Here’s a rundown on who looks after what in Canada’s real estate industry

 want to keep track of what’s happening in the real estate industry in Ontario. Where do I look for information I can trust? Which organization is looking out for me?

The acronyms for real estate organizations in Ontario can resemble alphabet soup. Some of the most prominent of those acronyms include: RECO, TRREB, OREA and CREA. There are local, provincial and national real estate associations.

There are 38 or so real estate boards, with representatives and professionals as members, across the province. The largest is the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board — TRREB — which is likely also the most widely known since their market analyses, reports and statistics are often quoted in the news.

The provincial and national associations are the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). They are industry trade associations that provide various services to their membership and lobby legislators at Queen’s Park, and on Parliament Hill, respectively.

It’s important to remember that TRREB, OREA and CREA represent the interests of real estate salespeople. All three play important roles in advancing the real estate industry, and they perform a valuable service by speaking up for their members and supporting their business needs and operations.

RECO is a consumer protection organization that regulates real estate salespersons, brokers and brokerages according to the laws created by the provincial government. Specifically, ensuring theReal Estate Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA, 2002), its code of ethics and other regulations are followed.

One of the ways RECO does this is by providing buyers, sellers and the general public with information and advice regarding property transactions, their rights, and everyone’s obligations. RECO also establishes education prerequisites for the registration of industry reps, and oversees mandatory continuing education for salespersons and brokers trading real estate. RECO also administers an insurance program for real estate professionals that provides consumer deposit protection, and other safeguards.

In the field, RECO inspection and investigations teams visit brokerage offices to ensure that the more-than 85,000 registered real estate professionals in Ontario are complying with the law. Other teams address inquiries, concerns and complaints about the conduct of real estate professionals in the marketplace.

Sometimes salespeople make honest mistakes, and those may result in a warning or requiring the salesperson complete additional educational courses. As well, it is RECO’s job to investigate allegations of serious misconduct and ensure any wrongdoing is prosecuted. Penalties are significant, including fines of up to $50,000 for individuals and registration in the industry either revoked or suspended.

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