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EUROPEAN STYLE ENGEL & VÖLKERS IS MAKING A SPLASH IN CANADA
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UPFRONT 04 Editorial
Examining Genworth’s mixed message
06 Head to head
Selling this one-of-a-kind loft space in Toronto’s Liberty Village required some creativity from the listing agent
Foreign interest in Canadian real estate shows no signs of slowing
14 Technology update
How mobile technology is changing the way agents do business
48 Favourite things
Alex Palmer of Century 21 Lloydminster Realty
How Chestnut Park is helping its agents build top-notch, completely customized marketing programs
TEAMWORK IN TRAINING
One Century 21 franchise has developed a winning formula to keep new agents in the industry
12 News analysis
Find out which real estate brokerages are outperforming all others in Canada right now
Engel & Völkers CEO Anthony Hitt outlines the luxe European brand’s plans to make a splash in the Canadian market
Understanding the millennial market
New amenities are widening the gap between A-, B- and C-class buildings
16 Commercial update
Should the public have free access to sold data?
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A real headscratcher
t’s a cheeky question, to be sure – but are the country’s default mortgage insurers trying to rain on the industry’s very lively parade? Impertinent though it may be, the question is something agents are asking as they parse recent moves by both Canada Mortgage and Housing and the biggest private player in the sector, Genworth. To be fair, even the most cynical – and most free-market supporting – agents understood CMHC’s decision this spring to raise premiums on some, if not all, of its policies. After all, the increase – 15% – would be limited to deals where homebuyers were putting down 10% or less. That hike also comes at a time when fears about market overvaluation are running riot, especially for oil-weary Alberta.
This prudence and careful planning should serve Canada’s housing market well as responsible first-time buyers grow into responsible longterm owners Sales reps were just as understanding when Genworth followed suit only days later, applying a similar hedge of sorts to the same sort of deals. It too would cite “higher capital requirements” for its rate increase while maintaining the rise would have no “material impact on affordability.” What had the industry scratching its collective head was the release of a Genworth report coming on the heels of that move. It extolled the prudence of first-time buyers, appearing to cancel out any pressing need to raise their premiums and so run the risk of flattening the active spring market. The findings of the survey – tracking 1,800 first-time buyers, aged 25-40, who made purchases in the last 24 months – were clear: “Today’s first-time homebuyers have their eyes wide open, their hands firmly on their pocketbook and are thinking hard before assuming the responsibility of homeownership,” writes Stuart Levings, president and CEO of Genworth Canada. “This prudence and careful planning should serve Canada’s housing market well as responsible first-time buyers grow into responsible long-term owners.” For agents, that glowing assessment may make the most compelling case possible against Genworth’s own premium hike. Vernon Clement Jones, editor
www.repmag.ca SUMMER 2O15 EDITORIAL Editorial Director Vernon Clement Jones Writers Olivia D’Orazio Jordan Maxwell Copy Editor Clare Alexander
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HEAD TO HEAD
Should sold data be made available to the public? Amid calls for the industry to release sold data online, many agents think the information should stay behind closed doors
Davelle Morrison Sales representative Bosley Real Estate
Sales representative First Choice Realty
“We pay for the MLS system ... so it is our right to keep that information private, and if the public wants to know the information, they should contact a Realtor. And besides, there is the Privacy Act to consider. I don’t think people would like to have their private information made public. It’s not just about access. We go to school; we learn about appraisals, mortgages, the law, construction. That enables us to offer qualified advice, and any regular person may not have the same kind of knowledge.”
“Sure – after the house closes, but not before. The deal could fall though, so it doesn’t make sense to give away that information until the house has actually closed. Everything is public anyway. All it takes is a trip down to city hall [to] get the information. I think it’s about being better at your job and servicing people well. I don’t think that one little piece of information holds the key to my job. Change is inevitable. So it’s [about] trying to figure out how your business is going to change with the times as opposed to resisting change at all cost.”
“There’s no such thing as no cost. It did cost somebody; it cost the Realtors who go out and work very hard to earn a living. And they pay dues to collect this data to help them do their jobs better. So by giving it away at no cost, what you’re really doing is giving it away at the cost of the Realtors who paid for it. By giving that information away, you open up a lot of potential for liability and litigation. There is a lot of potential harm here, and we’re the buffers to keep this from happening.”
Sales representative Royal LePage At Your Service Realty
THE CASE IN QUESTION The Toronto Real Estate Board [TREB] has been involved in a four-year back-and-forth legal battle with Canada’s Competition Bureau over this very issue. The Bureau claims keeping the information private is anti-competitive, while TREB says the information is proprietary and otherwise available to the public at a cost through the land registry. TREB and the Competition Bureau will go through yet another tribunal hearing in September, and the rest of the country will be watching closely. Many believe the Bureau is tackling the largest real estate board first, and if successful, will likely go after the rest of the country, too.
Chestnut Park unleashes strategic marketing Luxury brand Chestnut Park is taking strategic marketing to a new level, working with agents to develop the services they need to succeed. Ellen Webster reports
A BRAND new marketing initiative by the leadership team at Chestnut Park Real Estate is raising the bar and setting new standards for strategic branding models not previously seen in the real estate marketplace. A privately held company with a more traditional corporate framework, Chestnut Park is able to provide a strategic corporate branding structure under which agents can achieve autonomy and focus on their personal business goals. “A marketing initiative that falls under the communications umbrella of the corporate office has never been done before,” says CEO Chris Kapches. “This certainly makes us unique in the marketplace.” With the arrival of Debbie McGrath, the director of the newly formed marketing department, the offices at Chestnut Park are buzzing with enthusiasm about this
specialized plan that creates an innovative model for marketing excellence. “This was born out of a desire to meet the needs of our clients, who are our agents,” McGrath says. “At Chestnut Park, the leadership team treats the agents with the same respect, appreciation and service offerings that those agents show to their own clients. Our agents believe that our brand delivers for them, that our brand resonates with their clients – the excellence in service and quality – and that those factors contribute to their success.” The full-service marketing suite is a package offering to all agents. The marketing team meets individually with agents to discuss their specific needs in areas such as personal branding, advertising, website creation and content, and social media presence. Digital and creative manager Sarah
Carter brings new media technical expertise to the team, while graphic designers Philip Feder and Danielle Bruno offer the essential skills needed to execute original marketing collateral. Agents also are offered customized event planning services. “Each agent at Chestnut Park is a small business with unique marketing needs,” McGrath explains. “Our team provides them with the tools they need to achieve success.”
How it works So how does a four-person marketing team meet the individual needs of agents in a vast territory, all of whom have different target
CASE STUDY: MUSKOKA
“It’s important to the leadership team that each agent is given the ability to differentiate themselves from within – that each agent retains the autonomy of their personal brand” markets and audience messaging? “We meet with each agent who is interested in using our services,” McGrath says. “We ask what their needs are, what their goals are, and then we provide a detailed full-service marketing plan.” With so many agents being serviced, the team uses production boards and project management software to measure progress. They also keep in regular contact with individual agents as their business visions and plans evolve. The ultimate goal is to make sure all projects are completed to the agents’ satisfaction. An agent selling a four-season recre-
ational home in Collingwood is going to have much different marketing and audience needs than an agent selling a high-end luxury property in Muskoka, but this plan allows for consistency in the corporate brand message while providing the unique focus that the market requires in each geographical location. “It’s important to the leadership team that each agent is given the ability to differentiate themselves from within – that each agent retains the autonomy of their personal brand,” McGrath says. The reaction from Chestnut Park’s agents has been overwhelmingly positive, and
Ragan Zilic Lovegrove is a Muskoka-based Chestnut Park agent who has completed the marketing cycle with Debbie McGrath and her team. Her experience reveals how the corporate marketing plan evolved. “I had a meeting with Deb and said, ‘I need your help, I don’t know what to do.’ I was overwhelmed with all I needed to do to launch my personal brand,” Lovegrove says. “And then it was so easy. Deb and her team carved out a detailed plan, and it has been the best experience ever. They not only had answers to every question I had, but they also had the skills and expertise to carry it out. “My business has a full-service marketing team [to] meet my needs for my success. It’s really quite incredible. I can’t imagine another company offering this type of service to their agents.”
McGrath is buoyed by the successes she has already seen. “We get to know the individual needs of our agents very well, and we have great satisfaction in seeing the results,” she says. Kapches points out the vision for this unique offering grew from an appreciation for servicing agents in the best possible way. “Our structure allows us to provide marketing services in an internally focused way, and we will now do so [with] an unprecedented level of service,” he says. “Having said that, Debbie’s marketing team is also charged with the responsibility of enhancing Chestnut Park’s presence in our various market areas.” The marketing team at Chestnut Park seems to know that providing such specialized branding services to their agents differentiates their company from others in the marketplace. This innovative marketing plan is also an excellent demonstration of what can be achieved with a new vision and direction for real estate communications. REP
Gen Y could soon make up a massive portion of your clientele. This is where to find them THE MILLENNIAL generation – those aged 15 to 34 – are one of the largest population groups in the country, and many are approaching the age at which Canadians typically purchase their first home. Statistics indicate that millennials with high-paying jobs are much more likely to choose homeownership over renting. However, a large number of millennials
have chosen to put off their dreams of homeownership. Why? As a group, they typically spend longer in post-secondary school and have a tendency to delay other life milestones, such as getting married and having children. In addition, home prices have risen to astronomical heights, making renting a popular option in many of the country’s more in-demand cities.
MARRIAGE AND MILLENNIALS A staggering majority of millennials are remaining single for longer, further delaying homeownership
Other (separated, divorced, widowed)
Source: Stats Can, 2011
THE GREAT MILLENNIAL DIVIDE: OWNING VS RENTING
THE COST OF HOMEOWNERSHIP The average income of millennial homeowners is significantly higher than that of renters, suggesting the cost of homeownership is a barrier for Gen Yers Owners
About half of Canada’s provinces have more millennial owners than renters – so the other half could be on the cusp of a tidal wave of Gen Y buyers British Columbia Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba
$51,789 $47,703 $33,974
New Brunswick Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island Newfoundland
30 to 34
25 to 29
Age Source: Stats Can, 2011
500,000 Source: Stats Can, 2011
MILLENNIALS IN CANADA After Baby Boomers, millennials make up the largest demographic in Canada – and a good portion of them are getting to the age at which they’d enter the housing market for the first time.
