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UPFRONT 04 Editorial
30 COVER STORY
THE HOT LIST
REP reveals the real estate agents who are taking Canada by storm
The strategy behind the sale of a secluded $1.15 million property in Whistler
Are for-sale-by-owner companies playing fair?
06 Statistics A global look at widely varying commission rates
The future of e-signatures in real estate transactions
10 Mortgage update What does Bank of Canada’s latest rate cut mean for the market?
12 Commercial update
An experienced home stager offers 10 tips for making your listing more appealing
Why American investors are turning to Canadian real estate
PEOPLE 64 Favourite things Alice Thompson of Coldwell Banker Redwood Realty
TURN OF THE CENTURY
05 Head to head
08 Technology update
As the founder of Century 21 Canada, Gary Charlwood is the man who brought real estate franchising to this country
The news for Calgary’s housing market isn’t as dire as you might think
FEATURES 20 Mortgage referrals
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Partnering with a mortgage broker for referrals can help grow your business – here’s how to make the most of that relationship
60 Driving change When is the right time to bring employees onboard with strategic intiatives?
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www.repmag.ca MARCH/APRIL 2015
Good times for Calgary agents? You betcha! C
algary: the land of milk and honey – deep fried in Alberta crude oil. That prosperity, which ignited home sales in 2014, also gave real estate agents a whopping 21% jump in home sales to feast on last year, and a nearly double-digit rise in the city’s average home price further sweetened commission cheques. Flash forward to 2015, and the possibility of bringing home that kind of, ahem, bacon seems increasingly remote. The culprit, of course, is volatile oil prices, especially for the thicker, less desirable Western Canadian Select (WCS) crude produced in Alberta. In early February, that economic driver was trading at just under $50 a barrel, down nearly 45% from a scant 10 months ago. The decline has already sparked a wave of project cancellations, with recently announced layoffs at oil sands players Halliburton and Sanjel placing Alberta on track to meet projections for a decline of 23,000 industry jobs in 2015 alone. The numbers are enough to give even the hardiest of agents indigestion. But should they be? Perhaps not.
While the number of transactions has dipped, that should benefit fulltime real estate agents with years of experience in guiding clients through purchases and/or sales While OPEC continues to hold its oil production steady, effectively tamping down on prices for WCS, new home sales data suggests a challenging but rewarding year ahead for the top agents in Alberta’s biggest city. The Calgary Real Estate Board is reporting a 30% rise in the number of new listings for January, and prices are holding steady despite all the uncertainty surrounding the oil sands. While the number of transactions has dipped, that should benefit full-time real estate agents with years of experience in guiding clients through purchases and/or sales. Calgarians undertaking either one of those transactions in 2015 aren’t about to look anywhere else for assistance.
Vernon Clement Jones Editor
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HEAD TO HEAD
Where do you stand on forsale-by-owner companies?
For-sale-by-owner companies have been making headlines, most recently with a lawsuit launched against a major player in Quebec. Most agents heralded the move, but the assessment of FSBOs is hardly unanimous
Broker ROYAL LEPAGE LIFESTYLES REALTY
Broker of record COMFREE COMMONSENSE NETWORK
Broker COLDWELL BANKER SARAZEN REALTY
I think [FSBOs] do the real estate industry and the public a disservice. They’re allowed to mislead the public into thinking that it’s a private sale, and they’re allowed to advertise as if they’re for sale by the owner, but they’re listed on the MLS. They’re allowed to use our system, but they don’t offer any compensation most of the time. All they do is take, and they don’t give anything back. They don’t follow the rules of real estate, and I think that grossly misleads the public.
I believe the consumer should have the right to choose their level of involvement in the transaction. There are a lot of different business models and price points and levels of service on the market, and our licensed agents provide these services, from pricing assistance to negotiations and paperwork, without commission. There’s plenty of room in the marketplace for a variety of models, and consumers should inform themselves on the various options available.
There’s not enough policing within the structure of the company. If you want to be a real estate company, have the same rules that we do and hire agents; that’s the whole crux of it. They say the listing is for sale by the owner, but it’s not the owner who is calling us back; it’s the friends and families who represent the seller. That’s what’s happening on the inside, and that needs to be policed. If they want to sell real estate, they should be licensed.
THE CASE IN QUESTION A lawsuit against DuProprio, a major FSBO company, continues to wend its way through the courts. The Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards [QFREB], which represents 12 boards and 13,000 members, has presented a long list of accusations against DuProprio, among them that the FSBO’s ads are misleading, creating unfair competition and unenforceable guarantees. The QFREB also alleges that DuProprio libels the industry by claiming agents do not protect consumers from the perils of purchasing real estate. Agents across the country are applauding the board’s action and have called on their own real estate boards to follow suit with a crackdown on what they charge is false advertising by both FSBOs and registered brokerages alike.
Commissions all over the map Commission compression: Itâ€™s a concern for agents across the country as years of record-setting price growth and increased competition put downward pressure on compensation. A look at the average per-deal income by province and country highlights trends on the commission horizon FOR-SALE-BY-OWNER AND COMMISSION-FREE COMPANIES IN CANADA - THE BIG PLAYERS ARE GROWING Company Transactions closed DuProprio
Maximum agent commissions around the world NORTH AMERICA Canada 6% USA 6%
COMMISSION PER TRANSACTION Alberta $20,029 British Columbia $28,420
The Bahamas 10% Cayman Islands 10% Jamaica 5% CARIBEAN
New Brunswick $8,090 Newfoundland $14,183 and Labrador Northwest Territories $20,166 Nova Scotia $10,757 Ontario $21,549 Prince Edward Island $8,195 Quebec $13,561 Saskatchewan $14,918 Yukon $15,011 *Each figure based on the provincial average selling price and assuming an average commission of 5%
LATIN/SOUTH AMERICA Belize 10% Brazil 6% Mexico 5% Colombia 4%
AGENTS IN ONTARIO AND BC LED GROWTH IN AVERAGE COMMISSION CHEQUES (2014)
EUROPE Denmark 2% France 10% Germany 6% Italy 8% Netherlands 4% Norway 2.5% Russia 5% United Kingdom 3.5% Croatia 12% Monaco 8% Switzerland 5%
+5.0% Prince -0.5% Edward Island New Brunswick -0.9% Nova Scotia
Ontario might have more agents, but Quebec has the highest number of agents per capita of all the provinces. That spells more agent-to-agent competition Number of agents per 10,000 residents Quebec – 200 British Columbia – 45
Ontario – 39
ASIA/MIDDLE EAST India 3% Philippines 5% South Korea 0.9% China 4% United Arab Emirates 5%
Saskatchewan – 18
Nova Scotia – 18
Manitoba – 17 Prince Edward Island – 17 Newfoundland and Labrador – 14 Yukon – 12
AFRICA South Africa 7.5% Ghana 5% Kenya 1.25%
Alberta – 32
PACIFIC Australia 3.6% New Zealand 4%
New Brunswick – 11 Northwest Territories – 0.63
TECHNOLOGY UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS organizes everything a real estate professional uses on a day-to-day basis – spreadsheets, databases, social media, apps – in one space. The information can be accessed across several devices and by several members of a team.
Planitar’s iGuide bundles interactive listing features iGuide, the latest online offering from tech group Planitar, has combined floor plans, virtual tours and 360-degree views into one interactive system, making it easy for agents to virtually show a property to its fullest potential. The system, which also measures each room in the property and automatically creates a floorplan, has already garnered attention south of the border, highlighting the weight that buyers place on online listings.
Open house advertising method too invasive? Smart Antenna, the latest marketing tool developed by iSIGN Media, uses Bluetooth technology to push messages to any smartphone and tablet within a 300-foot radius of an agent’s open house. The device has divided agent opinion, with some arguing the marketing tool is too invasive and casts too wide a net, while others are applauding its innovative approach to listings promotion.
Domo is an agent’s one-stop shop Domo is working to become the all-in-one platform for real estate agents and their businesses. The system collects and
Condo sales centre goes back to the future One condominium sales centre in Surrey, BC, has taken the term ‘virtual tour’ to a whole new level. Potential buyers can manipulate a 3D suite using just their hands, and can walk around the virtual suite using the technology on their smartphones. Buyers who can’t make it to the physical sales centre, where traditional marketing tools such as model suites are still available, can virtually tour the building via a smartphone app.
TLC engine makes becoming an expert easy Becoming an expert in a given neighbourhood can be fairly simple with a little TLC – that is, True Lifestyle Cost, new software that tallies all the expenses associated with living in a specific neighbourhood. The Pennsylvania-based company uses 31 markers, including utilities, commute costs and even daycare costs, to determine an area’s true affordability. While the system is marketed toward homebuyers, it also can aid agents seeking to become specialists in an area or those working with buyers focused on a single neighbourhood.
Whatever happened to e-signatures? ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES are nothing new to the industry, and while they’re not entirely legal in every Canadian market – Ontario, for example, only accepts e-signatures for supporting documents – those markets that do allow them don’t seem to be taking full advantage of the technology. “I think a lot of agents don’t utilize [electronic signatures],” says Mark Evernden, president of Engel & Volkers Calgary, who uses the technology in his day-to-day business. “Agents are slowly getting onboard. I think it’s just the unknown.” But getting around that fear of the unknown is relatively easy after experiencing the technology. Ricky Chadha, an agent with Royal LePage in Toronto, says he’d happily switch to electronic signatures if only they were legal for more than just supporting documentation. “If it was allowed to be used for agreements, it would be really beneficial,” he says. “If you’re in a ... multiple-offer situation or any situation with a time crunch ... it can reduce the response time.” That convenience, Evernden agrees, is key when it comes to promoting electronic signatures. But, the industry needs to take the next step in encouraging agents to use the service. “I think as a time management component,
ANYTHING BUT SMALL BUSINESS Electronic signatures are hardly a gimmicky tech toy – they’ve been around for quite a while, and their share of the market is likely to surprise you.
$5B the projected dollar amount for transactions facilitated by e-signature by the end of 2019 Source: DocuSign’s CMO
For more technology news as it happens, visit www.repmag.ca
Q&A: How techsavvy are we?
you can manage your time more efficiently if you’re not relying on faxes and hard copies,” Evernden says. “It simplifies the due process of being able to work on documents.” The frenetic pace of agents’ and clients’ lives speaks to the need for e-docs.
“You can manage your time more efficiently if you’re not relying on faxes and hard copies” “If it takes them 10 minutes to pull something off the system, as opposed to driving 25 minutes across town ... that’s where the speed of process works for everyone,” Evernden says. Still, agents need a clearer and more concise understanding of what, exactly, electronic signatures are, says Chadha, pointing to the strides the industry has made in adopting other technological timesavers. “I think, in the past three to five years, the industry has really made some excellent advances,” he says. “Whereas when I started in the business, with an IT background, I felt the industry was a little in the dark. I think technology has been adopted and is emerging. People who resisted have realized that they need to move forward with technology to be successful in the future.”
E-SIGNATURES LEGAL? The use of electronic signatures is governed by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act – unless you live in a province that has its own privacy laws, which have been deemed ‘substantially similar.’ Those provinces are: British Columbia Alberta Quebec Ontario New Brunswick Newfoundland and Labrador
IRA JELINEK Toronto real estate agent Harvey Kalles
Market watchers have criticized the real estate industry for not keeping up with the latest in technological advances, but veteran agent Ira Jelinek says the profession has actually grabbed that fastmoving bull by the horns REPC: Has the real estate industry kept up with technology? Ira Jelinek: Yes, definitely. Agents generally keep up with any technology that comes out: new apps, websites, generating new marketing materials. We can produce websites for our clients who want their listing to be exposed that way, there’s social media. ... We’re definitely on top of our game with marketing, advertising, the Internet and other technologies.
REPC: How can technology better an agent’s day-to-day business? IJ: They’re connected, and they’re reaching out to more and more potential buyer clients and seller clients. It can get them more prospects and more leads for a listing or trying to retain a buyer for a property. There are CRM programs, too, that I use for mailers. It gives me a reminder for when everyone’s home anniversary is and who to call back and when, and when to follow up. Organization is definitely key.
REPC: How can technology better an agent’s service to his or her clients? IJ: You can create a website specifically for that client’s listing. You can post a barcode, and potential buyers can text to get more information, and we can get more information about our potential buyers. Let’s say a client doesn’t want to meet with the agent, they’re just browsing. They’re a hot buyer, but they’re not ready to call the agent or see the property just yet – they can go on the website and text [for more information], and it’s somewhere in between. The web has been great for informational purposes and for data.
REPC: Where do you see technology taking the industry? IJ: Who knows? It’s a wild world. Every single day, people are coming up with new inventive ways to do things. It’s like the Wild West. There are too many moving parts and what happens to stick and work – it’s ever-changing.
REPC: Do you think technology could ever hinder the industry? IJ: No. It’s all good because it puts the clients first. It’s all for clients and customers. Humans are always going to be needed – to do the paperwork, for the negotiating. There’s information that the real estate agent has about the buyer and seller that computers don’t have. Agents still need to bring both parties together. It takes finesse, and that’s where agents come in. REP
MORTGAGE UPDATE Why real estate agents don’t need another mortgage rate cut … not even in Alberta
THE BANK of Canada’s January 21 rate cut stemmed from that precipitous drop in oil prices and its impact on GDP. By the same token, the central bank’s decision in March to hold that overnight rate at 0.75% speaks to just how successful that stimulative measure has been for most of the country’s largest real estate markets – even those in Alberta. “Financial conditions in Canada have eased materially since January in response to the Bank’s recent monetary policy action and to global financial developments,” said an official March 4 release from the central bank. “This easing is reflected across the yield curve and in
a wide range of asset prices, including the Canadian dollar. These conditions will mitigate the negative effects of the oil price shock, further boosting growth through stronger nonenergy exports and investment.” While home sales in Calgary were down little more than 34% year-over-year in February, agents on the ground were quick to point to the significant variance between properties at different price points. “If you look at statistics from the Calgary Real Estate Board, [sales] are down, but you have to look at where they’re down,” says George Bamber, a broker and owner in
New automatically readvanceable mortgage
One of Canada’s largest mortgageonly lenders has introduced a new option for borrowers aiming to access equity in their homes without the uncertainty attached to some re-advanceable home loans. MCAP’s pilot program will offer an automatically re-advancing mortgage in line with a similar but now-defunct product from mortgage-only lender Firstline. With an automatically readvanceable home loan, the borrower’s line of credit remains open and accessible as the principal is paid down. That circumvents the informal re-qualifying many borrowers complain about in trying to borrow against their homes.
Calgary. “Maybe the [high-end] market is feeling pressure, but the low- to mid-market is good. Interest rates are at all-time lows; banks are competing for business.” Indeed, the Calgary board reported an increase in year-to-date sales for properties lower than $300,000 and for those between $400,000 and $600,000.In the higher-end ranges, YTD 2015 sales were slightly lower than YTD 2014 sales, but were at par or slightly higher than those sales levels in 2012 and 2013. Meanwhile, in areas less hard-hit by slumping oil values, homeowners are aiming to take advantage of low interest rates. They’re listing their homes for sale with the intention of moving up the property ladder once home prices begin to loosen. Agents on the ground have noted tempered sales, particularly in the high-end price ranges and among first-time buyers. “There are some people questioning if they should buy today, but the only people questioning that are the first-time buyers,” Bamber says. “For the people who already own property, the low- to mid-market is fine.” The markets outside of Canada’s oil production hub, however, benefitted more obviously from the bank’s decision to keep the lower rate in place, among other factors. Toronto and Vancouver, for instance, posted massive rises in home sales – up 11.3% and 21%, respectively, in the month of February.
