Page 1

Real Estate Marketing

Issue #247



Te c h n o l o g y


January 2010

Faster video editing and web searching Page 8

Critiquing catchy real estate slogans Page 18

Not quite an overnight success Page 28

Dale Ripplinger

The CREA president updates the Competition Bureau talks Page 12

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TREB wins MLS access case But will the Competition Bureau now come calling?


n Ontario Superior Court judge has dismissed Toronto real estate broker Fraser Beach’s lawsuit against the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), ruling that TREB was justified in suspending Beach’s access to its MLS database after the broker downloaded thousands of listings onto his brokerage’s public website. TREB shut down Beach’s MLS access in May 2007, after learning that the broker had downloaded a large number of listings from the board’s MLS database onto his website and was making them available to the public – in effect giving consumers the same ability as a member of TREB to search portions of the MLS database. When TREB refused to restore Beach’s MLS access he took it to court, claiming he was being discriminated against as a discount brokerage. TREB for its part claimed that Beach and his corporate partner BNV Real Estate Inc. (a subsidiary of Bell Canada) had breached provisions of TREB’s Authorized User Agreement (AUA), which limited the use its members could make of data obtained from its MLS database to the member’s “exclusive and

internal use”. In the ruling issued on December 7, Justice David Brown sided with TREB. “In the ordinary course, a member of the public did not enjoy access to the MLS database. It had to make an inquiry to a TREB member about properties of interest,” Justice Brown said in his ruling. “Through its website, BNV made available, for the direct search and retrieval by members of the public, content from the MLS database. In doing so, BNV breached section 2 of the AUA because it did not confine its access and use of the services and MLS database to its exclusive and internal use. It accessed and used services and MLS database for external use by members of the public.” Citing Beach’s own estimate that he had downloaded approximately 20,000 listings onto the website, Justice Brown described the magnitude of the breach as “significant” and ruled that TREB’s actions in immediately shutting down Beach’s access were reasonable. “While it is a very serious matter for an organization to depart from its established procedures to deprive a member of services, in the particular circumstances of this case I conclude

By Kathy Bevan

that TREB was justified in suspending access to the MLS system by BNV and Mr. Beach without giving them an opportunity to cure the alleged breaches,” Justice Brown said. Prior to May 2007, TREB had never cut off the access of a member for alleged misuse of the MLS database or breach of any of the MLS rules or agreements relating to the database. Beach had argued that the service he was providing to the public was a “good thing”, as it was using advances in information technology to enhance consumer choice. While commenting that Beach was free “to build a better mousetrap” to offer services to the public, the judge stressed that, as a member of TREB, Beach had to use the MLS database and its related services in accordance with the AUA. In response to Beach’s argument that BNV was only doing what other brokers were doing with information from the MLS database, the judge added, “There was no evidence led before me that any other TREB member did what BNV was doing on its website – making available for direct public search listing information from the MLS database about

all listings within certain geographic areas.” In a statement, TREB CEO Don Richardson said, “TREB is pleased with the decision and feels the integrity of the MLS system and the rights of sellers, consumers and brokers have been protected.” Meanwhile, Lawrence Dale, one of the lawyers who represented Beach in this lawsuit says that, although the judge ruled in TREB’s favour, the fact that the board’s MLS rules were made public through the court may draw the attention of the federal government’s Competition Bureau. “The Competition Bureau has indicated that they would be concerned if any rules restricted the method that an agent can use to provide information to consumers – we now know that TREB has such rules,” says Dale. “It’s now up to the Competition Bureau to decide whether or not they feel these rules are in fact illegal”, adding that he hopes the Competition Bureau makes a determination about this issue “in the next 45 days, so that the landscape becomes clear.” In response to questions from REM, Greg Scott of the Competition Bureau would not

comment specifically on the Beach case, but did confirm that an observer from the bureau was present during the hearings phase of this trial last summer. As to whether or not the bureau might be considering investigating or taking action against any other members of the Canadian real estate industry, Scott says that “by law, the bureau is obliged to conduct its investigations confidentially”, adding that “it would be inappropriate to speculate on whether the bureau may or may not investigate any organization in the future.” The Competition Bureau is currently negotiating a settlement with CREA following a two-year investigation into CREA’s MLS access rules; whether it decides to focus its attention on TREB at the same time remains to be seen and may well influence the timing of another legal challenge to the Toronto board. Dale and Stephen Moranis, cofounders of the now dormant discount Toronto brokerage Realtysellers, have filed – but not yet served – a $750 million lawsuit against TREB and a number of individuals, alleging breach of contract and actions contrary to the Competition Act. Dale and Moranis served a separate $100 million lawsuit against TREB and CREA in September, alleging breach of settlement, related to a settlement agreement originally reached in 2003. REM

Firms explore national IDX system “It was always envisioned to be available for anyone who wanted to participate.” By Kathy Bevan


ome key members of the national Industry Leaders Group – which includes Canada’s largest real estate companies – are exploring the possibility of creating a national IDX broker data exchange system to share MLS listings with each others’ websites. Royal LePage, Century 21 Canada and Re/Max Ontario-Atlantic Canada are leading the discussions, which have involved CREA, local boards and brokerages, as well as conversations with Coldwell Banker Canada and Re/Max of Western Canada. “Presuming this moves ahead, it will be a permission-

based model whereby we’ll go out to our network’s members and ask, would you like to participate?” says Phil Soper, president and CEO of Brookfield Real Estate Services, Royal LePage’s parent company. “If the broker opts in, we’ll manage the process and on you’ll see that broker’s listings plus all the listings of other brokerages in that trading area which are participating in the local IDX. It’s simply a roll-up of local IDXs.” Soper says the concept being discussed is a natural evolution of the reciprocity decisions already being made by broker-

ages and boards across the country. Soper cites as an example the IDX data exchange system pioneered by the London and St. Thomas Real Estate Board several years ago. “Our brokers have been doing this for years, with a great deal of satisfaction, through their local IDX,” says Soper. “That’s what we’re talking about here – a national IDX.” He says that sharing of corporate listings won’t be limited to the largest real estate firms. “It was always envisioned to be available for anyone who wanted to participate,” he says, adding that “a lot of people have

had input outside of the largest national companies – we’ve simply been a steering group.” The next steps involve further discussions with CREA. The group is hoping that they can populate their shared listings service by using the existing data feeds that local boards send to CREA to appear on the national association’s website. Another option would be to work with individual boards across the country. The shared listings service would be based on the MLS rules already in place at the local board level and would not entail any additional cost to participants.

Regarding negotiations currently underway between CREA and the Competition Bureau to resolve the bureau’s concerns about MLS access rules, Soper says any shared listings system the real estate companies develop will be in full compliance with whatever resolution is finally reached. “If the Competition Bureau’s actions result in some fundamental changes to the way organized real estate operates in Canada, we are organized real estate, so we will comply and change, along with everyone else in the industry,” he says. REM


Multiple Listings By Jim Adair

Do you have news to share with Canada’s real estate community? Let REM know about it! Email:


oldwell Banker recently made several additions to its Canadian network. Coldwell Banker Vantage Realty is open for business in Surrey, B.C. The broker/owner is Mansour Hozar. The brokerage’s grand opening was scheduled for Dec.10, in conjunction with a Growth Workshop delivered by John Geha, president of Coldwell Banker Canada. In Calgary, broker/owner Jason Hunter opened Coldwell Banker Home Smart Real Estate. His team includes all the agents from the former Coldwell Banker Lifestyle Realty. Coldwell Banker Team Realty is up and running in Elk Point, Alta., under the leadership of broker/owner Shirley Harms. Elk Point was formerly a branch office of Coldwell Banker Chinook City. Harms purchased the office to start up her own operation. Finally, broker/owner Bernard Lefebvre purchased the Cold Lake branch office of Coldwell Banker Chinook City, to start his

own independent operation in Cold Lake, Alta. ■ ■ ■

Keller Williams Elite Realty of Port Coquitlam, B.C. has hired Matt Kirby as team leader. With experience in the mortgage business, sales and franchising, Kirby was most recently a regional sales manager for Mortgage Alliance Canada. Keller Williams Elite Realty opened its doors in March 2009. At the time of the launch it had more than 80 sales reps, and the firm now has more than 120. Terri Spilsbury and Josh Bath are coowners. ■ ■ ■

Two of Exit’s Canadian franchisees spoke at the 11th Annual Exit Realty Corp. International Convention recently in Washington, D.C. Anne Squires of Exit Realty on the Rock in St. John’s, Nfld. and Exit’s 2009 Broker of the Year, held a popular, standing-room-only seminar enti-

tled If You Think You Can. The inspirational and entertaining presentation was designed to empower brokers in their efforts to grow and maintain their brokerages in any kind of market. Appearing for the first time, Loretta Hughes of Exit Realty Fusion in Regina challenged franchisees and sales associates to embrace environmental initiatives in real estate. She spoke about moving forward to an environmentally friendly real estate office with “how to” ideas ranging from marketing efforts and office design, to educating consumers about improving their home’s selling features. The convention also included guest speakers such as Exit’s founder and CEO Steve Morris; best-selling author Stedman Graham; and real estate speakers Walter Sanford, Bob Proctor and John G. Miller. At the President’s Ball Gala, Mike Grumbles from Exit MidSouth in Tennessee won a $100,000 grand prize.

