Engaging with Consumers and Industry Professionals

In Fall 2017, RECA hired Weaver Marketing Research to gather in-depth feedback from Alberta consumers and industry professionals through focus groups and surveys. This is the third time RECA has conducted this series of surveys and focus groups, and we’re beginning to see trends and changes over time. We can now compare the results of the latest research with those of past years to gauge the effectiveness of RECA initiatives, and to mark changes in industry attitudes towards RECA, trends in consumer awareness of RECA, and consumer attitudes towards the industry itself.

Overall, the results from this year’s research show an upward trend in ratings for most aspects of RECA’s performance as a regulator, but they also identified areas where RECA can improve further.

Consumers

weaver infograph

RECA’s consumer surveys and focus groups help us understand consumer experiences within Alberta’s real estate industry and with its licensed professionals. Consumer awareness of RECA promotes a better appreciation for the professionalism and skills licensed industry professionals offer, and this awareness provides consumers with the knowledge that RECA is available to offer neutral, independent information, and guidance if they have questions or concerns.

Within this year’s consumer research, there is a lot of good news, both for RECA and for licensed industry professionals.

  • Consumer awareness of RECA continues to grow, albeit slowly. Since the 2014 survey, awareness has grown from 21% to 27%. Consumers know an organization regulates the industry, but there remains some uncertainty about what that organization is.
  • The majority of consumers surveyed in 2017 (81%) say they would use a real estate professional for their next transaction, and 42% say they would use a mortgage broker (compared to 48% who would use a bank) – this is a modest gain in favour of mortgage brokers relative to 2014.
  • Consumers say that the majority of their transactions go smoothly. When consumers do express dissatisfaction, it’s mostly related to the state of the market or high commissions, rather than the services their professional provided to them.
  • Consumers use multiple sources of information about their property purchase/sale through the course of their transactions.
  • Consumers rely on their real estate professionals and mortgage brokers as experts to provide advice and guide them.
  • Many consumers eventually remembered seeing and signing a Consumer Relationships Guide, but they felt the document’s style of language and presentation impeded their comprehension.
  • Consumers more clearly recall and more positively receive the Service Agreement though some consumers were not clear on exactly when they signed.
  • Consumers believe advertising is one way for RECA to get its message out.
  • Consumers believes industry professionals promoting their RECA affiliation would provide a “badge of legitimacy, to instill consumer confidence.”

 

Industry Professionals

As with the consumer research, there was also good news in the results of the industry professional survey research.

  • A vast majority of industry respondents (79%) reported they are thoroughly aware of RECA and its role.
  • RECA has strengthened its position as the most important source of information about obligations under the Real Estate Act and Rules
  • Opinions on RECA’s effectiveness in enforcing conduct requirements have progressed gradually upwards, and through the results we see greater agreement with the effectiveness of industry self-regulation.
  • Industry professionals still see RECA excelling at setting and enforcing standards of conduct for the industry and at protecting consumers, but RECA performance remains weaker in providing services for enhancing/ improving the industry.
  • Survey results showed significant improvement for every tested aspect of RECA administering the Act & Rules, with particular gains for efficient licensing, promotion of ethics and standards, and even its lowest scoring factor, consumer education & awareness, improved.
  • As in past years, the strongest ratings come from mortgage brokers, new industry professionals (less than two years), those who have taken RECA Education, and professionals who recently contacted RECA staff/practice advisors. Again, as in past years, the lowest ratings came from appraisers, those with less contact with RECA, and those who were the subject of a complaint or review.
  • Industry professionals indicated high levels of satisfaction with RECA’s efficient licensing process through the myRECA system
  • Almost unchanged since 2014, feelings about the appropriateness of RECA’s disciplinary penalties are polarized.
  • The survey also asked industry professionals what they think is the most important regulatory issue that will affect them in the next three years. The most popular answer was the Residential Measurement Standard, with transaction brokerage and “double-ending” deals coming in second.
  • 2017 results produce the highest level of agreement yet with the effectiveness of industry self-regulation, with 58% now saying ‘very’ or ‘completely’ effective.

In the end, this research shows slow, but steady improvements in how consumers and industry understand, access, and perceive RECA. It’s good news for RECA – and for the strength and reputation of the industry as a whole.