More efficient mortgage processing TD Bank has struck a deal with First National, a leading mortgage-only lender, for First National to perform underwriting and fulfillment processing for TD’s brokeroriginated mortgages. “This is an important agreement that leverages the distinct capabilities and strengths of both parties,” said Stephen Smith, chairman and CEO of First National. “For First National, it provides a new source of income that we hope will grow over time.” The transition will be a tiered, region-specific rollout that will go Canada-wide by mid-2015.
Q&A: The real impact of lower rates JOHN KING Ottawa real estate broker Royal LePage
Real estate is a hyper-local industry, and lower interest rates won’t impact every market in the same way. REP spoke with John King, a Royal LePage agent working in the nation’s capital, about the spring market and the real impact of lower mortgage rates REP: Do you expect the lower interest rates to impact the spring market?
an entry-level condo for a younger buyer.
John King: I don’t, personally, because we’ve had such [low] interest rates for a while. We might see a slight increase in the market, but for me, I look for other factors that will impact the market such as pent-up demand for homes. We had a quiet winter, so I think we’ll have a busy spring because of that. Here in Ottawa, we see pretty steady sales throughout the year. I don’t think we’ll see a dramatic increase in those sales just because interest rates are slightly better.
REP: Do you think the rates might inspire homeowners to move up the property ladder?
REP: Is there a particular market that could benefit from lower rates more than others? JK: The market will be more attractive to first-time homebuyers. But the condo market is saturated right now in Ottawa. We’ve got an oversupply of condos, so lower rates might encourage a young buyer to buy if they qualify for a little more – but I don’t see it impacting anything other than
FSCO sounds alarm about syndicated providers Regulatory body FSCO has issued a warning to Canadians about unlicensed syndicated mortgage providers. Syndicated mortgages are becoming increasingly popular for Canadian investors looking to capitalize on the continuing construction boon. “The Financial Services Commission of Ontario is warning consumers that it has received complaints about some websites promoting syndicated mortgage investments,” said the official release. “The businesses operating these specific websites are not licensed or registered to conduct this activity in Ontario.”
JK: The people who already have equity in their homes, who need larger homes, will be able to afford more, so they might be able to move up the ladder. So the lower rate might impact them a little bit, too.
REP: Speaking specifically to the market in Ottawa, what do you see for the spring market? JK: Our market hasn’t picked up yet this year. For me, there’s been nothing out of the ordinary at this point. I think we may see some people coming out from underneath the snow banks. We’ve been so spoiled by interest rates because they’ve been so good, that I don’t see any light-switch change of behaviour [because of slightly lower rates]. But I could be wrong.
‘Workarounds’ for creditchallenged clients Attaining alternative financing in smaller housing markets can be difficult, according to one leading player in the space, but increasingly, mortgage referral partners have a number of workarounds available to ensure clients get the financing they need. “Some lenders suggest topping up [the mortgage] with private funds,” said mortgage broker Adam Hale of The Mortgage Centre. “Some of these lenders have brought back bundled products where they do a first and second mortgage for you and it’s a way to get clients to 80% loan-tovalue.”
Vancouver boon continues Vancouver home sales surged by 60 per cent in February, according to the latest stats from the Real Estate Board of the Greater Vancouver area. Buyers are motivated and homes that are priced competitively are selling at a brisk pace, and with news of an interest rate freeze March 4, brokers and real estate agents expect that trend to continue. Strong interest among foreign investors is also expected to keep prices climbing. “Historically low borrowing rates bolster the real estate industry, particularly in BC where the economic outlook is brightest,” Shaadi Faris, VP of Intergulf Development Group, said. The January rate cut seems to be having its prescribed affect.”
COMMERCIAL UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS
Regina project to expand downtown commercial space The City of Regina is looking to sell a parcel of its prime downtown real estate for $2.3 million to deepen its inventory of mixed-use properties. The large housing and commercial development project will offer work-andhome options for a city struggling to meet demand for home and office space in its urban core. For real estate agents, the move has the making of a future boon in business for the downtown core.
Is the commercial market Calgary’s saving grace? Optimism about Calgary’s struggling real estate market may remain strongest in the commercial sector, suggests a report from CBRE Ltd. The drop in oil prices notwithstanding, there has been a steady supply of new construction projects adding to the city’s inventory of office space, hotels, and industrial and retail properties. That supply isn’t likely to overwhelm demand, given current inventory challenges and the long-term prospects for the province, say economists.
Ottawa growing with live-work neighbourhoods New development projects outside Ottawa’s downtown core are contributing to the city’s higher vacancy rates, according to a CBRE
report. The trend toward live, work and play communities – namely neighbourhoods that offer short commutes and lots of amenities – is enabling homebuyers to live and work in the suburbs. In fact, say agents, the migration trend is toward those neighbourhoods as businesses push their way into the suburbs and a growing number of Canadians work from home.
Drone technology a popular tool for agents The use of drones is becoming more and more popular among Canadian agents in the residential real estate market, but some sales reps are now pointing to its benefits in the commercial sphere. “To be able to fly downtown Windsor and look for vacant sites, potential buildings that could be repositioned, redeveloped, [and] to do it from the air gives you a whole different perspective,” Jim Williams, a commercial agent in Windsor, Ont., told the CBC. But the drones have drawn the ire of consumers who feel the technology could compromise privacy.
Retail industry to affect commercial real estate? The Huffington Post is painting a grim picture of the commercial real estate space should other big retail names follow Target’s exit. If stores continue to close and tenants can’t be replaced fast enough, posits the online news source, the public companies that own many of Canada’s malls will have to compete more aggressively for a shrinking pool of major tenants – which usually means lowering rents, resulting in lower revenues for mall owners. That would likely place downward pressure on the share prices of normally stable REITs.
Lower loonie shifts focus north THERE’S A NEW group of commercial buyers on the Canadian scene – US clients are now actively hunting for deals north of the border. The loonie’s decline is creating an opportunity for Americans to start investing in the Canadian market, says Brock Evans, an associate with Avison Young in Calgary. “We Canadians were buying in the American market when we were at parity with the American dollar. But now, all of our product is at a discount by 20% off the top [for American bargain hunters].” That’s one incentive many market watchers are hoping will encourage investors to spend in Canada instead of the US. The move would help balance the outflow of investment dollars being pumped into the US by Canadian titans such as Manulife Asset Management Private Markets and Avison Young. Collectively, those billions of dollars in purchases have cemented Canada’s position as the top foreign investor in the United States’ commercial market. However, the fallen loonie, underpinned by a fundamentally strong Canadian economy, is already catching the eye of commercial investors across the globe. Alexandra Cozart, an agent with Colliers International, says she’s working with American and Australian clients who are looking to establish offices in downtown Toronto. “Whether that stemmed from the loonie, I don’t know, but I’ve definitely seen some transactions recently that have been from American and Australian and UK companies,” she says.
BY THE NUMBERS
94¢ The loonie’s highest value in 2014 against the American dollar
79¢ The loonie’s lowest value in 2014 against the American dollar
And as that trend gains momentum, it’s likely to create a knock-on effect for the rest of the economy. “It should be positive because foreign investment is always good,” Evans says. “It’s also good for our export sector, so products become more attractive on the world market, including our oil exports.”
“It should be positive because foreign investment is always good. It’s also good for our export sector …” But foreign investors may increasingly face competition from Canadian buyers – both small and institutional players looking to snatch up deals, who’ve watched the decline in the loonie zap their buying power abroad. “I think it’s starting to throttle back,” Evans says. “There’s a 20% premium on American product now with the dollar, so I think it’ll shuttle back.” That wave of at-home investment, too, is expected to benefit the larger economy. “[The lower loonie] is going to have an impact on [the commercial market] just like it does on everything else,” Cozart says. “It’ll have an impact on Canadians choosing to spend their money here rather than go down to the States, maybe travelling in Canada instead of taking that Florida or California or Las Vegas trip. It’s something that I think, across the board, is going to affect all the areas of the economy in general.”
Q&A: Filling space ... quickly With the retail and commercial sectors under increasing economic strain, REP turned to Chris Fyvie, an office-leasing specialist, for advice on what agents can do to meet the growing challenge head on REP: As an agent, how do you work to fill suddenly empty space? Chris Fyvie: The first thing you need to do is make sure it is leasable from a tenant’s perspective. By this, I mean someone needs to walk in and not make a lot of changes. They’ll be able to see value in where the walls and doors are, the glass, the natural light. If the space is not open-concept, it is typically better to open the space up, paint and get rid of the old carpets. It is best to have the landlord make those cosmetic changes so someone can come in and see their vision in the space. CHRIS FYVIE Office leasing specialist Colliers International
REP: How do you market these types of properties to ensure good tenants and avoid unnecessary turnover? CF: A lot of agents fall short of the online marketing end of things. There needs to be a story behind the building and the space, and you need to market the space where everyone is looking – the Internet. The online marketplace is an opportunity that a lot of agents aren’t taking advantage of because they don’t know how. It’s almost a disservice to your clients if you don’t have the capability to market the space online.
REP: What options do tenants have if they don’t want to vacate the space? CF: Most tenants will be on a longer-term contract – three, five or 10 years, depending on the size of the space. The typical landlord prefers to have someone sublease the space, so they would have two covenants on the lease. Sometimes subleasing tenants are taking a substantial discount. If the original leaser goes bankrupt but the sub-lessee wants to stay in the space, their rent would jump up to the then-current value of the space. This could be a significant increase, and that’s why a sublease comes with risks.
REP: Are there any contractual issues that agents need to consider when clients need to suddenly terminate a lease?
The amount Canadians The target amount Canadians spent on commercial real were expected to spend on estate stateside during the US commercial real estate by first three quarters of 2014 the end of 2014
$43.4B The amount Canada has spent on commercial real estate in the US since 2010
CF: Typically there are two scenarios when a tenant is attempting to terminate a lease – they can sublease the space and pay the difference in an upfront lump sum, or they can approach the landlord to terminate. The termination amount is at the sole discretion of the landlord unless it has been pre-negotiated in the lease. It is typically associated with the thencurrent market and the new rates the landlord can achieve, and how long it will take them to re-lease the space. If it’s a nice space and the market’s hot, you could get away with six months, but if the market’s not, it could be up to 90% of your lease obligation.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS From advanced marketing to technological innovation, franchise partnerships offer extensive rewards in today’s complex economy. Paul Baron of Century 21 Leading Edge Realty weighs in on the discussion
“Before anything else, a broker needs to look for a franchise that is genuinely interested in your success, that has a team approach that is more substance than sizzle”
FOR YEARS, trends in the real estate mar ket have blown like the proverbial wind, shifting and changing with every twitch of an unpredictable economic climate. Every thing from the style of certain types of prop erties to how some segments of the market view certain neighborhoods can change, quite literally, overnight. This complex state has increasingly led the industry to support franchises as the safest, and most lucrative, harbor in the storm. The advantages are extensive: incen tives for rapid growth, mentorship and industry insight, and enhanced marketing strategies designed to reflect current stand ards. And, in the end, it doesn’t hurt to have a friend or two in your corner. It’s a no-brainer for many industry pro fessionals – like Century 21 Leading Realty president Paul Baron, who views the real estate franchise as the only logical step for any ambitious real estate agency with its heart set on successive expansion. “It’s a given that an independent can offer a lower fee structure, but the types of growth incentives available to a franchisee from a major franchise brand are far too appealing,” Baron says. While some major franchises, such as Re/ Max and Royal LePage, have growth regula tions in place, more progressive brands reward a company’s growth with advanced, if somewhat complex, fee structures that reduce the rate per agent through a system of diminishing costs. “In terms of growth, it doesn’t make any sense to be an independent,” Baron says. “For example, our brokerage, Leading Edge – with the size we’ve grown to, our cost structure right now is such that our fees are close to half what they would be. Those kinds of incentives stimulate expansion.” Of course, growth is not the only benefit of going the franchise route. One particu larly important advantage is marketing. While many brokers and agents have uti lized every bus stop, urinal backsplash and newspaper insert within reach, good fran
chises are far more organized. With a strate gic marketing package in place for fran chisees, it’s easier to implement a smart and regularly updated communications strategy. “For example, here at Century 21, they introduced a digital platform that is the best in the industry, in my view. As an example of how effective this platform is, I was with a colleague from Re/Max, and we did a search
AUTOMATING THE SUPERSTAR PROCESS Thirty years ago, being a superstar agent meant seeing your face on buses and front lawns – and the task of achieving that sought-after status was daunting. It required years of client pitching, lead generating, ad placing and enough unabashed self-promotion to make a televangelist blush. But the digital revolution has ushered in a brave new world of online credibility generation. Thanks to the online tools available, Paul Baron and his team can take any young, budding agent and turn him or her into a ‘90s rock star in days. All it takes is the right combination of marketing and guidance. The only thing that has yet to be automated is the selling process – that, unfortunately, is still up to the agent.
on a property listing to see who had a better page ranking.” The Re/Max page came up first, while Century 21 Canada’s was second – but before his friend began to gloat, Baron made an observation. While the Re/Max corporate site was indeed first, the Century 21 Canada link was for the specific agent for the prop erty listing. In other words, the local agent had almost as high a page rank as the the Re/Max corporate site.
every agent under their umbrella brand. Marketing spending goes into driving traffic directly to the property listings and agents through SEO. This kind of strategic market ing not only generates substantial traffic, but also optimizes that traffic directly to specific listing agents. “That’s the role of a responsible franchise – to assist us in driving substantial traffic to agents and member company websites,” Baron says. “In our specific case at Leading
“If you want to be competitive in this marketplace, you have to – absolutely have to – be competing in the online market” Paul Baron “Century 21 agents compete equally with Re/Max.ca at the agent level – that’s SEO that works,” Baron says. “In analyzing other brands like Re/Max and Royal LePage, they are very much top-down brands. They spend a lot of money trying to drive traffic to their corporate site. What we do at Century 21 is literally the reverse; it’s bottom up.” Essentially, the marketing team at Century 21 Canada generates a URL for every property they list, as well as a URL for
Edge, we generated 400,000 leads in October alone, 900 of which led to solid leads directly to our specific agents.” In the crowded and often convoluted marketplace, having the right support can make all the difference. If that support comes from a strategic partner with a recog nized brand and a proven marketing pro cess, it only serves to strengthen the argu ment for franchises in Canada’s real estate economy. REPC
ONCE IN A CENTURY Gary Charlwood is a popular name in several industries, from mortgages to travel and, of course, real estate. The co-founder of Century 21 Canada spoke with REP’s Olivia D’Orazio about what it took to build his names in those industries to the franchise giants they are today. INTERNATIONAL REAL ESTATE brands from across the globe have Gary Charlwood to thank for their very existence in Canada. In 1974, Charlwood – then the owner of Hunt Realty in Vancouver – purchased the rights to Century 21 in Canada with Peter Thomas. Unfortunately, the various independent firms across the country caught wind of these franchising plans – the laws for which were virtually non-existent – and pushed for some provincial governments to bar Century 21’s access to the country. Century 21 fought the courts, and successfully opened the doors to the wide array of American brokerages now commonplace in Canada – the Re/Maxes, the Coldwell Bankers, among others. But the real struggle, Charlwood says, was convincing those independent offices to join his growing team. “Why go from Lions Realty to Century 21 Lions Realty? We had to convince them that there’s power in numbers,” he says. “It’s not as effective as having a brand, which is national or international.” Charlwood worked around the clock to grow the company, not only coast to coast – Canada is home to more than 400 Century 21 offices – but also across the world. The brand hosts another 400 offices in the Asia Pacific region. The Canadian extension of the brand, however, is obviously the one that Charlwood holds closest to his heart. Like a proud papa,
he brags that Canada has 10 of the top 21 offices in the global Century 21 family, and the No. 1 Century 21 office in the world, three years running. The Canadian offshoot also boasts the top Century 21 salesperson (by units) in the world. . “Our selection process and our training programs put us in good stead,” he says, “and they only get better every year.” Charlwood wants to get bigger every year, too. He’s aiming to double those numbers – open another 800 global offices – in the next decade. A large part of that expansion, he says, is going to involve bringing young people, particularly tech-savvy and post-secondary educated individuals, to the profession. That, however, is a challenge in and of itself.