The largest Re/Max office in Ontario and third largest worldwide has become the second Re/Max brokerage in Canada to become an iREALTY office, supporting paperless and green strategies. Each agent based out of the office will have 24-hour secure access to their paperless documents and critical contracts needed in a real estate transaction, the company says. Many iAGENTS choose to use tablet computers that allow contracts to be signed directly on the screen to negotiate and close a transaction. “Going paperless and recruiting and training new and existing agents in online marketing techniques will completely change the traditional real estate transaction,” says Barney Johnson, president and broker of record. “Consumers will start to recognize the value of mobility and the environmental awareness that comes with a virtual office and will choose a Re/Max Crossroads agent who can deliver this quality and level of service.” Johnson and newly appointed EVP Pedro da Fonseca say in a statement that the new approach

“will create a new fresh and forward-moving company based on social networking, idea sharing and only the best of technology and systems.” Re/Max Alpine Realty in Canmore, Alta. was the first iREALTY office in Canada. ■ ■ ■

Royal LePage has a new office in Merritt, B.C. Broker Tom McDonagh and his team of six sales reps have a 55 per cent market share, the company says. The office services the areas of Aspen Grove, Lower Nicola, Upper Nicola, Sunshine Valley, Mid Day Valley and the Nicola Valley in South Western B.C. ■ ■ ■

Recently Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services held its annual sales rally for Prudential sales professionals. The Canadian Connection: Power Your Future featured Earl Lee, president of Prudential Real Estate and Relocation, who opened the day with an update on North American real estate markets. A Continued on page 6

■ ■ ■

Earl Lee, president of Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services (left) and Lou Gonzalez, senior vice-president of sales and service for North American operations, at the company’s annual sales rally.

Matt Kirby

Anne Squires

Loretta Hughes

The new sign goes up in Merritt, B.C.

Sid Doucette

Century 21 Watson’s ‘home on wheels’ float, with from left, Monica Zahra, Alec Frias and Miranda Zahra.


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Multiple Listings Continued from page 4

panel of real estate professionals discussed using technology and social media for business development, and the National Association of Green Agents and Brokers presented a course about the sustainable home. More than 250 sales professionals attended the fun day of networking and education. Pat Melhuish, chairperson for the Canadian Sunshine Kids Foundation, gratefully acknowledged the companies who have made contributions to the Sunshine Kids Foundation in 2009. ■ ■ ■

Independent Prince George, B.C. brokerage Doucette Realty recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. Founder and president Sid Doucette began his real estate career in 1975 with Canada Trust

Realty. He was one of three businesspeople to open the first Century 21 office in Prince George, and later he moved to Ron Carson Real Estate before launching his own brokerage. Doucette Realty was the first Prince George firm to offer 100 per cent commissions. It also offers a residual recruitment program for its salespeople. “When I was a salesman in my earlier days I always felt I wasn’t getting fair pay for my performance, so I came up with what I think is a better way,” Doucette told the Prince George Citizen. He says in the old days of selling, “It used to be there was a onepage contract. Last night I worked on a contract that was 16 pages long.” But he says “real estate is a phenomenal business.” ■ ■ ■

Several Century 21 System members recently received local awards. Diana and Ian Share (The Share Team) of Century 21

Assurance Realty Ltd. in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley were presented with the 2009 Lake Country Chamber of Commerce Award for Service Excellence. Century 21 Colonial Realty of Charlottetown was a finalist in the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce’s 2009 President’s Excellence Awards in the Excellence in Business category. Finalists must have been in business for a minimum of 10 years and achieved excellence in all areas of operations. An impressive ‘home on wheels’ created by Century 21 Watson Realty in Cambridge, Ont., won Best Float in the 2009 Cambridge nighttime Santa Claus Parade. Watson Realty broker/ owner Fernando Frias described the event in his blog: “The weather was great...the kids, both on the float and on the street, had a great time.” His team donated the cash prize to Easter Seals. And the winner of a different type of contest was Century 21

Border Real Estate Service broker/owner Lynn Chipley, who was elected in October to a second term on the Estevan, Sask. City Council. Chipley writes in her blog, “I am proud to serve the citizens of Estevan and believe we have a great group of individuals elected to lead the city for the next three years.” ■ ■ ■

Keller Williams Realty Centres has opened to serve the Newmarket/Aurora areas north of Toronto. The operating principal is Marvin Alexander, who has been in the industry for more than 15 years. He was recognized most recently as the second-highest producing Keller Williams agent in North America for gross commission income. Keller Williams Realty Centres will also service the communities of Bradford, Keswick, and East and West Gwillimbury. ■ ■ ■

Cathy Travis, a sales rep with

Coldwell Banker First Victoria Realty in Victoria, was recently an honorary lifetime inductee into the Victoria Sports Hall of Fame. Travis “came up with the idea and was the driving force” behind the founding of the hall, says the Victoria Times Colonist. Among the local sports celebrities who attended the 2009 induction ceremonies were Geoff and Bruce Courtnall. Several of Travis’ Coldwell Banker colleagues also attended. ■ ■ ■

The Aventure Realty Network of independent brokers has two new members. Abbey and Olivier Real Estate, on the West Island of Montreal, is operated by Shep Abbey and George Olivier. The brokerage coverage area includes the Island of Montreal and its many communities. “Together with their group of outstanding sales representative Shep and George have established a strong brand based on integrity, productivity, and responsive independent management,” says Aventure president Bernie Vogt. In Central Toronto, Martin & Meredith has also joined the network. Heather Fuller is the broker/owner of the firm, which has been in business for 45 years. ■ ■ ■

Marvin Alexander

Cathy Travis

J A N U A RY 2 0 1 0 Cover photo: GJ PHOTO, Regina

Shep Abbey

Heather Fuller

George Olivier

Vivian Risi

Arlene Forbes, a sales rep with Coast Realty Group Nanaimo, carried the Olympic Torch in Royston, B.C. on Vancouver Island on November 2 and then posed for photos with staff and children. Arlene is married to Randy Forbes, general manager at Coast Realty, and their son Scott is also a licensed Realtor.

Vivian Risi, broker/owner of Royal LePage Your Community Realty, opened the company’s newest location in Maple, Ont. at 9411 Jane St. (across from Canada’s Wonderland). The brokerage has offices to serve from Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe. Royal LePage Your Community Realty now has 650 real estate professionals. The company says it has held the No. 1 market share in York Region for 10 consecutive REM years.

