RETI Course Material goes Paperless

The Real Estate Training Institute has taken the environmentally-friendly decision to go paperless, substituting the stack of printed course material usually given to persons doing the pre-licensing courses, to an electronic format.  The move is also intended as a cost-saving measure to the organization.

For persons who are insistent on receiving the printed documents, there will be a $10,000 cost to do so.  While previous cohorts received the documents included in the overall course fee, the Board has decided to go this route as a means of containing its own cost in lieu of any course increase at present.   

The package of documents for the pre-licensing course for salesmen, of which seven cohorts were held in 2022, includes at least seven sets of documents at a combined page count of over six-hundred pages, including coloured pages.  This is in addition to miscellaneous documents and handouts such as test papers.  Considering that each course includes a cohort of approximately ninety (90) students, the printing cost can easily reach one-million dollars annually.   

The Board did significant research in reaching this decision, undertaking a cost/benefit analysis, even considering the cost of out-sourcing printing, or purchasing a new, heavy-duty print machine.  This confirmed the position that neither option was viable without a significant increase in the course cost, a last resort the organization was ready to make.

The promoted the change heavily to the industry to give persons the necessary notice.  The information was placed on its website, in the notification to successful applicants and in the print media.  The Board also designed a Going Paperless logo which will feature in its public education initiatives, The change was implemented with the first 2023 cohort.

The Real Estate Training Institute offers pre-licensing training for real estate dealers, salesmen and property managers, and has been in operation since 2016.

Strata Commission Driving Compliance via Workshops

In its on-going effort to increase compliance of annual returns filings, and assist proprietors in maintaining proper accounting records, the Commission of Strata Corporations embarked on a series of Annual Returns and Bookkeeping Workshops,  These mostly targeted persons who had made filings in the past, but their submissions were found to be deficient in some way.

 The first in the series of small, hands-on sessions, was held at the Courtleigh Hotel and Suites on Friday June 30.  Subsequent sessions were held in Trelawny on September 29, in Kingston on and Friday November 24 and 30  to cater to persons in that section of the island,   All were attended by a group of eleven to fifteen invited strata proprietors and/or property managers. 

In bringing greetings and thanking everyone for their attendance at the first session, the Commission’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Phillip Chambers, noted that the key to each person being able to enjoy the peace and prosperity of his or her unit or property, was each person understanding and enforcing the rules in their strata corporation without fear or favour.  “It is absolutely important that particularly the chairmen of these committees, that you empower yourselves with the knowledge, too often we have seen where persons have been placed in positions of authority that they truly don’t understand what is involved.” He also pointed out that the purchase of a property is the single largest purchase that most Jamaicans will make and the ability to enjoy that investment has wider implications for the interaction of Jamaicans.  He expressed similar sentiments as subsequent sessions. 

“We wanted to be very deliberate and targeted in our approach and intervention,” explained Director of the Registration Strata Titles Act, Ms. Tricia Harris. “So instead of a large, open forum, we decided on a smaller group of invited persons.  Since these persons would have either submitted Annual Returns recently or in the past, they are quite au fait with the process and such it can be pitched at a higher level, compared to persons who have never filed returns or had very little to no knowledge of what it includes,” Ms. Harris elaborated.

The feedback from the initial 3-hour session was overwhelmingly positive. Shanice Gordon, a property manager, said that the workshop was beneficial to her in “so many ways”. Explaining further, Ms Gordon said “firstly, I learnt how to properly file my returns, that maintenance fees are not to be charged retroactively, returns are to be filed 120 days after the financial year, documents must be signed by strata chairman or executive member…also there must be a proper location on the notice as to where and when a meeting will be held,” Ms. Gordon cited as key information she learned during the session.

Another attendee, Violet Wade, was also effusive in her praise for the Commission and the value of the Workshop.  “The Workshop was professionally managed and provided clarification on a number of issues that were well-received.”  Among the issues she pointed out for special mention were: The Financial Year-end of the strata vis-a-vis the required submission date of the annual returns; the requirement that the Minutes for the AGM and any EGM held during the year must be submitted for the year of the Returns; and the implication of having members who are not up-to-date with their maintenance payment vote as it means that those decisions made with their votes cannot stand should they be challenged.

“The exercises (case study) were well thought-out to give a working appreciation of what we learned,” She concluded in her assessment” she stated.

Attendees at the ensuing three workshops expressed gratitude to the Commission of their invitation and said they would have benefitted tremendously from their participation.

Strata Corporations are required under the Registration (Strata Titles) Act, to submit Annual Returns to the Corporation within 120 days after the end of a financial year.  This includes Minutes of Annual General Meetings and Extraordinary General Meetings held during the filing period, names and addresses of the current Executive Committee members elected during the filing period, Certificate of Insurance (or copy of unanimous resolution not to insure the property), and audited financial statements, or statement done in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.  The requirement for financial statement, would have in part, driven the need for basic bookkeeping/accounting workshops to support the account processes of strata corporations.

The Commission is seeking to have this be an on-going Workshops, with at least one per quarter.  All attendees were provided with a workbook and certificate of participation.

All CPD Courses Now Self-Paced

All CPD courses offered by the Real Estate Training Institute are now fully on-line and self-paced.

CPD courses, usually a few hours in length, are courses professionals are required to take on an on-going basis, to not only retain their licence, but to remain current with the latest developments in their industry.  Having long been a part of other sectors and professions such as law and medicine, CPDs became a requirement for real estate professionals in 2020. 

Currently, there are at least five mandatory CPD courses required of real estate dealers and salesmen.  The mandatory courses are: Common Issues in the Real Estate Industry, The Real Estate (Dealers and Developers) Act, The Terrorism Prevention Act, Go-AML (for Dealers and Salesmen) and Anti-Money Laundering II.  However, there is a two-year window after initial registration, within which practitioners must complete these courses to remain registered.  Additional optional courses have been offered intermittently including those in real estate sales, strata/community management and social media marketing.  

“We are quite excited to be at this point as it is something we have been exploring for a few months now. The fact that we intend to offer our clients this learning modality in a manner that does not tie them to a particular date or time to sit these courses, is a game-changer for us.  We have also explored the issues of monitoring, that is ensuring that persons have in fact viewed the content, and not just leave it running in the background, but are able to recall content.”  This is according to the Senior Director/Principal of the Real Estate Training Institute, Dr. Tina Beale.  “We have settled on a way of ensuring that persons have actually watched these videos and in some cases, even included an assessment tool to not only gauge participation, but also retention.”

Dr. Beale also explained that this is a part of the growth and development of content delivery as provided by the Institute, leading to improved user experience for its clients. “In improving our service delivery, particularly in the post-Pandemic environment, we are leveraging technology and what it can do. The CPDs will also be administered through the MyRETI Online Learning Management Platform.”  As its name suggests, MyRETI Online is a bespoke platform that is accessible to RETI lecturers and course participants. It incorporates their timetables, links to lectures, consultation meetings, lecture recordings, study materials, assignments, announcements and meeting reminders.  “The feedback to the platform thus far has generally been positive, and we think that our practitioners will also benefit from its use when completing the CPDs,” she asserted.

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