Legislation Modernization:
It’s Time to Act

Frequently Asked Questions

The following list of questions has been compiled based on feedback received so far. Do you have a question that you don’t see here? We’re happy to answer it and add it to the list! Click here to send us your question.

Why does our Act need to be updated?

The Act to Incorporate the New Brunswick Real Estate Association was enacted in 1994. Although it has undergone some minor administrative changes over the years, the entire document is outdated and does not reflect modern practice and concepts, including the evolution of the real estate industry to a profession.

Most importantly: our Act needs to be updated because, as a partner in co-regulation with FCNB, NBREA has an obligation to protect the public. Protecting the public is also in our profession’s best interest: when we do it well with proper, modern tools, REALTORS® inspire trust and respect. If we do it poorly, trust and respect in our members are lost and our profession may entirely lose our right to co-regulate. ​ 

What’s the difference between the NBREA Act and the Real Estate Agents Act of New Brunswick? Which one are we updating?

The Act to Incorporate the New Brunswick Real Estate Association is enforced by the New Brunswick Real Estate Association and speaks to NBREA’s governance and powers, and the Real Estate Agents Act of New Brunswick is enforced by FCNB and outlines the framework of those licensed to trade in real estate.

NBREA is undertaking a modernization of the Act to Incorporate the New Brunswick Real Estate Association — proposed to be renamed “The New Brunswick Real Estate Association Act— to ensure our organization and its governance structure and powers are in alignment with the best, most modern practices.

As our consultation process unfolds, we are understandably hearing from members about a variety of issues they would like to see updated, including items that relate to the Real Estate Agents Act. This important feedback is being itemized carefully and will be provided to FCNB for consideration.

What is the advantage of moving sections out of the Act into Bylaws?

The current Act has been in place since 1994. Not only does the Act need to be modernized, it needs to be drafted in a manner that makes it more resistant to becoming outdated again. Items that are foundational and fixed in nature will continue to be enshrined in the Act, but items that must be kept updated, including the composition of Council, dates for meetings, and categories of membership benefit from being moved to bylaws, where they can be changed based on immediate membership input – giving members a voice and a vote in real time – rather than by the provincial government.

Is NBREA’s intention to be heavier-handed in disciplining its members?

Remember, NBREA is an organization of professionals who have a legislative right to co-regulate their profession in partnership with FCNB. Like teachers, nurses, and lawyers, REALTORS® take this important responsibility seriously. Our Complaints and Discipline panels, operationally supported by NBREA’s Registrar, require a balance of precise, flexible, and modern tools to be effective and efficient in the performance of those duties. The proposed modernized Act delivers these. They are not heavier-handed, they are more effective and targeted to the regulation of a profession, rather than the industry we once were.

Why are council members electing the Chair and Council executive, rather than the membership as a whole?

In a membership driven organization like NBREA, all members have a democratic opportunity to vote on which of their fellow members they’d like to serve and represent them around the Council (formerly the Board of Directors) table. Each year, members are granted this important right during NBREA’s Annual General Meeting. Now that the individual real estate boards have amalgamated, the previous director seats that were automatically filled by the sitting president (or designate) from each Board are now proposed to be elected by the membership, which means members would be voting on more individuals than ever before.

Once these elected individuals are around the Council table, Council members themselves can assess each other’s performance, including who regularly attends meetings, arrives prepared, actively participates, and demonstrates the leadership qualities necessary to serve in executive positions. Having the Council members nominate and elect each other for executive positions represents modern, best practices in governance. It also acknowledges that, with a large and growing membership, it is not always possible for all members to know each other at all, let alone be able to assess the performance of that individual as an elected leader of the Association.

I’ve heard NBREA talking about updating this Act for over two years now. What’s taking so long?

Although an updated Act needs to happen quickly, it’s more important that it be done correctly. NBREA is taking a thorough, transparent, step-by-step approach in sharing the work as it evolves and inviting input along every step of the way.​ Since the beginning of 2022 and with guidance from legal counsel, NBREA has researched best practices across other regulated professions and drafted a series of recommendations based on this research. Those recommendations have continued to evolve based on stakeholder input.

It’s important to note that updating in Act is, by design, a very long and detailed process; this is truly the reason NBREA hopes to ensure the modernized Act is built more flexibly to make it resistant to becoming outdated again.  

What’s the difference between the Act, Bylaws, and Policy?

