Peak Leadership Summit
OREA kicked off 2020 with a bang by hosting our annual PEAK Leadership Summit. OREA expanded the Summit Day, hosted an innovative two-day Executive Officer Symposium, doubled the director development sessions, and upgraded all leadership courses. These enhancements resulted in a 97% satisfaction rating, with 94% of attendees saying they are likely to attend again and 89% saying they would recommend the Summit to a colleague.
Reality 2020 -
An Epic Success
In February, OREA hosted its most successful conference to date in Niagara Falls. REALiTY 2020 provided over 1,000 attendees with opportunities for professional development, networking and a chance to hear about what’s happening in Ontario real estate from world-famous companies, speakers, and industry leaders. The lineup featured heavyweights like Seth Godin, Molly Bloom, Chris Voss, Kourtney Wilson, and Jeff the Landscaper. And in the evenings, OREA kept the party going with networking events Vegas North and YPN BOOST.
February 27, 2020
During OREA’s REALiTY conference, OREA received the news of the passage of (Bill 145) Trust in Real Estate Services Act, 2019 (TRESA) at Queen’s Park on February 27, 2020. For ten years, OREA has been fighting to update the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002. We have fought for higher standards, better education, and modern business tools like personal real estate corporations. That hard work, dedication, and commitment paid off. TRESA is North American leading real estate legislation, which includes 20 recommendations by OREA, and a historic win for Ontario REALTORS®.
Home Buyers and Sellers Research
This ground-breaking research in partnership with Ipsos takes the pulse of 1,500 Ontarians. It offers incredible insights into what our province’s home buyers and sellers want from their REALTOR®. How did they choose which REALTOR® to work with? What kinds of properties are they looking for? What sites did they use for their online search and would they use the same REALTOR® again? Modelled after similar research from the National Association of REALTORS® (USA) this brand-new report is the only kind in Ontario.
Disruption in the Residential Real Estate Industry
OREA partnered with T3 Sixty to produce the Disruption in the Real Estate Industry report that looks at the disruption caused when technology, capital, and consumer demand line up.
In the report we put six industries under a microscope to help Members:
- Become more aware of the factors driving change in today’s connected society.
- Gain an understanding of how other industries are adapting to disruptive technology.
- Learn about new companies in the real estate industry.
- See the opportunities and risks that come with disruption.
Real Estate Named an Essential Service
When the provincial government shutdown was announced in mid-March, OREA’s first action to support its Members was to lobby for real estate to be on Ontario’s list of essential services. OREA’s Members had the backs of their clients. They worried about the impact of the pandemic on their real estate needs. Whether they were on the point of selling or midway through a transaction, real estate transactions needed to be finalized or the potential loss to home buyers and sellers could be devastating. Being included on the list of essential services was about helping people who were caught in urgent circumstances to follow through. It did not mean business as usual, but it did not mean no business at all.
COVID-19 Guidance: Brokerages and REALTORS®
In March, OREA pivoted quickly to support its Members and brokerages when COVID-19 was designated a pandemic. One of the early actions was to provide critical guidance related to real estate practices during the lockdown and other COVID-19 restrictions that reflect changing regulations around safety protocols. Members were turning to the Association to breakdown and explain the government regulations, which was evident in the significant spike in engagement rates on OREA’s social media channels, OREA’s online COVID-19 Hub, and in guidance-themed emails being sent to Members.
Support for Local Boards
When the provincial shutdown happened, there was no playbook for leaders about what to do in a pandemic. OREA’s Leadership Team was quick to jump into action to assist Board Leaders and rolled out a suite of offerings to support local Boards, including a series of COVID-19 Response webinars; crisis communications support; virtual AGM and committee support; free Zoom licenses for Member Boards, and personal coaching sessions for Executive Officers. It was important to OREA to equip its leaders with the skills and knowledge to respond to a rapidly changing environment.
State of Emergency Clauses
When the Ontario government announced a State of Emergency on March 17, OREA's Standard Forms team quickly reacted to Members' needs. It launched six new State of Emergency Clauses for Members' use in real estate transactions. This enabled REALTORS® to navigate virtual transactions during the pandemic. OREA rolled out four Forms State of Emergency webinars drawing over 5,500 attendees to explain how to use the forms.
Online COVID-19 Hub
In a year like 2020, information is an essential service. Recognizing the need to make it easy for Members to find information online early on, OREA created oreacovid19info.com as a one-stop source for the latest resources, news, and updates throughout COVID-19. Launched in April 2020, the site attracted 92,450 unique users, generated 479,500 page views with 134,110 sessions between April 1 and December 16, 2020. It’s still live in 2021, and until this pandemic is brought under control, OREA will keep offering this one-stop hub.
