The Ontario Real Estate Association, otherwise known as OREA held its first Reality+ convention in two years at the Beanfield Centre this past week. If I could sum it up in one word, it would be pick-up. If that’s causing you to scratch your head, then please allow me to explain. Like many conventions, there was the trade show and the speaker series. OREA did things a bit differently than in past years. At previous iterations of the Reality+ Conference, there were more options. Often, in a single timeslot, there were two or more workshops that an attendee could visit.
Workshopping One Message
At the 2022 Reality+ Conference, there was generally one speaker- the main stage and the trade show and that, as they say, was that.
Did OREA pull it off? Yes, at least for me.
With one speaker, it felt more focused and more purposeful. As an attendee, you were better able to be present at the moment without fear of what you may have been missing in the workshop not attended. You got a sense, at least I did, that this message was so important that it wasn’t going to be watered down by being relegated to a second stage; that this is where you need to be. To quote the great Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is the message”. Not only was this message being delivered from the mainstage giving it tremendous value, but the fact that it was the only message in that hot moment meant it was one for which we must all stand up (or in this case, sit down) and take notice. OREA cleverly was giving the message reverence.
Okay so they’ve whetted our appetite, but did they deliver the goods?
The individual messaging was an overall better one. To pull another turn of phrase from Canadian Philosopher and Media Theorist, Marshall McLuhan, the Ontario Real Estate Association took a “Global village” approach to their content, enlisting more diverse speakers. This approach lends itself to a little bit of criticism in that by putting all your proverbial eggs in one messaging basket, you run the risk of your single point of view not resonating. However, cleverly by leveraging speakers that were from a more global village, we had a unique point of view. Thus, we were engaged in hearing diverse perspectives beyond our own.
While we’re on the subject of diversity, I applaud OREA for bringing a clear diversity, equity, and inclusion message by leaning into the conversation on racism in real estate. Much of this discussion centred around racism in the rental market, but it’s a start. As the audience was largely REALTORS ®, there was a healthy level of discussion focused on solutions at the provincial, brokerage, and individual levels, as well as speaking to gaps in the educational material and uptick. Could OREA dove headfirst into it and dug deeper? Certainly so, but would they have lost their audience? To be perfectly honest, it’s possible. Nonetheless, it’s an important message, and one upon which I look forward to seeing OREA continue to build upon in the frank and direct way that it did this past week.
Often when we engage different speakers, we gain the benefit of different perspectives through discussion; but the marrow is when we get to respectful and hearty debate. On the Beanfield Stage, during a segment called The Great Housing Debate that healthy discourse was around the future of the economy. On one side were economists like Benjamin Taj, Managing Director and Deputy Chief Economist for CIBC, and David Rosenberg, President of Rosenberg Research and Associates Inc., and on the other side were Desmond Brown of The Desmond Brown Real Estate Team and Melanie Piche, Broker/Co-Owner of The BREL Team. The main thesis that I gleaned from Mr. Taj and Mr. Rosenberg was that the Bank of Canada is making the right moves to prevent or minimize a recession. In so doing, although it may feel painful to the Canadian people, it’s positioning us better than many other nations across the globe facing the same issues. On the other side of the fence are the REALTORS ® who are advocating for a positive outlook on all things economic. The parties on both sides of the fence are looking at the issue through their own lens and I believe doing so in earnest. It’s beneficial for real estate professionals to regard the economic situation as temporary and they’re correct- real estate and economics are closely linked- and both are cyclical phenomena. So, this too shall pass but not immediately and not without some pain for gain, which is where the economists have landed. I believe that they’re correct in that we’ll close out 2022 with another small interest rate increase. Of all of the important information, one phrase stood out, “You date the interest rate, you marry the price.” I know this resonated with other attendees as well as this was picked up by several other presenters.
We Need to Talk About Bill
Former President, Bill Clinton was one of many several heavy-hitter speakers at the OREA’s Reality+ Conference. Don’t let the slow lilt of “aww shucks” Arkansas accent make you forget that Mr. Clinton didn’t get to the presidency by mistake; He earned his place there. William Jefferson Clinton, which I think we can all admit is a very presidential name, attended Georgetown University and graduated from Yale University Law School. Mr. Clinton received a Rhodes Scholarship to study at University College, Oxford. He has overhauled entire education systems and presided over the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in U.S. history. By his own admission, Clinton feels like what separated him from his opponents each time he won was he paid attention to the people no one had paid any attention to before. He used this as a springboard to speak to the difference between how politicians see politics, almost like a chess match and citizens see politics as the betterment or lessening of their day-to-day life. By taking on the second philosophy, Bill Clinton has looked back at a career that he is proud of that has made a difference but also leans into our common humanity. When asked about the role of government, Mr. Clinton said the government’s role, on a macro level, is to keep capitalism from destroying itself. Two of the most resounding soundbites Bill Clinton shared with the OREA conference attendees were messages of optimism, so pick these up: Firstly, practice gratitude as a discipline. Secondly, we need to get back, be it REALTORS ®, investors, butchers, or bakers, we need to get back to relating to people. When we don’t, we lose our humanity and the whole system collapses.
As the OREA Reality+ 2022 conference wound to a close, it was clear that the focus was a strategic one, not filled with ‘boots on the ground’ workshops to change the mechanics of real estate for agents but to send messages of hope and optimism for us to sink our teeth into. So apart from the trade partners’ wares and network connections that you made, one thing that hopefully everyone picked up at the conference is investing in yourself and others and enjoy the financial dividends but also the myriad of human-connective ones even more so.