It’s been one month since Jeff King assumed the role of chief executive officer of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the nearly 14,000 member association.

After decades of working in music -- most notably as the chief operating officer of the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), Canada’s largest rights management organization -- the fifty-something, Cambridge, Ontario native decided to take a chance on a different industry and different province.

“I saw an opportunity to leverage technology, which the music industry has been turned upside down by,” King tells STOREYS. “I think real estate is about to have a similar seismic shift happen.”

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King’s drive around technology can be seen in his past achievements at SOCAN, including his work on the organization’s e-commerce tools as well as leading the development of SOCAN’s Information Centre.

“When I started at SOCAN in 2001, they were processing about five to six million performances of music a year, mostly radio, television, and concerts. And when I left, we were doing about 360 to 370 million a day, thanks to social channels and our techniques around big data,” says King.

After hearing that REBGV wanted to be leaders in real estate and “move the needle,” while also completing his own research, King says he accepted the role and relocated to Vancouver, the city where his brother also lives.

greater VancouverJeff King, CEO of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver

“Real estate, like music, is still someone moving an asset and having it used or consumed or sometimes rented or licensed, so the transaction part is not dissimilar,” says King.

King believes it is a ripe time for real estate to rethink its technology play and points to incorporating blockchain, NFTs, smart contracts, and “new ways in discovering and retailing properties which are already becoming digitized,” he says. He can see a world where blockchain-enabled real estate transactions help with clarity and transparency.

“Blockchain could help with the big to-do list, so whether or not the mortgage application was submitted and approved, or confirming the house has been inspected, or determining if the forms have been filled out and reached the lawyer,” says King, adding, “I look at it like if we had a verified Wikipedia and you knew everything on that page was right, and it was publicly built, so more people would fill out information.”

He thinks agents and realtors could then become more like professional advisors, which he noticed was happening in the music industry.

“I think realtors and brokers and agents can have a tremendous role as that sort of advisor and counsellor to buyers and sellers,” says King. “They could meet more of the consumer's personal needs.”

King also points to artificial intelligence as being useful to read condo corporation documents, which could free up a realtor's time for more one-on-one interactions with buyers and sellers. 

He says he doesn’t want to cut out the middleman but can see the benefit of offering a higher level of standardization and user payability options on property.

Armed with skills in intellectual property and rights management, King says he looks forward to bringing his toolkit to REBGV’s 100-year-old organization and its role in the life of Vancouver.

While ambitious, King said he is not about to act reckless in his new role -- but he is about moving the industry forward and believes his leadership will do that.

“I like to think of myself as kind of a 1940's musical; it’s time to put on a show and save the town,” King says with a chuckle. “Not everyone does this in their fifties, but you got one life to live.”