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REALTOR® and REALTORS® are trademarks controlled in Canada by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify licensed real estate practitioners who are members of CREA. MLS® and Multiple Listing Service® are trademarks owned by CREA and identify the services rendered by members of CREA. REM is published 12 times a year. It is an independently owned and operated company and is not affiliated with any real estate association, board or company. REM is distributed across Canada by leading real estate boards and by direct delivery in selected areas. Subscriptions are $40.95 per year (including $1.95 GST), payable by personal cheque. Entire contents copyright 2010 REM. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. The opinions expressed in REM are not necessarily those of the publisher. ISSN 1201-1223

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2/11/09 2:30:40 PM


Faster video editing and web searching Reviewing Animato for Real Estate and Mozilla Ubiquity, two of the latest tech tools for real estate professionals. By Petra Jones


utting together a professional looking property video can be time-consuming. Even when you’ve mastered the practical skills of taking wobble-free video, panning and zooming, there’s still the problem of editing and combining video clips with images, adding commentary and publishing the finished video presentation in an accessible format on the web. This is where Animoto comes in – a video creation platform that aims to reduce the time it takes to produce a professional video from hours to minutes. Animoto ( uses an intuitive step-by-step wizard approach to creating videos with Cinematic Artificial Intelligence technology to help with things like post-production. Established in August 2007 as a video creation tool for a general audience, Animoto quickly gained two million fans on Facebook and 300,000 users of Animoto’s App for the iPhone. But in September

tional counterparts once did. So the challenge for listing agents all comes down to creating an online experience with high emotional impact. The way Animoto couples music, motion, text and photography creates a far more powerful medium for selling a home, with higher conversion rates than photos alone.” While video tours or podcasts of listed properties are nothing new, the idea of being able to produce them faster without the need for specialist editing knowledge sounds attractive. Launched in San Francisco at the 2009 Inman Real Estate Connect conference, Animoto supports a wide range of video formats including MP4, avi, mov, flv, mpeg and mpg. Videos up to 200MB in size can be uploaded and there are editing facilities to add or delete images in an existing video, rearrange images, or change the soundtrack. A blue “Video Toolbox” button underneath the completed video provides email options and enables the video to

“The way Animoto couples music, motion, text and photography creates a far more powerful medium for selling a home, with higher conversion rates than photos alone.” this year, Animoto for Real Estate was introduced along with the news that online real estate brokerage Redfin ( will equip their agents nationwide with Animoto for Real Estate accounts. Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman says, “Our research shows that a prospective home buyer will look at the photos of a house nearly 20 times over in the 24 hours before making an offer. Internet consumers spend one-third the time touring properties than their tradi-

be published on other websites like Facebook or a blog. You can try Animoto for free by registering to create 30-second clips. The Pro version is based on a $249 (US) annual subscription service and is free from Animoto’s branding with scope for unlimited full-length video creation and access to prelicensed music from Animoto’s library of 300 songs. A threemonth trial of the pro version is available for $99 (US).

Ubiquity Another new innovation worth considering is Mozilla Lab’s free tool Ubiquity. We all spend vast amounts of time surfing the Internet doing repetitive tasks like searching Google and checking today’s weather report for a viewing, or emailing a map of a property location to a client. Each time the problem is the same – we have to go to a website and wait for it to load before we can search, map a location or do the simplest of tasks. This is where Mozilla Ubiquity comes in. It’s a plugin for the Firefox browser that allows us to type shortcut commands. Let’s say you’re interested in the local weather forecast. You simply call up Ubiquity by pressing the ctrl key and space bar together on your keyboard then type weather. Ubiquity is intelligent enough to analyse your IP address, work out where your office is based and display the weather forecast for the local area. Ubiquity can also provide other shortcuts to save you valuable time. Typing map followed by a zip code instantly provides you with a Google map of a property location that can then be emailed straight to a client using a Google Gmail account. This is an important step forward as the map itself is included in an email rather than a link. It also means you can view maps from any webpage without having to wait for Google maps to load in a separate tab or window. While Ubiquity is limited at the moment to Gmail, there are signs Mozilla will extend this functionality to other kinds of email accounts in the future. Besides weather and mapping features, Ubiquity lets you search all the big search engines from Bing and Google to Yahoo without having to type them into your address bar and wait for them to load. Ubiquity will let you search and preview the results simply by typing the name of the search engine – for example, Google followed by your keywords. While

Animato uses a step-by-step wizard-style approach to video creation.

Ubiquity allows you to map the property locations and email the map within your message to clients using email. Mozilla plans to extend this functionality to map entire listings and to allow use with alternative email accounts.

these shortcuts might only save you five or six seconds each time you hunt for information, over the course of a year they represent significant savings in time. Best of all, you can create your own custom search commands. If there’s a website you regularly search, you can create your own command to search that website remotely without ever having to type in its URL address and wait for it to load again. Go to the website you regularly search, then press ctrl and spacebar to call up Ubiquity and type “create search command”. Click outside Ubiquity then click in that website’s search box using your mouse, give your new command a name and you’re done.

With shortcuts available for many other daily tasks, it’s worth installing Ubiquity in your Firefox browser or considering changing your browsing habits by trying out Firefox. The Ubiquity plugin can be obtained by visiting and clicking on “Get it now”. Ubiquity includes features for publishing status updates on professional social network accounts like Twitter and Facebook, plus useful dictionaries, Wikipedia searches and translators, which can be used simply by highlighting a word or paragraph. With plans for Ubiquity ultimately to be able to cope with mapping entire property listings automatically, it’s worth keeping an eye on this new plugin tool. REM

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hile the majority of GMAC Real Estate offices and salespeople in the U.S. are expected to convert to the Real Living real estate brand recently acquired by Canadian franchisor Brookfield Real Estate Services, GMAC Real Estate Services in Canada has not yet determined its future course. “We are having discussions with Brookfield and decisions will be communicated at a later date,” Joseph Picciani, president of GMAC Real Estate Canada, told REM. Picciani has an independent licensing agreement to use the GMAC brand in Canada. In the U.S., Brookfield had held interim rights to the GMAC brand after purchasing GMAC Real Estate from General Motors, with the understanding that Brookfield would develop its own brand or acquire one. Following its acquisition of Ohio-based Real Living in November, Brookfield announced it would rebrand its U.S. GMAC Real Estate Services operations with the Real Living name. At Brookfield, which is best known in Canada as the parent company of Royal LePage and La Capitale, president and CEO Phil Soper says, “Mr. Picciani could take his business completely independent or he could potentially join the broader Brookfield system, but it’s really up to him.” GMAC Real Estate in the U.S. has approximately 13,000 agents; GMAC Real Estate in Canada has about 400 salespeople. Soper anticipates that GMAC in the U.S. will be downsized by about 1,000 by the end of 2010, when he expects the conversion to the Real Living brand to be complete. Conversely, Soper expects to grow the existing Real Living network, which has about 2,000 salespeople working out of 130 offices, focused in the central Ohio area – a region in the U.S. where the GMAC Real Estate network was not much in evidence.

“Now we’re strong on both coasts and in the middle and there’s room to grow,” says Soper. “Our market share in the U.S. is below two per cent, compared to 23 per cent in Canada – we’re a reasonably sized fish in a very large pond down there, which I think should give us some growth opportunity.” Soper is also planning to expand Real Living abroad, leveraging GMAC’s international relocation operations in global centres such as London, Singapore and Shanghai. There are no plans to introduce the Real Living brand into Canada. “Real Living is certainly unique and could probably carve out a piece of the Canadian market, but it’s not why we did the Real Living deal and it’s not our strategic focus – we have a very strong brand in Royal LePage,” Soper says. Part of Brookfield’s strategic plan, however, is bringing some of Real Living’s approaches to selling U.S. real estate into its Canadian network. The American firm is known for its focus on female buyers, its service-oriented, “warm” culture and homey office environment, as well as its integrated technology, which Soper calls the U.S. company’s most interesting differentiator. “If you look at the way the system integrates with local MLS and how that works all the way down into the agent’s dashboard, when they’re preparing listings or contracts or putting together a marketing campaign, there’s a high degree of integration – much greater than I’ve seen in any other system anywhere in the world, including Royal LePage,” says Soper. “The underlying thinking has really opened our eyes and in future versions of our La Capitale and Royal LePage platforms, we’ll definitely incorporate Real Living technology.” REM

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In conversation with Dale Ripplinger

Dale Ripplinger holds the position of CREA president at a defining moment for the national association – trying to negotiate a settlement with the federal government’s Competition Bureau about access to CREA’s trademarked MLS system. Ripplinger spoke with REM Senior Editor Kathy Bevan a week before CREA’s scheduled December 11 meeting with board and association leaders, where CREA planned to present the results of their negotiations to date with the Competition Bureau. While Ripplinger wasn’t able to share specific details of the settlement being negotiated, he did discuss some of the challenges of working with the bureau to try to resolve their differences and reach an agreement that CREA and its 96,000 members – as well as the bureau – can live with. REM: What can you tell me at this point about the settlement you’re working on with the Competition Bureau? RIPPLINGER: We’re still in the process of trying to negotiate a settlement with the bureau. They think they’re right, we think we’re right, but we certainly don’t agree with their position that we’re doing anything anti-competitive, because we certainly aren’t. But the reality remains, that problem is there and we have to deal with it. The boards and associations will go back to their members and determine how their members feel about the settlement we’re proposing. From there we’ll either reach an agreement with the bureau or it’ll have to go to the Tribunal. Whatever CREA does, it has to be with membership approval. We have 96,000 members and all of them deserve to be heard, however we accomplish that. We’re not in a position as an executive or as a board of directors to obligate our members to any kind of a settlement without their input. We have to present to them as much information as we can, so they can make an informed decision. REM: When do you expect to have a formal response back from your membership? RIPPLINGER: Ultimately, if we’re going to have our members decide, that can only be done in the context of a general meeting. We have a general meeting called for the end of March in Ottawa – that would be the time where we would anticipate making a final decision on the acceptability of any settlement that the bureau would present.