HOUSING PRICES PROHIBITIVE
WESTERN PROVINCES HAVE MORE MILLENNIALS Gen Yers make up about a quarter of the total population in each province
Some millennials are forced to put off buying a home due to the high average housing prices in provinces such as British Columbia and Ontario
Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba Ontario
New Nova Scotia Prince Newfoundland Brunswick Edward Island Source: Stats Can, 2011
British Columbia - $639,405 Ontario - $453,646 Alberta - $385,804 Saskatchewan - $298,574 Newfoundland - $282,350 Quebec - $267,054 Manitoba - $262,441 Nova Scotia - $217,881 New Brunswick - $169,840 Prince Edward Island - $164,774
Source: CREA, February 2015
Foreign buyers aren’t going anywhere International interest in Canada has already extended beyond the Chinese buyers who have reshaped the Vancouver market. But in light of global economic conditions, is that interest about to drop off? LOW OIL values and a sinking loonie may cast a dark cloud over many Canadians’ consumer confidence, but those same factors are attractive for foreign investors. “In the past several months, the downward movement of the Canadian dollar has attracted more and more people to consider using this moment of currency weakness to increase their position in Canadian assets,” says Dan Scarrow, managing director of the Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre in Shanghai, China, which is a part of Macdonald Real Estate Group. “We
neighbourhood, says the reason behind purchasing in Canada varies between buyers. “Some of them will want to move to West Vancouver because they think it’s a great place to raise a family and send their children to school,” he says. “Other people will buy a home with the view of, once they settle things back home in mainland China, they’ll come here in two or three years. Other people will [purchase property] as an investment.” Indeed, Canada’s brand, as Scarrow says, remains quite strong – and for good reason.
A rich German does not keep all his money in Germany. It’s common behaviour; you’re protecting your capital” Clarence Debelle, Royal Pacific Realty can expect to see more of that as we move forward.” But the decision to buy in Canada – especially Vancouver, which is already popular with foreign buyers – isn’t strictly a financial one. Many foreigners recognize and appreciate the country’s beauty. Still, Clarence Debelle, a veteran agent who works exclusively in the high-end West Vancouver
The country’s economy is far from failing, the government is stable and conflict is virtually nonexistent. Compared to communist states and those countries in the throes of war, Canada is a very attractive place to either use as a placeholder for assets, or – better yet – to immigrate to. And, as global conditions destabilize, whether economically or otherwise, investing
in Canadian real estate will increasingly become an attractive option. Debelle says the threat of losing everything – one that, unfortunately, has come to fruition for some generations living in those communist and war-torn countries – certainly encourages locals to move their assets to safer places. “People do that all over the world,” he says. “A rich German does not keep all his money in Germany. It’s common behaviour; you’re protecting your capital.” The concept of using international real estate as secure placeholder for assets is also a trend that won’t change with the times. “Canada is in a unique position as a safe haven from the world’s troubles,” Scarrow says. “When economic times are good in other countries, we can expect to see a portion of wealth generated there ultimately
FOREIGN SHARE IN CANADIAN MARKETS
Canada-wide Burrard Peninsula, Vancouver
Vancouver Montreal Calgary
1.5% 0.2% Source: CMHC
moved to Canada for preservation. “When economic troubles loom in other countries, there is an even greater emphasis towards moving money to a safe place,” he
and person – is why Canadian cities like Vancouver have already become popular with foreign buyers, especially Chinese nationals. Debelle estimates some 80% of buyers
“When economic times are good in other countries, we can expect to see a portion of wealth generated there ultimately moved to Canada for preservation” Dan Scarrow, Macdonald Realty continues. “Therefore, Canada stands to benefit regardless of the economic outlook of other, less stable places.” That idea of a safe haven – both financial
searching in his neighbourhood are from overseas. About 95% of the showings he’s booked for his listings, he says, are with potential buyers from mainland China.
But those buyers tend to be concentrated in small areas within the city, such as West Vancouver, so their investments have much more of an impact. “Foreign buyers, paradoxically, have both an over-exaggerated and underestimated impact on the market,” Scarrow says. “They buy a very small fraction of the real estate … in Canada in a given year, but they buy in concentrated areas and at very high prices. Because prices are set at the margins, this has an outsized effect on prices throughout the overall market.” One of the greatest fears, however, is that a slowdown in China could create a mass exodus from the Canadian market, potentially creating a downturn. However, no global slowdown is likely to push those overseas buyers out of the country. “I don’t think [a slowdown in Chinese growth] will have any immediate or mid-term effect on Canada or on Vancouver real estate,” Debelle says. “There are still so many people over there that have accumulated their wealth who want to get here. We’ve got to absorb that first. But in the meantime, as mainland China may be slowing, you’ve got India that is growing, and other countries are going to start to see their economies prosper. And Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, so it will always and will continue to attract people from different parts of the globe.” REP
Bring your business with you The Internet has changed the way agents do their jobs – and mobile technology can make it better
tions – you name it, I’ve got to use my phone to get it.” But what might be even more important than access to tools is the convenience of getting into those systems immediately – after all, most clients aren’t keen on waiting a day or two for an answer. “Nowadays, when you want information, you want it now; you want it ASAP,” Fini says. “[Clients] turn to you for knowledge, and if you’re not giving them knowledge, they’ll just go to someone else. So for my personal business, I need to be the most
“[Clients] turn to you for knowledge, and if you’re not giving them knowledge, they’ll just go to someone else”
While the amount of time you spend in your car isn’t likely to change, the way you do business while you’re in your car already has – and it’s certainly for the better. “Real estate agents are typically working on the fly, so it’s difficult … to lug a computer around,” says Shaun Nilsson, co-founder of CityBlast.com and a former agent himself. “When I was an agent, I worked almost exclusively on my phone.” An agent’s smartphone is increasingly the
most important tool in his or her arsenal. But those mini mobile computers aren’t just great for finding your way to that property. You can scan documents and convert them to PDFs, download official forms to submit an impromptu offer, and even sign on the dotted line via electronic signatures. “As agents, we’re mobile 99% of our day,” says Danny Fini, a sales rep with The Red Pin in Toronto. “I need access to everything – listings, phone numbers, websites, direc-
AgentFlux trims time waste with buyer clients
A new smartphone app hopes to take the hassle out of working with buyer clients. AgentFlux helps automate the process by syncing a client’s portal with the agent’s. From there, the client automatically receives MLS listings based on his or her search parameters. Agents can see which listings the client has viewed and marked as a favourite, and can schedule showings within the app.
knowledgeable person I can be, and being mobile helps me do that.” But it’s not just clients who are unwilling to wait – the market, especially in some of Canada’s largest cities, moves quickly. “I think that the way the market is currently … agents who haven’t adapted to a mobile approach are definitely going to be slower in terms of turnaround,” Nilsson says. “Certainly, in an industry like real estate, there are time requirements in terms of deadlines and expiration dates, so being able to move quickly and nimbly is much more efficient.”
ShowingTime makes listings more efficient
Developed for real estate professionals, ShowingTime software helps agents get the most out of showings by enabling users to schedule appointments and share those appointments with the brokerage front desk. Agents also can collect feedback from potential buyers through the system and use that information to compile a complete report for sellers. The system is compatible with desktop, tablet and smartphone operating systems.
Why social media matters Vanessa Roman Sales representative Exit Realty Metro
Fast fact Roman is also the host of HGTV’s Reno vs Relocate, which helps homeowners tackle the expensive and life-changing question of whether to renovate their current home or move
Why is social media important for real estate agents? The way we buy and sell properties has changed. Fifteen years ago, everything was done in person; there were no electronic mediums where you could find property information. So as we move into the sphere of the Internet, you have to connect with your clients in the way they’re accessing the information, and that’s online.
How can agents use social media to better their businesses? With social media, you have to have a plan to figure out what types of information you want the public to receive, what your branding messages are and what’s the most effective way to target your specific demographic. When you’re trying to decide your social media platforms, you have to say, ‘Where do I want to find clients? How do I want to be able to sell their properties? And, when it comes to buyers, how can I best capture their attention?’
What are the best social media platforms for agents? If you’re looking for first-time homebuyers, they typically tend to be people in their 20s. People in their 20s are on every form of social media you can imagine, some I probably haven’t even heard of. But as you move through age groups, people in their 30s and 40s are going to have a limited capacity, so the most popular
DealTap software takes deals digital
DealTap software is designed to help agents digitize the entire real estate transaction, from submitting an offer to accepting it. Available on desktop, tablet and smartphone platforms, the software enables users to submit an offer using one of the preloaded forms, accept that offer and sign it within the system. DealTap is a member of Lone Wolf’s certified partner program, and is working with the Ontario Real Estate Association to ensure the product is compliant to all real estate regulations.
ones [for them] are Twitter or Facebook or maybe Instagram or Snapchat. As you move to people in their 40s, 50s and 60s, for the majority, the only one you can guarantee everyone has is Facebook, because they want to see pictures of their grandchildren. So depending on where you’re trying to find your clients or sell properties or what your target is, as an agent, you need to be able to have your messages sent out on all those platforms. But personalize that message because you’re trying to target different types of people.
How is social media changing the industry? I think social has made the industry better. What I didn’t like before is that the general public had very few ways to access information about real estate. I find that with social media, my clients are extremely well-educated about what properties have sold, what they’ve sold for, what features are active in their neighbourhood and what they should have in their homes if they want to get top dollar. Where I find that there is a detriment is that, given the volume of information the general public has access to, it’s being able to quantify that piece of information. So if people see three houses have sold on their street, and one was $200,000, one was $300,000 and one was $500,000 – immediately they think their house is worth $500,000 … but the reality is there will be unique differences for each of those properties. That’s where your real estate agent comes in to be able to take that information … and apply it to your particular property.
Virtual staging becoming a growing trend
Listing photos of bare rooms aren’t very enticing to buyers, but not all clients are willing to have their properties fully staged. Virtual staging can help manage one of those problems. This new trend has agents inserting digital furniture in a photograph of the empty space, filling it out and helping prospective buyers better see the potential of the space. There are many companies that offer this service, but many computer-savvy agents are attempting virtual staging themselves.