COVID-19 Relief Funding
OREA president Sean Morrison knew extraordinary measures were needed to respond to COVID-19. He quickly worked with the OREA Board of Directors in the spring to create a relief package for Members, Member Boards, and Ontarians that focused on three areas:
- Emergency enhancements to Member products and services.
- Offering new COVID-19 focused products and services; and
- Giving back to Ontario communities.
With a total of $3 million, the OREA Board of Directors approved a relief program to support the professional and personal lives of its Members, staff at Member Boards, and Ontarians.
Giving Back: Relief Funding
At OREA, we recognized that the COVID-19 public health crisis had an immediate impact on the province’s already stretched shelter system. Throughout Ontario, shelters and food banks found their organizations struggling to respond to increased demand, new procedures, and outbreaks.
In response, OREA and the Ontario REALTORS Care® Foundation teamed up on a $480,000 donation to over 100 food- and shelter-based charities province-wide. Recognizing the sudden vulnerability of these invaluable non-profits, the two organizations responded quickly to their need for financial support.
Growing our Members’ Leadership Skills
As part of OREA’s We Have Your Back COVID-19 Relief Plan, we were pleased to offer our popular Leadership 200 course: Becoming a Leader free to all Members. Member feedback for this new online course is high, achieving a 92% satisfaction rate. Because of our offer, enrollment spiked by 600 per cent. The course, which normally costs $125, continues to be free until June 2021.
Supporting our Members Wellbeing
OREA has your back. Today and every day. Professionally and personally. That’s why OREA partnered with Morneau Shepell to bring its Members and local Board staff, LifeWorks as part of OREA’s We Have Your Back COVID-19 Relief Plan. Lifeworks provides access to mental health, physical, social and financial support, referrals, and resources 24/7, 365 days a year. Whenever our community needs support to help cope, Lifeworks is there for them. Our program launch video had over 100,000 views, and the program has been renewed as a Member service for three years.
Pulse Check on Consumer Attitudes
As part of our We Have Your Back – COVID-19 Relief Plan, OREA partnered with Nanos Research to deliver four rounds of research into the minds of Ontario’s home buyers and sellers. Our Pulse Check reports gave REALTORS® insight into how the pandemic is shifting consumer attitudes and perceptions towards real estate. More than 1,200 Members attended three live panel webinars, where real estate and research experts discussed the results and took questions in real time from the audience. The research generated 116 media hits with a reach of 32,773,120.
OREA and RBC Team Up
To help support our Members and their businesses during the extraordinary times we saw in 2020, OREA partnered with the Royal Bank of Canada. This joint effort delivered two new free services to provide access to leading market insight and financial advice.
As part of OREA’s We Have Your Back – COVID-19 Relief Plan for REALTORS®, OREA presented a four-part series of webinars attended by over 5,000 Members. We also offered free financial advice sessions with a local advisor province-wide.
OREA Champions Inclusion in the Industry
Amid social unrest beginning with George Floyd's death in the United States, OREA stepped up and issued a statement to building stronger communities without racism. To turn words into action, OREA established the Presidential Advisory Group (PAG) on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as part of its commitment to address systemic racism and promote inclusion in Ontario’s housing and real estate sectors.
College Launches Online Exams
When it became clear that the pandemic would impact students at the College, OREA investigated how it could conduct online exams as an alternative to our traditional in-person sessions. After thoroughly researching providers in the marketplace, we partnered with Verificient. This company met our stringent requirements for live-proctored exams. By December 31, 2020, over 23,000 online exams have been written. In response to the pandemic's impact on students, the College announced an extension to its closure to June 2021.
Rebuilding Ontario: A Framework for Recovery
In September, OREA released Rebuilding Ontario: A Framework for Recovery, which brought forward 15 policy recommendations demonstrating how housing could act as the provincial economic recovery engine coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. OREA lobbied over 80 MPPs on three of the fifteen recommendations, including a temporary exemption from the provincial Land Transfer Tax, a provincial Home Renovation Tax Credit and the implementation of Opportunity Zones in Ontario.
Personal Real Estate Corporations
On October 1st, 2020, the Provincial government brought forward Ontario’s new rules for forming Personal Real Estate Corporations (PRECs). OREA advocated for Ontario’s PREC model to provide the greatest tax savings to REALTORS® while requiring the least amount of administrative burden necessary to create. To guide our Members through the process of forming a PREC, OREA held a webinar that was attended by over 6,000 Members, created a comprehensive guide to forming a PREC, and published a number of Frequently Asked Questions related to some of the more common situations surrounding PREC formation.