The problem the bureau has is that, yes, they would like it done quicker. And quite frankly, if there was a possibility for us to do it more quickly, I’d like to be done with it too. But we have to work within the context of our bylaws and it just doesn’t allow for an organization like ours to properly get feedback from that many people and convene a properly called meeting much sooner than that. REM: How much room to manoeuvre does CREA have in trying to negotiate with the Competition Bureau, versus having to accept some things that might not be very palatable for your executive and your members? RIPPLINGER: The reality is the bureau ultimately will decide whether it goes to a Tribunal or not. They can decide tomorrow they’re not interested in negotiating. To their credit, they have given us an opportunity to speak. There are certain of our rules that they take exception to, whether we agree with them or not. We’re going to try to find some common ground that both they and our members can live with. The bureau has been quite co-operative. REM: Some aspects of what the Competition Bureau is proposing a Realtor’s role should be in real estate transactions appear to contradict what FINTRAC requires Realtors to do for “know your client” due diligence – has that come up in your negotiations with the bureau? RIPPLINGER: When we first started talking with the bureau, it wasn’t until a meeting or two in that we realized there was going to be some conflict to some degree between what

FINTRAC says a Realtor should do and what the Competition Bureau says we can’t tell a Realtor to do. There is a bit of a conflict there and I’m not sure how we’re going to resolve that. It is annoying when we have one arm of the government saying, “you should be doing this” and another arm of the government saying, “no, you have to do that”. REM:: The language used by some of your predecessors when discussing a potential confrontation with the Competition Bureau over MLS was somewhat combative – that doesn’t appear to be your stance now. Has CREA’s executive changed its mind about using a legal forum to confront the bureau? RIPPLINGER: We still think we’re right and ultimately, if it goes to a Tribunal, we know we’ve got a very strong case. But when you’re faced with having to go to the Tribunal or working out a compromise that’s acceptable, it’s just good business to look at the compromise. REM: Do you have a sense of what Realtors at the grassroots level are thinking about the MLS policy changes the Competition Bureau is asking CREA to make? RIPPLINGER: If we had taken the bureau’s initial position to the members, I’m fairly certain that they would not have been accepted. At this point, as we negotiate and try to soften the impact on our members, I don’t really know. There will always be those who just want to fight and think our industry has been pushed around long enough. And there will be others who are going to say, you know what, go ahead and change the rules, it doesn’t really matter to

Photo: GJ Photo, Regina

me, I’ve got my business model, I’ve got my clients, nothing for me is going to change so I don’t really care. REM: What is the best scenario you can see emerging from your negotiations with the Competition Bureau? RIPPLINGER: The best situation would be that we could negotiate a settlement that would be acceptable to our members. That’s certainly my preference. Is it going to be perfect? Probably not – it may have to change. But I’ll tell you one thing, this issue with the bureau has demonstrated to me that we’re going to have to do a better job, right from the Realtor on the street right up to CREA, on educating everyone about the value of a Realtor. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion and lack of understanding about the work Realtors

do and what’s on Realtors get you on the best real estate website in the world – sure, that’s one thing Realtors do. But we’re also involved in negotiations, from pricing the house right through to doing the marketing and negotiating the sale and sale follow-up. There is so much a Realtor does that is so much more than just putting a house on a website. Maybe it’s just too complicated a business, maybe people just won’t accept that there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes. We have to be more active or adamant about explaining this to our own clients and it’s got to start at the grassroots, with us doing a better job of educating our own members about educating the public. We have to say to Realtors, “you tell people what you’re doing”, because most of what a Realtor does, even their own clients don’t know. REM

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Industrial, Commercial & Investment A






vison Young has opened a new office in Lethbridge, Alta. Doug Mereska, Rollie Beauchesne, Jeremy Roden and Dave Nelson will work in the office. The newly formed Lethbridge partnership will be led by Mereska as managing director. “The opening of an office in Lethbridge is in response to the strong interest we received from prospective clients in this region,� says Mark E. Rose, chair and CEO of Avison Young. “The new office is a great opportunity for Avison Young to build on the successes of our Calgary and Edmonton operations.� Avison Young also announced the opening of a new Washington, D.C. office. Keith Lipton has been recruited as managing director. The new American office, the first of several planned for the region, will be located in downtown D.C. It will mark Avison Young’s second location outside of Canada and the company says it represents the next step in its aggressive growth and expansion strategy. Lipton, who also becomes an Avison Young Principal, was most recently executive vice-president and managing director of Grubb & Ellis’ Washington, D.C. area offices. In his new role, he will be responsible for building Avison Young’s DC metro region — Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia. Christopher Brown is now a vice-president in Avison Young’s Toronto leasing group. Brown joins Avison Young from global real estate services firm DTZ Barnicke, where he was most recently vicepresident, leasing in the Toronto office. Brown’s career in commercial real estate extends beyond 30 years, beginning in 1979 at John Shortill Ltd., a Toronto firm at the time. In his seven years at the firm, Brown established a record of achievement by completing numerous design-build solutions for local and

international firms, including Sharp Electronics’ Canadian headquarters in Mississauga, Ont. In 1986, he joined J.J. Barnicke Ltd. (now DTZ Barnicke). Brown’s experience includes large and complex lease renewal/relocations on behalf of national financial services and law firms, in addition to telecommunications and financial regulatory agencies. And still with Avison Young, the company recently announced the opening of a new office in north Toronto. Adrian Lee and Matt Gunning, office leasing brokers, join Avison Young as vice-president, Office Leasing Group and senior leasing advisor, Office Leasing Group, respectively. Both come from global real estate services firm DTZ Barnicke and will help establish the brokerage capabilities for the newest Avison Young office. Lee and Gunning will be joined by a team of Avison Young management professionals led by Gary Hudson, principal and EVP, and

Doug Mereska

Steve Harris, senior vice-president, retail, of Avison Young’s Management Services Group. Mark E. Rose, chair and CEO of Avison Young, says: “The new office is part of our commitment to expand our services and market coverage in Canada’s largest city. The north market, which includes north and east Toronto, and York and Durham regions, is one of the fastest growing areas in Canada, and Avison Young is committed to being part of this growth.� REM

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A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections: It’s about more than being your own boss. It’s about being in charge of your destiny. When you start a career in real estate at the ripe age of 18, you learn more than a few important lessons over the years. Just ask Bill Redfern, founder and CEO of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections. Buying up his first investment property in 1985, Bill spent the last 20+ years sharpening his skills in diverse areas of this industry: as a successful realtor and broker, an investment property developer, as owner of over 320 residential and commercial units and as a project manager for award-winning developments.

Bill Redfern, Founder and CEO

With this level of experience and an entrepreneurial spirit, Bill understands first hand the direct link between success in business and the importance of professionalism, expertise and customer service. In fact, that’s what led him to found A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections. Created to serve realtors and offer protection, peace of mind and comfort to the buying and selling public, A Buyers Choice Home Inspections is now one of the fastest growing franchise companies in North America. “During my career in real estate, I saw firsthand the need for quality, professional home inspectors and the impact they can have on the success of a sale - for the realtor, the buyer and the seller combined”, says Redfern from head office in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “Developing a franchise model to meet this demand and also offer a great investment opportunity seemed like a smart venture.”

