Colloque immobilier: A winning event for brokerage and for the public
The event was unique, and so was its success. On October 5 at the Centre Mont-Royal, some 500 real estate and mortgage brokers, along with several professionals from the legal and building inspection community, came together at the OACIQ’s Colloque immobilier to discuss current industry issues.
By the end of this exchange-filled day, marked by the tabling in the National Assembly of the bill amending the Real Estate Brokerage Act, participants had truly contributed to the advancement and innovation of real estate and mortgage brokerage in Québec, all in an effort to optimize public protection, thus enabling the OACIQ to fulfil its aim.
OACIQ President and CEO Nadine Lindsay set the table by describing the purpose of this event: “The reason is simple: one of the main and most sensitive aspects of real estate is the public being able to trust that they can engage in a worry-free real estate or mortgage transaction, and benefit from the protection of the Real Estate Brokerage Act should a problem arise.”
After reporting on the OACIQ’s initiatives to preserve this trust, she recalled the important role played by agency executive officers, to be further explored in a workshop.
Here are some of the highlights from the conferences and panels, which were followed by closing remarks from Michel Léonard, Chairman of the OACIQ Board of Directors.
Real estate markets outlook
Participants learned that, contrary to what is often reported, Québec’s economic outlook is bright.
Using statistical tables, Kevin Hughes, CMHC’s Regional Economist for Québec, showed that disposable income is going up and consumer confidence is above the Canadian average. His predictions: the resale market will tighten up and the demand for co-ownership properties will remain high.
For his part, Mario Lefebvre, Vice-President, Research, Global Real Estate Markets for Ivanhoé Cambridge, recounted that one of the main issues to keep an eye on will be the residential trends of baby boomers, as this will be a special clientele to serve.
Workshop for agency executive officers
Agency executive officers took part in a workshop where the OACIQ’s compliance program – in other words the regulator’s expectations – was discussed. Concrete tools were introduced to agency executive officers to assist them in this task.
Guest speaker Yves Tourangeau, a partner with the firm of Gilbert Simard Tremblay, highlighted the importance of the AEO’s role as a responsible and competent model: “Agencies are responsible for the errors that their brokers can make in the performance of their duties. They share responsibility with their brokers,” said he.
OACIQ Director of Litigation Karoline Khelfa noted that protecting the public and improving the image of real estate brokerage starts with competent AEOs. They must advise, coach and supervise the brokers acting on behalf of their agency.
To this end, the Organization plans to help AEOs by implementing practical management tools, mentioned Georges Bardagi, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors. Thus the OACIQ will soon set up consultation groups made up of AEOs from all regions of Québec and will go meet with them, announced Sofy Bourret, OACIQ Vice-President of Communications.
Panel on the evolution of co-ownership properties
An expert panel helped participants gain a better understanding of the issues surrounding co-ownership management, along with possible solutions.
Yves Joli-Cœur, senior partner with the firm of De Grandpré Joli-Cœur, observed that one out of every two co-ownership properties has an insufficient contingency fund, which leads to work deferrals, and therefore to a maintenance deficit. “We forget that the people who sit on the boards of directors of co-ownership properties are untrained consumers. They need to be better helped and supported,” he remarked.
All experts in attendance felt that the current legislative oversight is inadequate. Adding to the comments of the other members of the panel, which included Christine Gagnon (associate professor at Université de Montréal’s law faculty), Johanne Lamanque (Vice-President, Québec, of the Insurance Bureau of Canada), and Jean-Pierre Lannoy (legal expert in co-ownership properties and provisional and judicial liquidator, Brussels), Ms. Lamanque summed up by saying: “Syndicates of co-owners must be brought to be more transparent, to keep their information up to date and make it available to buyers. And buyer awareness must be raised very early in the purchasing process.”
Adapt or perish
Over lunch, speaker and author Sylvain Guimond, funny and moving in turns, drew on his experience with world class athletes to illustrate how to take advantage of this opportunity to improve.
In two out of three businesses, the sought-after change doesn’t work out, mainly because, understandably, employees are reluctant “because change is like grief,” with all the attending stages.
