Windsor-Essex County Association of REALTORS® 100 Years of History
The Border Cities Real Estate Board, comprised of just twenty-five Members, was incorporated on April 12, 1918. This organization was formed by a group of brokers whose aim, according to an article written in March of 1927 in The Border Cities Star, was to “foster the real estate interest of this locality, to bring the profession to the highest standard possible, to demand honesty and proficiency from its Members, to protect the client; in fact, to give the utmost in all matters pertaining to Real Estate.” Its Members vowed to abide by a strict and exacting code of ethics adopted by the National Association, one which to this day promises to promote and improve the real estate industry for its Members. It also promises to protect buyers — including both inexperienced investors and veterans — from poorly qualified, sloppy, or unprincipled realty salespeople. The term “REALTOR®” is not a synonym for real estate agent, but is in fact a designation —a trademark — for active Members of the Association.
The REALTOR® guarantees efficient service, integrity, and knowledge; only a REALTOR® has the proper training and sufficient experience to guide both buyers and sellers every step of the way. which to this day promises to promote and improve the real estate industry for its Members. It also promises to protect buyers — including both inexperienced investors and veterans.
On May 5, 1942, The Border Cities Real Estate Board was rechristened The Windsor Real Estate Board. The organization joined hands with the South Essex Real Estate Board on October 27, 1971 and was renamed The Windsor-Essex County Real Estate Board, or WECREB. The Windsor-Essex County Real Estate Board is the oldest Real Estate Board in Ontario, and second oldest in the country. It started a full time staff in February of 1963
WECREB has experienced amazing growth over the years. The original twenty-five Member count of The Border Cities Real Estate Board in 1918 increased to 105 Members in 1964.
In 1945, gross sales totaled $40,650 for six sales. 1984 saw a massive increase, and gross sales for that year totaled $243 million for 4,639 sales and 10,164 listings processed by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). In 2004, the Board total sales volume reached an outstanding $1,022,337,968, with the Board processing over 6,264 sales and 13,151 listings. And the numbers continue to grow.
Since the Board’s implementation of a computerized, catalogued Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System in 1976, a chain of technological advances have followed. These advances, including a lockbox system which was introduced in 1995, have enabled the Members of the Board to remain current in a consistently changing marketplace. The lockbox system has recently been updated to the Supra iBox. This innovative and secure operating system platform was first introduced to the world in June 2000.
In 2012 the Board changed its name to Windsor-Essex County Association of REALTORS®. The Directors felt the message needed to be very clear that “we are a professional Association providing services to REALTORS®, not a Board specializing in real estate… real estate is what the Members specialize in…REALTORS® are what we specialize in” and so began Windsor-Essex County Association of REALTORS® or WECAR.Windsor-Essex County Association of REALTORS® has grown not only in Membership, but in educational opportunities and technology as well. Through the Real Estate Council of Ontario, REALTORS® are able to complete their Mandatory Continuing Education (MCE) through online courses. Once registered for an MCE, REALTORS® have up to two (2) years after the date of registration (even after course completion) to have access to the online courses, for reference and refreshment purposes. REALTORS® may also participate in Webinars (web-based seminars, lectures, presentations, or workshops) throughout the year, hosted by WECAR and other real-estate industry organizations such as Ontario Real Estate Association, Canadian Real Estate Association and Teranet Inc. to name a few.
“In the old days,” says current WECAR President, Daniel Hofgartner, “you just mailed away and got your license, and that was that. Today, the industry requires you to complete 5 industry specific courses and exams over the span of eighteen (18) months before qualifying for your license exam, during your first two years of being licensed you have to take one more industry specific course and exam, then twenty-four (24) hours of continuing education within every two year cycle after that.” Hofgartner emphasizes that WECAR strongly stresses education and professionalism. REALTORS® are extensively trained in courses that include mortgage financing, principles of appraisal, real property law, real estate investment analysis, property management, and the rules and regulations of the Real Estate Council of Ontario. REALTORS® and their listings are also more available to their clients and the public than ever before, thanks to the internet and mobile phones. Between REALTOR.ca, Mobile Apps, and Firm/Member websites – listed properties, REALTOR® biographies, and achievements can now be shared in detail online.
Multiple Listing Service® was developed several years ago by REALTORS® to aid customers in finding their ideal home. “Real estate just used to be about collecting data, and eventually, (real estate professionals) agreed to share that data,” says Hofgartner. “That was the formulation of MLS® – why don’t we share data among ourselves? Before we came to the computer age, people used to work with rolodex cards and basically rolled through those. It was as simple and primitive as that.”
