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Going Forward – The Foundation In Unique Times

Albertans and people around the world are responding to the extraordinary and evolving circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the Alberta Real Estate Foundation we are thankful for the dedication and purposeful action by our grantees, partners and industry stakeholders which is contributing towards strengthening Alberta’s of our communities.

In an effort to provide support through this period of increased uncertainty, the Foundation is committed to the following:

  • We will continue to process grant payments in a timely fashion, respond quickly to questions, and to support open projects through to completion. We have put the necessary technology in place to enable our team to work remotely and we can still be reached through phone and email. In an effort to do what we can to “flatten the curve”, any in-person meetings scheduled for the coming months will be moved to teleconference and video online.
  •  We will not be asking any organisation to return funds due to impacts to a project or event resulting from COVID-19.  If you have any concerns regarding your project, please contact us. We are open to working with you to adapt the project so it can get back on track or discuss the potential of redirect funding, depending on how your organisation would like to move forward.
  •  We will be flexible on timelines and deadlines for reporting. When you determine the amount of time your project will require, you can let us know.
  •  We will be open to discussing the potential of releasing grant payments early, if organisations are facing cash flow concerns.
  •  We will connect with our philanthropic and government partners to identify opportunities to respond nimbly and collaboratively to the needs of our stakeholders.

Grantmaking going forward:

Our existing grant program will move forward as planned. Our next round will be in May, for a decision in June. Please visit our Get Funding page for more details and to submit your inquiry.

Over the coming weeks and months we will determine if there is additional support the Alberta Real Estate Foundation can provide. Now is a good time to prepare for what happens in the medium to long term, even if that preparation is just in the form of thought experiments and “what-ifs” to think through the possibilities.

If you have any questions or suggestions for us, please don’t hesitate to reach out to questions@aref.ab.ca.

The Next Step: Examining The Real Estate Foundation Revenue Model & Modernisation

2018-2019 Annual Report Highlight

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) is approaching its 30th anniversary which is an opportune time to ponder our past and look ahead to our future. As we reflect on our many successes over the last three decades, we are also exploring how to modernise our model to ensure the Foundation is well positioned in the changing world of payments, interest rates, and community investment.

The Foundation was created in 1991 by provincial legislation, the Real Estate Act, to enhance the real estate industry and benefit the people of Alberta. The funding model works like this: When a home buyer deposits money in trust through a real estate broker, the interest earned on the deposit is accumulated and forwarded to AREF to invest in the province. AREF has invested more than $21 million towards 620 projects in the areas of community innovation, education and research, housing, industry leadership, and land stewardship.

When the Foundation started collecting funds 30 years ago, interest rates were high.  Recently, they have been historically low. Real estate professionals have also seen dramatic changes in banking, payment verification, and compliance procedures for money laundering. In addition, the 2008 banking crisis resulted in new international banking regulations that change how financial institutions regard short term deposits.

A number of research papers written for our Foundation and the Real Estate Foundation of BC (REFBC)–which follows the same model–have detailed the challenges. These include lower interest rates and higher banking fees compressing Foundation revenue; stakeholders expecting more efficient transactions; and short-term commercial deposits becoming less attractive to financial institutions.

It’s time to revisit the way we do business.

We are investing $100,000 in a year-long comprehensive process to modernise the Foundation model and ensure we can keep innovating and serving Alberta communities for decades to come. This project, in partnership with REFBC and Platform Calgary, will provide the Foundation the opportunity to work with stakeholders to create better workflows and better consumer protection.

A new Real Estate Technology Lab held in Calgary and Vancouver will bring together a number of different stakeholders to generate thought leadership, foster new thinking, as well as identify and help adopt solutions. The lab will convene AREF, REFBC, the Real Estate Council of Alberta, legislative bodies (Service Alberta and BC’s Superintendent of Real Estate), real estate professionals, brokerages, lawyers, financial institutions, start-ups with relevant technologies, and others. Together these stakeholders will explore industry challenges, identify best practices, and accelerate relevant technologies.

The lab will tackle pressing challenges such as the need to automate workflows for residential property purchases and support the long term vision to advance and improve the real estate industries in the two provinces.

AREF and REFBC are taking a leadership role in modernising our funding models. This will lead to a better form of consumer protection, increase revenue for our Foundations, and strengthen the real estate industry’s reputation by positioning both Alberta and British Columbia as innovative real estate ecosystems.

Read the Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s full 2018-2019 Annual Report.