Community Builders At Work
MEMBERS OF THE Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) have been selling Ottawa properties every day for more than 100 years. Whether it’s a young family looking for that first place to settle in and grow, retirees in need of new space to fit a new chapter, or a local entrepreneur looking for bricks-and-mortar to take their business to the next level — REALTORS® help build this city by finding people and businesses a place to call home.
Incorporated in 1921, OREB today represents nearly 4,000 REALTORS® and manages the local Multiple Listing Service® (MLS) System. By May 31, 2023, OREB Members completed 6,071 transactions this year worth $3.98 billion. That’s not even counting the sales traded in commercial real estate activity.
Those numbers are a simple representation of what REALTORS® really do: help place people where they want to be. And, to OREB, that also means having a hand in shaping the spaces that make up our communities with wide-ranging suitability and affordability.
“If you want to build a vibrant city, you need to give homeowners and renters a diverse selection of potential homes,” says Ken Dekker, OREB’s 2023 President. “There’s a balance to strike that makes a city a wonderful place to live in — and no one knows better than an OREB REALTOR® how wonderful Ottawa truly is.”
Ottawa is a hyper-local market thanks to a variety of defined and distinct neighbourhoods. REALTORS® understand the unique characteristics of each and can help piece together all the components that make a home or business property ideal for their clients.
A major advantage to using a REALTOR® is their unparalleled access to data and market insights. The MLS® System, for example, is a comprehensive residential real estate database from which REALTORS® and OREB can use to identify trends, forecast accurately and find gaps in the housing spectrum. This is critical in helping people make decisions about when and where to buy and sell property — and it is invaluable knowledge that helps OREB partners, including the City of Ottawa, identify what kind of spaces will be most suitable for those people and businesses who want to call Ottawa home.
“REALTORS® are partners in the economic development of Ottawa,” says Dekker. “We can identify changing needs of the city and its people, and we can in turn advocate for the change we need to see for the betterment of Ottawa.”
For example, OREB has a Government and Community Relations Committee made up of REALTORS® who volunteer their time and expertise advocating for healthy housing policy. OREB affirms that the city’s housing crisis is rooted in a chronic insufficiency of supply. When the City of Ottawa proposed restrictions on secondary dwelling units, OREB produced research demonstrating that residents — particularly older adults and those on fixed incomes — would lose an accessible and affordable housing option. Council postponed the discussion to consult further.
“Their wealth of data and knowledge, coupled with direct community experience, puts REALTORS® in a prime position to help develop housing solutions that meet the needs of Ottawa residents today and in the years to come,” says Janice Myers, OREB CEO.
Often a relationship-broker between the public and private sectors, REALTORS® and real estate organizations such as OREB, have long been advocating for measures to alleviate growing concerns about the housing supply shortage. OREB is collaborating with stakeholders to build a case for a permanent national housing roundtable that would convene real estate, local authorities, builders, Indigenous partners, civil society organizations and others to work on effectively implementing housing solutions.
“REALTORS® have extensive networks and their one transaction spurs many,” says Dekker. “When a house, for example, changes hands it supports the local economy. People spend significant money on upgrades and furnishings within the first year of possession, often turning to their REALTOR® for recommendations about local businesses and service providers.”
“City building is all about relationships and REALTORS® have those in spades,” says Myers.
Through the REALTORS Care® program, OREB Member REALTORS® also give back to the community. In 2022, they donated more than $113,000 to 18 shelter-based charities. The cornerstone fundraiser is the annual charity golf tournament — which is sold out in 2023! Local REALTORS® also rolled up their sleeves to collect household items for a shelter for women fleeing domestic abuse and to help build a Kemptville Habitat for Humanity project.
“REALTORS® are by our clients’ sides through many major milestones, as families grow, shrink, divide and multiply, and likely the biggest financial transaction of their life,” says Dekker. “We understand how to build communities that can grow and transform with people throughout all their chapters.”