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Standing Committees

The construction of the new premises and the creation of a permanent staff to take over day-to-day duties did not eliminate the need of the standing committee system. These committees continued to provide the leadership for the Board's activities.

The Legislation Committee continued to review the Real Estate Agents' Licensing Act.

The committee also monitored other legislation by the federal and provincial governments. The federal proposals to amend the Combines Investigation Act in 1975 were of particular concern, because the MLS® system could be considered a restraint to trade. The revisions, it was feared, would end organized real estate and the MLS® system as they had operated up to then. Another proposed change was that infractions of the law were to be dealt with under the criminal code.

Advising all three levels of government on policies and procedures related to the real estate industry was another task of the Legislation Committee. Local concerns included having the city pay commissions to real estate agents who sold city-owned industrial or commercial land. In February 1960 city council voted to pay a commission of three percent of the selling price of the land. The commission would be sent to the Real Estate Board, which would distribute it to the agent who sold the land. Alderman Ed Leger, chairman of the city council's special committee on land sales, said distribution through the Real Estate Board would prevent city involvement in disputes among agents, and would establish better liaisons between real estate agents and clients who arrived in Edmonton to look for industrial or commercial sites.

The Membership Committee, which had struggled since 1927 to expand the membership, now had to adjust to sustained increases in membership. Between 1951 and 1980, membership went from 61 to a high of 3,356. This acceleration in membership was evident as early as January 14, 1952, when 19 new members were admitted at one meeting. At the meeting of June 25, 1957, 103 new members were approved, thus setting a record for the number of new members admitted at one time. This increase in membership resulted from the cooperation of companies such as Melton Real Estate and Weber Brothers, who enrolled their sales representatives en masse in the Board.

Despite increased membership the committee launched a membership drive. In January 1952 the committee received a list of agents from the office of the superintendent of insurance. Once informed of the value of the services offered by the Board, few members of the industry needed much encouragement to join.

With the problem of attracting new members solved, this committee had the ongoing responsibility of scrutinizing new membership applications.

Ethics have always been an important part of the Edmonton Real Estate Board since they were at the heart of its efforts to ensure the self-policing of the industry and to improve its image. The importance of this issue is evident in the adoption of a Code of Ethics in 1927, in the efforts to obtain legislation, and in the Board's cooperation with government to ensure its enforcement. Up until 1953 ethics and arbitration were handled by one committee. The Ethics Committee continued to arbitrate the problems of the members as long as no commission was involved. (The least active committee, much to everyone's satisfaction, was the Arbitration Committee. It dealt with any commission disputes.) The lack of meetings reflected the informal network amongst the agents and sales representatives that effectively dealt with concerns before they got to the arbitration stage. The Ethics Committee was also not overworked for the same reason.

One of the activities of the Ethics Committee in the early 1950s was to supervise the pledging ceremony. The pledge was a commitment by the member to abide by the bylaws and code of ethics of the Association. It was also a commitment to make "every reasonable effort to avoid controversies." If arbitration became necessary, the members pledged to abide by the Arbitration Committee's decision. The final part of the pledge was to abide by the rule "do unto others as we would have others do unto us." The first pledge ceremony was conducted by Mark Cummings on January 29, 1954. The idea of the pledge went back to 1927 and would continue until the late 1950s when it was dropped.

Publicity initiatives became important in the golden age. The Edmonton Real Estate Association had functioned without most Edmonton residents knowing of its existence. The Edmonton Real Estate Board Co-operative Listing Bureau therefore made a deliberate effort to raise the profile of the Board in the community. Advertisements on Edmonton Transit System buses, billboards, and business cards started the process. The billboard advertisements were on the Scona Bend Apartments building and on a second building located at the corner of 124th Street and 118th Avenue. The Bureau also advertised in newspapers and on radio. The Board sponsored the telecasts by Bryan Hall of Edmonton Eskimo games.