Arne Tjerno, President of International Franchise Development

Judging by the success of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections, Redfern was right on the money. The home inspection industry is experiencing rapid-fire growth and quality inspectors are in high demand across North America. In fact, 95% of real estate transactions today require a home inspection. It’s no wonder that Money Magazine named home inspection as one of America’s 50 hottest jobs AND one of the top 10 highest income home businesses.

long and successful career in franchise sales with what was to become the leading real estate organization in the world, Re/Max, followed by critical initial efforts with an aggressive up and coming firm, Exit Realty, has made him an invaluable resource in expanding the reach of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections. Today, thanks to the strong vision and determined strategy of Redfern and Tjerno’s partnership, A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections boasts regional master and local franchises throughout Canada and the United States. Their unique business model offers people the pride of owning their own business with the freedom of being their own boss. No prior experience or specific education is necessary - A Buyer’s Choice provides all the training as part of the franchise package. “I was really impressed with the extensive training program, the support of the franchise system and the lucrative business model that A Buyer’s Choice provides”, says Southwestern Ontario Master Franchise owner, Ray Sikkema. “I really believe it’s a solid and exciting opportunity for investors looking to own and operate their own business. It has been for me.” A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections is looking for investors who share their commitment to quality and professionalism, have a desire to own their own business and understand the value and power of working together to build a company. “A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections is a company for people who have a passion for success and the rewards that come with it,” says Tjerno. “We have a proven, successful model that provides on-going sales and royalty income and we’re eager to share it with ambitious, like minded people.” For more information on how you can share the success of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections, contact: Arne Tjerno, President, Franchise Development Phone: 902-877-8626 Office: 902-446-4740 Ext-1, Fax: 902-446-4738 Email:

Helping Redfern grow A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections is partner, Arne Tjerno, President of International Franchise Development. Tjerno’s

REM 2pg AD Dec2009 V1.indd 2

12/7/09 12:24 PM

Become Part of the Largest Home Inspection Company in Canada

Be Your Own Boss

Be Part of This Exciting Opportunity Watch Us on CNN’s, ‘The Economic Report’ Franchises that Work in the 21st Century.

A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections Franchise Opportunity gives you the chance to fulfill your dreams of self-employment, job stability and financial security that comes with a proven business model. Avoid the risk and uncertainty that plagues the traditional indepent business startups. With the expert training and local support of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections, success is yours to achieve!

Join the fastest growing home inspection company in North America. We want “You” to Share, in Our Success! Home inspection ranks among “North America’s 50 Hottest Jobs” and “Top 10 Highest Income Home Businessess.” – Money Magazine “One of the Best Business Opportunities.” – Entrepreneur Magazine

In keeping with the Season, We Wish You All, a Properous New Year and Seasons Greeting from your Friends at A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections

Arne Tjerno,

President – Franchise Development

902.877.8626 REM 2pg AD Dec2009 V1.indd 3

12/7/09 12:24 PM

A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections: It’s about more than being your own boss. It’s about being in charge of your destiny. When you start a career in real estate at the ripe age of 18, you learn more than a few important lessons over the years. Just ask Bill Redfern, founder and CEO of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections. Buying up his first investment property in 1985, Bill spent the last 20+ years sharpening his skills in diverse areas of this industry: as a successful realtor and broker, an investment property developer, as owner of over 320 residential and commercial units and as a project manager for award-winning developments.

Bill Redfern, Founder and CEO

With this level of experience and an entrepreneurial spirit, Bill understands first hand the direct link between success in business and the importance of professionalism, expertise and customer service. In fact, that’s what led him to found A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections. Created to serve realtors and offer protection, peace of mind and comfort to the buying and selling public, A Buyers Choice Home Inspections is now one of the fastest growing franchise companies in North America. “During my career in real estate, I saw firsthand the need for quality, professional home inspectors and the impact they can have on the success of a sale - for the realtor, the buyer and the seller combined”, says Redfern from head office in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “Developing a franchise model to meet this demand and also offer a great investment opportunity seemed like a smart venture.”

Arne Tjerno, President of International Franchise Development

Judging by the success of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections, Redfern was right on the money. The home inspection industry is experiencing rapid-fire growth and quality inspectors are in high demand across North America. In fact, 95% of real estate transactions today require a home inspection. It’s no wonder that Money Magazine named home inspection as one of America’s 50 hottest jobs AND one of the top 10 highest income home businesses.

long and successful career in franchise sales with what was to become the leading real estate organization in the world, Re/Max, followed by critical initial efforts with an aggressive up and coming firm, Exit Realty, has made him an invaluable resource in expanding the reach of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections. Today, thanks to the strong vision and determined strategy of Redfern and Tjerno’s partnership, A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections boasts regional master and local franchises throughout Canada and the United States. Their unique business model offers people the pride of owning their own business with the freedom of being their own boss. No prior experience or specific education is necessary - A Buyer’s Choice provides all the training as part of the franchise package. “I was really impressed with the extensive training program, the support of the franchise system and the lucrative business model that A Buyer’s Choice provides”, says Southwestern Ontario Master Franchise owner, Ray Sikkema. “I really believe it’s a solid and exciting opportunity for investors looking to own and operate their own business. It has been for me.” A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections is looking for investors who share their commitment to quality and professionalism, have a desire to own their own business and understand the value and power of working together to build a company. “A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections is a company for people who have a passion for success and the rewards that come with it,” says Tjerno. “We have a proven, successful model that provides on-going sales and royalty income and we’re eager to share it with ambitious, like minded people.” For more information on how you can share the success of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections, contact: Arne Tjerno, President, Franchise Development Phone: 902-877-8626 Office: 902-446-4740 Ext-1, Fax: 902-446-4738 Email:

Helping Redfern grow A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections is partner, Arne Tjerno, President of International Franchise Development. Tjerno’s

REM 2pg AD Dec2009 V1.indd 2

12/7/09 12:24 PM

Become Part of the Largest Home Inspection Company in Canada

Be Your Own Boss

Be Part of This Exciting Opportunity Watch Us on CNN’s, ‘The Economic Report’ Franchises that Work in the 21st Century.

A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections Franchise Opportunity gives you the chance to fulfill your dreams of self-employment, job stability and financial security that comes with a proven business model. Avoid the risk and uncertainty that plagues the traditional indepent business startups. With the expert training and local support of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections, success is yours to achieve!

Join the fastest growing home inspection company in North America. We want “You” to Share, in Our Success! Home inspection ranks among “North America’s 50 Hottest Jobs” and “Top 10 Highest Income Home Businessess.” – Money Magazine “One of the Best Business Opportunities.” – Entrepreneur Magazine

In keeping with the Season, We Wish You All, a Properous New Year and Seasons Greeting from your Friends at A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections

Arne Tjerno,

President – Franchise Development

902.877.8626 REM 2pg AD Dec2009 V1.indd 3

12/7/09 12:24 PM


Critiquing catchy real estate slogans When it comes to slogans, if you don’t have a great one, don’t have one at all. By Toby Welch


n a bid to stand out from other real estate professionals, many sales reps have come up with slogans to advertise their services. The right tagline will capture people’s attention, tell something about yourself and motivate people to use your services. Your slogan is a vital part of your brand. When coming up with an effective slogan, keep these characteristics in mind as you make a list of possibilities: • The slogan should be as catchy online as it is offline. • It must grab your target audience’s attention. • It must spotlight something unique about you. • It must stand out from the crowd of other sales rep’s slogans. • It’s outrageous enough to be remembered but not corny or cheesy. • It must stand the test of time. • It must be an original and powerful message. Catchy and clever is what you are aiming for. When you have narrowed your list of potential slogans down to two or three, ask people for their input. You should be able to get a general consensus as to which slogan will work best for you. Mike Blaney, a marketing expert who has developed a specialty helping real estate professionals build their businesses, spoke to REM to share what makes a slogan work. “A slogan or tagline should answer the questions, ‘What’s in it for me?’ and ‘How will this person, product or service help me with my problem?’ It should convey a solution to the reader’s problem,” says Blaney. “It should be about the reader, not about the Realtor. It should solve a problem. Buyers are concerned about certain aspects of the process, as are sellers, and a slogan should address the benefit of working with the Realtor.” REM asked Blaney to offer a critique of several real estate slo-

gans. The slogan for Lynn Clayton, a broker with Coldwell Banker, The Property Shoppe Real Estate in Kincardine, Ont., is “The Power of Two = Assured Results for You”. Blaney says: “It is typical for pairs, partners or couples to try and justify the fact that there is a benefit to using two Realtors instead of one, but it does not convey anything more than there are two people. Having two people working for you is not a perceived benefit.” But Clayton believes that for some people, having two people working for them is indeed a perceived benefit. Jennifer E. Turcotte, broker with Re/Max Pembroke Realty in Petawawa, Ont., uses “Welcome... You’ll feel right at home with me.” Blaney says: “This slogan is attractive to a buyer that needs hand-holding. It conveys a warm personality. It has a very positive connotation. It is easy to demonstrate this feeling.”

