PLE and RICS Designations Unite Canadian Property Professionals

Written by Posted On Monday, 28 November 2005 16:00

The complexity of real estate has given rise to a wide range of specialized professions and professional designations in Canada and around the world. From appraisers, architects and engineers to real estate brokers, tax assessors and urban planners, these diverse professions share a common focus whether they deal with land, real estate, real property, property or any of a number of related aspects. This commonality is the driving force behind two umbrella organizations that, in turn, have their own professional designations: PLE and MRICS/FRICS.

The Association of Ontario Land Economists (AOLE) represents members drawn from a variety of disciplines actively concerned with land economics in Ontario. Since 1962, voting membership has been limited to those qualified by education, experience and status to work professionally in an occupation requiring competence in the economic aspects of land ownership, use and development.

Originally, voting members were called Ontario Land Economists. Now, AOLE has adopted the designation, Professional Land Economist, identified by the initials PLE after a professional's name.

Land economics includes mortgage services, land assembly, urban planning, development, construction, installation of services, property management, surveying, and related services including marketing, technology and finance. Within the Ontario government, the majority of professional members are land use planners in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and municipal assessors in the Ministry of Revenue. In the private sector, members are employees, partners and business owners representing this array of professions.

AOLE promotes and maintains high ethical work standards throughout its membership. The organization makes submissions to government regarding law and public administration issues that have a bearing on land economics.

"The Association is basically an umbrella group representing a broad spectrum of people," said Toronto-based appraiser and real estate consultant Michael Cane FRICS, AACI, PLE, who has been a member since 1969 and feels the designation PLE sends a clear message. "Obviously, [PLE says] 'this is a professional' and it is clear they are interested in the broader aspect rather than merely their own narrow field. The Association gives a broader exposure to what's going on in the land professions."

When AOLE was formed in 1962 by Chartered Surveyors accredited by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Institution restricted membership to those trained in the UK. Times have changed.

"RICS is growing in leaps and bounds," said Cane, a UK-trained Chartered Surveyor himself. "RICS in England has woken up and realized everything is becoming international. Now, big brokerage and construction firms are international and RICS decided it must move with the times."

Formed in 1868, although its roots go back further, RICS has played a prominent role in the development of Canada's real estate industries.

"When CMHC [Canada's federal housing agency] formed, a lot of Chartered Surveyors were brought over [from the UK] to start up real estate growth in Canada after World War II," said Robin White FRICS, Chairman of RICS Canada, explaining that RICS has expanded to 127 countries and a global membership of 117,000. "Chartered Surveyor is thought of as a profession to aspire to if you want to reach the pinnacle of the property profession."

RICS Canada, which has chapters in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, recently partnered with Toronto's York University to allow commercial real estate graduates exemption from RICS exams and to fast-track them into apprenticeship. Students from the University of New Brunswick's land surveyor or geometrics program have similar privileges. Established Canadian professionals with a real estate degree or designation may also fast track to become an MRICS (member of RICS) or FRICS (fellow of RICS).

"RICS is the foremost profession dealing with property worldwide," said White, a founding partner of Avison Young Commercial Real Estate who is currently responsible for the sale and acquisition of commercial properties across Canada.

"[The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors] covers all the disciplines that are in property professions. Right now in Canada and the US, there is no professional organization that someone in real estate can come into from an educational view point that can help them on a global basis. We have a 'big picture' approach. Here is an Institution they can be part of with education benefits and qualifications recognized on an international platform. It is the mark of professionalism."

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