O’Neill Pushed into the Spotlight
An Interview with new
TREB President Maureen O'Neill
When former Toronto Real Estate Board
President Donald Bentley surprisingly stepped down last month less
then three months into his term, to take a position overseas for
RE/MAX Europe, it thrust Vice-President Maureen O’Neil into the
forefront and a new position.
It is an opportunity that O’Neill relishes.
will have the chance to finish projects and initiatives that I have
started. Many times after a one year term, initiatives get dropped
and the chances of this happening with a longer term will be slight.”
O’Neill explains when discussing the rare occurrence that will see her
tenure as president run over 21 months in duration. O’Neill officially
began her term as president in mid-September and it will continue
until June 30th, 2009.
O’Neill elaborated on the most import thing she wishes
to accomplish during this time. “Currently, REALTORS® are sometimes
not seen as professionals because of uninformed press and many
misconceptions of the public. I intend to make inroads to elevate the
value of a REALTOR and the important role they play in the economic
She attributes this importance due to her experiences.
“I have a profound respect for sales people who,
working strictly on a commission basis, persist in good and bad
markets. They do not have special benefits or pensions and yet they’re
willing to prove to themselves their value to the profession.”
O’Neill has seen it all since starting in the real
estate industry in the 1970’s. She began her career working in a real
estate office – not as a sales person, but on the administration side
of things while earning herself a degree in Industrial Psychology.
After finishing her degree she continued her career working in a
hospital as a Psychometrist (Psychological Testing) for several years
before being approached by the Toronto Real Estate Board.
“They were looking for a person to head up their
Education Department and they were looking for someone who had the
practical experience in real estate and the academic credentials to
compliment it. I was immediately interested because I wanted very much
to have a career that could benefit REALTORS. During my time as an
administrator, I realized how very little support, educationally,
sales representatives had.”
The new president’s main objective may be to improve
the perception of REALTORS, but other items she views of high
importance are to ensure that the MLS system is protected from third
party interference and non-members, as well as protecting the REALTOR
O’Neill believes her term as president is happening
during an exciting time for the industry where many aspects within the
business are changing.
“The future of the real estate industry will be
changing our role as REALTORS due to the speed at which technology is
advancing. As an industry we must be vigilant to the changes and be
ready to adapt our role as it evolves. REALTORS will be paramount in
the negotiation process and in the interpretation of all the data the
public is obtaining. Because of technology there is an abundance of
information, but it will take the REALTOR to connect the dots.
Information will not replace experience and know-how.”
In many of the major metropolitan areas across Canada,
including Toronto home prices continue a steady incline. There has
been thought that these prices could potentially phase out the
first-time buyer but it is a perception that the new TREB president
does not necessarily share.
‘If the trend of escalading house prices continues,
certainly the first time home buyer will be affected. However, they
may have to make concessions as to what they want to have - and what
they need to have. There will always be a market for the first-time
home buyer as the GTA presents many communities.”
O’Neill also states that these buyers have become well
aware of the rising home costs and have been preparing accordingly to
find a solution that suits their own situation. “The first time home
buyer is not always pressed for money. Many of them have saved for
many years, have substantial savings and have waited a long time to
buy. Also, many singles are pairing up and investing together as a
way of being able to buy in a market they desire.”
When not working in the office, O’Neill has a love of
the theatre and the written word - noting that curling up with a good
book is a favourite hobby, along with spending quality time with her
Regardless of whether it is her career or her term as
TREB president, Maureen O’Neill hopes to be remembered above all else
for her integrity. A testament that’s only fitting - she has been
practicing it throughout her career for the past 30 years.
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