For a change to work, he reminded the audience in his colourful manner, you need to explain the reason for the change (why it is needed, what it will do), consult, make a plan, communicate it clearly, adjust it as you go, and evaluate its success… “And last but not least, you have to celebrate your achievement!”
Mr. Guimond then stressed the importance of being human as a leader, because “the ones who succeed are authentic, generous, and are not afraid to show their vulnerable side. They are grounded, they know how to surround themselves with the right people, they know how to communicate, and they are grateful.”
Panel on the future of building inspection
In this panel, participants learned more about what needs to be corrected when it comes to the lack of consistency in inspection standards. Isabelle Viens, a lawyer with the firm Viens & Viens, said that reports by building inspectors are not legal expert reports and are severely viewed by the courts. Albert Arduini, a respected inspector, agreed that harmonized inspection standards would help reduce the number of lawsuits.
In response to a question from the audience, Ms. Viens stated that a presale inspection should be recommended to the seller by the broker. Among other things this could help avoid lowered offers.
Panel on best real estate oversight practices in Canada
This panel provided a very rare opportunity to hear how real estate and mortgage brokerage are overseen in other Canadian provinces. Panelists agreed on one thing: public expectations are increasing everywhere, and the tools we use to regulate real estate broker activities will need to be adapted quickly.
For example, there will be more and more representatives from the public on regulator boards of directors, and this is a good thing, because public trust is key, commented Joseph Richer, Registrar for the Real Estate Council of Ontario. “The best way to have the public’s trust is for you, as a broker, to be trustworthy,” noted Micheal Noseworthy, B.C.’s Superintendent of Real Estate.
For his part, Bob Mironyuk, General Manager of the Real Estate Council of Alberta, is of the opinion that “we regulators must be courageous by being independent from the professionals whom we regulate, and more transparent toward the public.”
“We need to inform agencies as early as possible about the rules to follow, and implement lighter and faster tools to remedy issues quickly,” concluded André Allard, Director of Legal Affairs for the Office de la protection du consommateur.
Revision of the Real Estate Brokerage Act
As chance would have it, Finance Minister Carlos Leitão tabled his bill amending the Real Estate Brokerage Act on the day of the Colloque, and participants, who were many and attentive on this late afternoon, had front-row seats to learn more on that subject.
Luc Pelletier, Director of Legal Affairs, and Karoline Khelfa, Director of Litigation of the OACIQ, shared their initial observations: “The government seems to be trying to better equip the OACIQ to oversee brokers,” summed up Mr. Pelletier.
The two speakers mentioned many sections that have been amended. They include the definition of the brokerage act, the make-up of the board of directors, fines, leasing, illegal brokerage, mortgage brokerage, the notion of beginner broker, and the role of the government when it comes to forms and contracts.
Consequently, added Mr. Pelletier and Ms. Khelfa, the OACIQ will take the necessary time to analyze the content of the bill and will issue its comments as soon as possible. In the meantime, it will be business as usual, and the OACIQ will continue to carry out its public protection mission.
To conclude this most interesting and content-rich day, the Chairman of the OACIQ Board of Directors, Michel Léonard, thanked all the speakers and panelists and commended participants on their open-mindedness: “The Colloque has been a unique opportunity to discuss among professionals, in an environment where change concerning real estate brokerage is sure to continue and even intensify.”
He asked participants to keep the momentum going: “Let’s continue to move forward in the search for winning solutions; let’s continue to be demanding of ourselves in order to act in the best interest of the public. And you can count on the OACIQ to be the driver of this progress!”
A winning strategy
The holding of the Colloque immobilier is part of the Organization’s strategic approach to promote a culture of compliance among OACIQ authorized professionals and reinforce the oversight of real estate and mortgage brokerage.
“In an industry where practices face new challenges, and with the opportunity presented by the revision of the Real Estate Brokerage Act, I firmly believe that initiatives such as this event will help us improve the way we carry out our role as Québec’s real estate and mortgage brokerage regulator,” concluded OACIQ Chairman Michel Léonard.