Self-Regulation Symposium: One Year Later
| March 12, 2013
Do you ever look back and wonder where a certain period of time has gone?
You’ve simply been so busy or so engrossed in something that the time, the day, the month, the year, has passed you by.
I experienced something similar late last week when I realized it was March 7 and therefore, it had been one year since the Real Estate Council of Alberta hosted its national Symposium on Self-Regulation. While that event was the culmination of extensive consultation within the industry about the meaning of self-regulation and RECA’s philosophy towards it, it also served as – and has continued to be – the beginning of the further enhancement of professionalism within our industry.
In the month following last March’s Symposium, Council formally approved the Statement of Self-Regulation. That statement has already – and will continue – to serve as the cornerstone for much of Council’s work.
Doug Dixon, RECA’s real estate practice advisor, joined the RECA team shortly after the Symposium. In just under a year, he has visited more than 90 brokerages to meet face to face with the brokers and management teams. He has also conducted more than 40 presentations, and has a significant role in increasing uptake of designated agency as a brokerage business mode.
Within the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) at RECA, there has also been greater adoption of the Voluntary Broker Resolution Process (VBRP). The VBRP is a great example of industry professionals taking responsibility for their actions, embracing the spirit of self-regulation and working to improve the industry and enhance consumer protection. In a way, industry professionals are placing the “self” at the centre of self-regulation.
Also within the PSU has been a greater emphasis on scalable enforcement. RECA has adopted a scalable enforcement policy, through which, industry professionals, when in breach of the Act or Rules, will receive sanction that can and will escalate upon future occurrences of the same activity. This provides industry professionals with an opportunity to take corrective action and learn from past mistakes. This policy also serves as a means through which RECA strives for regulatory balance and right-touch regulation. RECA’s approach to compliance and enforcement focuses on providing information, advice and suggestions for change in future behaviour. However, when necessary, RECA will utilize the full range and level of sanctions available in its overall strategy to obtain industry compliance and protection of consumers.
This past year also saw the launch of an extensive consultation process with industry professionals and related stakeholders into proposed amendments to the Real Estate Act. The amendments RECA has detailed in its consultation paper will enhance consumer protection, particularly as it relates to the Assurance Fund; enhance professionalism; level the playing field, particularly as it relates to financial institutions; create greater operational efficiencies within RECA; and codify some of the existing internal processes, which already work demonstrably well – such as the Consent Agreement process. While the consultation process for Act amendments has yet to conclude, the process itself is further movement forward in RECA’s desire to strengthen the regulation for the industry and create a true regulatory balance.
While RECA has heard from many industry professionals that they are pleased with the progress forward, and RECA itself feels similarly, RECA remains committed to continued progress; continued enhancement of the industry; and the continued raising of standards and professionalism.
Bob Myroniuk, Executive Director, Real Estate Council of Alberta
What changes have you made to your practice in the past year? What steps have you taken to improve the industry and/or enhance consumer protection and professionalism?