It’s safe to say that 2018 was a crazy year for real estate. We saw speculator taxes, mortgage stress tests, the end of the legal battle between the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) and the Competition Tribunal and a series of money laundering scandals in BC. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s newly released annual report acknowledges how eventful 2018 was. Though it prefers to put a positive spin on it, the REBGV does attempt to deal with the issue of unethical behaviour.
It seems real estate agents have something in common with lawyers. That is the disdain many people feel towards them. GVA Realtors’ reputation took a major dive following a number of money laundering scandals involving many real estate agents last year.
PR campaign attempts to improve reputation of Realtors
In order to improve the image of its members, as well as to provide a greater sense of accountability, the REBGV launched a public relations campaign in November. The main goal of this PR campaign is to improve the public’s perception of real estate agents in the Greater Vancouver Area. It’s also an attempt to demonstrate the value that Realtors bring to buyers and sellers.
According to Phil Moore, REBGV’s president, “The ads call to the public to ‘Take ownership of home ownership and choose the Realtor who’s right for you.’ […] 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.”
This campaign began with a number of radio, newspaper, and social media ads. It was expanded in January with a series of multilingual TV and online videos.
REBGV’s PR campaign will continue this year with a number of additional ads placed in several multi-media sources. The campaign starts in April.
The report does not try to hide the much-publicized cases of corruption among some of its members. It does make the claim that those stories aren’t the norm. Two-thirds of all REBGV disciplinary actions were about delayed access or offers, lockboxes abuses, or unsupervised showings.
Members must take responsibility and report abuses
However, the board admits that no amount of PR campaigns will improve its reputation unless its members take a greater sense of personal responsibility and speak up if they see any wrongdoing.
“Too often we see instances of misconduct and don’t file formal complaints,” Moore said. “I’ve heard Realtors say they don’t want to make waves with another Realtor. Instead, they want the Board to find the wrongdoers.”
In 2018, the board issued $107,000 in fines for unethical behaviour. It also ordered its members to take 35 educational courses on topics such as ethics, professionalism, and best practices. As of March 2019, the board issued $16,000 in fines. And it ordered its members to complete six courses and removed a member from the board.
In order to create a greater sense of accountability, REBGV publishes every disciplinary action in its newsletter. It is now considering whether to make those results available to the general public.