Plans to create provincewide real estate board fail

"Our board specifically believed it was a good step for us and for our industry in general..."

Anthony Bastiannssen said changes to the board structure would most noticeably have offered more access to information for clients looking to buy a property in a different market area from where they live.

It has majority support but isn’t going to happen.

That is the end result of a proposal to amalgamate 11 different real estate boards across the province under one association, which failed to reach the required vote approval threshold.

The various boards would have joined administrative forces with the B.C. Real Estate Association to form a new professional association for provincial real estate agents called Realtors of B.C.

The South Okanagan Real Estate Board voted 79 per cent in favour of the merger, passing its bylaw stipulated 75 per cent mark.

The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board voted 56 per cent in favour, falling short of the 67 per cent approval requirement.

Votes for the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board and Kamloops and District Real Estate Association also failed to reach the approval threshold, despite each receiving more than 50 per cent support.

The vote outcome came as a disappointment for OMREB president Anthony Bastiaanssen, who said his board has worked the past two years on the proposal.

“Our board specifically believed it was a good step for us and for our industry in general,” Bastiaanssen said.

“We invested a substantial amount of time and resources to get to this point, so it’s disappointing we are not moving forward.”

He said the merger would have created administrative efficiency and cost effectiveness results, created a single unified voice to speak for B.C. realtors regarding client relationships and the ability to create provincewide professional standards, education and members client service enhancements.

“It would have allowed realtors in B.C. to provide better services to consumers,” Bastiaanssen said.

“The days of localized realtors focused on local customers with local market professional rules and regulations are gone in our industry. The concept of localization has been made redundant by advanced technology.”

For the consumer, Bastiaansen said the changes would most noticeably have offered more access to information for clients looking to buy a property in a different market area from where they live.

Deanne Horn, a Langley realtor and president of the B.C. Real Estate Association which represents more than 20,000 realtors across the province, said one outcome would have been to create a single MLS system to service the entire province.

“Right now someone in Vancouver can access realtor.ca to look for properties in Kelowna, but the information available is not as detailed as what you find on the MLS system for that market,” Horn said.

Horn said pooling resources and acting more collectively as an industry felt some pushback from those real estate board members not wanting change, preferring to keep the sense of professional independence in a given region, and to some extent discouraging realtors, although licensed to work anywhere in B.C., from working in their markets by adopting region specific rules and regulations

“Different boards have different views on how it all should work, and maybe we need to get more information out there to our members to allow them to think it through, but this initiative would have been away to improve services we can provide to our clients,” Horn said.

Garry Gratton, president of the South Okanagan Real Estate Board, said realtors recognize there are many new opportunities to improve professional services for clients.

“The reorganization proposal was intended to improve the support structure known as Organized Real Estate, which is the governing and administrative body responsible for the daily operation and function of the real estate industry across the province,” Gratton said.

“As it is, we are constantly striving and planning for the future and how we can best work together to serve the public, our clients, to the best of our professional abilities.”

Bastiaanssen said what happens next within his industry will likely be the main topic of discussion at the next joint real estate board and association meeting in January.

“It’s a bit of an unknown where we go next but I’m sure it will be a topic of discussion,” he said.