In 2005, then Winnipeg Real Estate Board president Ruthe Penner strongly felt a name change was long overdue.
Two years ago, she asked whether or not the existing name — Winnipeg Real Estate Board — was
appropriate for a dynamic, market- and customer-driven business association in the 21st century.
A task force was set up with Tom Fulton, WREB’s centenary president (the board was 100 years old in 2003), as chair.
Within the first hour of the task force’s first meeting, a consensus emerged that the name Winnipeg Real
Estate Board did not accurately represent the make-up or even mandate of the association.
Some said the word “board” implied an important quasi-governmental regulatory role in the public’s mind (not the case since the real estate industry is regulated by the Manitoba Securities Commission).
Even real estate was not seen to be the best fit as the term was too encompassing in its reach (e.g., real estate investment trusts and non-member companies involved in real estate that are not subject to the same rigour and high standards of conduct).
Other associations throughout the United States have the REALTOR® name with only a few exceptions. And the trend was becoming more common in Canada with Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Regina, London-St. Thomas and Hamilton-Burlington all having changed their names to include REALTORS®. Another example is the Canadian Real Estate Association’s National Commercial Council (NCC) which changed its name to the Canadian Commercial Council of REALTORS® in 2006.
In 2006, the task force strongly recommended a name change that more clearly defined who and what the real estate board represented.
It is fascinating to note that the Winnipeg Real Estate Exchange — established in 1903 — five years later was a signatory to and bound by the National (American) Association of Real Estate Board’s first code of ethics, long before there was a Canadian equivalent. This American body is now called the National
Association of REALTORS®, a 1.3-million member organization that will celebrate its centenary in 2008.
The genesis of the term REALTOR® is described on the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®’ website. C. N. Chadbourn was on his way to a meeting of the Minneapolis Real Estate Board in 1911 and noticed a bold newspaper headline proclaimiing Real Estate Man Swindles A Poor Widow! Upon closer examination of the article, Chadbourn learned that the real estate man in question was not a member of the local board but a speculator with a desk-room in some back office.
Since the speculator’s unsavory action tarnished everyone in real estate, Chadbourn came up with the term “REALTOR” as a designation for the members of the Minneapolis Real Estate Board.
“Why could we not adopt a title which would designate our members, which would imply that they are vouched for by our board as well-qualified and responsible and would confirm the confidence of the public in them?” he asked at the time.
The new term was adopted locally and then brought forward by the Minneapolis delegates at the next national convention where it eventually was approved.
The story behind the formation of the Winnipeg Real Estate Exchange in 1903 is not all that dissimilar. Winnipeg’s most prominent and active dealers in real estate looked for ways to make their business more orderly and above board to overcome the suspicions of buyers who were at the mercy of wild speculations. In setting up the exchange, order was established in a chaotic marketplace.
In 1946, the exchange successfully lobbied the province to create a provincial license and bond system for real estate agents.
The exchange complained at the time that “when it is possible for enterprising individuals to enter the real estate business in time of temporary prosperity, make a quick profit without regard to reputation or performance of their business and get out, it follows that there must be many instances where such individuals do take advantage of trusting clients.”
The exchange remained committed to raising the bar by emphasizing the education and training it gave its members. Beginning in 1961, the Winnipeg Real
Estate Board (successor to the exchange) required its members to pass examinations.
Fast forward to 2007. As an association with a growing membership of 1,248 REALTOR® members — 92 per cent of its total membership — it is without doubt a WinnipegREALTORS® Association.
WinnipegREALTORS® can now confidently move forward with “The tools. The team. The trust” (the new tag line) to deliver excellent value to clients.
Powerful tools such as MLS®, the commercial property information exchange (ICX®), the WREN, and technology software communication enhancements provide consumers with the maximum results with the least amount of worry and hassle.
REALTORS® are continually upgrading their skills and knowledge through professional development sessions and courses, such as the CCIM program (considered the MBA of commercial real estate investment) sponsored by the association.
The team aspect is found in the success of MLS® and the co-operative network of over 1,200 local
REALTORS® and 88,000 across the country. By listing or buying with a REALTOR®, you are really enlisting all REALTORS® to work on your behalf. The team goes beyond REALTORS® to include a supporting cast dedicated to ensuring these professionals have the latest market and industry information to do their job in the most efficient and effective manner.
Trust is a cornerstone of any business. REALTORS®’ success is based on positive word-of-mouth and providing timely and up-to-date information on real estate values and the current buying and selling process.
A REALTOR® has specialized knowledge on specific neighbourhoods and property types.
All REALTORS® are bound by a strict code of ethics, must be bonded and carry errors-and-omissions insurance. They can be brought before a professional standards committee. They must take mandatory education to keep apprised of important issues such as agency law.
It is critical that a consumer be able to rely on accurate and factual information to make an informed decision. As the exclusive provider of MLS® services for the entire province, the WinnipegREALTORS® Association prides itself in ensuring that its database of records is reliable; as such its public reporting of sales and dollar volume activity is based on solid and verifiable current and historical records.