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Opinion: For our business, CREA’s new policy is good business

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I value the two ideals of transparency and integrity. They have been the cornerstones of my Calgary real estate brand for nearly two decades. I know many others who have also built healthy, fit business models based on the same core values for success.

So, when CREA recently announced the new Realtor Cooperation Policy, I welcomed it as a robust advancement of standards in an industry where upping our game means raising our stature among our clients. Consumers have rightful expectations and demands of us as advisors to be trust-worthy partners in their life decision(s) to buy or sell a home. 

How do we deliver on those expectations and demands? With transparency and integrity.

I have landed on my current worldview of the real estate industry as one of desired cooperation, professionalism, and collaboration. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t seen it all – from the practice of pocket listing and off-market sales to the “hush-hush” for sale signs on front lawns saying exclusive listing and corruptive coming soon marketing (those pre-listing ads that bypass MLS and Realtor.ca so a property can be sold without ever reaching the system). 

CREA’s new policy, which takes effect next year, seeks to bring integrity and value to the MLS by making it mandatory to place listing(s) on board/association MLS systems within three days of public marketing. In strengthening cooperation, it will reinforce our qualifications as professionals, meet consumer needs and bolster both the MLS and Realtor trademarks, according to CREA.

Back-door and closed-door deals aren’t in the interest of the buyer or the seller. 

Unless you’re running a coming soon program with total integrity, this new standard will hit you in the gut, especially if you’re building a business model on it. A “coming soon” program is intended to create excitement for the day that it launches to the public, not to generate leads to sell prematurely with limited visibility in the marketplace. Many buyers have missed out on properties that sold off-market, and that frustrating message has been clearly received from the public over the last couple of years. One can also argue that sellers have left a lot of money on the table – with limited visibility when selling off-market with a coming soon or pocket listing program.

The goal of a well-respected coming soon program is to pre-market a property with fairness and access to all on the MLS and Realtor.ca. Without ever reaching the online listing destinations and demographics it is intended for, it is inevitable the honest intention of coming soon marketing will become a broken promise to the consumer because something that’s supposed to be coming soon never comes at all.

All of this is misconduct, and it is not in the best interest of the consumer or all the advisors that work diligently by the book every day in this business. We have been running our own program exclusively through the Justin Havre team for more than two years. Not then, nor now, have we ever allowed any buyers access to view a property before it is available for public viewing — not to buyers of agents on our team, not even to team members for their own personal purchases. Not to anyone.

We will market ‘coming soon’ listings for 7-14 days. We also have an addendum to the listing agreement outlining the entire program that the seller and the listing agent sign. From our experience running this program, if a seller wants to extract as much money as possible from the sale, the property must be available to the public so that the seller can have the greatest number of buyers bidding for it. 

 For our team, our program integrity and the highest level of seller representation win out every time. The more visibility of homes for sale, the more attractive to buyers. The more buyers looking, the more attractive to sellers. The policy has it right. 

The Realtor Cooperation Policy addresses and eliminates the shadiest of practices by some outliers. 

This measure of the policy to avoid further erosion of public trust and confidence in the real estate industry as a whole comes on the heels of the two-year-old Clear Cooperation Policy introduced by the National Association of Realtors in the U.S. After CREA spent almost two years working on creating this policy, and consulting with local real estate boards and associations here in Canada, the consensus was obvious: We need the same thing across our industry. In the U.S., advisors only have one day after public marketing to list on MLS. We have three. 

The more listings posted to MLS, the more beneficial and valuable the platform becomes to home sellers and buyers. The Canadian real estate business cannot afford to lose listings. According to the conclusions of a whitepaper commissioned by CREA, having “more listings on MLS increases the value for both buyers and sellers through network effects.” 

While this is a massive shift, it is also a loud-and-clear message to the consumer that, as industry members, we will use the front door, not the back door, to make sure everyone has access to see or bid on a property. 

For our business, this is good business. 


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