Dizzle makes recommending partners easier
Clients often look to agents to recommend various service providers – from mortgage brokers and lawyers to handymen and stagers. Dizzle helps agents share their list of vetted individuals with clients. The app can be branded with an agent’s name, and is downloaded to a client’s smartphone. From there, clients have access to a list of the agent’s preferred vendors, as well as the agent’s contact information.
COMMERCIAL UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Dropping oil impacting commercial real estate
Calgary’s downtown office market was at a historic low during the first quarter of 2015, which Colliers International attributes to the downturn in oil values. Vacancies in the market increased to 11% during the first three months of the year, up from 8.13% a year ago and 8.52% in the fourth quarter of 2014. “The dramatic decrease in oil prices will cause unemployment, and a good portion of the increase in unemployment will be felt in Calgary, which in turn will create an increase in the amount of available office space,” said Chris Marlyn, the senior vice president of valuation and advisory services for Colliers International Canada.
Drones hit commercial market Unmanned flying machines are increasingly commonplace in the residential market, but they have yet to become popular in marketing commercial spaces. The restrictions around flying drones are the same as for residential agents – creating a flight plan and avoiding highways, among others – but the benefits are much more pronounced in the commercial world, some argue. The promotion of large acreages and sky-high properties is certainly enhanced by the aerial footage drones supply.
Target leases scooped up by Canadian retailers
Target’s quick entry and sudden departure from the Canadian market left behind hundreds of thousands of square feet of empty retail space – which has since been scooped up by some of the country’s more successful big-box
retailers. Canadian Tire said it would pick up 12 former Target locations in a deal worth $17.7 million. Home improvement retailer Lowe’s agreed to purchase 13 Target locations, and said it would add another 2,000 employees to man those stores. Walmart, which successfully entered Canada in 1994, will scoop up 13 former Target stores as well as a distribution centre.
Real estate investors turning to commercial market
Residential vacancies are dropping in some of Canada’s hottest cities, but property investors are shifting their focus to the commercial market. Claude Boiron, a commercial real estate broker with Royal LePage, says residential tenants are more costly and difficult to manage than commercial ones. “It’s getting harder and harder to have a house or condo that is considered a principal residence from a tax (read: capital gains) perspective,” he wrote in REP sister publication Canadian Real Estate Wealth. “And, since commercial real estate usually costs more, historically low interest rates make borrowing money more profitable than ever.”
Montreal plans to boost retail investment The City of Montreal has announced a multimillion-dollar program to boost commercial retailers. The Commerce Plan will provide $40.5 million to help bolster the 1.9% growth the city’s commercial sector saw between 2009 and 2012. The plan will include a total of $15.4 million in grants for business owners to improve the facades of their buildings, $1.5 million in advertising for local business and $4.7 million for local merchants’ associations, among other initiatives.
The ABCs of commercial real estate New technologies and a focus on sustainability are widening the gap between A-, B- and C-class buildings The difference between A-, B-, and C-class commercial buildings is subjective. But one thing most real estate professionals in that space can agree on is that the gap is widening as new technologies improve the quality of true A-class buildings. The building rating system mainly has to do with the level of finishes and amenities, and the quality of construction. LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certification certainly plays a role, as does location. “Every city is a little bit different,” says John Freyvogel, a senior vice president with Colliers in Vancouver. “In [downtown] Vancouver, it’s predominantly location, age of building, quality of the building’s common areas – and, nowadays, it’s also the statuses, with LEED and BOMA [Building Owners and Managers Association] best.” Most commercial buildings fit squarely in one of these three categories. C-class buildings tend to be older, multi-tenanted structures, with out-of-date mechanical and electrical systems, and few – if any – amenities. B-class buildings are also older, but might have been upgraded, or could have some amenities, such as parking or connection to transit. A-class buildings, meanwhile, are often new construction and take advantage of all the technology available to make the building as efficient as possible. “In terms of quality, a true A-class building in the prime market of Toronto is either an architectural building or it’s a LEED Gold,
LEED Platinum, and it was designed from base building, new construction,” says Arlene Dedier, a principal with Colliers in Toronto. Exemplary mechanical systems, paired with the amenities in place, make A-class buildings that much more impressive than their B- and C-class counterparts, further widening the gap between them. “In downtown Vancouver, we hadn’t really had any new buildings in 10 years, so the age of buildings was getting older and there was no real separation between the statuses,” Freyvogel says. “But the new buildings have more amenities, are more situated toward views and have more technology in them. So there’s a wider, more pronounced gap …” That leaves B-class buildings, in particular, left playing catch up, upgrading common areas and installing automatic sensors where they can. Older buildings also can strive to meet BOMA standards, which measure efficiency in existing buildings.
“A true A-class building is either architectural or LEED Gold” “[It’s] allowing some of the lower As and B primes to become more attractive, in that they start to redo some of their mechanical systems and upgrade their performance,” Dedier says. “It comes at a large investment, but that’s the only way they can compete with these superefficient, sustainable, smart buildings.”
Bill Argeropoulos Principal and research practice leader Avison Young
Years in the industry 27 years Fast fact In addition to his work with Avison Young, Argeropoulos is also a member of the Research Advisory Committee of the Real Property Association of Canada and a longstanding member of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association
International investors discover commercial real estate Are you seeing more international interest in the commercial market? We are definitely seeing some international money coming into Canada, and at the same time, we’re seeing Canadian money going elsewhere in the world because of the size of the Canadian investable universe, which is much smaller than the US and Asia. But most of all, we’re seeing money from China, Indonesia and Korea, as those funds look for stable economies to invest in and look for yield and to diversify their product across major asset classes and geography. Chinese money has become more and more prominent in Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, more on the residential side, but also on the commercial real estate front, buying significant sites in downtown Toronto for development. Some may argue that they are overpaying for these assets, but it’s a way for them to capture some very significant sites that rarely become available in our marketplace.
Is this interest concentrated in a particular sector? What we’ve seen the majority of them focus on is the high residential development, condo sites in particular. There is some Chinese money behind some of the larger developers that will come out of the ground in the next four to five years. We haven’t seen any Asian money solidify a major office asset. Although there was a sizeable acquisition of an office building on Toronto’s Bloor Street last year by the Spanish billionaire of the Zara [retail] chain. They bought an office building on Bloor, which is a more posh area of Toronto’s shopping district.
How is that influx of foreign money beneficial? It does add another flavour or [type of] buyer to the market that is not one of the domestic pension funds. A lot of the acquisitions that have taken place in the last little while have been varied, but some of the Tier 1, higher-quality assets are highly contested, and it’s the pension funds that are usually the winners. Some of the assets that are value-add will probably have some private equity money chasing it, the REITs will look to make some acquisition. But [foreign investors] add to the diversity of the buyer pool.
What are some of the cons to more foreign investment? Some of the deals that have happened as of late, in terms of dollar value … have been quite high – higher than what we’ve been used to in the last little while, pushing values to levels where they haven’t been, where we’re not used to. It shows the urgency for organizations to place money. Irrespective of whether you’re a domestic entity or a foreign entity, they have a wall of money to invest, so when a property comes to market that is highly touted or is good for redevelopment, it’ll go for a good price, and some will pay more than the valuation.
EUROPEAN CHARM COMES TO CANADA Anthony Hitt, the president and CEO of Engel & Völkers Canada, talks to Olivia D’Orazio about the premier real estate brand’s entry into Canada, its heritage and how the company intends to spread across North America ANTHONY HITT’S work in real estate could be considered a series of perfectly timed happy accidents. A casualty of the dot-com explosion, Hitt found himself living in the beautiful neighbourhood of Santa Monica, Calif., and unwilling to leave. He had purchased a house, but found the transaction left him wanting. “The agent was the number-one agent in the area, but it wasn’t a great transaction,” he says. “I thought, ‘Well, if this guy can be successful and not do business with integrity and not really have a plan, maybe this is something I should try.’ Like a lot of people, it wasn’t my intention to be in real estate, but I found myself with the perfect opportunity at the perfect time.” Selling real estate might not have factored into his original plan, but that’s where he ended up in 2001. Hitt first joined an independent brand, which was later acquired by Sotheby’s. That acquisition introduced him to the high-flying world of luxury real estate, which he dominated for eight years. “I was at the top of my business,” he says of his 2010 year. “I had just had my two best quarters ever.” But even being the best gets old. Hitt was looking for a new challenge – he was eager to get into training and coaching, and pass on his knowledge and experience to a younger generation of real estate
agents. That’s when he was approached by European powerhouse Engel & Völkers to lead the brand’s West Coast operations. “The opportunity was the perfect timing for me,” Hitt says, “so I decided to change hats and go from the sales advisor capacity to the leadership capacity.”
Global connection New to North America, Engel & Völkers is one of the more established real estate
by way of Florida. So, in 2007, the company again followed its clients and debuted in North America. The brand then jumped from Florida to California to New York. “It continues to spiderweb in that way,” Hitt says. Canadians, too, are very connected to Europe and the United States, prompting Engel & Völkers to cross the border and enter the Canadian market in 2014. York Region in Ontario became the first official
“Like a lot of people, it wasn’t my intention to be in real estate, but I found myself with the perfect opportunity at the perfect time” companies in Europe. Originally Engel & Cie, the real estate company was founded by Dirk C. Engel in 1977. In 1981, Christian Völkers – who continues to act as the company’s co-CEO – became the managing partner. Six years later, the company was rebranded as Engel & Völkers. The company began its operations in Hamburg, Germany, but quickly expanded as its clients began to migrate across the continent. Engel & Völkers followed its loyal clientele to Berlin, then to Majorca, Spain, a popular vacation spot for Europeans. Engel & Völkers soon realized many of its clients were entering the United States
market to host the prestigious Engel & Völkers brand, followed by offices in Victoria and in Calgary. “We kind of launched all [these offices] in … a lot of the best locations in Canada,” Hitt says. Hitt is set on helping that growth continue, and he’s assembled a great group of people to do just that. Former CEOs and board members of such celebrated brands as Sotheby’s, Century 21 International, and Better Homes and Gardens will help to grow current market share. “There’s definitely a void in the marketplace,” Hitt says. “There are a lot of agents
PROFILE Name: Anthony Hitt Title: CEO Company: Engel & Völkers North America Years in the industry: 15 Fun fact: Hitt is an avid cyclist. He’s planning a big ride in Indiana later this year, and celebrated his 50th birthday by cycling the perimeter of Maui with a handful of friends. “One thing about this business is I’m either in an airport or a hotel,” Hitt says from an airport lounge. “So to connect with friends and get out and enjoy the outdoors and get away from it all is certainly a nice juxtaposition to the everyday of building this brand.”