“The college grad mentality is why go to college and get only a commission job?” Charlwood says. “But you always make the most money in the commission-only jobs because there’s a risk, you have to make it. There are great opportunities, and [new graduates] need to overcome their reluctance to the commission-only approach.” In an effort to entice these potential new hires, Century 21 developed an active recruiting program that sends Century 21 spokespeople to college and university campuses across Canada. And while the company is actively looking to recruit the younger techsavvy generation, Charlwood insists there’s more to a successful sales rep than someone who is proficient with an iPhone.
THE KING OF FRANCHISES While Charlwood can’t claim to be the only person to have introduced Canada to franchised businesses, he’s certainly one of the most prolific. In addition to Century 21 Canada, Charlwood founded mortgage brokerage network Centum Financial Group, UNIGLOBE Travel International (which expanded to 700 outlets around the world) and Real Canadian Property Management, for which he owns the Canadian master franchise license and rights. His involvement in these various franchise opportunities also saw his 2008 induction into International Franchise Association Hall of Fame, alongside such names as Disney and Hilton, as well as his 2009 induction into the American Society of Travel Agents’ Hall of Fame. He’s the only Canadian to earn such honours.
“A lot of it has to do with selecting the right kind of personality,” he says. “Anyone who has tenacity and a pleasant personality and good work ethic can do well in real estate. The challenge is finding people with those skills.” Charlwood, without a doubt, is certainly tenacious – a trait he likely picked up early in life. His mother was left widowed after her husband – Charlwood’s father – was tragically killed during the war in Germany. But she, too, was tenacious. After meeting and later marrying a lovely Englishman, she moved with German-born Charlwood to England in an effort to build a better life for her son. There, Charlwood attended a prestigious grammar school and won a scholarship to
Southampton University in the United Kingdom, where he studied economics and German literature. Charlwood also learned a long list of languages: in addition to English, he speaks German, French and Spanish. “Languages led me to travel,” he says, “my first career.” Working in the travel industry took Charlwood across the globe – he lived in Switzerland, where he married and where his first son, Christopher was born, as well as Vienna, Belgium and Spain, to name a few of the places he called home. He eventually found himself working at a large travel agency in Vienna, where one of his clients was the Canadian embassy and where he befriended Bob Merner, a commer-
cial attaché. After learning a second child was on the way , Charlwood decided it was time to leave Europe behind. “We wanted our second child to be born in the New World,” he says, referring to Australia. Getting immigration clearance for Australia had taken many months and he began to have second thoughts about moving so far away. But as he prepared to go ahead with his plans to move his young son and pregnant wife across the planet, Bob Merner, a University of Alberta alum, suggested he move to Canada – Vancouver, in particular – instead. “I received assisted passage to Canada in 1966, on a boat,” he says. “I landed in Montreal, drove to Vancouver. That was November 26, 1966. And I had my family
INDUSTRY ICON GARY CHARLWOOD’S CAREER TIMELINE
1966 Charlwood arrives in Canada; his pregnant wife and young son follow a few months later
1972 Charlwood founds Charlwood Pacific Group, a global company that builds franchise opportunities; he continues to act as CEO and chairman today
Gary Charlwood during Century 21’s early days.
with me by Christmas.” With his feet firmly planted in this New World, Charlwood welcomed his second son, Martin, in early 1967. In Canada, Charlwood kept to the travel industry, working for such airlines as Western (which is now Delta Airlines) and CP Air (which is now Air Canada). It wasn’t until he looked down at his pay check one day that he decided he wanted more and left travel behind for real estate. “I got my real estate license in 1971 and I had three months of savings to exist,” he says, adding that the pressure of two children and a mortgage drove him to succeed. “I made my first sale in my tenth week, then I went on a roll. I sold 118 properties in 15 months, a record at that time for British Columbia. And I made five or six times my annual salary in the airline business in my first 15 months.” After that, hard work and ambition seemed to be all Charlwood knew. He saw an
ad in a local paper seeking a business partner, which led him to purchase a 50 per cent stake in Hunt Realty; he then bought out his partner in that endeavour. In 1974, while growing Hunt Realty, Charlwood was contacted by Peter Thomas regarding a business opportunity and together they bought the rights to Century 21 for Canada. Charlwood led the effort to launch the brand and after lots of preparation and groundwork they opened with 32 Canadian offices on January 15, 1976. In 1989, Charlwood bought Thomas out and now, along with his sons, owns a 100 per cent stake in Century 21 Canada, as well as a 50 per cent stake in Century 21 Asia Pacific. “I’d like to say I had a clear vision,” he says. “Before real estate, the world was my oyster. But when I came to Vancouver, I saw this as my hunting ground. Then, when I launched Century 21, the world became my oyster again. “But there’s still quite a bit to go.” REP
Charlwood receives his real estate license. After several difficult weeks, he makes his first sale – then completes another 118 transactions over the next 15 months
1974 Peter Thomas approaches Charlwood, and together they purchase the Canadian franchise rights to Century 21
Century 21 opens more than 30 office across Canada
1980 Charlwood founds Uniglobe Travel International; he still acts as its CEO and chairman
2003 Century 21 Canada expands to Asia, opening offices in Taiwan, Hong Kong/Macau, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei
2008 Charlwood is inducted into the International Franchise Association’s Hall of Fame
2009 Charlwood is inducted into the American Society of Travel Agents’ Hall of Fame
UNITED WE GROW The real estate industry is a competitive game, and agents need to stack the deck in their favour. But they don’t have to go it alone – many are growing business at an exponential rate through mortgage broker referral partnerships
“It takes time to build the relationship up. It’s really a partnership that relies on patience and trust” John Freeland Smith, Centum Freeland Mortgage Group
AGENTS ACROSS the country are working to expand their reach in a crowded industry, and broker partnerships are frequently proving the best way to do it. Deepak Bansal, a mortgage broker with Dominion Lending Centres who operates across the GTA, says it simply makes sense for brokers to have a pool of real estate agents to whom they can send referrals; namely, those clients who have first come through the preapproval process and are now looking for a real estate agent to work with. Of course, those referral relationships are a two-way street – and for agents whose clients have already picked out that dream home, finding a broker to secure financing is just as key. “The Realtor/mortgage broker relationship is very valuable to us. I would say that real estate agents should be the most important centre of influence for mortgage brokers – that relationship is so important to nurture, and there are various ways of doing that,” Bansal says. “We’re not here just to help agents close that transaction with one client. We’re really here to help them grow their businesses.” John Freeland Smith, a principal broker with Centum Freeland Mortgage Group, agrees that the strongest of agent-broker relationships has reciprocity at its core, but points out that the closeness of that kind of relationship limits the number an agent should seek to form. “You should keep your referrals to a small, manageable group,” Freeland Smith says. “Picking a handful from different regions is the best way to go. It takes time to build the relationship up. It’s really a partnership that relies on
patience and trust.” Freeland Smith, who spent 10 years as a real estate lawyer, knows most of the ins and outs of acquiring a home, and that prior knowledge has helped him steer clients through the growing maze of legal questions surrounding the mortgage process, but he concedes there are some salient points to a real estate deal fall exclusively under real estate agents’ area of expertise. “Agents know things we don’t; they have access to tools we don’t, and it’s [key] to have a relationship with a Realtor who can provide those resources,” he says. “Once you develop a good relationship with a Realtor, I don’t think there are any downsides.” And when it comes to figuring out how to ensure both parties get the most out of a broker/agent relationship, Freeland Smith suggests shying away from a simple referral fee structure.
“What we’re doing right now with real estate agents specifically is we’re trying to create long-term, long-lasting relationships” “I think there are some people in the industry who operate on a referral fee basis, and I don’t think that does anyone any good. I don’t expect a fee if I refer a client to a home inspector or a lawyer or [real estate brokerage],” he says. “I have to disclose if I am giving someone a referral fee. The whole system operates much better if we forget about the small fees we may gain off each other and just make sure our clients are served. So we have a system of competence instead of a system of nickel-and-diming. That’s the ideal situation.” It’s a partnership philosophy shared by Bansal. “What we’re doing right now with real estate agents specifically is we’re trying to create long-term, long-lasting relationships,” Bansal says. “Just building that relationship so they know we’re always there for them – we’re not here on a transactional basis. Many brokers and agents, I’ve found, are working on a transactional level, but we’re
really here so that they understand that we’re here for their clients and their clients are always their clients.” Securing the trust of a real estate agent is all about trying to make sure that once the client is referred to a mortgage broker, says Bansal, “the service that client receives on our end is so fantastic that they go back to that agent and praise us and thank you, the agent, for the referral to the mortgage broker.” These types of relationships also can leave agents with more time to tend to the homebuyer’s wants and needs, while taking comfort in knowing that the client’s financing needs are in the capable hands of someone they trust. That peace of mind can leave you working at your best – and your most efficient. The teamwork involved when working closely with a broker can help push the deal through to approval more quickly and with fewer issues along the way.
Deepak Bansal, Dominion Lending Centres
REFERRALS A QUICK CHEAT SHEET FOR BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH BROKERS Jason Georgopoulos of Dominion Lending Centres Estate Mortgages works with more than 30 different real estate agents in trying to help them grow their business. A good broker partner will not only drive business to you, he’ll help you become more efficient with your existing clients, Georgopoulos says. “What we try to do is – let’s say a real estate agent meets 100 clients in a year, and say 70 of them would qualify, we try to take that to 80 by using our expertise and our knowledge of different risk guidelines that our lenders have,” he says. After nine years of working with these referral partners, these are some of the tricks of the trade Georgopoulos has learned.
newsletters. Others might want help throwing parties for clients.”
What works for one real estate agent won’t necessarily work for another “Our focus has been more of a partnership with real estate agents, really trying to grow their business. Our added value is detailed analysis on each agent and how they can better their business. That changes from agent to agent. Some want help with marketing, so we’ll put together their marketing presentations, rate sheets for their clients,
Approach your business like the big box shops do; ensure a holistic experience “Life is busy, and people are looking for more of a one-stop shop. They don’t want to approach seven different places; that’s why the Wal-Marts of the world are so successful. That’s why we think mortgages and real estate go hand-in-hand and they can be done in a team environment. That’s why we like working hand-in-hand with agents.”
Unique marketing strategies go a long way “After closing, rather than sending a traditional thank-you letter, we throw, on behalf of the agent, a housewarming party for the client. That agent then gets exposure to that client’s network … which helps them grow their business” Don’t operate on a referral fee model “We think the agents who are in this business for the long haul aren’t worried about a few hundred dollars and we can put that $200 to better use by marketing on behalf of the agent.”
Credit guidelines differ with each lender – a good broker partner in your corner can help navigate this tricky territory Each bank and each lender has its own criteria for evaluating a client’s financial health. A slam-dunk at one institution could be flat-out denied at another, and a good broker knows which lender is best suited for each individual client. “We have to understand that it’s hard for the average person to know what the different banks are looking for. It’s our job as an educated broker to know the difference and make sure the clients are putting their best foot forward at the different lending institutions to get the deals done.” Everything is easier when done with a partner in your corner “By working as a team, things go a lot smoother, and we can address issues before they even become issues because everyone is communicating: the client, the agent and the broker.”
Jason Georgopoulos is a mortgage broker with Dominion Lending Centres Estate Mortages.
“I would say that real estate agents should be the most important centre of influence for mortgage brokers” Deepak Bansal, Dominion Lending Centres There are common things Realtors ask of their broker partners. Successful brokers say the most frequent requests are quick approvals – sometimes within hours – and financing commissioned within five days. Working with an experienced broker will ensure your demands are met and a smooth transaction occurs. There is another big benefit to working with a mortgage broker besides the peace of mind that comes with knowing your client’s financing is in good hands – having access to the broker’s preferred lenders and rates, which is something the big banks just can’t offer. “One thing we always assure our Realtor partners is that their clients are going to receive preferential rates as
best we can, given the client’s situation, as long as the clients qualify for those reduced rates,” Bansal says. “And we want to make sure it’s not just the best rate but the best product – there are a lot of fine details with the low rates as well, and we talk about that. A lot of Realtors aren’t aware of the fine print with some of those discounted low rates. We want to show the truth … and make it fully transparent to the clients.” And in the current rate environment – one in which lenders seem to be dropping their rates to record lows – it’s important to have an expert in your corner who knows how to get the best financing deal for each individual client. Of course, there are certain things that have to remain
REFERRALS “The whole system operates much better if we forget about the small fees we may gain off each other and just make sure our clients are served” John Freeland Smith, Centum Freeland Mortgage Group confidential, such as information about the client’s financial details, which shouldn’t be shared by the broker without the client’s consent. A good broker will manage his Realtor partner’s expectations by providing all the necessary information along the way while also ensuring the client’s privacy. A good broker partner will explain what can and cannot be shared with you. “There are certain things we can’t say to Realtors in terms of updates,” Bansal says. “For example, we shouldn’t be providing updates regarding financial details of the client without the client’s consent. But, aside from that, we try to provide general updates to the Realtors as to where
things stand. We find that Realtors like to know every step of the way what’s happening – if there are any issues with the financing, when are we expected to have the approval, when are we expected to have documents to the lawyers’ offices.” As with the greatest partnerships, the benefit is mutual. Re/Max Realtor Dave Embleton says the wider pool of finances that brokers have access to is a big benefit for his clients, and the trust he has in the brokers he works with helps him feel confident with his clients’ deals. “I know it gets done right,” he says. “It alleviates one of the stresses of buying and selling property.” REP
You work hard for your clients. Ensure that their financing needs are in the right hands.
Professional Knowledgeable Experienced
CENTUM Freeland Mortgage Group Inc. Lic. 11974 1017 Kingston Road, Toronto, ON M4E 3T1 Office: 416-699-5149 Fax: 1-866-588-9133
Independently owned and operated ® / ™ Trademarks owned by Centum Financial Group Inc.
John Freeland Smith, LL.B, AMP Principal Mortgage Broker Lic. M08000041 firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: 416-892-4517 www.centum.ca/john_smith
WHY REALTORS SHOULD USE MORTGAGE BROKERS No client’s needs are the same, and a broker’s access to multiple lenders makes all the difference. Centum VP of operations Paul Therien explains
PURCHASING A home is likely to be the largest investment most people will make in their lives, and that means it is very important that they have an effective team working for them. Consumers have a lot of options when it comes to finding the right team of professionals to assist them in making the best decisions for their circumstances. Having the right people can make a huge difference in their homeownership experience. You see, it’s not just about buying a home and becoming an owner; it’s about smart homeownership. As a Realtor, you provide an invaluable service to consumers by not only helping them find a home, but by understanding what being a homeowner means and how they can get the best value for their dollar. You take into consideration the customer’s wants, needs and dreams, and then find them a home in a community that suits their lifestyle and budget. Once they’ve found the home, what’s next?