What began as a paper-based exchange of listings and photographs has evolved to a web-based advertising vehicle used by every REALTOR® today. Today, the rolodex has been cast aside in favor of realtor.ca. This valuable website, while not an MLS® system, is used to showcase vital details about properties listed across the country.
WECAR Members recently launched a new MLS® system which is the Matrix™ multiple listing platform by CoreLogic®. With industry-leading performance, ease of use, and device compatibility, Matrix supports more 750,000 real estate professionals across North America—more than any other system in history. CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX) is a leading global property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider. The company’s combined data from public, contributory and proprietary sources includes over 4.5 billion records spanning more than 50 years, providing detailed coverage of property, mortgages, tenancy, location, hazard risk, and more.
Matrix™ includes an advanced Client-Portal platform which enhances communications between REALTORS® & Clients. It allows for individual listing feedback, a favorites system, and individual Client searches if they just want to take a peak. It offers advanced CMA features and detailed statistics – making offer presentations thorough. Matrix™ has enabled REALTORS® to save valuable time, as well as increase productivity. And for REALTORS® who want access to the MLS® anytime, anywhere, there’s the Property Locater Multi-Platform App. HomesHQ also offers a wireless solution for REALTORS® on the road. REALTORS® can email their clients directly from Property Locater view their personal listings without a separate search, and can take advantage of a useful mapping system.
Not only has WECAR made great strides in improving REALTORS® accessibility to their clients by introducing the industry’s most innovative forms of technology, they are also committed to making Windsor and Essex County a greener place to live. The Association also supports the groundwork of the Ontario Real Estate Association’s and the Canadian Real Estate Association REALTORS® Quality of Life initiative.
The program is based around five principles, the first of which is protecting economic vitality. To help revitalize Windsor’s Community after the market crash, we partnered with Greater Windsor Home Builders Association and Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce to create the Windsor Essex Active Retirement Community Initiative (WEARCI). The purpose of WEARCI was to attract investment, create new jobs and revitalize the real estate market by building on the region’s naturally occurring retirement community. We did this by promoting our unique location, quality lifestyle and the diverse amenities of our nine communities, not to mention the growing development of active retirement luxury properties and services.
The second principle is to provide housing opportunities. WECAR’s Members believe that there is power in numbers and as such rally, in coordination with OREA and/or CREA, to support consumer benefitted housing options. We support things like the Home Buyer’s Plan (HBP) and fight for regular inflation increases to the HBP.
The third principle is preserving the environment. WECAR is a paperless organization, and has been for a number of years. We offer advanced technology services to our Members to help them to do their business on the move, but also offer paperless alternatives as well. We purchased REALTOR® Park, and donated trees to the City, as well as full grown trees to the tornado victims in Leamington.
The fourth principle is protecting property owners. REALTORS® fight daily to help protect homeowners by protecting the ability to freely own, use, buy and sell real property. We fought against things like Municipal Land Transfer Tax – a secondary home tax, and won. It was not introduced to communities outside of the GTA. Further, we also lobbied to increase the Land Transfer Tax Rebate from $2,000 to $4,000, and won.
The fifth principle is building better communities. This means that WECAR and our REALTOR® Members encourage and support, good schools, healthy parks, safe neighbourhoods, and more. Throughout the years we have donated to local hospitals and health organizations, we’ve sponsored buildings at the University of Windsor. We try to maintain a positive working relationship with local municipal leaders. We host two major charitable events each year which support local projects, community not-for-profit organizations, and bursary/scholarship program for our Members children. In addition, our giving even extended to our neighbours to the south, when we donated bottled water towards the Flint water crisis.
As of May, 2018 the Association now boasts a Membership of 972 Members, which includes 64 firms.
Celebrating a 100 years, Windsor-Essex County Association of REALTORS® has stayed true to the vision of its founders a century ago. Its Members not only provide consumers with honest, trustworthy, and efficient customer service, but they also uphold the highest ideals in quality of life, volunteerism and community involvement. Members of the Board spend quality time ensuring that Windsor and Essex County continues to thrive and grow.
“We not only sell real estate, but we are actively involved in the community,” remarks Daniel Hofgartner, President of WECAR. “The Association, its Brokers and its Members all raise funds, put on events, pull in talent… giving back is important to this organization.”