OREA’s Young Professional Network
2020 saw significant development in OREA’s Young Professional Network (YPN). YPN launched a successful Master Series featuring ten episodes with 1,760 Members joining live. The series explored innovative ideas with experts and are archived on YouTube. To gain greater insight into discovering more about what Members want in the network, YPN participated in OREA’s September Research Community Survey. This year, the network grew 30 per cent to more than 3,000 Members and was featured in two OREA podcasts to raise the group’s profile.
Ontario REALTOR® Party Speaker Series
This fall, OREA continued to connect our Members with the best and the brightest minds in politics from the comfort of their homes with our first-ever virtual Ontario REALTOR® Party Speaker Series. OREA hosted Canada’s 18th Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, and Premier Doug Ford, former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, and U.S. Political Strategist Donna Brazile. More than 5,000 viewers tuned in live.
2020 Ontario Budget
OREA received good news in the provincial budget released in November 2020, where the Province committed to two of OREA’s recommendations, including implementing a new Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit and lowering the Business Education Tax rate for commercial real estate. Both recommendations were featured in OREA’s Rebuilding Ontario: A Framework for Recovery policy report. This announcement showed the strength of the REALTOR® voice in Ontario and the result of the work done by our 37 real estate boards and leaders during the MPP meetings conducted in the fall.
Mentor to Mentee Connection (M2M)
This OREA mentorship program is designed to increase the number of candidates running in OREA board elections and attract more diverse candidates. Mentors are selected from Members who have served on the OREA Board of Directors and have a passion for developing talent. Mentees are REALTORS® interested in advancing in their volunteer role and who want to build their leadership skills. Together they help develop our leaders of tomorrow. In 2020, 14 mentees participated in the program, including networking, one-on-one mentor meetings, and additional development opportunities.
OREA Member Connect
An ambitious program to call all our Members to find out how they are coping during this time of confinement, make sure they are aware of OREA's We Have Your Back: COVID-19 Relief Plan, update their contact information and gather their feedback on OREA’s services. Since May 2020, over 75,000 calls have been made, over 30,000 records updated, including 93% opting back to receive our communications. Positive feedback on OREA’s services and this initiative by 98% of the Members called.
Throughout 2020, OREA’s CEO Tim Hudak and President Sean Morrison participated in 99 speaking engagements – meetings, town halls, and webinars – with Members, and industry and local leaders, reaching an audience of over 2,000. These speaking opportunities are invaluable for two reasons. Firstly, OREA's leaders can share updates, guidance, and information to help REALTORS® do their job and cope with the impact of the pandemic. Secondly, these engagements provide OREA with the chance to receive input and guidance on our Members’ top priorities.
OREA AI Chatbot
In 2020, we were excited to launch OREA’s AI chatbot. This online tool allows Members to interact with OREA 24/7 and get answers to frequently asked questions on various topics, including standard forms, advocacy, the Real Estate College, etc. The AI chatbot played a substantial part in communicating OREA’s responses to the pandemic with Members. With over 15,000 Member interactions and 32,000 questions stored in its knowledgebase so far, the AI chatbot continues to assist our Members by responding to their questions around the clock.
The Real Estate Addition Podcast
In season three of The Real Estate Addition podcast, OREA changed things up. We welcomed a new host, new branding, and a new structure. Airing the second Tuesday of every month, listeners tuned in to hear industry experts talk about everything from Standard Forms, to building a successful brand, to the impact that COVID-19 has had on the housing market. We also launched our first-ever bonus REALiTY podcast series and produced 35% more content this year, featuring interviews with high profile speakers from our REALiTY 2020 conference.
In 2020, we kept hearing from OREA Members that our Standard Forms and Forms Resources are the most valuable tools offered by the Association. By the end of the year, there were over 200 Forms and 300 Clauses available. Throughout 2020, Forms webinars set records with over 12,000 Members attending 13 webinars. The Forms Explained resource files grew by 42% (25 new files), increasing our Forms Explained resources to 82. The Forms AI Bot has doubled its training data content and assisted Members in answering their questions and locating resources, with close to 200 Member interactions per month.
In 2020, the REALTOR® community responded with incredible resilience and leadership on behalf of their clients and their profession, as they faced unprecedented challenges both professionally and personally.
Whatever 2021 brings: we know that our mission of helping Ontario REALTORS® succeed in building stronger communities has never been more relevant and necessary.