Finding the money. There are many options available to source home funding. The challenge is that most consumers and realtors automatically go to the banks first. Now, the banks are filled with a lot of great people who are knowledgeable, friendly and do good jobs. The challenge is that they are employees of the bank. That means that their first responsibility is to look out for the best interest of their employer. It also means that they can only offer your customer a single lineup of products. Mortgage brokers have access to many different lenders, some that are simply not available to the consumer except through the services of a mortgage broker. That means that you and your customer have greater choice and can truly customize the required home financing. Brokers also typically have access to lower rates. More choice and better rates = a win for you and your client. In January of this year, Centum Financial
Group Inc., Canada’s premier mortgage company, launched the 15 Minute Mortgage. This mortgage prequalification technology is the most advanced of its kind and is perhaps one of the most powerful items you can add to your toolbox. This innovative tool uses the most up-todate lending guidelines provided by CMHC and lenders to review a customer’s information to let them know if they qualify to buy a home. The best part? All it takes is eight easy steps, and within minutes, the customer will receive an email letting them know if they qualify. No customer is ever turned away – if they do not meet the minimum qualifiers, a Centum mortgage professional will quickly be in touch to get the needed information to get that approval done. Imagine if you could let a customer know within minutes if they qualified to purchase a home – how would this change your open houses? How would it impact your ability to provide world-class service to your customers? Since the 15 Minute Mortgage launched in January 2015, it has generated applications with a total mortgage value in excess of $469 million. That makes it the top mortgage leadgeneration technology in Canada. The most amazing thing is that this innovative tool can be placed on your website and your listings, giving your customers advanced solutions at the touch of a button. Realtors who are using the 15 Minute Mortgage today are seeing realtime benefits and are closing more transactions, faster. Working with a licensed mortgage professional not only ensures that your customers are getting the service they deserve, but also that they are getting the right advice. At Centum, we believe that every Canadian has the right to experience the joys of homeownership. Working with the right real estate and mortgage professional brings that dream closer than most people realize. Having the right tools in your kit, like the Centum 15 Minute Mortgage, gives you a competitive advantage unlike any other in the industry today. If you want to get the edge, visit www. centum.ca to find a mortgage professional near you and make 2015 your best year yet. REP
WAITING FOR After six months of marketing, 12 open houses, one price change and four offers, this magical Whistler home was finally sold to the ‘right’ buyers
‘THE ONE’ THOSE CALLING Whistler home are quite particular: They like their ski hills, their hot tubs and their fire pits, thank you very much. And for the sellers of this three-suite property, it was important for the new owners to get it. The property The 3,200-square-foot home is perched on a semi-private lot more than double its size. The house has five bedrooms and four bathrooms across three separate suites. The top floor features two bedrooms and two bathrooms, with a wheelchair-accessible sauna. The kitchen, with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, is open to the dining room and the living room, which has a cable hook-up. The
lower level contains two bedrooms and a bathroom, and the garage had been converted to a non-conforming studio suite. Over its lifetime, the home, built in 1991, has generated more than $340,000 in rental income, averaging $64,000 a year. The property is also unique in that its private deck overlooks a serene waterfall. “It was a long lot, with no neighbours on one side, and it was built up, so it was a bit secluded on the other side,” Sutton says. “The landscaping was very nice – they had built a little fire pit, like most houses in Whistler. But the location and the privacy … were unparalleled.” Indeed, the location couldn’t be better for
avid skiers and vacationers. The property is just a 10-minute walk to Creekside Village and to the top of the nearby ski hill via the Creekside gondola. The sellers also took pains to remodel as much of the property as possible. They added new hardwood floors and hot-water tanks, and converted the property to an open-concept layout. They upgraded the exterior landscaping and irrigated the yard, adding concrete paving stones, snow guards, new soffits and an extra 1,400 square feet in stamped concrete balconies over two levels. The marketing Whistler boasts a wide array of potential buyers, particularly in the Bayshores neighbourhood where this property is located. The
LIVING IN WHISTLER
0 to 14: 12% 15 to 64: 83% 64 and over: 5%
Male: 54% Female: 46%
Married or common-law: 44% Single: 44%
DWELLINGS Total dwellings: 3,900
Single detached homes: 855 Semi-detached homes: 275 Row houses: 910 Apartment buildings: 980 Duplex apartments: 870
BUYING AND SELLING IN WHISTLER Despite its proximity, Whistler’s real estate market couldn’t be more different than that of Vancouver, one of the country’s hottest and fastest markets.
Average median price:
(+8.6% from 2013)
(+21% from 2013)
Average sales-to-listings ratio:
(+8.3% from 2013)
(+10.5% from 2013)
*All data from 2014
region is ripe with vacationers, investors and those who live in Whistler full-time. “There were a lot of new buyers in town,” Sutton says. “The property is fantastic for weekenders, giving them almost a mortgagefree property. And it’s good for buyers looking for the ability to offset costs without compromising on where they live.” Sutton had the property professionally photographed – “Any property, especially those over $1 million, I think, deserves professional photos,” she says – and listed the home on several property sites, including the national MLS, and through the Whistler Real Estate Company website. She also took out print ads in Pique magazine and other local newspapers, and drew on interest from various social media campaigns. Sutton also hosted 12 open houses, and while they generated a great deal of interest in the property, none of those leads ultimately resulted in a sale. “It’s a challenging market in Whistler,” she says. “People are mostly web-based or socialmedia-based. But a lot of people will pick up a paper in Vancouver to buy in Whistler.” When she first listed the property at $1.275 million in mid-June, Sutton billed it as a wonderful family home, but soon discovered the investment potential was more enticing to potential buyers. “We looked at comparable properties, based on location, size, the quality inside, the renovations, the rental income,” she says. “A lot
of it comes from looking at what the market will sustain and what will grab the attention of qualified buyers.” As such, the sellers opted to reduce the asking price to $1.249 million in an effort to attract investment-minded buyers. In that vein, Sutton adds that the property hosts monthly rentals, so no special zoning considerations were required from either the buyer or the seller. Ultimately, the investment potential of the property proved to be its greatest draw. “The fact that it had three potential revenue suites or could be a massive house on its own – those were the two major marketing points,” Sutton says. “It had lots of possibilities.” After six months on the finicky Whistler market, where DOMs can range from a few months to a few years, the property sold for $1.15 million. The sale In the end, Sutton’s sellers had three offers to choose from. Negotiations were quick – lasting just four days – with rapid-fire communications between Sutton and the three buyers’ agents. The home eventually went to full-time Whistler residents who were interested in the property’s income suites. “They don’t have kids, so they’re offsetting all their living expenses with the rentals,” Sutton says. “They’ll live in two-bedroom suite upstairs, and rent out the three-bedroom bed suite and the studio suite.” REP
10 STAGING TIPS TO SHOW YOUR CLIENT’S HOME AT ITS BEST If the seemingly bulletproof 2014 market appeared to eliminate the need for staging, the economic uncertainty of 2015 is expected to reinstate it. Brent Melnychuk shares 10 ways you can make your client’s home sell for top dollar in any market
AGENTS KNOW what sells – location, curb appeal and kitchens. But with the West, and much of Canada, preparing for a tumultuous spring season, the demand for staging is expected to grow as agents look to meet selling-price expectations that haven’t necessarily adapted to today’s market. Staging veteran Brent Melnychuk offers 10 tricks of his trade
to selling agents who are grappling with the re-emerging buyer’s market. 1. Depersonalize. It’s a fine line, but too many family photos or too much personal style can make a buyer feel like they are invading someone’s private space. But don’t go overboard and empty the whole place out to the point
that it seems vacant and utilitarian. 2. Look with a critical eye. Today’s buyer will expect to see everything as near to top condition as possible. They’ll accept no excuses for burnt-out light bulbs, loose door handles or scuffs on doors and trim. Be sure clients tend to any obvious and not-so-obvious main-
tenance jobs. Buyers make a conclusion and think to themselves, “What else is wrong with this place that I can’t see?” 3. Keep it neutral. Time to freshen up the walls and trim with a more subtle shade – think light linen tones, and use a soft white trim to make the space feel crisp. Limit any dramatic, dark tone to one accent wall, maybe behind a bed or in a powder room. 4. Check the landscaping. A property’s exterior should be as impeccably neat as its interior. A buyer coming to view your listing is, in essence, taking it out for a first date. Make it love at first sight. Hire a landscape maintenance company to do a proper cleanup, including trimming those overgrown bushes. 5. Brighten up. This is a good opportunity to upgrade the lighting in the home, making it more current and the space brighter. The retail marketplace is brimming with reasonably priced and stylish lighting options. Adding lamps can help with creating ambiance and providing great sight lines to a room’s focal point. 6. Clean that kitchen. Have clients apply some elbow grease, and make sure the sinks, floors and counters shine like a new Mercedes
Benz. Buyers, of course, look in every nook and cranny – even the insides of drawers should be clean and tidy. And don’t forget about the refrigerator! Even if it is a Sub-Zero appliance, increasingly picky buyers will only see and smell the unpleasant odor. A professional cleaner is worth the expense to ensure that a buyer’s white glove picks up nothing but Windex.
from. Avoid the overly floral or spicy. Instead, think of freshly cleaned linen. A word of caution: You get what you pay for, and high-quality scents come with a higher price tag. 9.Make the bathrooms chic. The master bath in any property should be a spotless ‘boutique spa.’ Thick, quality, clean and new white towels are a must. Simple soap pumps and a potted white orchid will finish the look.
7. Style it right. Stage and style the home so that it works within the context of the architecture of the property. If it is a sleek, modern and minimalist space, then the furniture and props should reflect that. Ornate or traditional furniture in such a contemporary space will do little to play to its strengths. 10. And the master bedroom, too. While you’re at it, extend the luxury hotel feel into the master retreat. Recommend clients make a small investment in new, crisp white linens and a coordinating duvet cover. Make sure the lamps match and provide enough light. REP 8. Consider the scent. A home needs to smell great to make a lasting impression. While idea of baking cookies is considered passé, retail home design stores have a large selection of subtle-but-effective scent diffusers to choose
Brent Melnychuk is a Vancouverbased senior stager with home staging company Dekora.
THE HOT LIST
Meet the movers and shakers heating up the real estate industry this year
WELCOME TO Real Estate Professional’s inaugural Hot List. We asked you, the real estate community, to pass on your suggestions for who should be included on this list of the industry’s most successful, most engaging and most innovative people. From CEOs and presidents of major brokerages to local heroes, the names came flooding in. While this isn’t an exhaustive list of Canada’s influential players, we’ve narrowed it down to 150 people we think merit a mention for their stellar achievements over the past year.
Our picks run the gamut, from individual agents and teams boasting hundreds of millions of dollars in personal production to CEOs whose innovations are helping revitalize the industry. In the following pages, you’ll meet a marketing superstar, tech-centric sales reps, and an exec who’s been nationally recognized for his contributions to the advancement of franchise opportunities. Everyone on our Hot List has one thing in common – they’re all changing the face of the Canadian real estate industry.
Frank Lostracco Ancaster, Ont. Frank Lostracco isn’t selling penthouse condo suites or sprawling mansions in the country’s biggest centres, but he is a force to be reckoned with in his native Ancaster, Ont. In 2013, he closed some 17% of the sales in the region, propelling him into the top 50 agents by transactions across Canada.
Maggie Tessier Orleans, Ont.
Beth Crosbie CREA Beth Crosbie’s involvement with the Canadian Real Estate Association isn’t new – though 2014 did see her take the helm as president. Regardless, the real estate veteran helped the organization complete a strategic planning exercise that highlighted the need for better communication. On that note, Crosbie set out across the country, holding meet-andgreets and open houses in an effort to open the dialogue between CREA and its members. “As Realtors, we know the business is built on relationships and getting an understanding of what people need,” she says. “We’ve just applied that to what we’re doing as a national association.”
Maggie Tessier has been the broker of record for Exit Realty Matrix for more than 15 years. Over her tenure, Tessier has made a name for herself in the Ottawa area, building two brokerages from the ground up, and most recently adding a third. Last year, she was recognized for her local contributions to the industry, and was named Faces and Businesses in Ottawa’s Real Estate Agent of the Year.
Rod Frank Hamilton, Ont. Rod Frank entered the real estate business just before the economic downturn of the early 1990s. But he emerged from the dark ages on top, and the lessons he learned during that difficult time helped him guarantee the success of his 17-person team. Indeed, The Rod Frank Team has been the number one team in the Hamilton-Burlington region since 2008. Across Canada, the team was ranked number 13 by transactions and were number 39 by dollar amount.
Georges Bardagi Montreal Georges Bardagi has been a top-performing real estate agent for almost a quarter of a century. He’s passed the skills necessary for that success onto his team of more than 20 sales reps and brokers, which has made Équipe Bardagi the number one Re/Max team in Quebec since 2005. Bardagi, who was also the first Quebec-based agent to receive Re/Max’s Luminary of Distinction award, is also educating agents outside his office. He runs a real estate coaching service called Coaching Bardagi, and hosts an annual workshop that draws some 500 participants.
COVER STORY Mark McLean Toronto Mark McLean wears many hats – from manager and creative director at Bosley Real Estate in Toronto to newly appointed president of the Toronto Real Estate Board – but his ability to juggle those roles lies squarely in his undying passion for the real estate industry. In 2014, he grew his Bosley team to more than 60 agents, becoming one of the largest agencies in Toronto’s downtown core. Under his guidance, that team did 43% more business last year than in 2013. Now, he’s ready to bring the same drive to TREB. “For me, it’s looking at the industry from 50,000 feet – looking at where it’s going and being a part of that,” he says.
Linda Knight Angus, Ont.
Jason Munn Frederiction, NB
Linda Knight has worked with many military families moving around the country – to and from CFB Borden, located in her rural northern Ontario area. As a result of her experience in working with Canada’s national heroes, Knight and her team were ranked among the top 10 real estate teams across the country by dollar amount.
Jason Munn closed 154 transactions throughout 2014, which is impressive enough on its own. But to put that number further into perspective, consider this: Those sales translate to 9% of all sales in Fredericton, NB, Munn’s farm area, in 2014. The real estate veteran attributes his success to the same principles of honesty and integrity with which he’s operated his business for more than 20 years.
Paula Dober Marystown, NL
Neil Warshafsky and Fraser MacDonald Toronto Neil Warshafsky and Fraser MacDonald have been in the commercial real estate business together for 10 years, and with that kind of experience comes the kind of comforting confidence that clients demand with the ever-changing commercial market. For that reason, it’s not surprising that the duo had one of their best years in 2014, helping Planned Canada expand to a second floor and brokering the sale of Toronto’s iconic El Mocambo music venue.
While many agents flock to big cities in the hopes of turning big business, Paula Dober has taken a slightly different approach that has sent her straight to the top of the industry. As the only sales rep in Marystown, NL, Dober was able to close 112 transactions in 2014, which is almost 3% of all sales for the entire province. Those results earned Dober a place as the third highest-producing agent in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Stuart Bonner Vancouver
Joyce Tourney Regina
Stuart Bonner has been specializing in Vancouver’s Westside since he received his real estate license more than 35 years ago. That level of expertise has led to his rank among the top 15 sales reps by dollar amount across Canada. Bonner also received Re/Max’s prestigious International Chairman’s Club Award and its International Circle of Legends award.
Since getting her start as a Realtor in Regina in 1993, Joyce Tourney has been among the top realtors in Saskatchewan because of her enthusiastic approach to real estate. Tourney has been a part of the top 100 sales reps in Canada since 1995 and has been dominant internationally as well. In 2013, Tourney was recognized by CKG International at a ground-breaking conference for the world’s best agents.
