Self-Regulation: A Call to Arms Image

Self-Regulation: A Call to Arms


“By choosing a self-regulation model, the Government of Alberta has demonstrated its confidence, and placed its trust, in the real estate industry on behalf of all Albertans. While it is a privilege to be given the right of self-regulation, it is a privilege that comes with significant responsibility. It is essential real estate professionals demonstrate our system of regulating the real estate industry is effective and fulfills the public interest mandate set out in the REA [Real Estate Act] and that the policy of self-regulation was the correct choice.” — Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA), Statement on Self-Regulation, October 2011

Did you catch that? “…demonstrated its confidence, and placed its trust in the real estate industry…” AND “…a privilege that comes with significant responsibility…” So what does this mean and how heavy is the burden placed on us as industry professionals?

What it means is every authorized real estate industry professional in Alberta should recognize the responsibilities we all share and should take full ownership of the group responsibilities—on an individual level. In other words, if each industry professional acted as though the responsibility was theirs alone, we as a self-regulating group could demonstrate unequivocally we are an industry deserving of the trust and responsibility placed on us under self-regulation and are capable of outperforming any regulatory or legislative guidelines set before us. We would in fact, “…demonstrate our system of regulating the real estate industry is effective and fulfills the public interest mandate set out in the REA [Real Estate Act] and that the policy of self-regulation was the correct choice.”

So why does it seem so many real estate industry professionals take the privilege for granted? Why do so many members appear apathetic to the responsibilities commensurate with self-regulation?

I believe the responsibility placed on each of us as a result of self-regulation is great however, it is easily fulfilled if we as professionals commit to recognizing and executing the simple, everyday tasks laid before us by our industry associations and governing bodies on a regular basis. In my opinion, each of us should be required to:

  • read and acknowledge all industry publications
  • attend a minimum number of workshops
  • participate in a minimum number of focus groups
  • serve on a minimum number of industry/association committees
  • attend/complete a minimum number of professional development/continuing education courses

I recognize some of the items in the list above may not be popular and many aren’t even enforceable in a practical way however, the onus is on us as professionals in a self-regulated industry to stay current and aware of industry happenings. The best way to do that is by engaging in the opportunities such as those referenced above.

I also believe we have an obligation to govern and guide each other in a professional manner. This does not mean “playing cop” and reporting each other because of some breach of the rules or contravention of some policy. Rather, it means we take a step back, set aside our egos, and recognize we all make mistakes and that we can’t always identify them ourselves – we need help. We should be able to rely on our colleagues to point out our failings in a non-judgemental way and in a respectful manner that provides an opportunity for learning; without shame or fear of retribution. A professional would immediately respond to such an occurrence with a “thank you”. In my opinion this is another minimum obligation under self-regulation.

I see the relationship between industry professionals and RECA, under the self-regulation model, as one of parent and teenager; where RECA is the parent and we, as industry professionals, are the teenagers.

Parents patiently guide, teach, observe, nurture, chastise, punish, and otherwise pull out all the parental stops to ensure children progress through their teenage years without too many bumps and bruises and develop into responsible and contributing adult members of society. From chores, to homework, to studying, parents constantly challenge children and place before them guidelines and boundaries within which they can grow, learn, fail, learn, and grow. Along the way the parents themselves grow, evolve, and themselves become more enlightened.

As children—and later as teens—we strive to earn and subsequently maintain the trust of our parents and regularly seek their approval. We do all we can to ensure our parents trust us and can be proud of us. We still get it wrong from time-to-time but we are able to rely on our parents to show us the lesson in our failing and are not judged for the mistake itself.

By failing to engage in activities that further our knowledge and understanding of our industry—and therefore improve our ability to assist our clients—are we not then acting like spoiled teens in desperate need of a renewed “hands-on” parental approach?

I’m not convinced we as industry professionals are doing all we should be to earn the freedom to which we have become accustomed and feel entitled. As individual industry professionals we need to recognize the significance of self-regulation, the responsibilities it carries, accept it for the privilege it is, and begin making every possible effort to warrant the trust and freedom it provides.

Aside from acting in a professional, ethical, and honest manner and conscientiously fulfilling your fiduciary obligations, what can and do you do you each day to continue to earn and maintain the trust that comes with self-regulation? Do you actively seek opportunities to participate in industry activities? Do you attend workshops or professional development seminars because you want to?

As part of this push for greater professionalism and more effective self-regulation within Alberta’s real estate industry, I encourage you to get involved in the RECA Self-Regulation Town Hall meetings that are being held across the province. Read RECA’s Statement on Self-Regulation. Complete the online survey. Help RECA strike the right regulatory balance.

Help raise the professionalism of Alberta’s real estate industry. Be part of the evolution.

Craig Pilgrim
RE/MAX Real Estate