Revamping the enforcement process for the REALTOR® Code will strengthen our reputation

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. With that in mind, we’re working to ensure our REALTOR® chain consisting of more than 125,000 links is stronger by enhancing the REALTOR® Code enforcement process.

This means consistently enforcing our national code of ethics, the REALTOR® Code,  which defines the high standard of professionalism in the real estate expected of those that are licensed to use the REALTOR® trademark. For too long, enforcement of the REALTOR® Code has been inconsistent, contributing to reputation trauma and undesirable media attention questioning the ethics of all REALTORS®.

In order to re-establish a high level of professionalism, we recently sought the opinions from you, our members, on how to bolster the public’s image of REALTORS®. The response to our open consultation was encouraging as more than 8,500 REALTORS® from boards and associations across Canada participated in a survey and in person consulations, with more than 120,000 impressions online regarding the REALTOR® Code.

We asked participants to rate how important the following statements are to them:

  • My reputation with clients is critical to my professional success.
  • The reputation of the REALTOR® profession is important to me.
  • An enforced Code of Ethics is important to the value of the REALTOR® brand.
  • It is important that REALTORS® follow a Code of Ethics.

About three-quarters of respondents placed a high or extremely high value on each of the above statements.

REALTOR Code chart

These points are obviously important to members and we want to let you know we’re listening. We’re committed to strengthening the REALTOR® Code enforcement process to protect REALTORS® and the profession.

“My reputation is incredibly important to me, it has been for the last 23 years,” said CREA President Barb Sukkau. “It’s time for us to stand up, come together and to start enforcing the REALTOR® Code, so we can go out to the public and say when you wear this REALTOR® pin, you are out there as a professional REALTOR® and you do follow a high level of ethical standards.”

We came up with three proposed options to better enforce the REALTOR® Code:

  1. Creating a real estate body at the provincial or national level that becomes the only entity to receive complaints and enforce the REALTOR® Code.
  2. Changing the process set out in CREA’s rules to say boards and associations are required to enforce the REALTOR® Code, but CREA will conduct the enforcement where a board or association is unwilling or unable to process complaints.
  3. Maintaining the status quo of having boards and associations enforce the REALTOR® Code but establishing significant penalties for boards and associations who do not fulfill this obligation.

“We need to raise the bar on professionalism and make being a REALTOR® mean something,” said Jason Stephen, CREA President-Elect and Chair of the 2018 REALTOR® Code Committee.

CREA’s REALTOR® Code has been the measure of professionalism in organized real estate for more than 40 years. The REALTOR® Code establishes a standard of conduct, which in many respects exceeds basic legal requirements. This standard protects the rights and interests of consumers of real estate services.

Remember, the reputation of REALTORS® is at risk if we don’t have a unified stance on this issue. With strong support from our members, we will be moving forward with a plan to ensure that the REALTOR® Code is enforced, that the trademark has meaning, and that REALTORS® across Canada can be confident that their profession is respected. You can review in more detail what will go to vote at the CREA AGM on April 9, 2019, here.

Jason Stephen, CREA’s Immediate Past Chair, has been a REALTOR® with Royal LePage Atlantic and involved in organized real estate for more than 20 years. Jason was born and raised in Saint John and is a proud graduate from the University of New Brunswick with a degree in History and Political Science. Jason has also sat on and/or chaired numerous CREA committees, including Education, REALTORS Care®, and Political Action. Jason is actively involved in his community as a leader, volunteer, and supporter. When not working, Jason enjoys spending time with his family, golfing, traveling, relaxing at a backyard bonfire, and watching sports, in particular his favorite teams, the New England Patriots, the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Raptors.

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