INDUSTRY ICON ANTHONY HITT’S CAREER PATH and a lot of brokers who are looking for something different, and I believe we fit that bill for them, and that’s why they’re so attracted to what we’re doing.” Filling that void, though, takes a lot more than hiring successful individuals. One of the keys to Engel & Völkers’ ongoing success is how literally they take the brand’s promise of global collaboration. The world is getting smaller and smaller, Hitt says, making it easier to connect with buyers and sellers everywhere and anywhere. Engel & Völkers, he adds, truly is an international brand.
Brand presence The company also collaborates with other established brands and events, such as the Cannes Film Festival, the Monaco Yacht Show, Wimbledon and the International New York Times. They also sponsor local stadiums and events, and run a polo school. “In some cases we’re just looking for cooperative advertising opportunities, bringing some properties to the right audience,” Hitt says. “But in other cases we’re a participant, we’re a sponsor, we’re intimately involved in the event, which gives us an opportunity to present our
“A lot of companies have dots all over the globe, but our dots are truly connected, and I think that really differentiates us from any other company that professes to be international” “We’re not just dots on a map,” he says. “A lot of companies have dots all over the globe, but our dots are truly connected, and I think that really differentiates us from any other company that professes to be international.” Engel & Völkers works tirelessly to nurture that global connectivity. In addition to encouraging their salespeople to reach out to one another, the company hosts a major networking event in Majorca every year, where top producers are invited to meet one another. In North America, Engel & Völkers hosts an exchange event, which gives Canadian and American agents the opportunity to meet one another. “But that’s where it begins, that’s not where it ends,” Hitt says. “What seems to happen with this collaboration and what sets this brand apart from other brands is what’s in the DNA. These people actually stay in touch and work with each other.”
clients and the properties they’re looking to buy or sell.” Advertising and brand recognition is a big part of Engel & Völkers’ success, and the company takes that success very seriously. Each office has a stand-alone website, which is operated on a single company-wide platform. Then there’s the iconic facade that graces each of the company’s 600 global locations. The white pillars and the red and black logo are uniform across the 70 North American offices, as well as the other 500 Engel & Völkers locations around the world. That, too, lends itself to the brand’s global connectivity. “It’s where we come from; it’s part of our heritage,” Hitt says. “There’s also a security that comes along with that. When you see the Engel & Völkers logo and that red ampersand, especially as an international buyer or seller, you know that represents quality.” REP
2001 Assistant brokerage manager, Sotheby’s International
2010 Executive vice president and head of real estate, Engel & Völkers California
2011 Chief operating officer, Engel & Völkers USA
2014 Chief executive officer, Engel & Völkers North America
COVER STORY: TOP OFFICES
CANADA’S TOP REAL ESTATE OFFICES These brokerages are more than high-transaction, high-volume players – they’re also leaders in innovation for clients and agents, and in their communities
REAL ESTATE AGENTS these days are more than just salespeople. They’re entrepreneurs who approach their work as strong individuals increasingly working as a team. To celebrate the professional and entrepreneurial spirit that exemplifies the real estate profession in the 21st century, REP has compiled a list of 60 of the nation’s best performing real estate offices. In addition to celebrating the achievements of these operations, we’ve dug into what makes each of these offices special. All offices boast exemplary training and mentorship programs for their sales reps, while taking pride in their charitable works. So what, exactly, makes these offices worthy of a place on our list? Turn the page to find out.
THE METHODOLOGY We opened nominations for this list in March and were soon inundated with hundreds of entries from across the country. Based on a weighted breakdown of the following variables, REP selected the top 60 offices: Average dollar amount (volume) per agent Average number of sales per agent The office’s specialization, business model and community involvement The weighting was relative to the provincial averages. We verified the submitted data in a number of ways, including a comparison to historical RealTrends data and corroboration by head office and other third parties, where possible.
WHERE ARE THE TOP OFFICES?
INDEPENDENT OFFICES VS FRANCHISES Independents
Prince Edward Island
COVER STORY: TOP OFFICES RE/MAX GRANDE PRAIRIE
CENTURY 21 FUSION
Bobbi-Lee Moman (owner)
Gary & Sharon Busch and Barry & Sandy Chilliak (owners)
City Grande Prairie
Sales volume (2014)
Transactions (2014) 2,793 Sales volume (2014)
The roughly 62 agents who make up Re/Max Grande Prairie are entrepreneurs by nature. They work seamlessly together and support one another in business. But they also support the local community, which has made them one of the most successful brokerages in Grand Prairie, Alta. The office has a clear focus on community involvement: Agents volunteer their time coaching youth sports, sitting on several community and nonprofit boards, and assisting in various fundraising campaigns, among other initiatives.
ROYAL LEPAGE ADVANCE REALTY
Bryan Watkins (managing broker/ general manager)
Century 21 Fusion truly believes in training. New sales reps joining the 96-agent office undergo an extensive training and professional development program that helps them jump start their careers in real estate, while veteran sales reps are welcome to take advantage of similar training and business development programs. That support has helped the office achieve Grand Centurion status, making it one of the top Century 21 brokerages in Canada. It was also named the number 2 Canadian office for number of units sold, and the number 9 global Century 21 office for annual gross commission.
British Columbia City
Campbell River Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
Royal LePage Advance consistently outperforms many of its competitors in the Campbell River region of Vancouver – it was named the Intermediate Business of the Year by the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce. When the office’s 39 agents and seven support staff aren’t busy buying and selling real estate, they’re giving back to the community by participating in the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Big Bike event, Carnation Day for MS, Relay for Life, and Shed Heads for the Campbell River Head Injury Support Association. “We are all keenly aware that our livelihood is directly linked to the well-being of our community,” says managing broker Bryan Watkins.
New agents undergo an extensive training and professional development program that helps them jump start their careers …
EXIT REALTY ADVANTAGE Head
Philip Duplisea (broker/ owner) Province
Fredericton Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
Charitable contributions aren’t just a small part of the culture at Exit Realty Advantage in Fredericton – they’re a way of life. Broker Philip Duplisea says the office culture incorporates giving, whether through Habitat for Humanity, fundraising for Fredericton’s homeless shelters, food drives for the local food bank or the myriad other charities the office’s 60-agent staff are involved with. But the community gives back, too, making the brokerage the top-grossing Exit office in Canada for eight years in a row.
RE/MAX REAL ESTATE (CENTRAL) Head(s)
Patrick Hare (owner) Province Alberta
City Calgary Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
Re/Max Real Estate (Central) has been one of the top Re/Max offices across the globe for the last 15 years. But the office didnâ€™t become a brand powerhouse overnight. Over the brokerageâ€™s 35-plus years in operation, it has worked tirelessly to empower its agents, providing them with the best tools in the industry so they can succeed in their personal businesses. The five-person management team, meanwhile, has worked to grow the office to one of the largest Re/Max brokerages in the world.
COVER STORY: TOP OFFICES BOSLEY REAL ESTATE QUEEN WEST Head
Mark McLean (broker) Province Ontario City Toronto Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
Having your storefront on what Vogue called the second trendiest street in the world leaves certain expectations, and Bosley Real Estate’s Queen West branch has managed to exceed them all. Not only were the office’s 48 agents able to achieve more than $200 million in sales volume last year, but they were able to do it in an atmosphere that has agents boasting about their office. Those agents, after all, are treated very well: They have access to a sixweek training program for rookie sales reps, bi-weekly corporate training sessions and broker Mark McLean’s infamous twice-aweek meeting schedule.
They have access to a six-week training program for rookie sales reps, bi-weekly corporate training sessions and broker Mark McLean’s infamous twice-a-week meeting schedule
ROYAL LEPAGE TRILAND REALTY Head
Peter Hoffman (broker/owner) Province
City London Transactions (2014) 3,202 Sales volume (2014)
Brian W. Ames (owner) Province
Whitecourt Transactions (2014)
736 Over the 25 years that the Royal LePage Triland office has been in operation, its 275 agents have worked tirelessly to make it the top choice for home buyers and sellers in London, Ont. – but they haven’t had to go it alone. The office provides leading-edge technology, training, access to marketing centres and front-line support staff. The office also gives back to the community in a number of ways – most significantly, contributing some $300,000 to the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation over the last 15 years.
Sales volume (2014)
RE/MAX ADVANTAGE Longevity is the key to Re/Max Advantage’s success. The office has been open in Whitecourt, Alta., for more than 30 years, and has held some 75% market share for about 20 of those years. The experience of the 20-agent staff averages between 10 and 12 years, and even that is growing: The office increased its agent count by 25% in 2014. What’s more, those agents have averaged 40 transactions each over the last eight years – which is especially impressive considering the town of Whitecourt has a population of just 10,000 people.
ROYAL LEPAGE TERREQUITY REALTY The management staff at Royal LePage Terrequity in Toronto is dedicated to the success of the office’s 400-plus agents. That dedication helped them achieve some $1.1 billion in sales in 2014, but getting to that point takes more than a large sales staff. The six non-selling managers have implemented an extensive 100-course training program that repeats every three months. The office also offers agents a communications and website package, and a wireless network that enables them to access every one of the brokerage’s locations. As a result, the office has achieved a 98% customer satisfaction rate.
Andrew Zsolt (broker of record) Province Ontario City Toronto Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014) $1.1 billion
ROYAL LEPAGE NETWORK REALTY
When Chad and Norm Jensen purchased Royal LePage Network Realty in 2000, it was a small fiveagent brokerage. But their hard work and dedication helped them grow the office to more than 90 agents. They went from last place market share in central Alberta to the number-one spot in just five short years. But that kind of success hasn’t gone to their heads. They are quite keen on giving back to their community, having raised more than $150,000 for local women’s shelters over the past three years.
