Canadian Real Estate Association
The Canadian Real Estate Association represents more than 94,000 real estate professionals, from more than a 100 real estate boards and associations across Canada, making it one of the largest single-industry trade associations in Canada. CREA is organized at the federal level, but the Association has a close relationship with its local, provincial and territorial membership boards and associations. CREA sets national standards for the real estate industries and maintains a national Code of Ethics, Privacy Code, and Standards of Business Practice, implemented at the local level. Members of CREA are called REALTORS®, a term trademarked by the Association to apply only to real estate professionals who follow CREA's strict Code of Ethics. CREA's duties are to promote the interests of their members, enhance the professionalism of the real estate industry and, primarily, to promote the interests of their industry at the federal level of government.
Before the creation of the Canadian Real Estate Association, Canada's real estate agents participated in the American-based National Real Estate Association. The founding meeting of the Canadian Association of Real Estate Boards (CAREB), which later became the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), took place in January of 1943, with delegates from all over Canada, including board representatives from Edmonton, Calgary and Medicine Hat. Edmonton Real Estate Board member, Andy Whyte, became the first regional vice-president for the west. CAREB's constitution was drawn up in 1943, and the next year, the Board held its first conference, where it adopted the term REALTOR®. In 1955, the Canadian Institute of REALTORS® was formed to encourage the education of REALTORS® whereby graduates of the institute obtained the FRI designation (Fellow of the REALTORS'® Institute). That same year, the "Photo Co-op Listing" system, the precursor to the MLS listings, was made available to REALTORS®.
One of the primary duties of CREA is to maintain the MLS® or Multiple Listing Service® website, www.mls.ca. MLS.ca is a multiple listings service for residential property, updated by local real estate boards. Based on MLS®, CREA compiles monthly statistics on homes and properties being sold throughout the country, to provide the public with an overview of the housing market and detailed reports to REALTORS®. In addition, CREA operates www.icx.ca, a listing service created specifically for commercial property.
In 1959, a new Code of Ethics was prepared for the CREA. Among the expectations laid out by the current code, REALTORS® must fully disclose the identity of their clients and their financial arrangements. REALTORS® cannot buy or sell property, even for personal interest, without declaring that they are real estate professionals, and they are bound by a privacy code that protects the personal information given to them by clients. REALTORS® are also required to meet strict educational and training requirements, as specified by their provincial board. CREA enforces a policy of "free and open competition" among real estate industry members, following the principles of the Competition Act of Canada. Real estate professionals, whether or not they are members of CREA, have the right to set their own commission rates, to determine their own business relations, to advertise at their discretion, and to offer their own listings, as an alternative to MLS®.
The Canadian Real Estate Association offers many services to real estate professionals, but the Association functions primarily as a government lobby group that aims to promote legislation favourable to REALTORS® and the industry, and to protect property rights. At their Ottawa headquarters, CREA maintains close contact with federal politicians and senior bureaucrats, making annual pre-budget recommendations on federal fiscal policy. The Association's Political Action Committee keeps track of relevant issues, and participates in discussions in the House of Commons and the Senate on real estate-related issues such as the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and the Home Buyers' Plan. The Home Buyers' Plan represents an important achievement for the CREA; the plan allows first time home buyers to borrow money, up to $20,000, from their RRSPs to purchase a home.References
Canada's Commercial Information Exchange. Retrieved June 24, 2008, from www.icx.ca
Canadian Real Estate Association. Retrieved June 24, 2008, from www.crea.ca
Gilpin, John. Responsible Enterprise: A History of Real Estate & the Edmonton Real Estate Board. Edmonton: Edmonton Real Estate Board, 1997
Multiple Listings Service. Retrieved June 24, 2008, from www.mls.ca