“It’s simple. If you want to be successful: promote, promote, promote” Ajay Shah Toronto Success in real estate, according to Ajay Shah, all boils down to promotion. He promotes his brokerage – HomeLife Miracle Realty – which has helped it add more than 850 agents since 2002; he promotes his agents, which helped them do almost 25% more business in 2014 than they year prior; and he encourages his sales reps to promote themselves at every chance they get. “It’s just promoting yourself,” Shah says. “It’s simple. If you want to be successful: promote, promote, promote.”
COVER STORY Shane Zeyha Grande Prairie, Alta.
Jay Brijpaul Toronto
Born and raised in Grande Prairie, Shane Zeyha has become one of the area’s top real estate agents. Zeyha is a relative newcomer to the real estate game, making the transition from teaching and coaching high school. He was voted Rookie of the Year his first year as a Re/Max agent and in 2007 was awarded the Chairman’s Award. He is also a part of Re/Max’s Gold Club as well as its Hall of Fame.
With more than 25 years in the real estate business, it’s safe to say that Jay Brijpaul knows a few things about buying and selling real estate. He’s taken that knowledge, applied it to his successful real estate investment business and shared it with his team of seven sales reps. As a result of his leadership, the Brij team holds a spot among the top 35 Canadian real estate teams by dollar amount.
Mark Ballard Vancouver Real estate was always Mark Ballard’s end game. He specialized in real estate while attending the University of British Columbia, and he worked in the construction and mortgage industries before joining Re/Max in 2004. That broad knowledge base has helped him become a top-producing agent: He was among the top 30 sales reps by dollar amount across Canada, and the top 1% of Re/Max sales reps in Western Canada.
Shahid Khawaja Mississauga, Ont. Throughout his decade in the industry, Shahid Khawaja has left a long list of satisfied clients, which has garnered him plenty of awards and achievements. He’s been the top-producing agent at his brokerage for the last 10 years and is among the top 1% of Re/Max agents across Canada. Khawaja also earned Re/Max’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, Hall of Fame Award, Diamond Club Award and Chairman’s Club Award.
Ruby Sangha Markham, Ont. Ruby Sangha is a simple sales rep. He doesn’t buy into the hundreds of new platforms and technologies on the market, instead opting to focus on his clients. That’s a tactic that has certainly paid off, making him one of the top 30 sales reps in the country by dollar amount, and earning him spots in Re/Max’s Hall of Fame and Diamond Club.
George Bamber Calgary
Matt Carlson Vancouver
All successful brokerages have one thing in common: a strong leader at the helm, and for Century 21 Bamber Realty in Calgary, George Bamber is that leader. In 2014, he pushed his brokerage of more than 150 agents – the largest Century 21 office in the city – to become the top-ranking Century 21 office by production in the country. But Bamber’s drive doesn’t end at Canada’s borders: his brokerage also ranked number three in the global Century 21 family by production.
Matt Carlson knows more about what a private equity firm wants from a real estate transaction than most commercial agents – largely because he’s worked for one such firm. In his latest role as vice president of Colliers International, Carlson is taking that insider knowledge and using it to help his clients get the best possible in some of the most challenging real estate markets. “It’s not about the acquisition of the deal itself,” he says, “but about structuring the deal between the [acquiring] partners.”
Bijan Barati Toronto As a real estate broker at Re/Max, Bijan Barati has propelled his brokerage to become one of the top firms in Toronto. He is arecipient of the prestigious Chairman’s Club award and is part of the company’s top 1%. With a background in civil engineering with experience in design, building, zoning, planning, construction and development, he’s the full package.
Sam Narayan and Ayaz Bhanji Edmonton Sam Narayan and Ayaz Bhanji are proving that there’s strength in numbers. In 2009, they purchased the Re/Max Excellence brand, and together they’ve grown the brokerage to more than 100 agents. That rapid expansion has led this dynamic duo to most recently purchase a state-of-the-art professional centre in West Edmonton. They designed the new 26,000-square-foot space and currently occupy the 14,000-square-foot top floor, leaving the 11,000-square-foot main floor open to rental income.
Diane Mitchell Toronto Diane Mitchell has been a leader in the real estate business for nearly 30 years, and in her latest role as Canadian director of Keller Williams, she’ll continue to lead from the top of the organization. But Mitchell is no stranger to the top. Her brokerage, Keller Williams Realty Centres, is among the top five Keller Williams offices in the country by transaction ends.
Phil Soper Royal LePage Phil Soper isn’t the first president the Royal LePage brand has ever seen, but he’s certainly among the most successful, leading the company to triple its revenue and double its agent count since he took the helm in 2002. He also directed the restructuring of the company, pushing it to become a publicly traded enterprise in 2003. And REP isn’t the only establishment to recognize his accomplishments: he received the 2014 CEO Award of Excellence in Public Relations from the Canadian Public Relations Society.
Mark Faris Barrie, Ont.
Loretta Sernowski Regina
Mark Faris learned about the virtues of hard work while growing up on a farm as part of a family of nine – and those values have carried over into his work as a real estate agent. The Mark Faris Team, which is part of the Royal LePage network, became the network’s number two sales team in the country in 2013 – an honour it held onto into 2014. Before becoming an agent, Faris played professional hockey in the United States as well as in Sweden.
The owner of EXIT Realty Fusion, Loretta Sernowski has been a real estate agent since 1993. Now one of Regina’s top agents, Sernowski leads a team that posted more than $79 million in volume in 2013. Heavily involved in her community, Sernowski has canvassed for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, worked for the Regina Humane Shelter and has served Regina’s Ukrainian community in a variety of roles.
Gary Charlwood Century 21 Gary Charlwood is a force to be reckoned with, not only in the world of real estate – having brought Century 21 to Canada in the mid-1970s – but in the world of franchises in general. Now, he’s working on growing his various brands, but especially Century 21. He’s aiming to double the company’s size in just a decade, and he’s planning on doing that by attracting young, tech-savvy individuals. “Technology is amazing,” Charlwood says. “It’s going to take some pretty tech-savvy people to act in this business going forward.”
COVER STORY Don Goodale and Brad Miller Oakville, Ont.
Julian Lo Toronto
Becoming a successful agent in the realm of luxury real estate takes more than a solid sales pitch, and don’t Don Goodale and Brad Miller know it. Together they form the Goodale Miller Team, and together they’ve been named the top Century 21 Canada team for the 12th year (they were also named the number two team in the global Century 21 family). It could be their collective 40 years of experience in the business, or it could be their in-house full-service approach to buying and selling. Either way, their system is working, and they’re not planning on changing it anytime soon.
It’s hard to stand out in a brokerage full of top performers and number-one agents, but Julian Lo has done just that. With the help of his two sales reps, Team Lo achieved the number 17 rank among all sales teams in Canada by dollar amount.
William Magill Brampton, Ont. William Magill has been in the real estate business for almost 35 years, and the knowledge he’s gained along that career path has undoubtedly propelled him to his rank as the number 40 agent in Canada by transactions. Magill is also the recipient of Re/Max’s Hall of Fame and 100% Club awards.
Sam McCall Vancouver Sam McCall specializes in luxury residential properties in West Vancouver. McCall is the recipient of RE/MAX’s most prestigious award, the Circle of Legends Award.
Alex Palmer Lloydminster, Alta. In his 45 years in the business, Alex Palmer has learned a thing or two about buying and selling real estate, and those things have translated to a wildly successful career. In 2014 alone, Palmer was named the top agent both by production and by volume in the entire Century 21 Canada family. On a global level, he was named the top Century 21 agent by units and the number three Century 21 agent by production. “In a city this size, you have to be a jack of all trades, and more than 40 years of experience has allowed me to do that,” he says. “You also have to have a very understanding spouse.”
Charlie Parker Nanaimo, BC Charlie Parker is taking the real estate market – literally. In 2014, he increased his office’s market share in Nanaimo, BC, to a whopping 51% (as of January, it stood at 60.1%), and he added another five offices in nearby Victoria. Parker also set up a version of Re/Max University for his nearly 280 agents, where sales reps can support one another. “We took [Re/Max University] one step further and created our own training sessions and multimedia tools,” he says.
Ian Charlebois Rockland, Ont. For such a young agent, Ian Charlebois is making bit waves in the industry. He successfully merged two Re/Max offices last year to create Re/Max Citywide, for which he acts as broker and owner. He was also able to grow that brokerage from 85 transactions a year to 550 transactions annually in just three years.
“I think it’s top down, so when agents see the broker doing it, it’s easier for them to adopt [that attitude]” Shannon Unger North Bay, Ont. Shannon Unger is excited about real estate, and she wants you to be excited about it, too. It’s that attitude that led her to acquire the Re/ Max Legend brokerage in North Bay, Ont., in 2014, and completely turn it around, adding 10% more sales reps in just six months. She also leased a new office space, formed the basis for a new tech-savvy team of agents and is encouraging teamwork among every agent in the office. “I came in blinded by the light of enthusiasm,” she says. “I think it’s top down, so when they see the broker doing it, it’s easier for them to adopt [that attitude].”
COVER STORY Hari Minhas Vancouver Hari Minhas is taking a residential approach to promoting commercial real estate, and it’s a move that’s certainly making waves in the industry. As the director of marketing and market intelligence for Colliers International, Minhas built an in-house project marketing team, the first of its kind, to aid the company in marketing its commercial listings in the best ways possible. “How can we separate ourselves from what’s across the street?” he asks. “All the commercial brochures were typically the same – they were boring – so we’re trying to highlight why these opportunities are great for the clients we’re targeting. So if it’s a tech company, we’re highlighting the features that appeal to them.”
Justine Deluce Toronto As the chief operating officer for luxury brand Chestnut Park Real Estate, Justine Deluce has pushed her team to reach several milestone goals in 2014. The 260 agents under the brokerage did more than $2.1 billion in sales, including a 20-year best of $250 million for the brand’s Muskoka office. Deluce is also a conscientious corporate head, pushing the company’s 11 offices to participate in local fundraising events, such as the Bed for Bowls Home Horizon in Collingwood and the Covenant House youth shelter in Toronto.
Marvin Alexander Toronto
Ryan Dutka Edmonton Ryan Dutka leads three agents and two administrators at the Re/Max Ryan Dutka Real Estate Team, where he specializes in residential real estate in the Edmonton area. He founded the team in 2001, after joining Re/Max River City in 1998. Dutka considers himself an expert in the condo and residential real estate markets.
Marvin Alexander, the president and owner of Keller Williams Realty Centres in Newmarket, Ont., has spent more than two decades working with buyers and sellers in the GTA – lots and lots of buyers and sellers. In 2014, Alexander closed more than 260 transactions to become the highestproducing agent in Canada by units – an honour he’s won every year since 2010.
Ted Greenhough Calgary
Tracey Bosch Langley, BC Tracey Bosch started in real estate in 1989, and since then he has built his business one client at a time. Using referrals and longterm relationships, Bosch has been able to maintain his level of success for almost 30 years. “I believe that there is no substitute for aggressive promotion and advertising, a deep knowledge of current conditions in the local market and finely tuned negotiating skill,” he says. “My success isn’t just measured by sales, but by the relationships I build along the way. I communicate continually with my clients and respond to their individual needs and desires.”
Ted Greenhough was named one of Re/Max’s top 50 individual agents in Canada in 2013. He is also the recipient of the agency’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Hall of Fame distinction and Chairman’s Club Award. Greenhough attributes his success to not focusing on sales numbers but instead becoming a “person of value.” Prior to becoming an agent, Greenhough was a successful entrepreneur, founding Parts Canada, a national wholesale distributor of power sports products.
Colin Scarlett Vancouver For the past 18 years, Colin Scarlett has helped businesses find solutions by way of real estate – and that’s a job that’s taken him across the globe. “The only way to do that is to understand [my clients’] business and industry,” he says. “The only way I would understand it in a meaningful way is if I got on a plan and met with those leaders [in the business].” That amazing drive has not only propelled Scarlett to become a top agent in his field, but it’s also led to his being named the youngest executive vice president at Colliers International, as well as his inclusion on Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 Under 40 list.
Yanqing Sun Vancouver Yanqing (Amy) Sun is an agent with Re/Max Real Estate Services in Western Vancouver, specializing in the surrounding areas such as Arbutus, Dunbar, Edmonds, Point Grey, Riverdale, Richmond and Southlands. Fluent in English, Chinese and Mandarin, she is focused on helping anyone from new homebuyers to experienced investors reach their ownership goals.
Jimmy Arseneault Gatineau, Que.
Brad Lamb Toronto
Jimmy Arsenault is taking advantage of his geographical position between Quebec and Ontario to win as much business as possible – so much business, in fact, that he’s remained the top-selling Re/Max agent by units in Quebec and in Ottawa for the last seven years. He has also consistently rated in the top 1% of all Re/Max agents across the globe, and last year was awarded Re/Max’s prestigious Diamond Club Award for the fifth consecutive year.
Brad Lamb is a polarizing figure in Canadian real estate. The industry veteran quickly made a name for himself in the condominium and loft markets in Toronto, and founded Lamb Development Corp. more than 10 years ago. With almost as many developments planned for release in the next few years – including those in Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa – it’s clear that Lamb is going to be dividing public opinion for many more years to come.
Barry Cohen Toronto
Kevin Moist Winnipeg
Barry Cohen is one of Re/Max’s most successful agents. Since 1996, he has been recognized in York Mills (GTA) as the area’s top seller. He has also been recognized by Re/Max as the number-one individual salesperson in Canada. Cohen comes from a sales background; combined with his passion for architecture, he found real estate sales to be the perfect fit. In 2013, his total volume funded was more than $208 million.
Shane Herter Medicine Hat, Alta.
Helen Ralph Kamloops, BC
Shane Herter has been an agent with Re/ Max for 10 years. He specializes in farms, ranches, acreages and residential homes in Alberta. Herter has been recognized as one of the top 100 Realtors in Western Canada numerous times.
Helen Ralph has been a real estate agent in the Kamloops region since 1990. She currently operates a team that includes her son, Chris, and in 2013 she funded more than $49 million – an impressive mark for a smaller market.
Kevin Moist is a Winnipeg-based agent with Re/ Max Performance Realty. In 2013, Moist funded $45,890,761.00 in home sales. He is a member of CREA, the Manitoba Real Estate Association and the Winnipeg Real Estate Board. Throughout his career, Moist has been recognized as one of Re/Max’s top 100 agents world-wide, the number one agent in Manitoba, and a top five agent in Western Canada. smaller market.
COVER STORY Rob Golfi Hamilton, Ont.
Manyee Lui Vancouver
Rob Golfi, the team leader for The Golfi Team, kicked his real estate career off in 1997. By 2003, the team he leads became one of Re/Max Canada’s top 100 real estate teams, and it has held that honour ever since. Individually, Golfi has received every major Re/Max award, including the 100% Club, Platinum Club, Chairman’s Club, Hall of Fame, Lifetime Achievement Award and the Diamond Club.
Manyee Lui has been selling real estate in Vancouver since 1983, and has received numerous awards for excellence. In 2013, her team racked up more than $109 million in sales volume.
Edith Chan Vancouver
Jim Burton St. John’s, NL
Edith Chan is an agent with Re/Max Masters Realty and provides real estate services in Vancouver and the surrounding area.
St. John’s-based Jim Burton has operated in the area for 27 years. He earned his Fellow of the Real Estate Institute in 1996 from the Real Estate Institute of Canada and Market Value Appraiser from the Canadian Real Estate Association in 1998. He founded the Jim Burton Sales Team in 1998, and he continues to facilitate real estate education and motivational courses for agents in his area.