Chad Jensen (broker/ owner), Norm Jensen (owner/manager) Alberta City
Red Deer Transactions (2014)
CENTURY 21 EXECUTIVES REALTY Head
Bill Hubbard (broker/ owner)
Sales volume (2014)
Dave Coppins (owner/ broker of record) Province Ontario City Oshawa Transactions (2014) 2,189 Sales volume (2014)
Danny DeDominicis (broker)
When broker Danny DeDominicis opened Royal LePage Action Realty in Brantford, Ont., more than 30 years ago, he instituted an open-door policy, which is still a big part of the brokerage’s office culture. Support is quite abundant between all 35-plus agents, who benefit from weekly office meetings, in-house marketing services, top-of-the-line technology and, of course, some friendly competition.
Sales volume (2014)
Re/Max Jazz, a full-service brokerage in Oshawa, Ont., prides itself on the in-house services it offers agents. The 160-plus sales reps are split over two 6,000-squarefoot buildings across the street from one another. They also have access to full training for both rookie agents and seasoned veterans; full marketing systems, including the production of brochures and presentation materials; and client appreciation social events, such as poker nights, pie giveaways and snowmobile getaways.
ROYAL LEPAGE ACTION REALTY
Province Ontario City
Bradford Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
For the staff of Century 21 Executives Realty, fundraising and charity events are just a part of the culture. The office regularly participates in the Easter Seals Send a Kid to Camp program, as well as the Chubby Guy Ride, which sees staff cycle from Banff to Sicamous, BC. “[The kids’] smiles and laughs will give you all you need to see the importance of our fundraising,” says broker Bill Hubbard. Hubbard and his staff also give back to the office, providing the 50 agents there with the best technology available, like the Vision 25 program, which takes care of time-consuming tasks like putting up and taking down lawn signs, photographing listings, compiling brochures and overseeing social media campaigns so agents can do what they do best: buy and sell real estate.
“[The kids’] smiles and laughs will give you all you need to see the importance of our fundraising”
AJ LAMBA REALTY Head
AJ Lamba (broker/owner) Province
Mississauga Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
The management team at AJ Lamba is intent on providing its 13 agents with the best tools in the business. Not only does the office provide the typical training programs, it also offers agents one-on-one mentoring. What’s more, the office helps its sales reps develop lead generation techniques and processes, and even pays agents’ fees to the Real Estate Council of Ontario and the Toronto Real Estate Board.
COVER STORY: TOP OFFICES CENTURY 21 FIRST CANADIAN Head
Vito Campanale (broker of record) Province Ontario City London Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
Century 21 First Canadian places a particular focus on helping its 190 agents grow, rather than growing the bottom line. The London, Ont.-based office provides sales reps with training and technology, as well as administration support and expense management. Nominators also pointed to the camaraderie among the staff as a big boost to the success of each individual agent. Of course, the office has been able to enjoy the success of its agents: It was named the top Century 21 office in Canada and the number 10 office across the globe for units sold.
RE/MAX METRO-CITY REALTY The 190-plus agents at Re/Max Metro-City are among the most productive in the country’s capital, averaging 40% more transactions than many competitors. But they don’t have to do it alone. The office has implemented a digital footprint system that allows its agents to access all nine office locations, day or night. Agents also have access to a state-of-the-art training centre and the office’s video suite to promote their listings. But the office, which has been family-owned over the last two generations, doesn’t just give back to agents. Its agents have collectively donated some $1.75 million to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario through the brokerage’s Miracle Home Program.
Jennifer Skuce (broker/president), Heather Skuce (broker of record/ co-founder/owner) Province Ontario City Ottawa Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
The office has implemented a digital footprint system that allows its agents to access all nine office locations, day or night
RE/MAX ABOUTOWNE REALTY The Re/Max Aboutowne brokerage in Oakville, Ont., is filled with more than 220 agents – from seasoned veterans to rookie sales reps – who are always willing to lend one another a helping hand. But that’s not all the help those agents receive. The office is also outfitted with the best high-tech equipment and a 10-person support staff dedicated to those agents’ success.
Claudia De Paolo (owner/broker of record) Province
Oakville Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
COLDWELL BANKER MOUNTAIN CENTRAL Head
Rob Vanovermeire (broker/owner) Province Alberta City Calgary Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
As with a winning sports team, the staff at Coldwell Banker Mountain Central in Calgary knows agents must pay attention to the details. So, with that in mind, those 30-plus agents are trained twice weekly, providing them with one of the most comprehensive training systems in town. The staff also has access to a marketing team, which helps them implement those systems – “After all,” says broker Rob Vanovermeir, “a car is only useful when all the parts are put together.”
Photo credit: Kelly McClure
PEMBERTON HOLMES Head
Michael Holmes (owner/manager) Province
City Victoria Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
Pemberton Holmes Real Estate has been serving the Victoria region for more than 125 years, making it Canadaâ€™s oldest independent real estate firm. And, with more than 250 agents and a 10-member support staff, itâ€™s also the largest. But size and age arenâ€™t all that Pemberton Holmes has going for it; in addition to its real estate services, the office and its agents cater especially to investor clients, providing property management services for both commercial and residential transactions, as well as a specialized strata management division.
COVER STORY: TOP OFFICES ROYAL LEPAGE NORALTA REAL ESTATE Head
Tom Shearer (broker/ owner) Province Alberta City Edmonton Transactions (2014) 3,380 Sales volume (2014)
Royal LePage Noralta is not a work-from-home company. Instead, the 150-plus agents and the handful of support staff work tirelessly to make the Edmonton-based office more of a can’t-wait-to-get-to-work type of brokerage. The agents support one another, and the non-competing manager is focused on agent development. What’s more, the office hosts an in-house marketing professional to help agents improve their promotional materials.
CENTURY 21 LEADING EDGE REALTY The 530-agent team at Century 21 Leading Edge takes part in eight different training strategies. While extensive, that has helped them become the top Century 21 office in Canada by units and production – an accolade they’ve received for the fourth year in a row. That kind of dedication is only growing, as the team earned 16% more last year than they did in 2013, and is aiming to surpass that by 20% next year. The office also is keen to give back to the community: They were ranked the number 4 Century 21 office in Canada for the brand’s Easter Seals fundraising program.
Paul Baron (broker of record) Province Ontario
RE/MAX CHARLOTTETOWN Head
Mary Jane Webster (broker/owner) Province
Prince Edward Island
Sales volume (2014)
The team earned 16% more than they did in 2013, and is aiming to surpass that by 20% next year
Charlottetown Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
City Markham Transactions (2014)
The 20-plus agents at Re/Max Charlottetown recognize the value of giving back to the community. Not only do they gladly donate their time – sitting on a variety of community boards and national associations, coaching minor sports and working to raise more than $82,000 via food drives over the last five years – but they also donated a portion of each of the 394 transactions they completed in 2014 to the IWK Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network.
RE/MAX BLUE CHIP REALTY “When [our clients] win, we win,” says Doris Shank, the broker for Re/Max Blue Chip in Yorkton, Sask. And, judging by the office’s more than $100 million in annual sales last year, those clients won – a lot. The office helps its 35 agents achieve those wins by offering sales reps continuing education and professional development opportunities, and a plethora of support from three administrative staff, non-competing brokers, a full-time marketing director and a family-like culture of agents who are quick to lend a helping hand.
Doris Shank (broker/co-owner) Province
Yorkton Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
RE/MAX CROSSROADS REALTY Head
Barney Johnson (owner/broker of record) Province Ontario City Toronto Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
The staff at Re/Max Crossroads in Toronto is truly embracing technology. The company created its iRealty Office concept in 2009 to encourage its more than 220 agents to be as mobile and paperless as possible. Through iRealty, agents have access to all of the office’s online and social media contacts, as well as the forms, contracts and training manuals they need to help their clients trade in real estate. That support certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed. Agents continue to flock to the brokerage, which was awarded Re/Max International’s Highest Net Growth Award three times in the last seven years.
RE/MAX ACTION Head
Trevor Bolin (owner) Province
British Columbia City
Fort St. John Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
Located in the small town of Fort St. John, BC, the 33 dedicated agents at Re/Max Action were awarded Re/Max’s top honours for small markets in both Canada and across the globe. “We strive to continue to grow the services we provide to the folks in our great city with leadingedge technology mixed with some good old-fashioned customer service,” says owner Trevor Bolin. “Our agents are well-trained and diverse in all aspects of the industry.”
COVER STORY: TOP OFFICES RE/MAX OCEAN PACIFIC Head
Marty Douglas (managing broker) Province British Columbia City Comox Valley Transactions (2014) 719 Sales volume (2014)
Re/Max Ocean Pacific in Comox Valley, BC, is a relatively small brokerage with just 63 real estate professionals across two locations. But those agents have access to in-house training and mentorship programs, new residential projects and stand-alone weekly advertising supplements. It’s because of those programs and more that the office was able to achieve a 50% market share. The nearly 30-year-old office doesn’t just provide for its agents; it also takes great pride in being a high-profile sponsor for a variety of community events.
RE/MAX ROYAL (JORDAN) Offices like Re/Max Royal (Jordan) in PointeClaire, Que., don’t reach the top spot in market share by selling alone. The 210 agents benefit from the world-recognized Re/Max name, as well as the high level of training, support and coaching that is afforded to them. What’s more, the office places a good deal of importance on technology, investing in their web site – the most visited real estate site in Quebec.
RE/MAX PROFESSIONALS Head
Stan Newman (owner) Province
City Pointe-Claire Transactions (2014) 4,044 Sales volume (2014)
Shami Sandhu (owner)
Sales volume (2014)
Caroline Salette (owner)
RE/MAX RIVER CITY
Sales volume (2014)
$1.4 billion Re/Max Professionals is dedicated to the well-being of its agents. It offers a top-of-the-line gym, steam rooms and lounges, and was awarded the Manitoba Physiologically Healthy Workplace Award just two years after it opened in 2004. It’s also dedicated to its 90 agents’ professional well-being, providing them with a long list of in-house services, including marketing professionals and a full-time information technology specialist, as well as mortgage, insurance and law professionals for clients. That investment in its agents has paid off: The brokerage has been named the top office in Manitoba based on transactions for the last five years.
They contributed more than $93,000 to the Edmonton Stollery Children’s Hospital, a new record for the office Re/Max River City is one of the top contributing offices in Edmonton. Its 130plus agents, who have access to all the training and tools they need, made some $1.4 billion in sales in more than 4,000 transactions in 2014. Those agents work just as hard to give back to the community they serve: in 2014, the office was the number 3 Re/Max office in western Canada for contributions to the Children’s Miracle Network. They also contributed more than $93,000 to the local Edmonton Stollery Children’s Hospital, a new record for the office.
