smoother the corporate processes, the greater the benefit to the owners.

Corporate governance is all about the job done by the Board of Directors.

If you were to look at a corporate position chart, you’d see the owners at the top (yes, that’s you), the Board of Directors right below that, and the Chief Executive Officer and staff at the bottom (yes, that’s me). So the Board of Directors is wedged between the owners and the staff. The “job” of the directors is really three-fold:

  1. Ongoing dialogue with the membership to discern their expectations so the directors know what results the association should produce;
  2. Translate the expectations of the owners into written criteria for success (policies and strategic plans); and
  3. Monitor policy compliance to see that the criteria are being met.

If the governance machinery works well, you get great results – cool stuff like WEBForms®,, mobile apps, effective lobbying, and strategic initiatives that make the professional lives of REALTOR® members easier and more productive. When it doesn’t work well you get really bad ideas like “New Coke,” sweaters for dogs or Justin Bieber.

So CREA is conducting a critical analysis of its governance structure on two fronts. Firstly, new federal legislation has been enacted that requires all not-for-profit organizations to substantially amend their By-Laws and Rules to comply. This is critical. We will have to make certain changes to comply with the law. Secondly, CREA has instituted a full-scale governance review. The review is still underway, but here are some of the preliminary recommendations that the Governance Committee will be making to the Board of Directors:

  1. CREA currently has nine membership categories. We want eliminate all but the core stakeholders – Real Estate Boards, Provincial Real Estate Associations, and REALTOR® members (yes, that’s you);
  2. The new legislation prohibits ex officio directors. Those of you who, like myself, chose in high school to take five years of Latin instead of the typing courses, based on the logic “when will I ever need to know how to type?”, will know what ex officio means, but you won’t be able to let anyone else know, because you can’t type. Ex officio refers to directors who are appointed rather than elected. We are recommending to the Board of Directors that four of our ex officio director positions be eliminated (the three Council Directors and the NAR Director), resulting in a smaller Board of Directors.
  3. The last proposal is that all three Councils – The Association Executives Council, the Canadian Commercial Council, and the MLS® and Technology Council be eliminated and replaced with regular committees. The result: savings in operational costs. That means less money directed to administration, and more money lavished on you, the owners.

That’s a good result of good governance.

Bill Harrington, former General Counsel, oversaw CREA’s legal department, which provides legal advice to boards and associations on a wide range of issues, including intellectual property, REALTOR® Code issues, interpretation of CREA’s Bylaws, Rules, and policies, and issues involving federal legislation. Our legal department also supports the Executive Office and the Board of Directors. Bill has seen it all and enjoyed the variety and unpredictability of legal issues that came up. Interesting fact: To call Bill a fan of “The Who” is a bit of an understatement – he has seen them in concert 28 times!

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