There are many commercial real estate professionals in Ottawa, but when it comes to standards of conduct, the commercial Realtors registered with the Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) are in a league of their own.
“Not only are OREB members required by law to abide by the code of ethics set out in the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act (REBBA), but as a requirement of membership in the Board, they must also abide by the Realtor Code, the Board’s bylaws, and MLS rules and regulations,” says Mike Lewicki, chair of OREB’s professional standards committee.
Each of these items serves a very specific purpose. Taken together, these regulations give buyers and sellers of commercial real estate confidence that their Realtors are always acting with their best interests in mind – and that any transgressions are handled swiftly and fairly.
And, for OREB members, the rules give commercial Realtors credibility among clients who know they belong to a well-governed, highly professionalized industry association.
Honesty, integrity and competition
The Realtor Code, in a nutshell, sets high standards of professional conduct for Realtors to protect the rights and interests of Canadians. Members commit themselves to “professional and competent service, absolute honesty and integrity in business dealings, utmost civility, co-operation with and fairness to all, and personal accountability through compliance with the Canadian Real Estate Association’s (CREA) Standards of Business Practice.”
OREB’s bylaws, meanwhile, identify the Realtor Code, CREA’s solicitation guidelines and the principles of competition as the minimum standard of practice for the conduct of all members.
“The Board enforces its rules, regulations, and bylaws through its professional standards processes and procedures,” says Lewicki. “We follow the principles of natural justice to ensure procedural fairness.”
The MLS rules and regulations, finally, govern OREB members’ use of the MLS System, a powerful sales tool that contains complete historical and current data on thousands of residential and commercial real estate transactions — and one of the most valuable tools at an OREB member’s disposal.
“The Board’s professional practice team also conducts daily audits of commercial and residential listings to ensure that data is accurate,” says Lee Freeman, OREB’s manager of professional practice and education. “Keeping the data clean is our priority.”
This is certainly a lot to keep track of, but OREB members are deeply familiar with all of these rules and regulations, and are outfitted with an abridged pocket guide of the REBBA Code of Ethics for good measure.
Every year, thousands of real estate transactions take place in Ottawa with the help of a Realtor, and these rigorous standards ensure that the vast majority go down without a hitch. But with so much volume, missteps do occur on rare occasions.
When this happens, action is taken with great swiftness and care. OREB’s 17-member professional standards committee reviews and researches complaints within its jurisdiction.
“Complaints are taken very seriously and every effort is made to ensure that complaints are thoroughly investigated and that all parties concerned have an opportunity to be heard,” says Freeman. “The Board investigates and sanctions conduct that does not meet the Bylaws, sections of the Realtor Code and MLS rules and regulations.”
In combination, these rigorous standards ensure a safe and secure experience for anybody that uses an OREB Realtor for their commercial real estate needs.
“Using a Realtor for your commercial real estate needs is an added layer of security for your transaction,” says Lewicki.
What is a commercial realtor?
“Realtor” is not a job description. It is a trademark of the Canadian Real Estate Association and stands for service, competence and high ethical practice. OREB’s commercial members who have met high standards of education and experience are eligible to become members of OREB’s Commercial Services Network.
Commercial Realtors provide professional services including:
- Access to listings of thousands of other Realtor members of OREB and other Boards through their exclusive MLS System access.
- Far-reaching marketing services, and access to local, national, and international buyers through their commercial affiliation within Realtor.ca, which boasts 264 million visitors in 2018 and 5.3 billion views.
- Professional advice based on knowledge, experience, and education.
- Tenant and landlord representation.
- Advice on real estate investment purchases.
- Competent service based on extensive market knowledge.