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CREA CEO Michael Bourque to step down

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When Michael Bourque stepped into the role of CEO for the Canadian Real Estate Association in 2018, the country’s lack of housing supply was not widely acknowledged by the government or consumers. 

Five years later, all levels of government are addressing the supply crisis in some shape or form and implementing plans to increase housing for Canadians.

Bourque believes CREA’s advocacy played a significant role in that shift. 

“We’ve not only convinced people that there is a supply problem, but we’ve managed to get a lot of new government policy and attention on that fact,” Bourque explains. “Just in the last couple of years, we’ve managed to get political parties to have housing in their platform. Something that hadn’t happened before.”

Bourque’s resignation 


Bourque has shared that his tenure as CREA’s leader will come to an end this December — on his terms. In an interview with Real Estate Magazine, the CEO revealed the reason behind his decision to step down didn’t hinge on a single factor, though he was blunt about the fact that the role is “a very demanding job.”

He explains, “I’ve had a lot of different changes in my career, and the one thing I’ve learned is that whenever you start something new, it’s always a little bit scary. You’re pushed out of your comfort zone, but at the same time, it’s really invigorating to learn something new, to take on a new challenge.” 

Bourque shares his belief that a CEO has a limited shelf life, typically ranging from five to seven years. He feels it’s time for new leadership to bring fresh ideas and drive change at CREA. 


Challenges and achievements


When Bourque first sat down with Real Estate Magazine in Dec. 2018, he had a strategic plan focusing on three pillars: advocacy, and reputation. Over the past five years (six by the time he leaves the organization), Bourque has operated with laser focus, never veering far from his priorities.

Under the advocacy pillar, he says CREA successfully raised awareness about the housing supply issue — particularly its impact on aspiring millennial homeowners. 

Bourque highlights the significance of municipal barriers to housing supply while emphasizing the federal government’s role in addressing the issue. He explained that by funding transit systems, the federal government could influence urban development. 

Bourque says it was CREA’s suggestion to link transit funding with housing proximity, “Before we came up with that suggestion, it wasn’t on the government’s radar.”


Realtor reputation


Enhancing realtor reputation became another critical focus. The organization transitioned from a marketing campaign solely focused on the risks of not using a realtor to a more comprehensive approach. 

Through targeted advertising, CREA emphasizes the specific values and benefits that realtors provide to clients. By implementing scientific measures to assess behaviour changes resulting from their marketing efforts, Bourque says the association witnessed positive shifts in the perception and understanding of the profession.

He also addressed the issue of professionalism within the industry, saying, “We believe that it’s a privilege to call yourself a realtor. Not every real estate agent is a realtor. And if you want to call yourself a realtor, it means that you have to follow the Realtor Code.”

The CEO explains CREA implemented measures to enforce the Realtor Code, ensuring that agents adhere to the highest ethical standards.


Bourque recalls an incident at a conference shortly after he started his role as CEO. He remembers a speaker mentioning him by name and expressing concerns about the potential downfall of due to new competition entering the market. 

“Five years later, we’ve not only survived, but we’ve become the number one platform. And it’s because of a lot of the great changes that we’ve made.” advancements under Bourque’s leadership include incorporating sold data into listings, enhancing the consumer experience with features like walking scores and school catchment areas, and prioritizing mobile accessibility; the CEO affirms solidified its position as the go-to platform for consumers. 

“We can’t rely on member dues to fund what is essentially an extremely valuable technology company.”

– Michael Bourque, CREA CEO, on


Amidst the uncertainty of’s future, Bourque remains optimistic that CREA’s partner boards and associations will rally behind the transformation into a for-profit entity during the upcoming vote in October.

“ has the opportunity to create a lot of income for itself, which needs to be reinvested in the platform so that we can continue to maintain that leadership position,” the CEO emphasizes. 

“We can’t rely on member dues to fund what is essentially an extremely valuable technology company.”

Patrick Pichette, vice president of, recognizes Bourque’s dedication to the platform.

“Michael consistently empowered our team through his leadership and hard work…he was the driving force behind many initiatives that support our members in their daily business activities,” Pichette said in an email. “His leadership style and friendship will be missed by everyone in the office.”


“Michael tries to get the most out of everybody; he really allowed the senior staff to grow.”

– Jason Stephen, 2019 president, CREA


Realtor Jason Stephen, who served as CREA’s 2019 president, echoes Pichette’s praises of Bourque’s leadership style, highlighting his quiet demeanour and sense of humour helped maximize the potential of the staff.

“Michael tries to get the most out of everybody; he really allowed the senior staff to grow,” Stephen explains.

Stephen also acknowledged the CEO’s leadership in implementing swift changes. Notably, he says Bourque led the transition to virtual annual general meetings and other virtual events, adapting quickly to the challenges posed by the pandemic, adding, “He has navigated our association through some very difficult times, there’s no question.”

“You learned a lot about leaders during that time, and he was a very humane leader,” says CREA’s Vice President of Advocacy, Linda Kristal. “I think that helped everybody perform under such an extreme circumstance.”

She emphasizes the importance of message discipline, a lesson she learned from Bourque, in effectively engaging with the government. Kristal recognizes Bourque’s role in shaping the conversation and focusing government stakeholders on the supply crisis.

“That’s a lesson that will carry forward through my career because it was that message of discipline when you’re trying to get attention.”

Bourque’s legacy, according to Kristal, includes a disciplined and data-driven approach, encouraging the team to raise the bar in their work. Within the industry, his legacy lies in changing the conversation in Ottawa to prioritize supply and promoting an all-hands-on-deck approach to the housing crisis. 


“We need to move at the speed of business. And often, we don’t even move at the speed of government.”

– Michael Bourque, CREA CEO


Bourque answers frankly when asked about some of the industry’s more pressing challenges: “I think the industry itself is often at loggerheads. Sometimes we spend too much time talking to one another, and sometimes we don’t talk enough.” 

He emphasizes the need for faster decision-making and a greater focus on collaboration within the industry to keep pace with the evolving landscape.

“We need to move at the speed of business. And often, we don’t even move at the speed of government, so we need to learn to move more quickly to achieve a consensus and move forward. Because there is a lot more competition coming into real estate.”


Evolving perceptions 


Reflecting on his initial perceptions when he assumed the role in 2018, Bourque noted the nature of organized real estate. He says, “It’s much more complex and political than I would’ve expected, but that’s made it a very interesting challenge these past number of years.”

He’s also observed that many realtors primarily focus on serving clients and are often unaware of the impacts decisions made by boards and associations have on their business. 

“We have to try and engage all of those members…they need to be involved.”


The final months


With the end of his tenure approaching, Bourque shares his priorities for his final months in the role. He emphasizes the importance of initiatives like the future of and ongoing advocacy efforts to address the supply shortage in the housing market.

As the CEO prepares to pass the baton, Bourque urges his successor to prioritize effective communication and engagement, adding, “It’s a dynamic membership, so getting them to pay attention is sometimes hard. And at the same time, you need to make sure that your counterparts across the country are aware of what you’re doing. “

He emphasizes the significance of maintaining strong relationships with colleagues and ensuring that the efforts of CREA are well-known and understood by its members. Bourque expressed confidence in the team at CREA and encouraged his successor to trust their expertise while exploring opportunities in areas such as environmental sustainability.

The future leader of CREA will face the challenge of navigating a rapidly changing landscape while building upon the achievements and lessons learned during Bourque’s leadership.

And as for his future, Bourque and his wife are celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in December — he says they’ll mark the occasion with an extended trip to Europe. Beyond that milestone, he anticipates embarking on a new endeavour with the hopes of starting “something new” in 2024.


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