Real estate can often be a volatile market with ever-changing regulations and trends, making it difficult for businesses and individuals to keep up with every aspect on their own. That’s where associations step in.
Most realty associations are not-for-profit organizations that are made up of a volunteer board with a goal of offering leadership, advocacy and support to members of the industry. Becoming a member of a real estate association can open many doors for opportunities to which professionals may not otherwise have access including, but not limited, to licensing, networking, technical products or tools and continuing education.
In the Edmonton region, there are several associations that support different aspects of the industry. If you are looking for support as a residential construction professional, then your first stop should be the Canadian Home Builders’ Association-Edmonton Region (CHBA-ER).
Describing the CHBA-ER, Marie Soprovich, president, explains. “We are a not-for-profit, volunteer driven organization that has fostered a community for the residential construction industry by supporting members through advocacy, education, and recognition.”
Soprovich continues. “The Association is the voice and go-to resource for the industry, representing approximately 75 per cent of all building permits issued in the region. CHBA-ER is a three-tiered association working to represent the residential construction industry locally, provincially, and nationally.
“CHBA-ER works to foster reciprocal relationships with local governments and key stakeholders to influence economic and regulatory reform initiatives to preserve affordability, quality, and choice in housing. This is done by working with the industry on solutions that support housing affordability, ensuring politics and process improvements support building better homes without adding costs, and supporting a variety of housing types.”
Soprovich further points out, “The residential construction industry in the Edmonton region is a network of local businesses that represents more than 47,000 jobs, $3.2 billion in annual wages and $7.1 billion in annual investment. From greenfield to infill, CHBA-ER represents more than 475 member companies that service every area of the residential construction industry, building and renovating everything from low-rise single family homes to high-rise apartments.”
Advocacy is an important part of real estate support associations, and as Soprovich shows, the CHBA-ER takes this very seriously. “Recently, CHBA-ER worked with the City of Edmonton on its Safety Codes Inspection Efficiency Project, which uses artificial intelligence to allow for risk-based home inspections. This project resulted in a reduced number of required inspections, saving time and money for those in the industry.”
The REALTORS® Association of Edmonton (RAE) provides comprehensive services for REALTORS®. Jennifer Lucas, chair, explains their goal in supporting real estate agents in the Edmonton region. “The REALTORS® Association of Edmonton is a membership-based organization that represents 29 municipalities. Our main goal is to provide technical products, services and training to enhance the member experience. Those products include, but are not limited to, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), lockboxes and software that enable our members to be as productive as possible while providing exceptional professional services to the consumer. RAE also provides in-house professional development tools such as new agent training, webforms, REALTORS® safety, and video production, for example.”
Similar to the CHBA-ER advocating for home builders, the RAE advocates for local, provincial, and national support.
Lucas says, “The REALTORS® Association of Edmonton advocates municipally and continues to provide relevant data, when requested, to ensure that leaders have the context they need to make the appropriate decisions regarding housing stock for their region. We also work in partnership with our provincial and national associations to ensure that the collective voice within the real estate community is heard.”
Lucas continues, “Most recent efforts include advocating for regional changes to the stress test (Bill 20), a federal policy intended to put downward pressure on pricing in Vancouver and Toronto but has had unintended consequences in other jurisdictions, causing a slowdown in the market for first time home buyers and also resulting in stolen equity for current homeowners. We have called on the federal government to regionalize the stress test. Through the industry’s advocacy efforts, several of Alberta municipalities and the provincial government have been pressing on the federal government to implement regionally focused changes that will alleviate pressures on Alberta homeowners.”
These advocacy efforts show that there is an ongoing need for real estate support associations to speak up on behalf of professionals in the industry. When changes to regulations and laws occur, advocacy from these associations are paramount in ensuring real estate professionals have a voice in helping the industry come out stronger.
Continuing education is a service that many real estate support associations offer and is important in keeping real estate agents up-to-date on the regulations, latest trends and skills they need for a competitive edge.
Nathan Mol, REALTOR® with Liv Real Estate says, “I think continuing education in real estate can be broken down into three categories: traditional formal sales training and seminars, regulatory and technical training, and what I would call self-directed on-going learning. At this point in my career, after 12 years I really focus more on the second two. Some formal sales training can be useful when first starting out in real estate, but I think it is often overhyped and not a silver bullet for success. Regulatory and technical training is an important part of raising the bar on industry knowledge and standards and can take the form of being mandatory by our governing bodies or additional optional training on subjects such as condominiums, land titles, or foreclosures, for example.”
Mol continues, “I really think being focused on ongoing learning and skills improvement is where agents can set themselves apart. The possibilities are really endless, but personally I have an interest in constantly improving on areas of marketing, human behavior and negotiation, as well as infill development, urban planning, and home design and construction.”
Speaking about a recent real estate trend, Mol explains. “There has been an inclination in the past few years across North America (including Edmonton) for buyers to be looking for right-size homes in more central, walkable locations rather than larger suburban homes with longer commutes on the outer areas of cities. Lifestyle and access to unique amenities is a growing trend not just for Millennials but for, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers as well. To continually improve my knowledge in areas related to this trend, I have attended numerous training and information sessions provided by the City of Edmonton Planning and Development Dept, volunteer on my local community league board, and I also recently completed an infill certification provided by Infill Development in Edmonton Association for builders.”
Whether you are a long time professional in the real estate industry or just starting out, real estate associations provide valuable support and access to additional tools and resources you can utilize for a competitive edge, and they advocating on your behalf for the benefit of the industry.