Patrick Juaneda Montreal Patrick Juaneda is heading a fight that’s being eagerly watched across the country. As the president of the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards, Juaneda helped launch a lawsuit against one of the province’s largest for-saleby-owner companies in an effort to hold it accountable for what the Federation claims is false and misleading advertising.
Peggy Hill Barrie, Ont. Just over a decade ago, Peggy Hill was flipping burgers at her family’s restaurant. After the restaurant was sold, Hill had to find a way to provide for herself and her parents, and real estate was the answer. After working for a couple of big-name brokerages, Hill decided to open her own business. That leap of faith has paid off big time; in 2013, Hill’s team posted nearly $91 million in sales volume.
Ophira Sutton Toronto More than 32 years after co-founding Sutton Group Associates Realty, Ophira Sutton remains a force to be reckoned with. Her successful business has been built on referrals and repeats, largely driven by her in-depth knowledge of the Annex region of Toronto. Sutton has truly a name for herself in the neighbourhood, both as an agent and as a resident; she sponsors several community events, including the Annex Fall Fair, the Walmer Street Fair and the Annex Tour of Homes and Gardens.
Darryl Mitchell Zoocasa Darryl Mitchell has worked for a wide range of traditional brokerages throughout his nearly 20-year real estate career, including big-name agencies such as Sutton Group, Royal LePage and Re/Max. But his current role as broker of record of Zoocasa, the latest virtual office website to upend the real estate industry. Having been appointed to the position in mid-2014, Mitchell is working to grow the brand’s recognition across Canada, with a particular focus on the company’s client-centric approach.
“All real estate is local, right down to the neighbourhoods and the houses in those neighbourhoods”
Gregory Klump CREA “There’s nothing like local expert knowledge,” says Gregory Klump, chief economist for the Canadian Real Estate Association. He’s talking about the guide he’s hired for his big mountain ski trip out West, but it’s a notion he certainly brings to his work. While a good portion of his job entails large brushstrokes, he says it’s increasingly important for agents to cull what relevant data they can. “All real estate is local, right down to the neighbourhoods and the houses in those neighbourhoods,” Klump says. “But big data enables better dissecting what parts of the market are hot and which are cooling.” To help agents dissect that data, the economist worked with CREA to expand its MLS Home Price Index, which has grown to 11 boards across the country in just two years. Klump also has grown his department to four market analysts and three economists, who work to “acquire and analyze the data in meaningful ways.”
COVER STORY Frank Leo Toronto
Tony Ma Markham, Ont.
Frank Leo started his career in real estate in the midst of the early 1990s recession. But he was tenacious – and it paid off. Leo is now among the top five sales reps in Canada by dollar amount. He’s also been the number one agent in the Etobicoke neighbourhood of Toronto since 1995, and the top-selling agent in central and western Toronto since 2007.
Real estate is all about connections, and for broker of record Tony Ma and a majority of the 830 agents under his HomeLife Landmark brand, many of those connections stem from China. But,it took more than a few foreign buyers for Ma to lead his team to the top spot among all HomeLife brands in Canada, in both number of transactions and dollar amount. “Any agent can come to a brokerage,” he says. “But most agents are looking for training, and they want to have strong support system, and on top of that they’re looking for a good image and some downtime, guidance and someone to give them a push. They need a leader.”
Carson Beier Spruce Grove, Alta. Carson Beier isn’t just a successful real estate professional – counting himself among the top 50 sales reps across Canada, and one of the top 5% of agents for sales in the Greater Edmonton area since 2008 – he’s also one of the most socially minded. He became the first agent in Alberta to acquire the eco-broker designation in 2011 and led his brokerage to become accredited members of the Better Business Bureau.
Carl Langschmidt Toronto Carl Langschmidt has been riding the real estate tech wave for quite some time. He started MrLoft. com in 2006 and launched Condos.ca in 2013. Now, he’s embarking on his greatest undertaking yet: a new brokerage called Property.ca. The new agency will, of course, push its agents to embrace the online aspects of buying and selling real estate, helping them to generate leads from the web, and aiding in content creation, website development and social media campaigns. The idea, Langschmidt says, is to help real estate agents focus on the novel concept of … buying and selling real estate.
Andrew Hasman Vancouver For nearly two decades, Andrew and Jill Hasman have been helping homeowners achieve their goals – whether it’s to purchase a dream home, sell their lifelong residence or to find an incomeproducing property. The Hasmans have worked in the Vancouver Westside market for their entire real estate career. More than 70% of the Hasmans’ clientele are repeat customers or client referrals, a true testament to the dedication and professionalism the husband-and-wife team has delivered to their clients over the years.
Vesna Kolenc Vaughan, Ont.
Stephen Poloz Bank of Canada
Working and living in Vaughan, Ont., has provided Vesna Kolenc with the in-depth knowledge that her clients crave, leading her to rank among the top 10 agents by dollar amount across Canada. Kolenc also has won a long list of awards, including Re/Max’s highest sales honour, the Luminary of Distinction Award.
The Bank of Canada shocked agents and their clients alike when it slashed the overnight rate earlier this year. Stephen Poloz, the governor of the central bank, said the move was an effort to balance the impact of declining oil values. While the quarter-point drop isn’t likely to make huge waves in the market, many agents believe it will foster another strong year in real estate.
Christopher Invidiata Oakville, Ont. Christopher Invidiata began his real estate career in 1985 with the aim to stay close to home, his children and his wife Lesley. Now a leader in luxury properties, The Invidiata Team is based in Oakville, Ont., though it offers widespread property listings from Burlington to Florida. Invidiata has been named Re/ Max’s leading residential Realtor across Canada, and his team’s expertise has earned it a number one ranking across the country. The Invidiata Team produces more than $300 million in sales annually, and Invidiata himself was awarded the Billionaire’s Club award, which is presented to agents who have achieved more than a billion dollars in sales volume during their career.
Rocco Racioppo Newmarket, Ont. This sales rep from Newmarket, Ont., has struck a chord with his clients by using faceto-face interaction and referrals, a sign that his more than 10 years in the industry have been successful. “Selling houses is my goal, but putting people and home together is my passion,” he says.
Lionel Lorence Vancouver Lionel Lorence’s 45-plus years in the real estate business have undoubtedly helped his three-person team achieve its spot among the top 30 selling teams across Canada by dollar amount – no easy feat in and of itself. But his fellow agents – Clayton Lorence and Tammy Bennett-Lorence – also bring a combined total of more than 45 years of real estate experience to the table, making the team’s success one that can hardly be rivalled.
Dan Scarrow Shanghai, China
Joe Varing Abbotsford, BC
For the last few years, Dan Scarrow has been working to push Macdonald Realty to the forefront of overseas investment, and that work paid off in 2014 with the opening of the Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre in Shanghai City. Scarrow, who is conversationally fluent in Mandarin, uses his experience as a successful residential and commercial real estate agent to help Chinese buyers invest in the Canadian market.Collu served two consecutive terms as president of the IMBA.
Joe Varing sells dirt. The hyperspecialized British Columbia-based real estate agent makes a living selling development land packages – that is, dirt. And dirt, it turns out, is in very high demand. So far this year, Varing sold more than 30 acres to a developer who is planning to build some 250 detached and multi-unit properties. He also launched the brand’s latest ad campaign – you guessed it: We sell dirt.
COVER STORY Jerry Celenza Woodbridge, Ont. In early 2013, Jerry Celenza’s Home at Ease brokerage joined the Re/Max Premier family, but Celenza hasn’t let his entrepreneurial spirit take a back seat to the big-name brand. Last year, Celenza helped propel Home at Ease to a place among the top 35 real estate teams in Canada by transaction.
Monique Badun, Penny Graham, Bev Weaver, Kim Craig Vancouver
Joy Verde Toronto As a fourth-generation Torontonian, Joy Verde knows the city better than a lot of the agents buying and selling there, and it’s that insider knowledge that has propelled her to the top 1% of sales reps under the Toronto Real Estate Board. Verde is also among the top 10 Re/Max agents in Ontario, and is one of the top 100 Re/Max sales reps in the country.
Angelo Toscano and Geoff Walker Ottawa The 11-person Toscano-Walker Team of real estate professionals was ranked among the top 40 sales teams in Canada by dollar amount. That success is due in part to the strong leadership of Angelo Toscano and Geoff Walker, and with more than 30 years of real estate experience between them, it’s no wonder they’ve been able to lead their budding team to such early success.
With more than half a century between them, it was natural for Monique Badun, Penny Graham and Bev Weaver to start the BGW Team, just as it was natural for Kim Craig to be drawn to the top-producing team in 2008. The four sales reps have since leveraged their experience, counting themselves among the top 30 sales teams in Canada by dollar amount.
Tyler Martineau Lethbridge, Alta. Tyler Martineau’s background in marketing has certainly helped him throughout his real estate career, which started with his winning a Rookie of the Year award in 2002. Since then, he’s led his four-person real estate team to its rank among the top 40 sales teams in Canada by transaction amount.
Lisa Fayle Whitby, Ont. Lisa Fayle has been a top-performing agent her whole career, starting by winning a Rookie of the Year award. In addition to being ranked one of Keller Williams’ top five agents in Canada, Fayle led her six-person real estate team to a number 40 rank by transaction among all Canadian sales teams.
Pamela Norman Bay Roberts, N.L. Pamela Norman not only sells houses, she builds them too – in Guatemala. Norman’s missionary work building those homes for the less fortunate is what led her to real estate, and it’s that charitable spirit that has kept her a top-producing agent in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2014, she completed some 138 transactions, rounding out a career milestone of 500 sales. “I think you need to take very seriously your commitment to your clients,” she says. “People are trusting you with the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. If you want to be a top agent, you have to put your clients first.”
“I want to continue to be known as the honest real estate agent. In an industry like [ours] there will be people who don’t care about clients”
David Fleming Toronto Some of David Fleming’s blog posts are detested by real estate agents across Toronto. But that doesn’t keep thousands of his peers from reading his blog religiously, adding to the 100,000-plus page views the leading industry website attracts each month. “I’m a consumer advocate,” he says. “I want to continue to be known as the honest real estate agent. In an industry like [ours], there will be people who don’t care about clients.” That attitude is already helping Fleming on his way to a long and fruitful career – the polemic closed some 65 transactions last year, almost 10% more than he was aiming for in a market crippled by a shortage of listings.
COVER STORY Troy Schmidt Waterloo, Ont. Troy Schmidt has plenty to show for his 25-year career as a professional realtor in Waterloo. He was the number one Re/Max agent in Waterloo in 2013 and number 52 out of 90,000 Re/Max agents worldwide. What’s more, he’s also turned into a developer, helping to build five multi-level condominiums. “There is no better job that fulfills me more than real estate,” he says. “What brings a smile to me most is seeing the joy in someone who just sold or purchased their new home and knowing I helped them.”
Sean Lawson Richmond, BC Raised and educated in Richmond and a resident of Steveston, Sean Lawson graduated from the BCIT Building Technologies Program and the UBC Urban Land Economics Program, and has more than 20 years’ experience in real estate sales, re-zoning applications, land assembly and other development projects. He was ranked eighth out of 100 team leaders in 2012. Lawson is an active member of the Steveston Merchants Association, as well as a contributor to family-building initiatives such as school fundraisers, parks and playgrounds throughout Steveston.
Dave Koszegi Nanaimo, BC Born and raised in the Alberni Valley and a 20-year industry veteran, Koszegi is a top-producing Realtor in Port Alberni and top 100 salesperson/team with Re/Max Western Canada. Koszegi has been a team leader for the past 10 years. His specialties include commercial real estate in Port Alberni, the Sproat Lake waterfront, project marketing, real estate negotiations, and real estate and investment consulting.
Paul Neufeld, Wes Jones and Lance Marshall Kelowna, BC
Hersh Litvack Toronto Hersh Litvack has been in the real estate industry for 23 years and has established a reputation for being fair, dedicated, hard-working and personable. Litvack brings a unique background of marketing, business and creativity to his clients’ real estate experience. He has consistently been ranked first in sales each year at his office. The Hersh Team was developed because he wanted each customer – whether a purchaser or seller – to have the benefit of group marketing, something that is playing well for his brokerage.
Paul Neufeld and Wes Jones have worked together since 2003, later adding Lance Marshall to the leadership mix. Together, they have been involved in all aspects of residential real estate, including single-family homes, new home construction, lakeshore properties, strata homes, building lots and acreages. Both personally own investment properties, and since 2006, both Paul and Wes have annually received the prestigious Re/Max Platinum Club Award, which places them individually in the top 5% of Re/Max agents worldwide.
Drew Woolcott Dundas, Ont.
Al Cosentino Hamilton, Ont.
Drew Woolcott has proven to be a successful and hardworking real estate agent in the Burlington area. After selling his business in Mississauga more than 20 years ago, he was licensed in 1993 and worked for years as a solo agent. Twenty years later, Drew and his team were the seventh Re/Max team in Canada and 15th among the top 100 teams worldwide.
Al Cosentino is a familiar face on the Hamilton, Ont., realty scene. One of the area’s top real estate agents, Cosentino pioneered the All-Care System, a process designed to take the headache out of buying or selling a home. It’s a system that works – in 2013, Cosentino racked up $194.4 million in sales volume.
Jon Dick Calgary
Eric Latta Vancouver
“I believe in our economy. I believe in real estate.” There is no better way to sum up a Realtor. Jon Dick has more than 25 years of experience in the industry. As the former broker/owner of Jon Dick and Associates Realty and current director of the Calgary Real Estate Board, Dick provides leadership and guidance for his industry colleagues in a competitive marketplace.
Eric Latta is a long-time resident of the North Shore in Vancouver, and his tenure as a real estate agent in West and North Vancouver has led him to more than $800 million in sales. His practices during his 23 years in business have led him to the top 1% of realtors in the Lower Mainland area.
Ranjit Nijjar Brampton, Ont. Ranjit Nijjar is one of the top 10 agents in Brampton and is a member of Re/ Max’s $2 million club. His connections to the Punjabi and Hindi communities helped to kick-start his career, but since then, he’s established a diverse profile of clients.
Leo Ronse Langley, BC
Andy Puthon Coldwell Banker Before joining the Coldwell Banker team in 2013, Andy Puthon led the restructuring of Integra Enterprises, which became Re/Max Integra, the largest master franchise under the Re/Max brand. As such, it’s unsurprising that he would be selected to join Coldwell Banker’s Canadian executive team as president. In that capacity, Puthon is working to help grow the brand’s reach across Canada, beyond the more than 200 offices it currently boasts, particularly in Alberta and central Ontario.
Leo Ronse has been selling real estate since 1996; almost 20 years later, he’s risen to the top of the industry in Fraser Valley. Ronse is consistently a member of the top 1% of all residential Realtors and was the number one Realtor in Fraser Valley for 2014 based on MLS total dollar volume. Recently, Ronse was honoured with the Lifetime National Chairman’s Club and Lifetime RLP Award of Excellence.
Andrew Cimerman HomeLife Realty Services Andrew Cimerman first opened the doors to the HomeLife brokerage in 1985. Exactly 30 years later, the brand can boast more than 150 offices across North America, and more yet in Asia and Europe. HomeLife is now the third largest real estate brand in the Greater Toronto Area, and (at last count) the fourth largest in Canada. Cimerman, however, is hardly the kind of man who can be satisfied with even that impressive accomplishment – he also has helped revitalize such brands as Realty World, Red Carpet and National.