THE WHISTLER REAL ESTATE COMPANY Head
Patrick Kelly (president/owner)
Whistler Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
For the last 35-plus years, the independent Whistler Real Estate Company has capitalized on its knowledge of the local market to become the top office in Whistler, BC, garnering almost 50% market share. Its 35 agents get a helping hand in the form of a full-service administration and management package that hosts all email and technology systems, allowing the agents to stay focused on lead generation and selling. The brokerage, in turn, lends a helping hand when it can, supporting a number of local charities like the Salvation Army and the BC Cancer Society. Itâ€™s also a lead sponsor for ARTWALK, an initiative that supports the local artist community.
COVER STORY: TOP OFFICES RIGHT AT HOME REALTY Head
Howard Drukarsh (co-founder, president, broker of record) Province
City Toronto Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
As the largest independent brokerage in the country’s biggest city, Right at Home Realty claims to have sold more real estate in the Greater Toronto Area than any other brokerage. Its 2,915 agents work hard to maintain that title, benefiting from the office’s Right at Home University program, which is headed by Surina Hart, an instructor with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Those agents also benefit from the office’s 100% commission model, low monthly dues and low transaction fees.
HOMELIFE BENCHMARK REALTY CLOVERDALE Head
Rick Dubord (president) Province
British Columbia City Surrey Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
The HomeLife Benchmark office in Surrey, BC, is truly embracing this new age of technology. It proudly boasts being the first paperless real estate office in Canada, a feat it doesn’t take lightly. The office invites clients to keep an eye on their transactions by way of a transparent online system, which is integrated with all board data, back-end accounting systems and marketing applications. That kind of dedication has especially caught the eyes of millennials, which make up about 80% of the office’s buyers.
RE/MAX ALLIANCE Head
Ron Neal (owner) Province
City Victoria Transactions (2014) 381 Sales volume (2014)
Re/Max Alliance in Victoria is, by most accounts, a small real estate office. The brokerage is home to just 25 agents and fewer than 10 support staff, but they’ve still managed to become the city’s top-selling brokerage per capita for those offices with more than 10 sales reps. That’s an accolade the office has managed to consistently receive since 2005 – likely as a result of the high level of training the agents go through and the support they receive from one another.
It proudly boasts being the first paperless real estate office in Canada ...
ROYAL LEPAGE TEAM REALTY Head
Kent Browne (broker/owner) Province
City Ottawa Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
Kent Browne, the owner of Royal LePage Team Realty in Ottawa, is a charity auctioneer, so it naturally follows that his office and the nearly 550 agents who work there truly believe in giving back. They donated the almost $50,000 they raised at their annual charity breakfast to the local hospital, which named its new mammography room after the brand. But Browne also gives back to his agents, offering in-house training, mentorship programs and the best in new technologies, and fostering an open and collaborative working environment.
ROYAL LEPAGE FIRST CONTACT REALTY Head
Barbara Frueh (broker of record) Province
Barrie Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
The 80-plus agents with Royal LePage First Contact in Barrie, Ont., receive a great deal of support from their office – so it’s no wonder they were able to achieve some $560 million sales in 2014. In addition to typical systems and a 12-member support and administrative staff, those agents have access to marketing support; extensive training programs; a full suite of accounting services, including government and tax remittances; and daily commission payouts. In addition, the management team is non-selling so they can devote more of their time to supporting sales reps and ensuring their success.
VYBE REALTY Head
Jenn Collins (owner) Province
British Columbia City Abbotsford Transactions (2014)
HARVEY KALLES REAL ESTATE Head
Michael Kalles (president) Province Ontario
City Toronto Transactions (2014) 2,415 Sales volume (2014)
Harvey Kalles has been the number 1 independent real estate office in Ontario since 1996 – an honour the 300-plus agents don’t take lightly. The staff receives coaching, mentoring and a formal training program, which help them develop strong personal businesses. The brokerage also supports more than 225 charitable organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House in Toronto.
Sales volume (2014)
The beauty of a boutique office is in the camaraderie among the agents and the relationship with the community, and Vybe Realty exemplifies that. The 13-agent brokerage, based in Abbotsford, BC, takes pride in growing the small brand. Vybe is an active member of the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association, and supports Historic Downtown Abbotsford. And the community has taken notice: Vybe was named one of the top brokerages for production in the city in 2014 – impressive for an office that had been open for just eight months. They were also named the number 2 office under the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board in 2014.
The community has taken notice: Vybe was named one of the top brokerages in the city ...
HOMELIFE FUTURE REALTY Head
Selva Vettyvel (broker of record) Province Ontario City Markham Transactions (2014) 1,862 Sales volume (2014)
$27.7 million (commission)
In just 13 years, HomeLife Future Realty has been able to grow to more than 370 agents and 14 support staff. But the office is more than just numbers: Sales reps take full advantage of the specialized training programs that they’re offered from the brokerage’s central location in Markham, Ont. Their success translates into success for the office, which cracked HomeLife’s list of the top five brokerages across the country.
COVER STORY: TOP OFFICES CENTURY 21 IN TOWN REALTY Head
Michael La Prairie (president) Province
British Columbia City Vancouver Transactions (2014) 1,100 Sales volume (2014)
Century 21 In Town Realty is more than an office – it’s a family, hosting family barbecues, Christmas parties, golf tournaments and more. The office has a wonderful mentorship program, and agents pride themselves on being part of a co-operative, sharing office. But it’s not just the agent family they contribute to; the office is keen on giving back to the community family too, hosting several charitable events each year, including those that benefit Easter Seals.
CENTURY 21 HERITAGE GROUP When agents first join Century 21 Heritage Group, they undergo a rigorous quick-start training program that features one-on-one mentorship. That training continues throughout the agent’s career, from their time as rookies straight through to their years as top producers, under the Heritage Passport to Success program. The program covers everything from listing presentations and cold calls to handling objections and managing a team – and, of course, using the latest and greatest technology. “It’s good to have technology, but you need to train on the technology,” says general manager and broker Eryn Richardson.
Pamela Prescott (broker/owner) Province
ROYAL LEPAGE SOLUTIONS
Diane Scott (broker/owner) Province
Sales volume (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
The 100-plus sales reps and support staff at Royal LePage Solutions in Calgary play just as hard as they work. The office provides agents with focused training via the Buffini program, and was a finalist for Royal LePage’s Recruiter of the Year in 2014. They also give back to the community, proudly supporting the local Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter through the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation with events like their Calgary Stampede charity breakfast.
MACDONALD REALTY Head
Lynn Hsu (president & CEO) Province
British Columbia City Vancouver Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
Macdonald Realty in British Columbia is not a small real estate brokerage by any means. The office, which first opened in 1944, has more than 630 sales reps throughout 16 locations in the province. Those agents receive extensive training, including certified negotiation training, access to a marketing team, and specialized market information and mortgage packages. What’s more, the office is dedicated to helping agents grow and diversify their careers, opening an office in Shanghai to help facilitate the growing demographic of foreign buyers in Vancouver.
CENTURY 21 BAMBER REALTY Head
George Bamber (broker/owner)
Calgary Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
Not only is Century 21 Bamber the top Century 21 office in Canada, and the numberthree Century 21 office across the globe, but it’s also an office filled with incredibly motivated agents. That motivation trickles down from broker/owner George Bamber, who works to ensure his sales reps have the time and resources they need to best serve their clients. “Our support staff is great; they take care of the agents – get their feature sheets and get the signs up on the lawns,” Bamber says. “And that leaves the agents to do what they do best: show houses.”
COVER STORY: TOP OFFICES COLDWELL BANKER HERITAGE WAY REALTY Head
Robin Ferrill (broker/owner) Province Ontario City Carleton Place Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
Coldwell Banker Heritage Way has a long list of awards under its belt – impressive for the small office in Carleton Place, Ont. It was ranked the number 1 Coldwell Banker office in Ontario with up to 10 agents, both by units sold and by adjusted gross commissions. It was also named the number 3 Coldwell Banker office with up to 10 agents in Canada, based on units sold and adjusted gross commissions. How has it been able to achieve such impressive results? Dedicated sales reps and loyal clients, says broker Robin Ferrill.
ROYAL LEPAGE BENCHMARK Head
Corinne Lyall (broker/owner) Province
Calgary Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
Paying it forward is an integral part of the office culture at Royal LePage Benchmark in Calgary. The office’s 100-plus staff has supported local children’s shelter, the Children’s Cottage Society, for the last six years via garage sales, clothing and toy drives, and a 2013 campaign to raise funds to repair flood damage at the shelter’s Bridgeland property. The office also prides itself on being completely paperless for the last five years. “Our industry has become exceptionally mobile, so it’s important we give our associates the ability to do business with their clients any place they are meeting with them,” says broker Corinne Lyall. “Society is more and more instant, and we need to be able to respond to that to give our clients the best customer service possible.”
ROYAL LEPAGE ATLANTIC Head
Ralph J. Stephen (broker/owner) Province Nova Scotia City Halifax Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
$1.2 billion 38
Real estate agents deal with highly emotional clients and their life-changing transactions each and every day. Royal LePage Atlantic in Halifax knows that, so the office management strives to help those agents in any way they can. “Our main purpose is to get people through the door and get them productive ASAP,” says broker Ralph J. Stephen. “We then need to obsess about growing their careers, keep them accomplished personally and professionally, and do everything we can we do to make sure our people are happy and energetic.”
VIA CAPITALE QUEBEC CHAMPLAIN Teamwork is one of the many guiding principles for the 50 agents with Via Capitale Quebec Champlain in Quebec City. Owners Denis Morin and Richard Paradis encourage the young and dynamic group of agents that they’ve assembled to work together, sharing ideas and strategies. They also welcome new agents into their team, encouraging and supporting them in their new businesses. “We see each other not as competitors, but as team players,” they say.
