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July 25, 2021

David Salvatore on the Manitoba Real Estate Association

David Salvatore on the Manitoba Real Estate Association

David Salvatore is the CEO of the Manitoba Real Estate Association. In this episode we talk about the MREA including its decades-long advocacy efforts in eliminating education property taxes. We also discuss the incoming Real Estate Services Act (RESA) an...


David Salvatore is the CEO of the Manitoba Real Estate Association. In this episode we talk about the MREA including its decades-long advocacy efforts in eliminating education property taxes. We also discuss the incoming Real Estate Services Act (RESA) and how it modernizes real estate transactions in Manitoba.

Transcript

Adrian:

I'm joined today by David Salvatore, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Manitoba Real Estate Association. Welcome David.

David:

Well thanks so much for having me Adrian and congratulations on your Top 40 Canadian Real Estate Podcasts to Follow. Really excited to be part of it today.

Adrian:

Yeah, thank you and you know what? It would not be what it is if it wasn't for the wonderful guests that have graciously given their time to be on these episodes. We want to get to know you David and the MREA a little bit. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and the Association?

David:

Yes, absolutely Adrian. So I bring just about 20 years of experience in government relations and communications and association leadership. I started my career all those years ago on Parliament Hill working for the then leader of the Opposition in his office as a communications advisor. I worked with various Opposition critics, helping them with their communications needs, and went on from there to be a member of the Official Opposition Finance Critic, where I provided legislative and communications counsel to him. Left the Hill and worked for a few years as a consultant lobbyist, working with various corporations and associations, and helping them frame their asks of government, and decided after that I wanted to get back into media relations and I went to work for a company that most will know called Nortel, and unfortunately no longer with us, but a great experience. And a lot of fun was had there.

David:

And had an opportunity as Nortel was winding up to jump back into the lobbying game and join CREA, which is National Association of Canadian Realtors and one of Canada's largest single industry trade associations. And I worked as a lobbyist on their team on a number of files. But a few years later had the opportunity to come out to Manitoba, to look at Manitoba as an option and take on a more senior leadership role in MREA. Was really impressed with the work that MREA had done over those years. MREA has a great and had a great reputation as a smaller association in terms of size and scale when you compare us against Ontario or BC, but always punched above its weight and had really great volunteer leadership and great staff. So it was not a hard sell from my perspective to consider the opportunity and really glad that I did take it up.

Adrian:

Now the MREA, how is it different from the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board?

David:

Yeah great question, because both organizations do really great work and provide exceptional value to members, but the focus is a different focus for the membership. We've really worked hard over the years to ensure that there's no duplication for membership dollars, that we take a lead and support approach, which basically means that there'll be areas where the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board will lead on projects. They are the technology provider for MLS and do an outstanding job supporting members on MLS and other technologies. They focus on local lobbying, whereas MREA's focus is more on the provincial side of things. We develop and deliver the legislative and regulatory education, both pre-licensing and post-licensing on behalf of the Manitoba Securities Commission. We also do education around the Realtor Code. We have a fairly strong political provincial advocacy focus and handle the professional standards complaints from members of the public.

David:

We also have a fairly strong focus on social responsibility from a [inaudible 00:00:21] perspective. So as you know Adrian, we have a shelter foundation, and a First Nations affordable home ownership program called Manitoba Tipi Mitawa, and I believe you had just spoken with Lorne Weiss on this podcast a couple of episodes ago about Manitoba Tipi Mitawa and the great work that it does. So, our focus really is at the provincial level. We're very fortunate to have Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board and the Brandon Area Realtors as organizations that support our work on the provincial level and do a great job [inaudible 00:04:54]. But to sort of sum it up in terms of what our purpose is at MREA, we really work to build, empower, and uphold a trusted and sustainable real estate profession, so that Manitobans really value the role that Realtors have in building stronger communities and helping them through the most financially impactful decisions of their lives. That's really what our purpose is, and as I said, really take more of a provincial focus to that.

Adrian:

And what job titles or categories does MREA currently provide the education for licensing?

David:

So, in terms of pre-licensing, we provide it for full real estate salespeople, real estate brokers, property managers. So those would be the categories that we handle. We also will do education for salespeople that are coming from another province. It's basically any real estate related in the property management or Realtor categories. That's what MREA provides.

Adrian:

You mentioned earlier the Canadian Real Estate Association, and I'm curious, how do you think other markets view the Manitoba market and our association given that you've got some national experience?

David:

Well, we're really fortunate in Manitoba. Our market historically has been incredibly stable. We don't experience the same ups and downs as you may see in other parts in Canada. We've had a very strong market over the past number of months, and really important to note for consumers, when you've got a really hot real estate market, very important to be working with a Realtor to help navigate the market, understand the multiple offer situations, and provide that really key advice to clients. In terms of the way that the real estate community views MREA, one of the things that we've worked very hard on is to ensure that we have very strong relationships with other real estate boards, and with our National Association. We focus on being leaders, collaborators, and innovators. We've got those great relationships and partnerships and have an ongoing dialogue with boards and associations across the country.

