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May 27, 2005

A significant component of our strong current economy is the local real estate market. Real estate records have been set, and there is no market slowdown expected on the horizon.

Many people are considering purchasing or selling property to reap the benefits that go hand-in-hand with such a sizzling marketplace. More than 2,000 MLS® properties are currently listed, and this means REALTORS and all other professions involved in the real estate industry are exceedingly busy.

But, what is the difference between a REALTOR and a real estate agent? There is, in fact, a substantial difference.

Real estate agents are individuals who are at least 18 years old and have completed a 12-month, on-line correspondence real estate agent program. They are required to pass the Manitoba qualifying examination with a mark of 70 per cent or better.

REALTORS are those who have completed the same requirements, but have made it their priority to join the Winnipeg Real Estate Board  and fulfill the professional Code of Ethics and Standards of Business Practice put forth by the Canadian Real Estate Association.

In order to understand why these professional standards are so important to those using the services of a REALTOR, a brief explanation of what these standards entail will show how essential REALTORS are for those purchasing and selling real estate.

The Code of Ethics covers five basic professional standards REALTORS are committed to follow: 

• Keeping informed about developments and trends in real estate. 

• Endeavouring to protect the public against fraud, misrepresentation or unethical practice in connection with real estate transactions. 

• Rendering services and opinions based only on the REALTOR’s knowledge, training, qualifications and experience in real estate. 

• Seeking no unfair advantage over, nor injuring the reputation of, nor publicly disparaging the business practice of other REALTORS. 

• Being loyal to the REALTOR’s real estate board and provincial association and being active in their work.

Through the WREB, steps are taken to ensure that REALTORS uphold the Code of Ethics in all real estate business transactions.

The Canadian Real Estate Association’s Standards of Business Practice has 29 articles regarding all elements of the duties REALTORS provide to clients, ensuring that REALTORS conduct real estate business activity with honesty, integrity, financial responsibility and in accordance with the law. 

These 29 articles deal with advertising, confidentiality, client relations, disclosure, compensation, legal obligations, and objectivity, and provide REALTORS with a clearly defined professional code of conduct to follow. This results in a guarantee to consumers that REALTORS uphold and practice these professional standards.

Another source of protection for consumers, provided by all REALTORS, is the Real Estate Errors and Omission Fund. This fund provides consumers with financial protection against any unscrupulous real estate practitioners.

In plain words, the E&O Fund has been established and maintained “to compensate consumers who suffer a financial loss as a result of fraud or breach of trust by an industry member.” 

Only REALTORS, the professionals who contribute financially to the E&O Fund, can offer this protection to their clients.

What other services make REALTORS instill confidence in the consumer? 

There are many, and they start the minute clients begin their professional relationship with a REALTOR.

REALTORS provide clients with great customer service by taking care of every aspect of a real estate transaction. They do this by recommending mortgage brokers, helping with financing issues, supervising home inspections, advertising properties, researching and finding appropriate values for those who are seeking to purchase, and enhancing the visual appeal of a property.

REALTORS provide amazing value in the services they provide (e.g. providing necessary forms, easements, zoning information), and clients are put at ease when making a substantial financial investment.

From researching property values to managing every detail of a real estate transaction, REALTORS are committed to putting their clients and customers first and foremost. REALTORS take the steps necessary to fulfill all legal specifications, and they provide detailed explanations concerning all the necessary processes and procedures.

Educated, licensed, accredited and professional: when it comes to the business of real estate, REALTORS know exactly what they are doing.