A committee concerning acreages, farms, and recreation properties was the last to be created during the golden age. From the start one of its main goals has been to educate other agents and sale representatives of the special needs of this kind of property. The committee was able to give this market more exposure by having special sections in the catalogue and special information fields for the computer listings.

A monthly publication had never been undertaken by the Association because of lack of funds and its small size. The rapid growth in membership meant that some type of publication needed to be developed. The result was the Edmonton Realtor, which began in March 1960. As Dennis Stewart in his presidential greeting observed

For many years our Association (had) been without any means of officially communicating with its members. The Edmonton Realtor will be the official voice of over 500 members of the real estate fraternity in Edmonton. This publication will prove to be a milestone on the road to success of organized real estate in Edmonton.

To build a strong association everyone must be informed. We want the Edmonton Real Estate Board to be the strongest body of organized REALTORS in Canada. To do this we must be constantly on the alert for methods and means of improving ourselves, our business and our Association.

With only one minor change in format, it would continue to be published until September 1961. It was followed in 1978 by the MLS® Informer, a bimonthly publication edited by Art Jones. It included articles by presidents on traditional themes such as the growth of the Board, ethics, and education. It provided a list of top sales representatives, new additions for the library, upcoming events, and announcements concerning educational programs.

In March 1952, CREA advised the Edmonton Real Estate Board that it would sponsor two, two-day educational courses to be held in May. CREA required a guarantee of at least 20 candidates for each course. Each candidate would pay $15 per course. Since each course would be full at 30 candidates, it was decided to admit applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. The first course was very successful.

Given the growing demand for education, an Education Committee was established in 1952. This committee implemented an education program in 1956 when the Board started a "primary school" for new members of the industry. This course provided an introduction to such topics as salesmanship, appraisal, law, brokerage, and ethics.

The primary school made the Edmonton Real Estate Board a leader in the formal education of its members. Requests came from across Canada for copies of the Primary School Manual. The Education Committee responded by assembling detailed lectures for such a manual. The ongoing organization and operation of the primary schools would continue to be the Education Committee's main function for most of the golden age.

In 1970 the committee began to expand the educational program to include seminars. In the spring of 1970 a successful eight-week salesman course attracted 402 attendants. In 1971 an all-day sales seminar featuring a popular American motivational speaker, Douglas Edwards, was held. Four sales training films were purchased for use by the members.

Consistent with the Board's interest in education, the suggestion was made in May 1952 that it establish a library, but the shortage of space in the Brown Building was a problem. Given this situation, the committee decided to concentrate its efforts on collecting books for a library to be opened when space was found. Space for a library was resolved when the building was built on Princess Elizabeth Avenue. Library facilities were improved even further with the construction of the present building. The library acquires not only printed material but also audio tapes and video tapes for training purposes.

Since 1927 the Edmonton Real Estate Board had been organized on a two-system format based on agents and salesmen. During 1952-1981 far more salesmen joined than agents, and "salesladies" also entered the industry. The creation of the Salesmen's Committee in 1960 was a way of dealing with this growth. Unlike other committees, it elected its own chairperson and its own members to the board of directors.

The Salesmen's Committee dealt with the special needs and interests of the sales representatives. The committee had members on the board of directors, which gave the sales representatives an opportunity to bring their issues to the Board, such as Sunday open houses, a group insurance plan, and part-time sales people. The committee also organized seminars of interest to the members.

Managing the Board's multiple listing service was the responsibility of the Photo Listing Committee. The MLS® was particularly critical to the Board since the fees from this service provided the funds for the operation of the Board. The committee encouraged the use of the system and worked towards making improvements. Contests between the sales staff for the highest total over a certain period helped to promote its use. Improvements involved buying new machinery for producing the Daily Bulletin.

This article is extracted from John Gilpin, Responsible Enterprise: A History of Edmonton Real Estate & the Edmonton Real Estate Board. (Edmonton: Edmonton Real Estate Board, 1997). The Heritage Community Foundation and the Alberta Real Estate Foundation would like to thank John Gilpin and the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton for permission to reproduce this material.

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