Real Estate

RECO, TRREB, OREA, CREA: What do these real estate bodies do?

The real estate sector can be a bit of a mystery to anyone interested in buying or selling a home. It doesn’t help that there are at least four different organizations, all commonly referred to by their acronyms, which you may encounter when researching the housing market.

RECO, TRREB, OREA and CREA all play important roles in real estate, but what exactly do they do?

I represent the Real Estate Council of Ontario. RECO is a consumer-protection organization established by the Ontario government in 1997. We regulate real estate salespeople, brokers and brokerages on the government’s behalf and enforce Ontario’s real estate laws. Anyone who wishes to trade legally in real estate in Ontario must be registered with RECO.

Our goal is to promote a fair, safe and informed marketplace, and we protect consumers in a few ways. First, we are a source of helpful, authoritative information about the buying and selling process, which is available on our website at

We also establish the education standards for salespeople and brokers, so they may serve their clients properly in a way that complies with the law. We investigate complaints about the conduct of real estate professionals, too. Salespeople or brokers found to have breached the Code of Ethics face fines of up to $50,000 or even expulsion from the profession, depending on the severity of the offence.

And finally, we administer an insurance program that provides deposit protection for consumers.

That’s RECO in a nutshell, but what about TRREB, OREA and CREA?

All three are industry associations that represent the interests of real estate professionals, many of whom voluntarily join their local real estate boards for the services they provide.

TRREB is the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, one of more than 30 local boards and associations across Ontario. Once a salesperson joins a local board, such as TRREB, they would typically become members of both OREA, the Ontario Real Estate Association, and CREA, the Canadian Real Estate Association.

In general, local associations, like TRREB, deal with local matters and the local multiple listing service (MLS). OREA has a provincial focus, while CREA works on national issues. All levels lobby government on behalf of their members. CREA operates REALTOR.CA, where all properties listed on the MLS in Canada may be searched.

If you want to learn more about RECO, I encourage you to join us for our virtual Annual General Meeting on May 25 at 10 a.m. You can register on our website and there is no charge to attend.

This year, we have a special keynote speech from Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist of CIBC World Markets. He will talk about the state of Ontario’s real estate market.

We will also have a panel discussion on the Trust in Real Estate Services Act, 2002 (TRESA), which, once introduced, will change the way real estate services are delivered in Ontario. I hope you can join us.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email

Joe Richer is registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). This column is for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions. Follow RECO on Twitter: @RECOhelps


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