“We see each other not as competitors, but as team players”
Denis Morin, Richard Paradis Province
Quebec City Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
REALTY EXECUTIVES ELITE
CENTURY 21 DOME REALTY
Costa Paulapoulous (broker of record/ owner), Mary Johnson (owner)
Carla Browne (president)
City Regina Transactions (2014) 2,098 Sales volume (2014)
Transactions (2014) 1,613 Sales volume (2014)
Kindness Above Everything is not just the name of the charity organization founded by one of the co-owners of Realty Executives Elite, it’s also one of the London, Ont.based brokerage’s founding principles. Owners Mary Johnson and Costa Paulapoulous are committed to that message, encouraging their 140-plus agents to participate in various community events. But Johnson and Paulapoulous also give back to their agents, providing them with an in-house support staff that can handle everything from administrative duties, marketing and design, photography, virtual tours and websites to social media, mortgage services, and other tasks.
MAIN STREET REALTY
Main Street Realty in Newmarket, Ont., might still be a relatively small brokerage, with only 80 agents and two support staff, but the five-year-old office is quickly growing, adding offices in Bolton, Stouffville, Uxbridge and Brampton. The office is also a high-tech one: The agents pride themselves on using online programs and social media to help their clients sell their homes.
It’s not the weekly meetings or the professional development opportunities that make Century 21 Dome Realty in Regina great. Broker Carla Browne says it’s the agents, who are not only keen to lend a helping hand, but are just as excited to learn from one another – veteran sales reps and rookie agents alike. “There is a lot of concern in the industry about the age of the broker,” she says. “We have an ownership team made up of older and younger [brokers] to ensure the succession of our company and to also make decisions, taking into account the thought processes of different age groups.”
Mike Cartwright (broker of record) Province City
Newmarket Transactions (2014) 307 Sales volume (2014)
CENTURY 21 COLONIAL Head
Joel Ives (broker/owner) Province
Prince Edward Island City
Charlottetown Transactions (2014)
547 Sales volume (2014)
Century 21 Colonial’s second-generation owner, Joel Ives, is like a human guinea pig, testing out different technologies and systems in an effort to provide his agents with the best the industry has to offer. “I try to educate and motivate agents on new technologies, and review new tools and services, without disrupting [their business] too much,” he says. Indeed, the office was an early adopter of digital signatures, social media, paperless transactions and other cutting-edge technologies that help agents do their jobs in the most efficient way possible.
“I try to educate and motivate agents on new technologies, and review new tools and services, without disrupting [their business] too much” www.repmag.ca
COVER STORY: TOP OFFICES CHESTNUT PARK REAL ESTATE Head
Catherine Deluce (chair/founder/ broker) Province
Toronto Transactions (2014) 1,910 Sales volume (2014)
Toronto luxury brokerage Chestnut Park has been able to leverage its exclusive affiliation with Christie’s International Real Estate to position itself as a premier brand. But it’s not leaving its agents to succeed on name alone. In addition to an in-house two-person legal counsel and in-house five-person marketing team, the brokerage offers agents access to its real estate academy, which is designed to educate new agents and refresh veteran ones. It also plans to launch a concierge service for agents, which will pick up dry cleaning, do grocery shopping, organize open houses, purchase gifts and more, in an effort to help agents achieve a better worklife balance.
CENTURY 21 ATRIA Head
Stephen Chow (broker/owner) Province Ontario
City Toronto Transactions (2014) 1,562 Sales volume (2014) $519.9 million
Century 21 Atria doesn’t just host top-producing agents – including two individual agents and two agent teams ranked in the Top 21 in Canada – the Toronto-based office also produces them. The brokerage offers agents access to a one-on-one career growth program that helps them steer their careers to best achieve their personal goals, as well as an in-house marketing team that assists agents with presentation materials, social media, videos and more. Those agents, meanwhile, have propelled the brokerage to become the number 11 office in the global Century 21 family. “This year,” says broker/owner Stephen Chow, “I am aiming to crack the top 10 offices in the world.”
It also plans to launch a concierge service ... in an effort to help agents achieve a better work-life balance
MACDONALD COMMERCIAL Head
Tony Letvinchuk (managing director) Province
Vancouver Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
$375.3 million Commercial real estate is all about who you know – and with a 20-year-old commercial division, Macdonald Realty knows a lot of people. The firm’s non-residential sector has been able to help its clients – many of whom are individual property investors – be successful in their commercial real estate ventures. “We’re able to offer our clients the tenure of experience and the tenure of relationships that [fulfill] their needs,” says Jonathan Cooper, Macdonald’s vice president of operations.
CENTURY 21 ASSURANCE REALTY Head
Myrna Park (managing broker) Province
British Columbia City
Kelowna Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
The 40-plus agents at Century 21 Assurance in Kelowna, BC, have been honing their buying and selling skills over the brokerage’s many years in business – largely thanks to the support staff the office has on hand. In addition to its administration staff, the office employs a graphic designer, a professional photographer and a social media expert who help sales reps promote their listings. “Our goal is that our Realtors will work and do the things that are high value tasks and best use of agents’ time,” says broker/owner Myrna Park. “Agents hand in a trigger sheet, and everything gets made. Then they’re busy out selling another house.”
“Agents hand in a trigger sheet ... then they’re busy out selling another house”
KELLER WILLIAMS REFERRED REALTY The 185 agents who call Toronto-based Keller Williams Head The Keller Williams Glen McQueenie Referred Realty home are treated to industry-leading training (broker/owner) and support, and cutting-edge technologies. That emphasis on brand…was named the Province Ontario training stems from the top of the Keller Williams brand, which was named the world’s best training organization in 2014 by City Toronto world’s best training Training Magazine. Transactions (2014) The office invests just as heavily in the local community, hosting organization in 2014 858 charity golf tournaments, training scholarships, inspiration Sales volume (2014) by Training Magazine breakfasts and its RED (Renew, Energize, Donate) Day. $485.8 million www.repmag.ca
COVER STORY: TOP OFFICES CENTURY 21 BACHMAN & ASSOCIATES Head
Shirley Przybyl (manager) Province
Manitoba City Winnipeg Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
The turnover at Century 21 Bachman & Associates is almost nil – more than half of the 72 agents have been with the office for more than five years, and another six have been a part of the brokerage since its inception in 1981. Manager Shirley Przybyl attributes that retention to those same agents. “Our success is a result of our Realtors, who are always willing to share tips and wisdom with each other,” she says. “Six supportive and motivating alternate brokers and five full-time support staff are always available to help.”
“Our success is a result of our Realtors, who are always willing to share tips and wisdom with each other”
SUTTON GROUP WEST COAST REALTY Head
Merrily Hackett (managing partner) Province
City Vancouver Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
Sutton West Coast knows that there is strength in numbers. That’s why, in 2009, the office created a common ownership structure that helped develop a strong brand for its 25 offices. Those offices, and the agents within them, have since benefitted from on-site coaching and professional development opportunities, a fully staffed marketing department and all the leading-edge technology they could hope for – all a result of pooled resources. “Because the market is so competitive, agents need every angle to leverage their position when they go into meetings with potential sellers,” says managing partner Merrily Hackett. “The leverage that comes with a large brokerage enables agents to be successful.”
CENTURY 21 B.J. ROTH Head
Bernie Roth Province Ontario City Barrie Transactions (2014)
Sales volume (2014)
Most offices have training programs, but agents at Century 21 B.J. Roth benefit from a specialized program that pinpoints their specific strengths and weaknesses. The six-office brokerage also trains its 160-plus agents on things like technology and personal business development via a full-time in-house trainer. “Technology is changing so much,” says Ron O’Neil, the office’s recruiter and trainer. “We embrace those changes and make sure agents understand how they can use [the technology] to their advantage.” Agents also have access to in-house marketing, including a photographer.
SUTTON GROUP FIRST WEST REALTY Sutton First Coast Realty might be headquartered in Coquitlam, BC, but it proudly serves its 100-plus agents right across the region – from Port Moody to Richmond and everywhere in between. How does it do that? By placing a special focus on training and innovation, providing its agents the all the tools they need to survive. After all, as broker Len Ashton says, “If our agents are successful, we are successful.”
Len Ashton (broker) Province
British Columbia City
Coquitlam Transactions (2014)
400 Sales volume (2014)
Increase income potential with a designation MANY ENTER the real estate industry looking for easy money, but almost as many leave in frustration before their third year. Earning a specialty designation can give real estate agents a leg up on the competition, while at raising their profile and profits. “It is very important for people coming into the industry to get these designations – and the sooner they do, the better,” says Gareth R. Jones, vice president of corporate development
at the Real Estate Institute of Canada. “It means they will be in front of a client sooner.” Attaining designations also can mean a significant boost to the bottom line. According to 2013 NAR survey data, the average income of agents with designations is at least 80% more than those without. “They get the designation, get the letters on their business card – now they can promote that they specialize in a certain area,”
Jones says. “The big push today is our aging demographic, and that is the seniors’ course leading to the SRES® designation.” The course reflects the movement by seniors downsizing and relocating, and the need to understand the special needs of that demographic. “It is a huge market. And as time goes on, it is only going to get bigger,” Jones says. “This course is delivered across Canada by REIC.” Advancing ethics and professionalism also advances the image and status of real estate industry professionals, Jones says. A major component of being successful in real estate means being able to successful meet personally with a client. “A lot of people coming in to the business think it is an Internet-based business,” he says. “It isn’t. It is still a face-to-face, people business.” REP
Unique in every way A totally customizable penthouse suite in a one-of-a-kind loft conversion made for a surprisingly tricky sale – but after weeks of back-and-forth negotiations, the unit finally sold to a buyer as unique as the property THE PURPOSE of the building at 43 Hanna Ave. in Toronto has changed several times over the last century. It was originally built as a paper factory before – most famously – being purchased by Irwin Toy Company in the early ’50s. In 2003, it was sold to Lanterra Developments and became the Toy Factory Lofts. The development was originally planned as a residential-commercial space, but for the penthouse unit in suite 439 that changed, too. “These penthouse units were put up to be used as commercial,” says Andrew Harrild, the listing agent for the property. “There was a huge 10,500-square-foot empty space that was never used commercially. So a new private developer bought the space and went through the process of converting it to luxury lofts. It’s a conversion within an existing building.” That space was split into five penthouse suites, and by the end of 2014, four of them had sold.