David Batori Toronto A dedicated member of the Re/Max family of agents, David Batori strives to match every family and individual with their dream home through perseverance, careful attention to his clients’ wishes and a genuine love of his work. His persistence has paid off: In 2012, he ranked among the top five Re/Max agents in Canada and seventh out of 89,000 Re/Max agents in 83 countries worldwide. In 2014, he was named the number two agent in Canada out of 100.
COVER STORY Sandy Kennedy Brampton, Ont. As one of the top sales representatives in Brampton from 1999 to 2010, Sandy Kennedy has continued to sell homes with unbridled passion and through investment in the community and, of course, himself. A resident of the Brampton area since 1985, Kennedy was honoured as the top sales rep in Canada in 2001 and 2003.
Greg Steele Edmonton Technology is the new frontier in real estate, and no one knows that better than Greg Steele. That’s why the past president of the Realtors Association of Edmonton guided the board to a new-andimproved MLS system called Paragon, which was designed by California’s Black Knight. “Our members are always looking for the latest technological advances,” Steele says. “And with new millennials, Gen X and Gen Y, they’re practically born with an iPad in their hands. Technology is heavily ingrained in our society.” And it’s now heavily ingrained in the Edmonton real estate market, too.
Dan Gemus Amherstburg, Ont. A top real estate agent, Dan Gemus often says to his team, “Yes, we can do that – but how can we do it better?” That philosophy has paid off; in 2013, the Gemus team was responsible for more than $476 million in sales volume.
Sharon Soltanian Toronto, Ont. With 20 years of sales experience, Sharon Soltanian deals with homebuyers and sellers in Toronto, Richmond Hill and Thornhill. Her experience spans all types of residential properties, including luxury and single-family homes, town homes and condos. Among her accomplishments are the Re/Max Diamond Award, Lifetime Achievement Award and being named the number-one sales associate for volume of sales at the Willowdale Branch in 2009.
Ron Antalek Maple Ridge, BC As a sales rep since 1993, Ron Antalek has served the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows area for more than 20 years, and his success has led him to become the number one Realtor in the region. Additionally, Antalek was Re/Max’s number one agent in Canada based on number of units sold. Antalek graduated Simon Fraser University with a teaching degree and taught elementary school for four years.
Chris Kapches Toronto Chris Kapches’ background in law has helped him to guide his team of 260 Chestnut Park agents to a wildly successful 2014. The high-end real estate company had more agents participating in luxury sales – that is, those in excess of $1.5 million – than any other office under the Toronto Real Estate Board, an organization for which he previously acted as executive vice president. Kapches also facilitated Chestnut Park’s newfound affiliation with Christie’s International Real Estate, which extends as far west as Oakville, Ont.
Brad Bondy Amherstburg, Ont. Simon Hunt Calgary An avid motorcyclist, snowmobiler and boat enthusiast, Simon Hunt has been a realtor for the better part of 25 years, starting with Re/Max before launching his own brokerage 11 years ago. Since then, Hunt has taken home third place honours for two Re/Max awards in Alberta.
As a sales rep for almost 10 years, Brad Bondy has succeeded in Essex County by understanding that timing is everything in a competitive market. “Many good homes are sold before they are advertised” is just one of the many tips he could give to Realtors just starting out in the business.
“You can advertise as much as you want… but my real business is referrals, word of mouth”
Zia Abbas Toronto Zia Abbas’ client-first approach has not only paid off – he was named the top Re/Max agent in the world in 2011 and 2012, and has remained the top Canadian agent for just as long – but it’s what’s continuing to propel him forward as a leader in the world of real estate. “You can advertise as much as you want, and I do advertise,” he says. “But my real business is referrals, word of mouth.”
COVER STORY Scott Benson Oakville, Ont.
Terry Isaryk Winnipeg
Named by his brokerage, Sutton Group Quantum, as the number one producer in the Greater Toronto Area in 2012, 2013 and 2014, Scott Benson lists and sells real estate in Burlington, Mississauga, Oakville, Toronto and more. Besides his passion for real estate, Benson is focused on his family, as well as a range of charities, including as an active volunteer at The Meeting House’s youth and children’s ministries.
Justin Havre Calgary An award-winning real estate agent known throughout the industry, Justin Havre leads an exceptional team that posted more than $136 million in sales volume in 2013. A sought-after speaker, Havre has given lectures at international real estate conferences.
Terry Isaryk, one of the leading sales associates in Winnipeg, was licensed in 1994 and joined Re/Max Performance in 1999. He offers a range of tools and information on his comprehensive website for those who are either looking to buy their dream home or looking to sell their home quickly. His awards and distinctions include Re/Max’s Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement, as well as its Chairman’s Club and Diamond Club.
Sam Corea Calgary Darcy McLeod Maple Ridge, BC As the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s latest president-elect, Darcy McLeod is ready to usher the board into a new era – one that’s rife with the latest technology. “One of the biggest issues is that the business world moves very fast, and organized real estate doesn’t,” he says. “Technology, obviously, has been a big driver for a lot of the innovation. There’s has been a lot of opportunity for real estate professionals to provide a higher level of service by embracing technology.”
Terry Paranych Edmonton Born and raised in Edmonton, Terry Paranych is one of the city’s leading sales reps and holds a special affection for the city where he has spent his entire life. He is also the founder and CEO of the Paranych Group Companies, which includes a multi-family property company, a residential home building company and SuperStarAgent.com, a real estate training and coaching company. Through his successful real estate business, Paranych supports his community by sponsoring youth teams and getting involved in numerous charities.
While Sam Corea focuses on selling homes of all sizes and price points, his reputation for closing deals on luxury homes in Calgary has earned him the moniker ‘The Million Dollar Man.’ Over the past decade, Corea has been involved in more than 2,000 transactions, and he attributes much of his success to his large marketing budget.
Elli Davis Toronto Peter Hogeterp Stoney Creek, Ont. Hogeterp specializes in small-town residential, rural properties, farms and large parcels of land, as well as recreational property in Hamilton-Wentworth, Haldimand County and the southernmost tip of Southwestern Ontario. As a realtor for more than 10 years, his grassroots approach earned him a Top Transactions Award in 2012, his seventh consecutive win in that category.
Few people, let alone agents, can boast a thriving business after 32 years – but Elli Davis can. The real estate veteran had a great 2014, holding on to her spot in the top 1% of Canadian agents – a position she’s captured since the start of her career. And if her track record is to be believed, she’ll be there again in 2015. “I’m just going to continue the way I’ve been going,” she says. “It’s worked.”
Thomas O’Hara Fort McMurray, Alta.
Larry Stewart Saskatoon
Fort McMurray-based Thomas O’Hara has spent the last decade as a sales rep. Prior to that, O’Hara’s career included stints in sports consulting, fundraising, event planning, and marketing and sales. Together with his wife, Angie, he is the head of Team O’Hara, a brokerage that joined Royal LePage in 2012. Tom is a recipient of the Triple Platinum Club Multi-Million Dollar Seller Award, and in 2013, he funded more than $100 million in home sales.
Larry Stewart and the sales reps across his eight brokerages in Saskatchewan have been top producers in the province for years. Now, with the market on Vancouver Island starting to rebound, Stewart is ready to bring the same level of success to the four Re/Max franchises he purchased there last year. “I have a liking for Vancouver Island,” he says of the reason behind his big purchase. “And our winters are brutal, so it gives me an opportunity to escape the cold!”
Bashar Mahfooth Mississaugua, Ont.
Cindy Avis and Alex Irish Oakville, Ont.
Bashar Mahfooth has been the top individual agent at his Re/Max Realty One office nine times since 2005 and is one of the top-five individual agents in Mississauga. He is also a Diamond, Chairman, Hall of Fame, and Individual Lifetime Achievement winner with his brokerage.
When Cindy Avis and Alex Irish combined forces to form Avis & Irish in March 2013, it was a natural transition for two of Oakville, Ont.’s top agents. They bring together a strong knowledge and understanding of the Oakville market and community, since they have both raised their families there. In 2015, the team was ranked 37th in sales volume for Re/ Max across Canada. “We are unique in that we are a very small team to achieve this level of success and in such a short time,” Avis says.
Kash Aujla Brampton, Ont. Claude Boiron Thornhill, Ont. Even though Claude Boiron successfully converted half of his business to residential in 2014, he’s still a leading innovator in the commercial sphere. In addition to authoring books on the topic of commercial real estate and teaching courses on the subject at the University of Toronto, Boiron negotiated and designed a building that will feature the world’s largest rooftop solar system, which has an annual environmental CO2 offset equal to 285 metric tons of gasoline.
Kash Aujla is a Brampton-based agent with Re/Max Champions. He was named the number one broker in Brampton in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
John Ryan Whistler, BC John Ryan has been recognized as Whistler’s top agent for the past 25 years, and has sold more than 3,000 properties in his 29-year real estate career. A resident of the ski resort town for 25 years, Ryan completed a cross-Canada tour in a hand bicycle and raised more than $1 million for spinal cord regeneration research, for which he received the Meritorious Service Medal from the governor general of Canada.
COVER STORY Eli Bakhtiari and Bella Lee Toronto Eli Bakhtiari and Bella Lee, known as Eli & Bella Group, are an award-winning team with more than 25 years of experience in the Greater Toronto Area, with a particular focus on Willowdale in North York. Bakhtiari combines her real estate experience with professional interior design skills, while Lee is an active real estate investor and developer – so both team members offer a little something different to prospective clients.
Patrick Rocca Toronto Patrick Rocca had one of his best years in 2014. He sold more than 85 homes, beat his previous dollar-amount record, and held on to his title as one of the top agents in Toronto. But his crowning achievement, he says, was the award he won for outstanding community service. “I’ve been living and working in this community for over 24 years, and I think a lot of my success is because of my community,” he says. It’s that attitude, that drive to give back to his community, that keeps past clients on his roster and new ones walking through his door.
Len T. Wong Calgary
Cliff Rego Waterloo, Ont.
Broker Len T. Wong has been a Calgary real estate agent for 17 years. His team, Len T. Wong and Associates, specializes in luxury homes and condos, with hundreds sold each year (and more than $114 million in real estate sold in 2013 alone). Thanks to Wong’s team’s experience in the Calgary market, they have been ranked the city’s number one Re/Max brokerage and have been consistently ranked in the top 1% of Canadian Re/Max professionals.
Cliff Rego is the head of the Cliff Rego Team, a Re/Max team that services the Waterloo area. Rego honed his people skills in the retail industry – selling suits – before moving to the real estate industry in 2003. In 2013, Rego had a banner year, posting more than $108 million in total volume.
Trina Hodges Sherwood Park, Alta. Edmonton-based real estate agent Trina Hodges has a range of awards to her name. In 2013 alone, she was recognized by her brokerage with Re/Max Chairman’s Award for Western Canada, was named the number one Individual Sales Associate by Re/Max Elite and was ranked number 33 in sales among all Re/Max Realtors in Canada.
Laura Clarke Vancouver Laura Clarke officially started her career in 2003 as a marketing director for The Shirley Clarke Team, but she says it actually started long before that, as she was raised in real estate. She got her license the following year and is now listing specialist and chief operating officer for Team Clarke in North Vancouver, where she grew up. Clarke has received the Medallion Club award from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, as well as the Team President’s Club Award.
Glen Harvey Winnipeg Glen Harvey doesn’t need a fancy website or an in-house social media team to buy and sell real estate. Instead, the Winnipeg-based sales rep has worked hard to provide his clients with top-of-the-line service. As a result, he’s been ushered to the top of the long list of sales reps, earning his spot as the number one sales rep in Manitoba by transactions, and the number two sales rep by dollar amount. He also helped his brokerage reach the number two spot in the province, contributing more than 7% of the firm’s 2014 sales.
“I truly feel [that choosing not to advertise] speaks more to my existing business and allows me to properly dedicate my time and resources to [my clients] instead of strangers that don’t know me from the other 40,000 active agents in the GTA”
David Oey Toronto David Oey doesn’t like to advertise his services. He doesn’t send mass email campaigns or plaster his face on bus shelters. Instead, he feeds his mainly referral business by investing in his clients. “I help to contribute to their charities, promote their businesses, include them consciously in connecting to other clients I have,” he says. “I truly feel this approach speaks more to my existing business and allows me to properly dedicate my time and resources to them instead of strangers that don’t know me from the other 40,000 active agents in the GTA.”
COVER STORY Jeff Neustaedter Calgary One of the partners of the number-one volume-producing team in Alberta, Jeff Neustraedter has lived in Calgary since 1989. He was born and raised on a farm in Manitoba, went to high school in Saskatchewan and then moved to Alberta after graduation. Neustraedter got into real estate in the late 1990s, selling new homes and condos before moving to Re/Max in 2001.
Lindsay and Melanie Wright Toronto Lindsay and Melanie Wright, the two halves of The Wright Sisters Group, focus their attention on Toronto real estate, particularly The Beaches, Leslieville, East York and Riverdale. The team is Re/Max’s number one team in Toronto and has been since 2007. They continue to be recognized for their outstanding sales achievements, including the sale of more than 3,000 homes since 1995.
Kevin Vobeyda Grande Prairie, Alta. Jonah Franklin Regina As owner of Century 21 Dome Realty in Regina, Jonah Franklin has led his team of 98 agents in two offices to success year after year. In 2014, the brokerage earned its spots as the top Century 21 firm for transaction ends across the province. It was also the number six Century 21 firm for number of homes sold across Canada and number nine, nationally, for dollar amount. On a personal note, Franklin was named a 10-year Centurion producer in 2014, recognizing his individual success in the business over the last decade.
Kevin Vobeyda has worked in the Grande Prairie area for the last 16 years as a realtor and has experienced much success during that time. He’s already been named a Re/Max Hall of Fame winner, a Chairman’s Club Award winner and has been a former director and president of the Grande Prairie and Area Association of Realtors.
Roy Pat Vancouver A relative newbie to the world of commercial real estate, Roy Pat’s accomplishments are impressive beyond sales targets. After just three years with Colliers International, Pat was asked to present an update on the 2014 industrial market at a NAIOP real estate industry breakfast event. He was also part of a team that successfully pitched a large industrial lease listing for a 1.15 million-square-foot business part called the Tsawwassen Gateway Logistics Park, and he is continually working to help improve Vancouver’s logistics and distribution landscape.
Jack Ouellette Oakville, Ont. After a prosperous 20-year career in the software development industry, Jack Ouellette joined Royal LePage as a sales representative and has enjoyed a very successful second act. As a top individual agent in his office, he uses his past experience in software, along with dedication, superior market analysis, and a belief in the value of clear communication to sell homes in Mississauga, Milton, Burlington and Waterdown.
Patrick Morris Ottawa Patrick Morris has been Royal LePage’s top seller in Ottawa every year since 2001; he has also been a regional Top 10 Award recipient every year since 2014. Morris has been an active member on the Ottawa Real Estate Board since 1972 and, along with being an active broker, he is an accredited buyer representative, a registered relocation professional, an accredited senior agent and a member of the National Association of Realtors. He funded more than $92 million in volume in 2013.
Margaret Leung Vancouver Continually ranked as one of Vancouver’s top agents, Margaret Leung has more than 27 years of real estate experience. She offers in-depth knowledge of the city and the Lower Mainland’s real estate market, and her strong negotiation skills have helped her to build a strong client base through referrals and happy clients.
Jordan Lotoski Calgary Jordan Lotoski, who is based in Calgary and has more than 10 years of experience in the industry, is one of the top 100 Re/Max agents worldwide. He attributes his success to a strong marketing plan with extensive advertising, state-of-the-art technology, an experienced support team and a local client base.