David:

So, that really helps us understand best practices that may be able to be applied in Manitoba to be able to see trends that may be occurring in other real estate markets that may begin to make their way into Manitoba. And likewise, vice versa, us being able to share what's happening in Manitoba with our counterparts. We meet every few months as provincial associations, and with CREA, and that dialogue has been really helpful.

David:

One of the things that we were really proud about is a first-of-its-kind software project called the Complaints and Inquiries Database for Real Estate in Canada, and what it really enables is boards and associations to make database decisions based on the information that they're receiving from members and members of the public. So from the calls and emails that we're getting from members and members of the public, we can identify where those gaps in learning are, what the expectations are of consumers, and provide services, including education to our members so that they understand what the public is expecting of them. We are currently implementing this throughout Manitoba and working on making it available to boards and associations right across the country.

Adrian:

Everybody's favorite radio station is WIIFM, what's in it for me. What recent accomplishment of the MREA can you note that has had an effect on Manitobans, and how was this achieved?

David:

So I think certainly one of the largest tax cuts in Manitoba history was a direct result of the decades of advocacy that MREA and our boards put in. The work that they put in, and it was around the phasing out of education property taxes. Back in 2001, so 20 years ago, then Winnipeg Real Estate Board President-Elect Lorne Weiss began advocating and pointing out the inequities in the education funding model. MREA then went on to build a coalition in the early two thousands with other supporting organizations, including Keystone Agriculture Producers, Manitoba Association of Cottage Owners, and the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board as well. More recently, we took a research-based approach to this issue and commissioned a study on education finance reform, which we presented to the new government when the Pallister government was elected. We presented that paper and had some conversations.

David:

We were very thrilled to see in the 2019 campaign, the PC party at the time, committing to phase out education property taxes by 2021. They announced, as you know, the reduction of education property taxes by 50% over the next two years for residential and farm properties, and 10% for other properties. So I think it really shows that advocacy is a marathon. It's not a sprint. As an organization, if you believe fundamentally in the asks, it's worth putting in the time having a shovel-ready proposal, and I think that's exactly what happened in this case. As a result, Manitobans' home ownership is much more affordable for them and will be for decades to come.

Adrian:

Speaking of government, the new Real Estate Services Act, which is in the works, what is the primary reason and benefit of the incoming new act?

David:

So RESA, as you note, is coming into effect, it'll be in effect in January of 2022. It really is a modernization of the existing framework that's been governing the profession for decades. The current act is called the Real Estate Brokers Act. And really what RESA is, it's similar in many ways in that it's public interest legislation designed to ensure that participants in the real estate industry have the necessary education and experience to provide service to the public and act ethically in their dealings.

David:

As I mentioned, it really does modernize the existing framework. There's some really excellent things in RESA for the consumer realtor relationship during a transaction, such as the ability to use electronic signatures, for brokerages to store documents electronically. One of the things that we had advocated on for the last five or so years is to have our members be able to incorporate as salespeople, just like many other professions can. And that that also is contained in the Real Estate Services Act regulations. One of the biggest things that consumers can expect come January 1st, 2022 is a new service agreement. So Realtors will be putting their promises on paper to members of the public, and members of the public will also sign that document, but it basically is a pledge of service and a pledge of the services Realtors will be providing, and that's one of the big pieces out of RESA.

Adrian:

Had I been asked that question, my answer would have been, we are coming out of the Stone Ages.

David:

Well it certainly does modernize a lot of what REBA was, and I think there's, as I said, some really great innovative things within RESA and things that will benefit consumers for sure.

Adrian:

And if I'm not mistaken, during the pandemic we got some temporary glimpses of some of those benefits such as the electronic signatures. So we've gotten a taste already.

David:

Exactly. And the nice thing is that around electronic signatures, they can be used in Manitoba currently because of an exemption that was brought in during the pandemic, but that'll be made permanent going forward as of January 1st. So basically from now on electronic signatures are within the business context of real estate, which is a really good thing for consumers.

Adrian:

In most episodes, we always end with the most important question, which is what does someone love about Winnipeg real estate? But in your case, we're going to make an exception. And I would like to know, what do you love about Manitoba real estate?

David:

Well you know Adrian, both my wife and I, we absolutely love Manitoba. We've had the opportunity to explore not only Winnipeg, but also some areas around the province, and it really is absolutely beautiful no matter where you go. We're a big fan of the neighborhoods in Manitoba. We love the tree-lined streets in Winnipeg. We love going downtown to the Exchange District and taking in the way that skyscrapers were back in the days when Winnipeg was known as Chicago of the North.

David:

There's a lot of great property outside of the perimeter, great cottage country, and going into the Whiteshell, and also a lot of nice property out in Brandon as well, and other parts of the province. So, great recreational opportunities for Manitobans, and everybody says this, but it's absolutely true, and I can say this as someone who moved from Ottawa, Manitoba provides such an affordable option for those that are raising families. The ability to have that, not only the dream of your own home, but also the dream of a recreational property as well is very achievable in Manitoba.

Adrian:

David, thank you for your time today.

David:

It's been wonderful Adrian. Thanks so much.