First, there are TWO Acts that govern the real estate profession in New Brunswick:

Our current Act to Incorporate the New Brunswick Real Estate Association, which is enforced by the New Brunswick Real Estate Association and speaks to NBREA’s governance and powers, and the Real Estate Agents Act of New Brunswick, which is enforced by FCNB and outlines the framework of those licensed to trade in real estate.

Both Acts are provincial law that can only be changed through a prescribed process in which a Bill Becomes Law in New Brunswick. Click here for details.

The Bylaws of an organization are internal rules and regulations set up by the Association, and voted on by the members. Every professional association must have a set of bylaws for their members and the organization to adhere to. Bylaw changes can be proposed and voted on by members with sufficient notice to the membership. Generally, Bylaws provide the details that complement the Act on issues and areas where members need a voice and a vote.

Policies may be created for the purposes of governance or operations. Generally, Policies provide directions administering the Act and managing and carrying out the powers and functions of the Association. They are passed by the Council (formerly the Board of Directors) and intended to be flexible enough to be regularly updated to ensure the Association can adapt to changes in the profession or the market it serves.

Can you summarize the major updates in the proposed Act compared to the existing Act?

A major theme of the proposed updates is not only modernization of the Act, but just as importantly: to make it more resistant to becoming outdated.

By moving fine details out of the Act and into bylaws, such as the composition of Council (formerly the Board of Directors), for example, they can be kept updated through membership votes rather than proposed amendments to Law to be passed by the government.

Other major updates include an enhanced Complaints and Discipline process (giving NBREA’s Registrar a wider variety of tools including greater flexibility for responding to complaints and the ability to dismiss frivolous complaints), updates to the Board of Directors composition (more public representation, modernized methods for filling seats, and clearer, best practices terminology from ‘Board of Directors’ to ‘Council’ and from ‘President’ to ‘Chair’), the establishment of a Professional Standards Committee (to seek member consultation in defining rules relevant to the profession as it continues to evolve). Click here or click the “DRAFT ACT” button in the menu at the top of the page to read the full draft of the proposed modernized Act.

What additional powers are proposed for NBREA’s Registrar?

The Registrar’s role is to effectively facilitate our members’ ability to co-regulate their own profession in partnership with FCNB. To do this most efficiently, proposed updates will provide powers similar to those in place in other professional regulatory environments, such as the ability for the Registrar to use judgment in ensuring complaints meet basic criteria before they can move forward (filtering out those that are overtly frivolous or outside of NBREA’s jurisdiction, for example).

What is the new Professional Standards Committee, and what are its powers?

The Professional Standards Committee, made up of active members and public representatives, is a proposed new body that will focus on creating or clarifying the proposed “rules of the road” for the profession. These proposals will be subject to a membership consultation before being submitted to Council (formerly the Board of Directors) for consideration. With the Professional Standards Committee being made up of active, working members (plus public representatives to ensure a well-rounded perspective both from our members and the clients they serve), it will have the ability to develop standards that guide members in more quickly adapting or being responsive to evolutions in the market and the profession, such as multiple offers, mere postings, and federal legislation like the recent foreign ownership prohibition. Read more about the Professional Standards Committee in Section 12 of the proposed Act.

What titles and terminology are being updated and why?

The proposed Act recommends that “Board of Directors” be updated to “Council”, and that “President” be updated to “Chair. Why? The term “Council” is distinctive and eliminates confusion from referring to the Real Estate “Board” and the Real Estate “Board’s Board of Directors”. The term “Chair” represents a national shift in modern association governance in recognizing that the elected leader of the Association’s role is to Chair the Board of Directors (or Council) team, and not to run the organization operationally. Properly identifying this individual as “Chair” is in step with a change made over the last few years by the Canadian Real Estate Association and many other Boards and Associations across the country.

Would the Complaints and Discipline process change under the modernized Act?

Not significantly. Although several updates to the Complaints and Discipline process are being recommended (see Sections 24-40 of the proposed Act for details), many of these are designed to formalize practices already in place. However, because the current Act has been in place since 1994, items such as fines haven’t kept pace with inflation. Other proposed updates include moving details out of the Act and into Bylaws and Policies, where they can be more easily updated to remain current. The objective is to ensure that our legislation as a whole is constantly relevant to the evolving needs of our profession and the market it serves.

What have our Members Told Us?

The complexity of our profession has increased dramatically over the years.

The Little Blue House, NBREA’s official podcast, tackles topics of relevance to REALTORS® and the real estate market in New Brunswick. Check out this episode on our plans to modernize our Act.