Several Ontario boards merge to form the Central Lakes Association of Realtors

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More and more real estate boards and associations are amalgamating to streamline operations, capitalize on shared resources and pave the way for potential cost savings. 

One notable example of this trend is the recent merger of the Durham Region Association of Realtors, the Quinte & District Association of Realtors, and the Northumberland Hills Association of Realtors in Ontario.

The amalgamation forms a larger collective regional association with a new name, the Central Lakes Association of Realtors (CLAR), which now boasts a membership of more than 2,000 realtors.

The new regional board will have an extended geographic reach, encompassing markets that include Durham Region, Hastings County, Prince Edward County, Northumberland County and Peterborough County.

A stronger industry presence 


CLAR President Meredith Kennedy, who is also broker/owner with Royal Service Real Estate in Millbrook, Ont., said the common goal is to maximize service to members while increasing access to data throughout the region and enhancing professionalism within the industry.

“The vision of a larger regional association started many years ago, and I am proud to see this goal come to fruition. Seeing the overwhelmingly positive response from members, hopefully, this will be the start of further collaboration and integration among boards in our region and beyond,” she said, adding she will remain president of the new entity until the next board election at the end of November.

Among the driving forces behind these mergers is the paramount need for streamlined access to data, Kennedy explains. 

Prior to the amalgamation, realtors often found themselves navigating memberships across multiple boards to access vital listing information. CLAR’s president highlights the predicament realtors face when clients are privy to listings they are not.

“It’s very embarrassing when your clients actually know a house is listed and you don’t. And it could be just that an out-of-town realtor didn’t put the listing on your local board…It just makes life for data, costs for realtors, that much better.” 

Kennedy explains the merger eliminates such data disparities, promising a more efficient, cost-effective and seamless experience for both members and their clientele.

She adds, “We can share a lot of our administration costs, our resources, training, education, all of those things amongst all of the different regions, but we can still keep our local presence.”


Navigating the transition


The transition, though, had some initial hiccups. 

“It was a lot of data to go through at once. But we’ve learned a lot, and we anticipate that any more integrations will be much smoother,” explained Kennedy. “Fully up and running now. Data is available. Members have access and are good to go.”

John-Ross Parks, a realtor with Royal LePage ProAlliance Realty in Belleville, Ont. who is a member of the new association and formerly of Quinte, endorses the merger.

“I thought there were a lot of benefits for the members for sure. It was long overdue,” he said.

“(The transition) could have been a lot smoother. I think it’s really challenging when you’re integrating multiple associations. There are always hiccups that happen, but you know, I think everybody did the best that they could with what they had. It certainly could have been a lot smoother, and we’re all working through it still. But…most of us appreciate that it’s not an easy task.”

CREA Chair Larry Cerqua echoes these sentiments, emphasizing the broader trend of collaborative efforts in organized real estate. 

“It looks like more resources, more sources, anything that can help realtors do better. The boards and members speak up, and they hear each other, and they go, what are we doing? Why don’t we coordinate and coordinate working together,” he emphasizes.

“A lot of this was brought on obviously by the local boards themselves, looking for solutions. It comes down to dollars and cents sometimes, to be honest.”

Cerqua anticipates further consolidations within the Canadian real estate landscape, mirroring trends observed south of the border.

“At the end of the day, if they can provide better efficiency, more of an effort to provide services for their members and their members are happy with that, my god, I can just see it as a win-win. Why not? There’s a lot of great benefits.”


CLAR’s continued growth


CLAR’s expansion remains steady — the Peterborough and Kawarthas Association of Realtors successfully merged with the new association after a membership meeting on Aug. 9th. Additionally, the Kawartha Lakes Real Estate Association of Realtors is set to vote on a similar merger proposal with CLAR at the end of the month. 

Wendy Giroux, CEO of CLAR, said the new regional identity will have close to 3,000 members. 


Data sharing and access 


While some of the former boards were Information Technology Systems Ontario members, CLAR will move forward as a partner board of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB). 

Giroux says CLAR is a client of TRREB subsidiary PropTx Innovations, which means TRREB members will now have access to all CLAR listings, and CLAR members will have access to TRREB data and tools. 


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