munity behind him. John Norrie, a sales rep with MaxWell Canyon Creek Real Estate in Calgary, uses the slogan “Known for Service, Trusted for Results.” Blaney says, “Do all Norrie’s testimonials prove good service is offered and results are always there? How do you quantify good service? Do you have a system to ensure people are getting good service? Do you measure results?” Valerie Konechny of Prudential Toole Peet Real Estate in Calgary has the slogan “Your Dreams, Our Focus”. Blaney says, “Do people have dreams? First-time buyers may dream about a home, but do others? It does not attract sellers. It is difficult to live up to this claim.” Konechny says she had a client who was able to move into a home that for most people would only be a dream. She says that every person who was able to buy a home has always dreamed of what it would look like. Konechny also wanted to

Your slogan should be outrageous enough to be remembered but not corny or cheesy. Turcotte says her slogan is a part of her success as it reflects who she is and the service she provides. The tagline for Bob Stewart, broker with Claimpost Realty in Timmins, Ont., is “Bob Knows Real Estate.” Blaney says: “Simple and straight forward, but we expect that from a Realtor. Okay, you know real estate, but how does that help me? Shouldn’t every Realtor know real estate?” Stewart says his slogan backs up what he preaches about having the benefit of 38 years in all areas of the industry in his com-

convey in her slogan that helping clients find the home of their dreams was her focus. “Your satisfaction is my best reward!” is the slogan of Bart Rybarczyk of Re/Max Realty Specialists in Mississauga, Ont. Blaney says: “Are people looking to be satisfied? Do they expect just to be satisfied or are they expecting incredible results? Do people care about the compensation of the Realtor or why they are in the business?” Mike Mills, a broker with Royal LePage Real Estate Services in Mississauga, uses this slogan: “If my sign is on your

Walter Doret’s bench sign.

Mike Mills

lawn, hurry home! You’re moving!” Blaney says, “This slogan is too corny and difficult to live up to. It sets too high of an expectation. It is too long and does not work in most advertising.” Mills said his slogan is a great ice breaker, but says there are some agents who have given him a tough time (he hopes in jest) when his sign was on a lawn for longer than four or five months. Walter Doret, broker of Royal LePage First Contact Realty in Barrie, Ont., uses “Sincere Service... Nothing Less”. Blaney says: “When people ask themselves which Realtor is best for them, sincere service is expected. It does not conjure up a positive image of an experienced Realtor.” Doret says he has used the slogan for seven years and his clients say they like the simplicity of the slogan, which accurately portraits his level of service and personality. Blaine Dushanek of Maxwell Real Estate in Red Deer, Alta. has this tagline: “Don’t Panek Call Blaine Dushanek”. “This slogan is great for name recognition. It is a cute play on words,” says Blaney. “It addresses

Blaine Dushanek

Jennifer Turcotte

the fear that people may feel when they have to sell a home.” Dushanek says it is very common to have people repeat the slogan when he introduces himself to them. He feels strongly that his slogan has helped people remember his name over the years. Once you have the perfect slogan, use it at every opportunity as part of your brand. Publicize it whenever and wherever possible. Put it on your business cards, your letterhead, your website, in all your marketing and on your car if it’s an advertising vehicle. Your slogan is an integral part of your image and identity. Mike Blaney has a blog at REM

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By Donald H. Lapowich


79-year-old woman agreed to sell farm land by means of a lease “option agreement”. The price was divided between the value of the land and house. The purchase price would be paid over seven years, with no interest and most of the monies payable in the final year only. The woman was to be allowed to live in the house for her lifetime, and it was her obligation to pay taxes and utilities. When the plaintiff sued to set aside the transaction and added her solicitor (for negligence), the Saskatchewan court held: (a) The contract was in simple terms; easily understood by a lay person; (b) The woman signed the agreement before she met with lawyer; (c) The woman understood all aspects. The claim was dismissed based simply on the woman’s comprehension of all the terms and risks involved. ■ ■ ■

I previously reported the case of the purchaser, a dentist, buying property for a practice that by bylaw required eight parking spaces. No practice could be run without such spaces, and it turned out that the eight spaces could not be physically accommodated on the site. The plaintiff previously sued his lawyer and settled for an amount of damages. He then sued the selling agent, buying agent and vendor. The Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed apportioned liability to each of the defendants, which is often the case when “things go wrong”. 1. The lawyer (although he set-

Recent court decisions tled) was found 50 per cent liable for not identifying that on a Boulevard Parking Agreement, only one parking spot was available on the east side because of a private agreement. 2. The purchasing agent was liable 20 per cent for failure to make his own inquiries to confirm “use” as a dental office and by simply relying on the vendor’s agent. He was also liable for the failure to note the difference in surveys and go to city hall to investigate, and for failing to draft a “conditional” purchase agreement. 3. The listing agent was 20 per cent liable for failing to inquire with the owner and city hall about actual lot size, and review survey data sufficiently to conclude further inquiries were needed from city hall files. 4. The vendor was 10 per cent liable for the cavalier, careless, wanton failure to ask rudimentary questions of his lawyer when noting conflicting information about on-site parking. ■ ■ ■

Courts are very cognizant that proper settlements should not be easily set aside. The owner of a cottage signed papers conveying that property to the appellant. But the owner had second thoughts and sued to set aside the conveyance and then orally agreed to take a deed back, in exchange for $10,000. The owner then reneged from settlement, attempting to rely on Statute of Frauds requiring transfers (agreements) for land to be in writing. The New Brunswick Court of Appeal held that the oral settlement fell outside of the Statute and was therefore enforceable as a “settlement” for value. Donald H. Lapowich, Q.C. Hon. FRGD is a partner at the law firm of Koskie, Minsky LLP where he practices civil litigation, with a particular emphasis on real estate litigation. He acts for professionals including lawyers, real estate agents, insurance brokers/agents and dentists. REM

Why Royal LePage? Our Brand

Our Culture

We have almost one hundred years of tradition and that tradition translates into trust and credibility with clients.

We are passionate about what we do and we believe that it matters.

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f you subscribe to the idea that a real estate professional does more than just list and sell a home, then this article is for you. I’d like to show you a facet of what you can do for your clients that very few real estate agents have even considered. Take the assumption that most people do some renovating prior to moving into their newly purchased home. If you add to that the fact that bridge financing is easily available, then what I’m about to show you starts making excellent sense. If the average price of a two-bedroom is $374,255 while a three-bedroom is $460,774, the difference is $86,519 (keep that figure in mind). For now, we will pick a three bedroom home (Chart 1). Now have a look at the difference between two bathrooms and three bathrooms (Chart 2). Grab your calculator and note that the difference between the two is $61,743. Now ask yourself: is it a given that the three-bedroom house is actually bigger, better and contains more square feet than the two-bedroom? Chart 3 indicates that the measure of square footage does not necessarily reflect price. With this in mind, it is possible for you to say the following: “My dear Mrs. Homebuyer, why don’t we go for three bedrooms, with two washrooms, with a fairly large square footage in the area that you are looking for, and I’m sure you will be able to build a washroom and perhaps even an extra bedroom for less than $61,000.” Because no one is living in

the house, you can organize the construction to be quick, efficient and the bridge financing with today’s rates adds very little to the cost. Very few real estate agents go the extra mile and actually have information like these charts to show to their clients. By providing data like this, they can earn their reputation as being not only real estate agents but good advisors as well. It is this kind of information offered to clients that will definitely enhance your stature as a real estate professional. Chart 1

Chart 2

Chart 3

To all my faithful readers, Happy New Year. Leon d’Ancona B.T.L. M.T.L., RRESI, is president and founder of IMS Incorporated, and creator of REality, an online service used by franchises, brokers and agents to improve their bottom line. He is in demand as a speaker at real estate events continent-wide. The statistics provided in this article are the product of REality and are copyrighted. Email: REM

