August 8th - 2012

Interview with outgoing RECO registrar

After 10 years as registrar at the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), Allan Johnston is retiring at the end of July.

Allan JohnstonAfter 10 years as registrar at the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), Allan Johnston is retiring at the end of July. REALTOR® EDGE newsletter caught up with him for a retrospective interview to learn more about his parting thoughts after a decade at the governing body that oversees the real estate industry.

Q: How has RECO evolved during your tenure and what do you feel are some of the biggest changes?
A: There have been so many changes. The top three, and not in any order, would be:

Implementing the new REBBA 2002 and its regulations. That was such a lengthy process and an enormous task that it completely consumed the efforts of many people. I think the introduction of a Guide to REBBA 2002 may have been the first true indication that RECO could be innovative in informing and assisting registrants in their daily practice.

Next would be RECO moving from a “start-up” organization to the suggested “poster child” for the Designated Administrative Authority model introduced in 1997, culminating in other regulators seeking our knowledge and advice on processes and procedures that RECO developed.

Last but not least would be the implementation of an affordable and stable insurance program that provides protection for registrant commissions, errors & omissions and enhanced consumer protection through deposit protection coverage.

Q: What are some big challenges you’ve faced?
A: Assisting in the development of REBBA 2002, building our reputation for being fair to both registrants and consumers, and embracing the need to exercise discretion when appropriate and applicable.

Q: How has the industry changed and evolved?
A: The heightened interest in professionalism is really gaining momentum and there appears to be a genuine thirst for knowledge among registrants through continuing education courses. This is clearly evident each and every time I attend and participate in a real estate board trade show.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing registrants today?
A: Competition in the marketplace is probably number one. Whether it is For Sale by Owners (FSBOs) or other evolving business models, registrants are affected. The industry does a good job of reminding consumers of a registrant’s education requirements, the need to comply with the code of ethics, the services they can provide, and the insurance protection available to people when they use a registrant.

Q: Have you seen more or fewer infractions over the years? 
A: We’ve seen a steady increase in the reporting of contraventions over the years. However, we introduced significant changes to our advertising guidelines and it appears that those alone will reduce our total complaints substantially.

Q: Are there things to which you feel registrants should pay more attention?
A: Call me “old school.” When I was registered back in the early ‘80s, when mortgage rates were in the 20 per cent range and it was tough to secure a listing and/or a sale, collegiality and common courtesy still existed. Unfortunately, I see and hear more examples of situations that could have been avoided if only registrants had decided to listen to and talk to their clients and each other. Collegiality and common courtesy would be the top two on my list.

Q: What changes would you like to see in registrant education?
A: RECO is currently in the midst of a two-phased review of all of its education programs and it is recruiting registrants to attend a number of focus groups and to participate in surveys. I think we need to do a better job of making sure that individuals working their way through the pre-registration program exit with more knowledge of the nuts and bolts of listing and purchase and sale agreements and all other basics that a seller or buyer expects from someone who will be their representative.

Q: What are your plans for retirement?
A: As many people know, I enjoy the occasional game of golf, so I see myself playing a lot more. Fortunately, I have a lovely spouse who likes golf even more than I do, and she’s getting pretty good at it. We both have relatives on the east and west coasts, so we’ll do some travelling with perhaps a month or so down south in the winter – as long as the cash and our bodies last. A typical retiree!

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to registrants in Ontario?
A: I’ve been privileged to have the opportunity to serve as registrar for the past 10 years and to have met so many registrants and others through social events, real estate boards, committees, boards of directors and other real estate regulatory organizations. My thanks to everyone for adding to my memories. 

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