REBGV 2018 Annual Report

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

REBGV: Embracing change


President’s Report

In reflecting on our history, one thing is clear: we’re a resilient group.

We’ve dealt with many challenges over the decades, and faced each one armed with expert knowledge, tenacity, and courage.

That’s the REALTOR® spirit, and the 100-year history of our Board is evidence of this spirit. We’ve always stood up to challenges and adversity throughout our existence, and we continue to do so today.

n planning for our centennial, we wrestled with how to strike a balance between past, present, and future.

We believe the best way to honour our past, and all those people who came before us, is to build the future – and that’s what we’re doing.

We’ve had a few rocky years. At the Board, we employed a number of strategies to steady the ship, including:

  • advocating with government on issues like taxes, regulations, and affordable housing;
  • representing you in the media and with the public;
  • leveraging partnerships; and
  • stepping up our engagement with you through social media.

Improving Realtor public image

We launched a new ad campaign in response to intense public scrutiny of our profession.

Wasserman and Partners, a well-regarded marketing and advertising firm, helped us create the campaign. The approach is based on research, strategy work, creative development, and consumer and member testing.

The campaign launched in November with radio, newspaper, and social media ads. In January, we began running English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Punjabi video ads online and on TV. Next month, you’ll begin to see our transit ads.

The ads call on the public to “Take ownership of home ownership and choose the Realtor who’s right for you.” The creative strategy is to educate prospective home buyers and sellers about how taking the time to choose and work with the right Realtor is worth it.

Our goal is to empower consumers, give them confidence about the home buying and selling process, and demonstrate how working with a Realtor brings significant value.

You’d be surprised to learn how often consumers think they don’t have much choice. Our research showed how much they valued that Realtors were putting the power of choice in their hands.

We’re evaluating the campaign’s effectiveness and we’ll report the results back to you later this year. If we’re not getting the results we want, we’ll modify the campaign.

The campaign is an important part of a broader public engagement. We also:

  • represent you in hundreds of media interviews each year;
  • place articles in major newspapers and online news outlets;
  • speak to thousands of people at annual events;
  • release reports and videos to educate the public about trends in the housing market;
  • make housing affordability and sustainable-building recommendations to government; and
  • run charitable initiatives, such as our REALTORS Care® Blanket Drive, that help thousands of people in need each year.

To succeed, we need your support and participation. Please share our content with your clients and use your social media influence to help us advance our profession in the public eye.

Publishing discipline cases

These efforts are important, but no amount of advertising will elevate our reputation unless we take ownership of our image. That requires all of us to take responsibility for our actions and to speak up when we see a wrong committed.

Too often we see instances of misconduct and don’t file formal complaints. I’ve heard Realtors say they don’t want to make waves with another Realtor. Instead, they want the Board to find the wrongdoers.

That’s an impossible task.

Other Realtors have said they don’t complain because nothing comes of it.

Well, you have the right to that opinion, but remember—everyone has the right to a fair hearing based on evidence and the principles of natural justice. These principles may be inconvenient when we’re looking for swift justice, but they’re fundamental to the health of our profession.

Our Professional Conduct Committee is doing a great job handling the workload and maintaining a fair and robust process, which has always withstood the scrutiny of court challenges.

In 2018, the committee assessed $107,000 in fines and ordered members to complete 35 educational courses. So far this year, they’ve assessed $16,000 in fines, ordered members to complete six courses, and expelled one member from our Board.

The sensational stories in the news aren’t the norm. Two-thirds of last year’s discipline cases were about delayed access or offers, lockbox abuses, or unsupervised showings. Basic courtesy and common-sense stuff.

We addressed some of these issues when we updated the Rules of Cooperation in November. While the changes have been in place for only a few months, your early feedback tells us they’re relieving some frustration.

We publish every disciplinary ruling in our newsletter and on for you to read. We’ve also been considering whether to publish those decisions for the public.

We’ve held meetings with you to discuss the issue and hear your views. We’ve consulted legal and public relations experts and researched what other professions do.

The recommendation that emerged from this work was to publish discipline cases that result in a member’s expulsion. Expulsions occur in the most egregious cases involving theft, fraud, and client betrayal. To give you some context, we’ve expelled five members over the last six years.

We’re working with legal counsel to prepare a resolution for you to vote on at next year’s AGM. Some may say this doesn’t go far enough. I believe it would be an important step forward.