Ken Digalakis Toronto Ken Digalakis is the team leader for Re/Max All-Stars Realty and was recognized in 2012 as the number 34 broker on Re/Max’s top 100 list; he is also a regular among the top 1% of Re/Max Canada sales and has been awarded the Top 10 individual Sales Associates Award numerous times. A proud sponsor of Sick Kids Hospital, Grand Dragon World Championships and minor hockey since 1999, Ken is actively involved his community of Toronto.
Ron Baliski Saskatoon Ron Baliski and his team at Ron Baliski Realty specialize in a range of housing options in the Saskatoon, Sask., market, including new homes, apartments, resale condominiums and town houses. With more than 25 years of experience, Baliski also has been recognized by Re/Max as one of its top 100 agents in Canada, and has earned designations such as Re/Max’s Platinum Club, Chairman’s Club and Diamond Club.
Shahin Beyroyan Vancouver Recognized in the top 1% of all Greater Vancouver real estate professionals in 2013 and 2014, Shahin Beyroyan has a variety of accolades to his credit. He has less than five years of experience in the industry, but he has already been ranked by Re/Max as one of the top 100 Realtors worldwide, one of the top 10 in Canada and one of the top five in Western Canada.
Faisal Susiwala Cambridge, Ont. Faisal Susiwala, who has been an agent at Re/Max Twin City Realty since 1994, started his real estate career at the age of 18. Covering a large sector of the Cambridge and Kitchener-Waterloo market, he was the first Re/Max agent in the tri-county area to reach $400 million in sales. In 2001, Susiwala was recognized with the Circle of Legends award, the first agent in the area to receive the award. He attributes his success to a strong marketing plan with extensive advertising, state-of-the-art technology, an experienced support team and a local client base.
COVER STORY Cheri McCann Toronto Cheri McCann is one of Ontario’s top real estate agents. An agent with RE/MAX Hallmark Realty in Toronto, McCann leads a team that racked up more than $80 million in volume in 2013. “Cheri McCann and her whole team were amazing,” says customer Anna MacQuarrie. “She helped us buy and sell our first home. As first time buyers she helped us identify the right neighbourhood and find the perfect home. As first time sellers, her advice and guidance was invaluable to us.”
Ron Lypchuk Prince Albert, Sask. With more than 30 years in the real estate industry, Ron Lypchuk has seen a lot of changes in the business. But Lypchuk’s commitment to service has remained steadfast through all of it. “My biggest motivation is watching the excitement on my clients’ faces when they make that purchase or sale of a home,” he says. That attitude has paid off; Lypchuk was responsible for $210 million in sales volume in 2013.
Bill Thom Toronto Licensed as a sales representative in 1983 and an associate broker in 1988, Bill Thom is one of the leading real estate professionals in Toronto. He is a member of Re/Max’s Hall of Fame and Circle of Legends, and received the company’s Lifetime Achievement award in 2001. Thom is also involved in a range of charities and speaks fluent English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese and Toisan.
Richard Scully Port Carling, Ont.
Michelle Yu Vancouver
Richard Scully, a sales representative at Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd., specializes in cottage country – more specifically, Ontario’s beautiful Muskoka, an area he calls home. (He even showed a cottage to hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and his wife, Janet, in 1997). He is part of a large team at the brokerage, which has been in operation for more than 50 years.
Michelle Yu has been a real estate innovator since she entered the industry in 1993. She’s also a favorite among homebuyers; the majority of Yu’s business comes from the referrals of satisfied customers. In 2013, Yu’s team posted more than $115 million in volume.
Jerry Hendriks St. Catharines, Ont. Jerry Hendriks has been one of the top producers in the Niagra region for the last 24 years. An inductee into the Re/Max Hall of Fame, Hendriks also has received multiple Re/Max International platinum and Chairman’s Club awards. He’s also been recognized by his customers – Hendriks has been honoured with the Diamond Choice Award for Best Real Estate Agent in Niagra This Week’s Readers’ Choice Awards. He’s also a winner of the Re/Max International Lifetime Achievement Award.
Lisa Hartigan Fort McMurray, Alta. Born in Bridgewater, NS, and now specializing in Fort McMurray’s real estate market, Lisa Hartigan has lived in many cities across the country. In 1995, she moved to Fort McMurray to work with a local appraisal firm, but when she learned about the hot housing market, she became instantly interested in real estate. She became an agent with Re/Max in 2011 and has achieved many distinctions in the years since, including being named one of the company’s top 50 agents and receiving the Hall of Fame Award in 2003.
“I’ve been working with people my whole life, and that gives me an edge on negotiation”
Tav Schembri Toronto In his past life as a real estate investor and small business owner, Tav Schembri learned skills that he’s since applied to his work as a top-performing real estate professional. “I’ve been working with people my whole life, and that gives me an edge on negotiation,” he says. “A lot of times deals break down because people are asking for the unattainable, but if you help them see things clearly, it’s pretty easy to guide them along.” Schembri was ranked number 11 among all Canadian sales reps by dollar amount, and has earned Re/Max’s Chairman’s Club Award and Platinum Club Award, among others.
THE REIC STUFF As niche markets grow, organizations such as the Real Estate Institute of Canada are there to meet increased demand from real estate agents wishing to enhance their expertise
COMPETITION, AS any agent who’s been on the job more than two weeks will tell you, will make you better. However, the avenues for professional progress can be dizzying. So what do you look for when choosing a provider of designation courses? Despite the saturation of the market with third-party designation providers, all with assurances of experience and credibility, the safest bet is on longevity – and less than a handful of Canadian organizations can claim it.
Organizations like the Real Estate Institute of Canada [REIC] are amongst the few that can. Educating and certifying since 1955, REIC offers a variety of courses aimed at increasing the skills of its students. Offering designations, courses, certifications and even exclusive or advanced programs, REIC represents the future – not only of continuing education programs for real estate professionals, but for the industry as a whole. The future, clearly, is now. REP
Achieve More Build your niche with courses leading to credentials specializing in the buyers (ABR®), sellers SRS), seniors (SRES®) and international (CIPS) markets, and more. Enhance your business profile with the exclusive FRI designation. Learn More, Achieve More
with the Real Estate Institute of Canada (REIC).
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Driving change: when to involve the troops Leadership is always a delicate balance, and knowing when to involve your staff in an important initiative is just one of these balancing acts – and the timing needs to be just right. In this excerpt from his book, Leadership: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint, Gordon Tredgold shares the perfect time to bring in support
WHEN YOU’RE fighting a battle, how long do you have to fight it alone? What’s a duel, and what’s a war? When should you call for reinforcements? When can you expect to find an army at your back? Someone asked me the question: At what point do we need to involve more people – like experts – when we’re shooting for those big goals? This is an interesting and difficult question to answer. I see it as a very tough balancing act that we have to get right. If you involve too many people too early, then your goals run the risk of becoming tempered and watered down. On the other hand, if you involve too few people or involve them too late, people might feel
behind it and so forth. The more inspirational the goal, the more convincing your why – and the bigger the buy-in. This is when more people begin to show up. As soon as what and why have been defined, you can begin gathering an army to tackle how. Remember this: The goal is non-negotiable now. There will be those who will try to deter you from it. There will be those who won’t be able to fathom the big picture. But the team’s focus should be on brainstorming and mapping out the road to success. The vision of success has already been taken care of. All the energy must now be channelled to discovering how to achieve the bold goals – not how to temper or reset them.
excluded and this can then lead to resistance, tension and lack of commitment. That can be a huge source of conflict. In my opinion, the team defining the objectives and the goals needs to be small. And by small, I mean perhaps one to two people. I’ll explain why I’m so conservative with that number. The more people you have involved in defining the goal, the more reasons they’ll provide you as to why you cannot hit your target. (It’s more ‘natural’ to think initially of what could go wrong. Remember when someone turned up late for a date or a meeting? A dozen bad scenarios probably ran through your head – from he doesn’t like me anymore to maybe he got into a car crash. Turned out, he’d just stopped to fill up with gas.) If there are too many people involved, your goal will be watered down from big, bold and beautiful to small and not-so-impressive. It’s nobody’s fault, per se; it’s just the way of people, for there are as many opinions as there are voices. In the end, it’s your decision, and your voice has to make the choice.
We need to be dedicated and fearless when setting big and ambitious goals, and this is more easily done if we only have to deal with (or convince) a small group. Large groups tend to be more cautious, argumentative and often lean toward the safe side – not what you need when setting big, bold goals. You need healthy doses of risk, ambition and creativity, and those characteristics can get trampled by the masses. I’ve experienced this in the workplace time and time again, like that time when I set one company’s goal for an on-time delivery increase to 80% (as compared to our old average performance of 35%). If I had consulted with a larger group, I am sure we would have tempered the goal and probably set it at 60%; 80% wouldn’t have even been considered, much less reached. In my opinion, keep the team to a minimum when you’re at the first step of defining success and setting the goals for a change. So then, the second step. You have to define the why behind the what: why this goal is important, what the benefits are, the reasons
The three key principles to driving change are: • Define the problem (the goal) with as few people as possible • Create an important and inspiring reason that people can buy into • Define the solution (the strategy for success while involving and welcoming more people – the troops) There will always be some resistance, of course. You need to see beyond that now. The Chinese have a popular proverb: It is better to light the candle than to curse the darkness. Problems exist to be solved. Your vision must be powerful enough, and your focus must be just as keen. Don’t ask your team: Why shouldn’t we do this? Instead, ask your team: Tell me what you need to make this happen. If you can attain the balance, your larger group will not feel excluded. Instead, those people will feel involved. They will take up the challenge and work with you to define the solution. After all, the resulting solution will be their brainchild, too, and involvement breeds commitment. Thus do we set big, bold, challenging goals, while inspiring people and ensuring their commitment. REP
Gordon Tredgold is a specialist in transformational leadership, operational performance improvement, organizational development, creating business value, and program and change management.
The silent assassin You work long hours and are often tired, stressed and overwhelmed. You just don’t have time to look after yourself. Sound familiar? Timo Topp provides some tips on work-life balance
STRESS IS like a silent assassin. You don’t see it coming or know that it is there, but it has you in a headlock, and before you know it, you’re on the mat. It has been stated that stress is the cause of 90% of illnesses. Your body tells you how well you are doing. You just need to be more aware of the signals it is sending you. They start off as minor warning signs, but if left unchecked or ignored, they progress to more serious health issues and ultimately life-threatening problems. You can manage your stress to feel and perform at your best with simple strategies performed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
Daily Daily strategies to minimize stress simply mean following the basics of health: • Drink plenty of water and limit coffee to two cups • Be more conscious of better breathing and breathe deeply into the abdomen, not just the upper chest • Eat healthy, fresh food instead of processed, quick, convenience food • Keep active – walk more and move more throughout the day Weekly Invest a small amount of time in nurturing
STRESS WARNING SIGNS
Anxiety or depression
Irritability or short temper
Feeling isolated, unsocial
Frequent ill health
Poor sleep patterns
No sex drive
Drinking more alcohol
Racing heart rate
yourself and prioritizing some downtime: • Exercise three to four times per week for 30-40 minutes • Make a commitment to turn off your phone and emails at a set time each day • Have one complete work-free day, e.g. Saturday • Make time for friends and family, and make it equally as important as a work meeting • Have a laugh – watch a funny movie or TV show • Get outside into a local park for sunshine and fresh air Monthly and beyond • Once a month, get a massage/bodywork treatment • Pursue a pastime that is purely for fun as opposed to achieving or attaining something • Once a month, get out into nature for a day to walk on the beach or hike in the woods • Every 90 days, get out of town for a long weekend • Once a year, have a holiday for two weeks or more Schedule your ‘me plan’ The key to managing yourself and handling stress is to prioritize ‘you’ by developing a ‘me
SLEEP YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS • Develop a sleep routine. Go to
bed at a similar time each night • One hour before bed, avoid work, computers and TV • Dim lights and/or use candles • Write down thoughts so they aren’t in your head • Sleep in a completely dark room with a window slightly open for fresh air • Do some deep, meditative breathing • If you cannot sleep, get up, read a book for 15 minutes in a different room and return to bed. plan’. This is a plan that includes a selection of the strategies mentioned above. Don’t just leave it to chance; book the strategies into your schedule like any other important appointment. If something comes up, reschedule it. Isn’t that a worthy investment for a significant return? REP Timo Topp is founder of Well for Work – helping busy professionals feel better and work more productively with simple and feasible strategies they can do at their desks. Visit wellforwork.com
PROACTIVE STEPS A new study reveals that stressed and micromanaged employees are more likely to call in sick. The study, which examined more than 7,000 middle-aged healthy people in Norway, found that those who work in stressful environments and are micromanaged by their bosses are more likely to take extended sick leave – defined as more than 16 days off in a row. Additionally, they are also more likely to experience chest pain, nausea and shortness of breath. According to the research results, one in every 15 cases of extended sick leave could be avoided if employers took steps to make their workplaces less stressful. Examples include: LOOSEN THE REINS: Introduce small measures that give employees some control over their work, such as when they can take their breaks, or even just empower them so they can speak up about great ideas. A fresh perspective, or even taking suggestions from frontline employees, can result in more efficient and effective processes – resulting in less stress for everyone. PROVIDE SOME DOWNTIME: Setting a time for employees to put down work and interact with each other not only gives them an opportunity to de-stress, it helps develop workplace relationships. For example, when Anthony Merlin, managing director of architectural firm i2C, converted an old pub into his firm’s office, he included breakout areas in the renovations. EDUCATE MANAGEMENT: Provide team leaders with basic training in identifying the signs of stress. Law firm Holding Redlich is one example of an employer that has positioned employee well-being at the heart of its EVP. The company promotes health and well-being programs for all employees, and host regular mental health, stress and burnout presentations by representatives from organizations such as R U OK and beyondblue.
ALICE THOMPSON Realtor, Coldwell Banker Redwood Realty
Photo from bookcoverings.com
Swimming, sushi and the quirky inhabitants of Dawson City, Yukon – these are a few of Alice Thompson’s favourite things
Favourite sport Swimming. I can’t swim up here in Dawson City, as the river is too cold for me and the pool is only open in the summer during my busiest season. But I like being in the water – just haven’t had that much opportunity the last few years. Favourite celebrity Tony Bennett. There’s a fabulous docu mentary of him on Netflix. They were showing him doing a performance with different female singers, including the supremely talented Amy Winehouse. You could see that [talent], and Tony could see it, too, and appreciate her for what she was.
Photo from theblanketfort.net
My first real estate deal: I was a new agent in a small rural oceanside community called Tahsis, on Vancouver Island. I had just gotten my license, and I had a buyer who wanted a prominent ocean-view property. It was a private sale, and I successfully handled negotiations for him.
Favourite book My favourite childhood books were the Narnia series. The original – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – was probably the best one. If you appreciate that kind of book, the fantasy element and characters are really wonderful.
Favourite movie Dune. It’s a fabulous story with very strong characters. The book seems dry in comparison to the movie, since it was so rich and compelling. It was a very rare occasion where I saw the movie then read the book, and for this movie I am glad I did it that way.
Favourite food Sushi and Asian cuisine. We have good Chinese food in town, but for the rest I have to wait until I’m out of town. Favourite vacation spot Vancouver and Victoria. I’ve got friends there. I’d rather visit friends than anything else. Favourite thing about working in real estate: The variety and the challenge. There’s always room for improvement, room to do things better, room to offer better service. It’s a very interesting challenge, selling real estate in Dawson City. Between the interesting characters who live here and the ones who are drawn here, to the unique properties and the issues of building in the North due to climate and geology, my job has infinite variety. Favourite music Gregorian chants. They make me feel very peaceful.
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