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REALTORS® to discuss the “big issues” at Winnipeg meeting
Sep 01, 2006

Some pretty big ideas are invariably discussed when the nation’s 15 largest real estate boards meet.

“We swap all kinds of ideas,” said 

Geoff McCullough, the executive-director of the Winnipeg Real Estate Board, which is hosting the bi-annual Large Boards’ meeting on September 7 at the Fort Garry Hotel.

“This is where our ideas start and this is where most of our discussions on these ideas occur,” he added.

McCullough said the 15 boards with the largest membership in Canada also get a chance to discuss individual projects that can then be adapted by one or more boards at the national level.

“We ask what is your board doing?” he added.

An example of a particular local program that has been discussed at large board meetings is the WREB-established Housing Opportunity Partnership. At one of the recent large board meetings, the REALTORS® Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB) listened intently to a WREB presentation on HOP and decided its membership could adapt the program to meet their community’s needs.

In Winnipeg, HOP has purchased, renovated and resold over 60 homes to low- and modest-income individuals and families in the city’s West End since it started in the mid-1990s. 

The Hamilton program, called the Home Ownership Affordability Partnership, is in its infancy and has so far helped four families and has taken a slightly different approach than Winnipeg’s HOP.

“The target applicants are families presently residing in social housing units and who have the means and capacity for owning their own home.” said 

Rebecca Riding, the president of the RAHB in a press release.

“In turn, much needed social housing space becomes available for families currently on the waiting list and who, in many cases, are living on the margin of society.”

The Winnipeg HOP program is not specifically geared to people in social housing, but is available to anyone with a modest income who is able to take on the obligations of homeownership. 

The Canadian REALTORS Care™ Foundation got its start with the Real 

Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and then was discussed at a large board meeting. From there, CREA took the advice of the boards and established a national 

program.

The national foundation co-ordinates REALTOR® fund raising and community involvement.

“An important benefit of the foundation will be the collection of information on community and charitable events in which REALTORS® are involved,” said CREA president-elect Ann Bosley in a press 

release. “It is important that we share those initiatives with each other. Great ideas in one place are often the cause for doing something similar in another place.”

The large boards are also on the forefront of changes in technology and the delivery of MLS®, which is under the 

national administration of the Canadian Real Estate Association. All the 15 largest boards are member organizations of CREA.

“We all have individual issues but we also are able to ask CREA to pay more attention to particular issues of national consequence,” McCullough said.

“Big boards are pouring millions of 

dollars into technology,” said McCullough. “All these technological advances enhance REALTORS®’ professionalism and improves their service to the consumer.

McCullough said it should also be noted that real estate technology experts will also be meeting at the same time in Winnipeg as the large boards.

McCullough singled out improvements to such essential tools for REALTORS® and consumers as CREA’s national website for residential properties mls.ca and the national commercial properties website icx.ca

“MLS® issues include creating a quality database that is easier for the public and REALTORS® to obtain information from and for REALTORS® to share information,” said McCullough.

“Years ago we would have talked about lockboxes, which would have been the latest technology at the time, and now we’re talking about such technology as Touchbase.”

Touchbase is a flexible, easy-to-use Web-based communication tool specifically designed for the real estate industry. It is a combination of cellphone text message, pager and e-mail to help REALTORS® communicate faster with each other and thus provide better service to clients.

Without the many tools that are available to REALTORS®, such as MLS® and the national residential and commercial websites, “private sales miss out,” said McCullough. “Private sellers are missing a whole segment of the market such as people transferring from other provinces. 

“REALTORS® with all these tools at hand can quickly match out-of-province buyers with the  home they want,” he added.