If approved, we’d become the only real estate board in Canada to publicly publish such cases, and the only non-regulating professional association in Canada to do so based on our research.

Competition Bureau and VOWs

This past year also saw the end of a longstanding legal dispute. In August, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the Toronto Real Estate Board’s (TREB) appeal of a 2016 Competition Tribunal decision. This ruling ended years of litigation and removed a cloud of uncertainty that had been hanging over our profession.

The Competition Tribunal ruled that certain aspects of TREB’s virtual office website (VOW) policy breached the Competition Act. Toronto was ordered to allow members to provide the same information for clients online, through VOWs, as they can in face-to-face settings. A few exceptions were made for private fields like Realtor Remarks and showing availability information.

A VOW is a password-protected area of your website that allows you to share listing information with your clients. Your clients must create a profile before they can see this information.

The Competition Bureau wrote us within two days of the TREB ruling, saying they expected us to comply. We worked with legal counsel to adapt our systems, processes, and contracts to do just that.

In November, our Board of Directors approved changes to the Rules of Cooperation to accommodate the public display of additional information within VOWs.

This information includes:

  • previous home sale prices;
  • withdrawn, expired, suspended, and terminated listings;
  • pending sold prices where no conditions remain other than closing; and
  • cooperating commissions.

Beginning in January, members have been able to display this information within their VOWs. Nearly 1,000 members have requested a copy of our new VOW agreement to date.

Three-way agreement changes and CREA

Our profession underwent another national change in April. That’s when representatives from boards and associations across the country approved a process for local boards to become direct members of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) without also having to belong to their provincial association.

We want to keep organized real estate in Canada intact. We’re stronger together, however our profession must be accountable at all levels to the Realtors on the street.

This change created a mechanism for accountability and choice in the structure of our profession. By amending the Three-Way Agreement, we made it possible for boards to not belong to their provincial associations and still belong to CREA should their members vote to do so.

Our work with the Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton boards made it possible for this national vote to pass. This group, known informally as REB5, is an important strategic partnership. We have considerable alignment with these organizations and there are opportunities to pursue further innovations with them.

Code of Conduct changes

Another conversation this year at the national level concerns the Realtor Code. The code isn’t equally applied across Canada. We have strong enforcement processes at our Board. However, some provinces don’t enforce the Realtor Code if the regulator also has a code of ethics that Realtors’ must comply with. CREA conducted a cross-country member consultation on this issue and plans to propose new national compliance standards.

We’re keeping a close eye on this and will communicate with you when we know more.

Board of Directors

At our 2017 AGM, you approved resolutions to update our Board of Directors’ structure — in size and composition. When we install our 2019/2020 Board of Directors, the transition to the new model will be complete.

The changes are based on years of research into leading governance practices. They ended the practice of having the chairs of geographic and commercial areas automatically serve on the Board of Directors. They increased the number of members elected from the entire membership from 9 to 11. And they permitted the Board of Directors to appoint up to three directors.

We’re fortunate to have found public directors with expertise in areas like IT, finance, and governance. They elevate the discussion and decision-making at the Boardroom table. We’re all better directors as a result.

Today’s Boards of Directors don’t micromanage. We govern. Our focus is on:

  • strategy;
  • the risks facing the organization and the profession;
  • succession planning for directors and the senior management;
  • CEO performance; and
  • the financial performance and health of the organization.

Your directors receive extensive education from people with governance expertise. The education helps us move toward improvements like the resolutions we’re proposing today.

In closing

On a personal note, I’d like to thank Brad for his continued leadership and commitment to REBGV. He’s been a pleasure to work with this year. I learned from him every day. We have a great team and a culture focused on providing outstanding service to our members.

Finally, I’d like to thank our Board of Directors. The word ‘team’ comes to mind when I think of this outstanding group. They keep your best interests in mind in every discussion and every decision they make. It’s been a pleasure to work with them.

You’ll be well represented over the next 12 months with Ashley Smith as your president.


CEO’s Report

My first day at REBGV was in February 1978—41 years ago.

While I don’t quite go back to our 1919 founding, I have many memories to draw upon in our centennial year.

We’ve benefited from exceptional leadership in our history. So many people have left positive marks on the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

The real estate brokers who came together to form our association in 1919 were visionaries. Even still, they wouldn’t have imagined the legacy that successive leaders would create over the next century.