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Letters to the Editor A happy ending I’m not sure if you remember my story (REM, May 2008), but I tried riding a motorcycle across Canada, in the middle of winter, in an effort to bring awareness and some donation for research for a condition called interstitial cystitis. You may also recall that my effort came to an abrupt end at 30 degrees below zero on some ‘black ice’ near Winnipeg when I became hypothermic. The result was several broken bones and a lot of pain‌which seems to amplify when you’re over 60 years old. Well, I wanted to finish what I started ‌. So feeling sufficiently healed from my broken bones‌and damaged pride‌. I was able to climb back on the horse that bucked me, and make it to my destination – St. John’s, Nfld. We were able to raise about $10,000, which was administered

by the Vancouver General and UBC Hospitals to be directed toward research for a cause and cure for this debilitating ailment. However, as you will note from the photo, I was also trying to get some good PR for our industry (Realtors Care.) I was operating an Internet site at but it has just lapsed and I see someone else has picked it up. We did get several hundred hits on this site and many encouraging comments on the blog and at the end of the day I am confident that we were able to ‘make a positive difference’ for many who suffer from this condition. I was hoping that you could find a little space in the upcoming edition of REM so that I could put a ‘positive end’ to my tragic wipe out last year. Brian Selby CCIM Chilliwack, B.C.


More reaction to â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Real estate retainersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; The articles by Boris J. Bubas and Jennifer Rockburne about real estate retainers in the November edition of REM got me to thinking. Some in our business seem to think that the public should be compelled to pay up (a retainer) before actually engaging our services (sort of a pre-contract payment) for such things as â&#x20AC;&#x153;opinions of valueâ&#x20AC;?. These â&#x20AC;&#x153;opinions of valueâ&#x20AC;? from Realtors should be nothing but free; they arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t worth anything due to the fact that they are provided by folks with a vested interest. How is it that some in our business think that the world owes us a living, that folks out there who ask questions of real estate sales representatives should somehow be obliged to pay for our opinions? We should be happy that we have been asked at all, to have been given the opportunity to talk with these folks, to impress upon them that we have the experience,

expertise and character to best serve their interests versus other Realtors who they may have contacted or will have contact with. If we want to stop cheapening our image as Realtors because some offer FREE opinions, FREE this and FREE that, then stop advertising the FREE aspect. Simply offer to help folks out with their real estate issues. If asked if there is a charge, simply say, â&#x20AC;&#x153;No, I provide these complimentary services for potential clients who request them as a goodwill gesture. Should you decide to choose me as your representative after comparison shopping other Realtors, I will be pleased to provide as much service as possible to fulfill my obligations to you as a professional Realtor. You should expect no less.â&#x20AC;? We live in a country where virtually anyone can pay some money to take/pass the courses necessary to be licensed as a real estate sales rep. We immediately thereafter hold peoplesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; financial lives in our hands. We are here for them, they are not here for us.



Karen Filice Broker of Record Cirrius Realty Inc., Brokerage Hamilton



217$5,2 $7/$17,&3529,1&(621/<




Brian Martindale Sales Representative Century 21 United Realty Inc. Peterborough, Ont. Part of our problem with how we get paid is REBBA (in Ontario). This must be changed to allow for retainers, pay by the hour, flat rate plus percentage, etc... And CREA has to stop portraying us to the public as if our life is real estate. We are PROFESSIONALS. Not in it for a day or for the good times. Thick and thin â&#x20AC;&#x201C; we PROFESSIONALS work hard for our living. Try calling your accountant at 10 at night and see what happens.



The real problem, as I see it with our industry, is that there are too many in our business who have an underlying poor attitude toward the public. Some of us expect the public to treat us as professionals when we may not act professionally. We should not be upset when some of the public treat us as expendable; perhaps that is how they have been treated by Realtors in the past (by those who have only one thing in mind...commissions). For those of you who donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like members of the public who â&#x20AC;&#x153;useâ&#x20AC;? you, look at it this way: These folks are asking you for help: give them your best! Forget about the end game; concentrate on providing what they need to know without thoughts of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in it for me?â&#x20AC;?. The end will justify the means often enough if you practice this philosophy often enough.

Brian Selby at Signal Hill in St. Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, Nfld.

I totally agree with the concept of the $1,000 retainer, it makes so much sense. Twenty-five dollars an hour is a somewhat fair wage for the self-employed. The buyer doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even have to pay it if they buy. In the case of a listing agreement, same for the $1,000 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; so if by chance the home is not sold


through your contractual agreement, the seller does not get the $1,000 back. The Realtor at least can cover some of the costs of advertising and virtual tours. The time spent showing the property, making appointments and hosting open houses would not be covered – the $1,000 would be a small “thanks for coming out” amount for the Realtor. Some might say, what if the agent really doesn’t do anything; you know the type that puts the sign on the lawn, posts on the MLS and you never hear from them again? This will not only force the Realtor to actually show up with their marketing plan, and go over step by step in writing to the seller what they plan to do to sell their home, but it will weed out those Realtors who really don’t want to go the expense and effort of having to do an actual listing presentation and follow up with their sellers. Is there any worse feeling in this industry than when you have a client and they call you to say the listing is coming to expiry, please take the sign off. Then you find out they used you for the past 90 days at the asking price they tried to fish for, all the while reading your lovely expensive ads/virtual tours? It then becomes listed with Jo Realtor, for the price you had suggested, and sells tout de suite! When a seller knows he has to pay $1,000 and he may lose it, he may rethink listing at his asking price, which is way higher than recommended. This retainer idea is a solution and a total win-win for both parties. It is so long overdue. This would definitely solve the public awareness issue we have on this industry as to “how much money a Realtor makes.” Finally, the public will realize what it takes to be a Realtor and how much expense goes into just maintaining your license. If the CREA or the Competition Bureau can dictate contractual agreements to protect buyers and sellers (the buyers agency is not strong enough to protect the Realtors), let’s take it a step further and let’s protect an industry that needs clarification of what we do. We all need to wake up and let the consumer know we would be more than happy to supply a great

service, but like every other industry, for a fee! Tina Forbes Sales Representative Re/Max Del Mar Realty Inc., Hamilton

The C2B2 Virus The C2B2 Virus 09 Strain is here. It’s not to be confused with C1B1 strain (1988), which was thought to have been eradicated with multiple vaccines that apparently were only good for 21 years. The information confirming this virus was two years in the making and those responsible for the diagnosis felt it necessary to review thousands upon thousands of pages of what may have been indicators to this outbreak. One wonders who is at the wheel, when it takes two years to make the diagnosis (if you don’t get it right the first time, not to worry, you will get another kick at the cat). Surely after two years of serious consideration and the weighing of all the facts, you will make the right decision this time. After all the time, money and effort, with hours of full debate and speaking with those offended, they come up with what appears to be some pretty poor reasoning to stop the impending outbreak. As someone with a license who has carried the virus for 32 years, it should come as no surprise to me that I may very well be infected again and considered to be a nuisance to the public. I may have to be put down in a humane way, so as not to endanger the greater good of the population at large. I am trying to make a living, the same as those folks who have inflicted another virus upon me. I wonder if they already had their vaccinations. I’m sure they wouldn’t jump the line. There would have to be a competition and prioritizing and those who tested positive for agency would be at the back of the line. There appears to be no way of getting rid of such viruses! Brian Hirtle, Broker Century 21 Annapolis Valley Realty Kentville, N.S. REM