The property The unit was originally listed as a completely unfinished and totally customizable space. The floor plan presented a carte blanche for buyers, but the bones of the space were already impressive: 21-foot ceilings, a 750-square-foot south-facing terrace and some 3,100 square feet of living space. While that is usually a draw in the $2 million price range, the unfinished nature of the space made it difficult for potential buyers to envision themselves living there. “[The unit] was finally taken off the market in late 2014 and was relisted in February of this year,” Harrild says. “The
reason for that was to develop the unit a little more.” Developers opted to add more soundproofing throughout the unit, reinforce the structure to allow for individual hot tubs on the rooftop terrace, open the risers on the stairs from the main floor to the terrace, and include an additional parking spot. “But the space was totally customizable, and that really helped,” Harrild says. “That was something the developer understood and went out of his way to make sure the buyers got something unique [that they] could customize to their taste.” To account for those upgrades, Harrild relisted the property at $1.99 million – a $40,000 increase over the originallisting price.
The marketing Because the building was sold as a preconstruction development in 2008, many of the marketing materials were already in place. But, because the unit was also in its early development phase, the space could not be staged. “We understood upfront that it was going to be more of a challenge for the purchaser to envision the space,” Harrild says. “To help with that, we did some 3D renderings to help the purchaser get a better sense of what [the unit] will look like when it’s ready – what the layout and the finishes would be. That certainly helped. Most buyers can’t walk into an empty warehouse and see what the space will look like.” Harrild also listed the property via
ADDRESS 43 Hanna Ave., Unit 439
DOM 52 days
LISTING PRICE $1.99 million
MAINTENANCE FEES $0.31 per square foot
SIZE 3,100 square feet
BATHROOMS 4 MrLoft.ca, a loft-focused listings site in Toronto, and a sister site to his brokerage, Condos.ca. The marketing materials and listing description also highlighted some of the unit’s – and even the building’s – more unique features. “There are only five units like this in
the project, so it’s very boutique,” Harrild says. “[The building] used to be the Irwin Toy Factory. It has the kind of character you’d expect in that position. There are very few hard lofts in the city, and this is the only authentic loft in Liberty Village, so this building for me stands out head and shoulders above any others in the area.” In addition to the fact that prices in the building rose 10% in 2014, a recent report by Condos.ca – which listed the maintenance fees at the Toy Factory Lofts among the lowest in the city – also played a role in the marketing of the property. “That was really something we were selling,” Harrild says. “The unit was 3,100 square feet, [but maintenance fees] are only 31 cents a square foot. So it’s half of what you’d usually be paying. That’s a huge bonus for any buyer and puts any purchaser in good shape come resale.” The marketing plan worked. As interested parties began making inquiries, Harrild says he was able to offer qualified buyers a guided tour of the space, which he says helped them better understand the project. Still, getting from buyer interest to a firm sale took a lot of complex negotiation.
The sale Because the unit was totally customizable, negotiation was challenging. “There was a lot of back and forth to come
LIVING IN TORONTO’S LIBERTY VILLAGE The name of this West End neighbourhood is derived from its history as host to two prisons during the 1800s. Those places have since closed down, but the area is anything but boring
AVERAGE INCOME $110,684
WALK SCORE 93
PROPERTY TYPES Single-detached homes are virtually nonexistent in Liberty Village. Instead, the neighbourhood’s almost 45,000 residents live in more than 10 condo buildings and several town homes. The latest developments include the Liberty Central condo project by Canalfa Group and the Garrison Point townhouse development by Fernbrook, Cityzen and Diamondcorp. BARS/RESTAURANTS While no official demographic breakdown exists, it’s a safe assumption that the majority of residents fall into the 25-to-45 age group. As such, the neighbourhood is rife with the types of amenities that this demographic tends to demand. Liberty Village is home to a number of bars, cafes and restaurants, including William’s Landing, SCHOOL, Bar Vespa, Mildred’s Temple, LOCAL, Aroma Espresso Bar and Balzac’s Coffee, which is located in the same building as the Toy Factory Lofts.
to an agreement of what could or could not be done to the unit based on the price point, especially since it was pre-construction,” Harrild says. “Making changes to a floor plan or upgrades – it’s not always easy. It took a little bit of back and forth, a little bit of time to makes sure everyone was happy.” As the listing agent, Harrild says it was his job to ensure the buyer understood the unique nature of the project, as well as the benefits to living in a one-of-a-kind building like the Toy Factory Lofts and an up-andcoming neighbourhood like Liberty Village. In the end, Harrild says the developer was happy with the terms of the sale, and the buyer was happy not only with the transaction, but also with the property. “There aren’t many buyers at this price point,” Harrild says. “The buyer was a good candidate and a good fit for the unit and the building. And if you’re going to spend $2 million on a condo, spend it on something unique and … well-managed.” REP
Teamwork in training Creating an atmosphere of teamwork and education ensures that industry newcomers don’t burn out and leave before they reach their true potential THE CONCEPT of a team approach may seem incongruous for those working on commission, but for one group of agents, it has proven a successful recipe to nurture and grow brokerages and young talent. “We have a really strong team envi ronment,” says Carla Browne, president of Century 21 Dome Realty in Regina, Sask., “and a big part of that are the weekly meetings, training and coaching sessions, agents learning from each other, and that we have the partnership approach. Our agents are our partners, and listening and responding to their needs in the industry is crucial for their success and ours.”
In Saskatchewan, agents must take a number of courses before they jump into real estate, Browne says, and for those who are just starting out, Century 21 takes them by the hand and guides them through the process. “If they’ve made that initial commitment, then we invite them to be a part of our office right away,” Browne says. “They are welcome to do their studying there; they can come to our weekly business meetings, our different social functions, and really … become a part of our office.” It removes the feeling of “I’ve got my license – now what do I do?”, says Browne,
CENTURY 21 CANADA LIMITED PARTNERSHIP Century 21 Canada Limited Partnership (century21.ca) is a real estate franchisor with exclusive rights to the Century 21 brand in Canada and provides comprehensive training, management, administrative and marketing support for the Century 21 system. With more than 117,000 sales professionals in approximately 7,700 offices worldwide, the Century 21 system is the world’s largest residential real estate sales organization, providing comprehensive training, management, administrative and marketing support for its members.
who adds that by that point, the person should already feel like they’re part of the team. “When we have them at that point of the licensing, then we have a team developer, along with our support staff, who works with our new agents in the business,” she says. “The team developer’s role at Dome is to specifically get them to understand all of the tools that are available to them under the Century 21 system, along with the basics of the industry, to get them up and running as soon as possible.” One of the strengths of Century 21 is how it is positioned for what every company in any industry is facing today – the eventual mass exodus of Baby Boomers and the decades of expertise they are taking with them.
TIPS FOR BEGINNERS When you’re starting out, making a name for yourself is easier said than done. Savanna Lemieux-Ellement, a Century 21 agent in Winnipeg, Man., says it takes hard work to escape that inaugural year unscathed. “People think as soon as you get into the industry that you should be given leads by the company or by other agents, but it’s definitely up to the newer agents to take initiative,” she says. “Ask to do open houses for other agents, call FSBOs, cold-call and door-knock, post ads in the local paper or online, and use your sphere of influence.” Ira Jelinek of Toronto Real Estate agrees, saying he still uses his sphere of influence to connect with different leads. “Warm calling, calling my sphere of influence, sending mailers to the people I know,” he says. “I stay relevant on Facebook, too.” But like any commission-based profession, you only get out of it what you put in, and that usually means a lot of time and effort. For rookie Realtors, that can be a mystery when starting out. “You just don’t know how to approach it,” says Sandi Lee, an agent with Century 21 in Dartmouth, NS, recalling her first year in the business. “Really, it’s about marketing and getting yourself out there.”
“Our organizational structure is something that makes us very unique,” Browne says. “The age of the broker is something that is a concern right across the country.” To address this, Dome has an ownership group of five individuals: two industry veterans who each have 30-plus years of experience; Browne, who has been on the operational side for 22 years; and two younger full-time sales professionals who are transitioning into leadership roles. “So I feel we’ve got that whole age bracket in context,” Browne says, “and we’ve placed our company in a position of stability and growth opportunity that will be there for a lot of years to come.” As for the millennials coming into the
industry, providing the support system necessary to keep young agents from becoming frustrated is crucial, Browne says. “When I was in Toronto recently for a Century 21 meeting, I was told the average length of time an individual stays in this industry is seven years – and I was blown away by that,” she says. “We’ve got people in our office who have been here 20 or 30 years – quite a few of them!” While technology has changed the face of real estate, there remain some constants to becoming a top-notch Realtor. “The basics of the business I feel will never change,” Browne says. “Our industry is based on relationships and trust. People don’t send you their business because
you sent an email or they added you on Facebook; they give you their business because they trust you and the company that you are dealing with. Getting away from your desk or simply picking up the phone is better than sending an email. And that is a skill that not everybody has.” REP
ALEX PALMER Sales rep, Century 21 Lloydminster Realty
FAVOURITE VACATION SPOT The best vacation I’ve ever had was a cruise around the Mediterranean. That’s history. It had 12 stops – it started in Venice, then we went to Rome, Florence, Greece. I loved the history all the way through there.
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FAVOURITE FOOD Anything that has coconut in it, I seem to love. My favourite is coconutcovered cashews. If you ever go to Costco, you have to have one. Then you’d better be prepared to get addicted.
FAVOURITE MUSIC “Oh, Pretty Woman.” I love Roy Orbison. I could listen to him all day.
FAVOURITE THING ABOUT WORKING IN REAL ESTATE: You’re dealing with the happiest people in the world, generally speaking. They’re buying or selling; they’re doing what they want to be doing. And every day, it’s something different – there’s never a dull day. I find, in most professions, there’s good and bad, but with this one, it’s 90% good and only 10% bad. And I do like the flexible hours. FAVOURITE MOVIE The Ten Commandments – I can watch it over and over. It was well done, and I love old history.
FAVOURITE CELEBRITY Wayne Gretzky. I think he’s a real class act.
Photo from cinema.theiapolis.com
FAVOURITE SPORT Hockey. I like the team sport aspect; you can’t do things alone – you have to rely on your team.
FAVOURITE BOOK I just read a Gordie Howe book, Mr. Hockey, so I’d have to say that one.
Photo from pintaw.com
DESCRIBE YOUR FIRST REAL ESTATE DEAL It was a small house; I don’t even know how to describe it. It took me a while to get that first one – I don’t even remember the details of how I got the deal. But after that one I realized I liked what I’m doing, that’s for sure.
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The Edmonton Oilers, Roy Orbison and historical travel – these are a few of this veteran agent’s favourite things
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