From the start, we’ve been an innovative force in real estate. We created and trademarked MLS® in Canada, developed the REALTORS Care® program, created and shared standard forms across BC, and were co-founders of today’s MLS® Home Price Index—and those are just a few of our achievements.

We’ve been able to do all this because we have always embraced change, and the uncertainty that comes with it, in pursuit of improved service to you, our members.

Fundamentally, the role of your Board has remained the same over all these years. We identify what Realtors need and deliver on those needs.

We do this by knowing our members. We take pride in how we engage and interact with you, and we listen to what you have to say. We encourage our staff to visit with you at every opportunity, to find new ways to get your feedback, and to immerse themselves in education with the end goal of improving our service and enhancing our products.

This engagement helps us plan for the future.

Apple founder Steve Jobs said famously, “It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want.”

We agree.

We take your insights and suggestions and convert them into strategy and actions. That’s our job, and that’s what we did in 2018.

Together with your Board of Directors, we developed an ambitious strategic plan that sets out to:

  • leverage MLS® and external data for greater advantage to members;
  • advance professionalism and improve advocacy for Realtors and real estate issues;
  • explore and develop new product and service opportunities; and
  • obsess over business excellence.

We turned these goals into actions throughout the year, and I’ll share some highlights in this report.

Our financial health

The strength of any organization is in its people, culture, and finances. Despite the slowing market conditions that you encountered this year, your Board ended 2018 with a net operating surplus of $410,000 thanks to a small membership increase.

We gained 222 members last year and seven offices, bringing our total membership to 14,406 Realtors and 597 offices as of December 31, 2018.

We remain in a healthy financial position.

We have $5.7 million in general reserves and an additional $2.3 million in specific reserves to enhance our MLS® technology, maintain our building, and replace our CRM system.

Having a stable and well-managed financial foundation allowed us to implement new services, improve existing ones, forge strategic partnerships, and represent you with government, in the media, and through various public-facing initiatives.

In July, we opened a new training facility at 228 Schoolhouse Street in Coquitlam as an alternative location for attending professional development program (PDP) courses and receiving other services.

We know many of you face long commutes to our Vancouver office. This facility is located along major routes and is an accessible option for members in the Tri-Cities, Burnaby, Maple Ridge, and on the North Shore.

In the first eight months of operation, more than 4,000 members took courses at the Schoolhouse Street office, and we expect this number to continue to grow.

Rental listings on MLS®

In January of this year, we opened Paragon to rental listings, at no additional cost for members.

We’ve also added a new data input form for rentals on WEBForms to help you correctly document these arrangements.

With this new service, you can search for rentals on Paragon the same way you search for other listings. Once you post your listing, the information flows through to the same day.

Realtylink refreshed

Data is king in real estate, and we know the public wants us to be more open with MLS® information.

They’re asking for sold and other details to better understand the market.

Websites like BC Assessment’s e-value BC or, which signed an agreement with BC Assessment to display sold information, have started providing this information. Zillow has begun posting a limited number of Canadian listings and we expect this to grow as they reach similar agreements with BC Assessment and other entities.

The landscape is changing. We need to adapt with the times and continue to push ourselves toward the leading edge.

That’s what we’re doing.

We’ll soon launch a preview version of a new public listing website based on the Montreal Real Estate Board’s Centris technology.

Centris provides a listing platform to every real estate board in Quebec, and it has become the most visited real estate listing website in Quebec and the fourth most frequented in Canada.

This new partnership allows us to provide a more modern online experience for the public and it paves the way for future developments and innovation.

MLS® innovation is a strategic priority.

Our management team and Board of Directors are immersed in conversations about making MLS® data more robust and accessible. We’re exploring how to display sold prices on and our new Realtylink website to ensure that these Realtor-driven sites are the leaders across our market and the country.


Total revenue in 2018 was $25.1 million compared to $26.6 million in 2017, an overall decrease of 6%.

Total expense in 2018 was $24.8 million compared to $24.7 million in 2017, an overall decrease of less than half of one per cent.

  •  Sales

Total unit sales on MLS® for 2018 were 25,051 compared to 37,456 for 2017, declining by 31%.

  •  Listings

Total listings on MLS® for 2018 were 55,086 compared to 56,060 for 2017, declining by 1%.

  •  Membership

Active membership increased to 14,406 from 14,184. Corporate membership increased to 597 corporate members from 590.


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