11 thoughts on “Engaging with Consumers and Industry Professionals

  1. Good Afternoon
    In response to you note that “Again, as in past years, the lowest ratings came from appraisers,…..” It could be that the low atings from Appraisers may stem from an ongoing frustration with RECA and their attitude towards the Appraisal Management Company (AMCs) conduct and activities within the province. RECA officials have stated publicly that RECA has received numerous complaints/concerns over a long period of time about the conduct of these AMCs; so it may a case of Appraisers seeing RECA as an organization that is content to take money from appraisers but when it comes to matters of great concern and seriousness to us, we see an organization that is completely disinterested or shows a complete abdication of responsibility at looking into conduct/activities of the AMCs. Why would Appraisers engage with a regulatory agency whose response to complaints about the AMC is to say “We asked the AMCs if they were doing anything wrong and they said no, so we believed them.” Ask yourself why, when RECA displays that level of myopia, what benefit for appraisers could be possibly be achieved except for another self-congratulatory RECA press release. If RECA was to actually perform its regulatory responsibilities in regards to the AMCs, and in my opinion the hidden long term damage the AMCs are causing to the Canadian Financial system, then maybe appraisers might look at RECA as a worthwhile organization as opposed to an origination that takes our money and in return gives us nothing but “Hey look at what a great organization we are” statements.

    • Thank you for your comments, Ian.
      At it’s January meeting, Council instructed the Real Estate Appraisal Advisory Committee and RECA Administration to review the activities of AMCs. They will make recommendations to Council, including the feasibility for licensing appraisal management companies under the Real Estate Act. You can read more in the Council Highlights of the February Regulator: http://www.reca.ca/Flash-Regulator/February-2018/FebruaryRegulator.pdf or in the Council Meeting Minutes for the January 24 meeting of Council: http://www.reca.ca/industry/about/PDF/Minutes%20of%20Regular%20Council%20Meeting%20-%20January%2024%202018.pdf

      • Good Afternoon

        Thank you for your reply. I must admit I missed that point in the January edition.

        Now that a study has been authorized by the Council, when can we expect to see the specifics of this committee’s mandate, such as call for volunteers, public consultation etc.

      • Hi Ian,
        There is no new committee specific to this issue. This is a review to be undertaken by the existing Real Estate Appraisal Advisory Committee and RECA Administration. That said, Council and RECA Administration added a review of AMCs to the Strategic Business Plan at its Spring strategy session. RECA is now actively commencing the review project. RECA will update the industry when there is information to share.

      • Thank you for the reply.
        If this is a new committee or a request given to an existing committee is not important. What is important is the actual review process. You stated that the review process is underway and as such I want to know the details on how this review is to be conducted. If Council “ directed the Real Estate Appraisers Advisory Committee (REAAC) and RECA Administration to review the activities of appraisal management companies”, there has to have been specific instructions and terms of reference given for this review. What are those instructions and terms of reference. When will those be made public or at the least be made available to the members.

      • Hi Ian,
        The motion from Council is in the Council meeting minutes from January.

        “Council directs the Real Estate Appraisers Advisory Committee and Administration to undertake a project to review Appraisal Management Company activities and impacts on licensed real estate appraisers in Alberta and the public, and make recommendations to Council, including with respect to the feasibility for licensing under the Real Estate Act.”

        Council has directed these entities to perform this task.

        The terms of reference for the appraisal advisory committee are here: http://www.reca.ca/industry/about/real-estate-appraisers-advisory-committee.htm

        We stated “RECA is now actively commencing the review project.” Perhaps we should have been more clear. We are in the planning stages for how the review will happen. When we have a more formalized consultation plan in place, we will share more information with the industry about it, and there will be opportunities for stakeholders to provide feedback.

  2. I have to agree with Ian. Appraisers are no longer able to function as independent appraisers who can go out and find there own clients. You pretty well have to be associated with an AMC to get enough work and who can decide which appraisers they use by how much an appraiser charges. If you can’t do an appraisal as fast as they want you to you will not get any more work from them. I have talked with appraisers who have stopped doing work for AMCs because they keep reducing the fees appraisers can charge. Fees that are now being charged by appraisers to the AMCs go back 10 to 15 years ago and I am sure they are raising there fees to there clients. As Ian stated, nobody, including our own organizations who have abandon us, are willing to look into the monopoly the AMCs have over appraisers and weather their control over appraisers is legal.

  3. I look forward to seeing the full reports published for all professionals and consumers to see. As a professional I want to know more raw data about how the public sees us. I also want to know if RECA’s initiatives are the correct responses to public engagement. Will you share your research that the industry funded through our fees to RECA?

    • Hi Dale. The recent Weaver research shows trends. We’ve conducted this same survey and focus group research a couple of times in the past. We share the executive summary with stakeholders, but the full research reports are for Council’s use. In terms of whether RECA’s initiatives are the correct responses to public engagement, the Weaver research informs Council – but it is not the only research/data that Council uses to make its decisions and develop its Strategic Plan. Council also has an Advisory Committee system, regular engagement meetings with industry associations, and regular scans of other jurisdictions and legislative trends. As such, the Weaver research results cannot be used in isolation but are simply one piece of the puzzle. Ultimately, it is for Council to decide, through its Strategic Planning process, which priorities and initiatives it should pursue that will position RECA to best serve its stakeholders into the future. As part of the Strategic Planning process, Council reviews the research and results of other engagement initiatives.

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