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A not-quite overnight success Heidi Witt has only been in the real estate business for about five years, but has created a very successful boutique brokerage. By Danny Kucharsky


aying Montreal-area real estate broker Heidi Witt thinks real estate 24 hours a day is not an understatement. For example, the woman behind Heidi Witt Realties often gets up at 3 am to send her clients emails. “They want to kill me,” she says. “They go ‘Why don’t you sleep?’ I sleep when I need to sleep; my mind is always working.” Adds her office manager Amy Benloulou: “If I don’t have my notepad ready when she comes in, I’m dead in the water. All her ideas come spilling out from overnight.” The grinding of the brain gears seems to have stood Witt in good stead. After opening her brokerage last February, she now has seven agents and an average of 25 listings. She opened a new office in October, after previously operating out of her house. Not bad for someone who has only been in real estate for about five years. After graduating with degrees in psychology and social work – both of which Witt says are extremely beneficial in real estate – she worked as a marketing coordinator for generic drug maker Pharmascience, organizing activities for 40 sales reps. After 14 years there, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom for her two (now three) children. It didn’t work. “I tried to stay home from October to December and ended up on a psychologist’s chair within one month, freaking out. I’m not a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t know what to do with myself.” Her husband suggested she go back to school and Witt thought about taking a real estate course, thinking it would help her run the revenue properties she owned with her husband. “I enrolled in the class and loved it.” So she started as a real estate agent at Royal LePage Group Newton in Montreal’s Notre Dame de Grâce neighbourhood

and won a top 10 award in her first year. Witt then moved on to more familiar turf in Hampstead, where she grew up, and Côte St. Luc, where she now lives. She did so by working for broker (and family friend) Nina Miller of Nina Miller Realties. “I wanted to get more experience from her,” says Witt. “I still think she’s brilliant.” After about two years working for Miller, Witt says she learned everything she needed to know from her. At that point, she was getting 25 to 30 listings per year. One day a client said, “I see you work for Nina, I don’t see you have any listings.” In fact, at that point, Witt had more than 10 listings. “The fact that they didn’t notice my listings bothered me.”

The business is kept hands-on by keeping the agent count small. That’s when she decided to go back to school to get her broker’s license. She operates her brokerage under the slogan, “a smaller company, a more personalized service,” and runs ads offering a “fullservice package” that includes a home stager and a decluttering/estate sale specialist. The business is kept hands-on by keeping the agent count small. “Other people think I’m growing, that in a year I’ll be 20, 30 agents. It’s not going to happen,” says Witt. “If I go to my max, it will be 10. The problem is, I love what I do. I want to be outside selling and

Heidi Witt

negotiating and buying and being hands-on. I don’t think I could handle more because I’m so handson. I don’t want to sit behind a desk – I did that for 15 years.” Witt says she’d rather have fewer agents and run a family-oriented business, in which she colists with other agents, and provides benefits such as absorbing some of their costs. Indeed, her agents include her brother, an old friend of her husband’s and “the sister I never had.” Besides, having too many agents leaves her open to making mistakes, she says. At age 42, Witt says she has 30 years of work ahead of her, so she can’t afford to mess up. “I’m scared of disciplinary committees. If I get a call from the ACAIQ (Quebec’s brokers and agents association, the Association des Courtiers et Agents Immobiliers du Québec), I will cry.” So far, the opposite has happened. Witt says she can’t walk through a local mall without being stopped and congratulated, mostly by other women, on launching her business. While Witt apparently thinks real estate 24 hours a day, she fits in other priorities, like working out every day between noon and 2 pm, skiing, travel and involvement in the city’s Jewish community. “I build my business, but I have a life and I want to enjoy my life,” she says. REM



By Stan Albert


don’t like all these rules and regulations.” I thought long and hard about who I should address this annual article to, and it came to me as I read the Letters to the editor in the last REM – the Realtor who complained about the nuisance of FINTRAC forms, to the point that he wouldn’t use them. “Whoa!” I said. I started thinking about all the forms that have been devised to help us as Realtors, not to be detrimental to us.

Reach out and touch someone #5 We, as Realtors across this beautiful country of ours, have the privilege of practising real estate sales. We must do it in the manner prescribed by CREA and our governing bodies and individual real estate boards. If we follow these regulations, generally we will not to get sued by any parties, inclusive of the governmental regulators. The writer to the editor complains about paperwork necessary to complete a transaction. Too bad, I say. Too bad that you don’t practice in California where an agreement can be over an inch thick – then you would have something to complain about. Rules and regulations are there to protect us and save us from litigation, fines and/or imprisonment. So I, on behalf of all the brokers and registrants in Canada, I thank the regulators for the guidance and understanding that you have committed yourselves to.

Many of us do this on a volunteer basis. Those who receive compensation for administrating the rules and guidelines are well deserving of that payment. To the broker and management teams across Canada, I take my hat off to all of you who dutifully administer the rules and ensure safe practices in our industry. And last, but not least, to our wonderful administration teams who assist us in enforcing the rules of conduct, you are the core of our individual successes. And yet as often as not, you take the brunt of registrants’ abuse and loathing, when you are simply following the directives set down and are asked to follow diligently. Many of us in management simply don’t understand when we are asked to “overlook” an error or a blatant irregularity. Would you ask the traffic cop to overlook your speeding at 140 mph in a 50 mph zone? Think

they’d let you off without a fine or court appearance? A final note to those who deem it unnecessary to follow the rules: just don’t do it and find yourselves in a mess of litigation and fines. You decide. Yes, you decide that those who guide us with integrity are steering our professional conduct.

Without integrity, we have nothing. Stan Albert, broker/manager, ABR, ASA at Re/Max Premier in Vaughan, Ont. is now celebrating his 40th year as an active Realtor and invites your comments and suggestions for future articles at REM

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Scotiabank Key Partners® Program – Building our business together. Partner with Scotiabank and enjoy a variety of personal, professional and business rewards. Valuable benefits of the program* include: • Client introductions – We will introduce you to active clients looking to buy or sell a home • Advertising impact – Your Scotiabank Mortgage Specialist will help you advertise your services. Ask them about newsletters, flyers, personal website designs, banners, signs and other solutions • Convenient financing – We will work with you to arrange your customer’s financing in a timely fashion and at a location convenient for them • Rewards – Your business is important to us and we reward you with valuable benefits, such as covering costs for website development, real estate courses, industry/association fees, or assist you with sending a thank you housewarming gift to a client. To find out more about the Key Partners Program or to enroll today, visit, or email us at

® Registered trademarks of The Bank of Nova Scotia. * S cotiabank will make best efforts to offer business services and tools based on availability and they are subject to change. Scotiabank does not guarantee a pre-determined number of referrals to pre-qualified applicants, power-of-sale leads or advertising space will be provided to any partner. For more information, contact a Scotiabank Mortgage Specialist.

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‘You can’t put a price on giving’ TREB Community Service Award winner Susan Gucci says her name is known for real estate sales, but the real rewards come from charitable work. By Susan Doran


mbarrassed!” is how sales rep Susan Gucci responds when asked how she felt winning one of the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB)’s prestigious Community Service Awards last June, presented to her at a special cocktail reception at the board’s head office. Craig Homewood, her broker at the Bayview Avenue branch of the Royal LePage office in Toronto where Gucci has worked since she entered the real estate business three years ago, says Gucci is “very community minded. As a mother of three, her community focus has been on families and schools. She was integral in instituting the breakfast program at East York Collegiate Institute (EYCI) – very effective in helping students to be able to learn better – as well as in implementing a program to recognize and award deserving teachers at that school. She’s also run a very popular community skate at a local arena the past few years.” A member of the TREB Education Committee as well as a leader on various parent/school councils over the years, Gucci knows her way around the system and has been instrumental in developing media campaigns to

promote programs where necessary. To discover precisely why Gucci is deserving of a community service award, let’s begin with the breakfast program at EYCI that she helped start up last year. With a son in grade 11 at the high school, she’s been co-chair of the school parent’s council for a couple of years. “At a meeting, the principal said she was feeding some kids who needed breakfast. It pulled at our heart strings,” says Gucci. “So we instituted a program, running completely on donations from local businesses and parents, along with staff and student volunteers. It’s a ‘grab-and-go’ healthy-choice snack breakfast – juice, apples, bananas, yogurt, peanut-free granola bars, cheese and crackers…” It’s been proven that good nutrition can improve achievement. But although breakfast programs are common at the elementary school level, in high schools they’re not. Students were reluctant to use the program at first but the participation rate increased rapidly. Now the school feeds 150 children per day, Gucci estimates. Says Gucci: “The kids are happy and they’re so glad to see us there.”

EYCI must have thanked its lucky stars when Gucci joined their parent school council. She’d been a whirlwind on other school councils, helping with everything from community bicycle safety awareness to developing a benchmark parent communication system. Once she came on board at EYCI, on top of the breakfast program she helped co-ordinate such projects as hosting a luncheon to recognize over 130 teachers; organizing a community forum on Internet safety; bringing peer mentors into the school; improving parent-to-parent communications by almost tripling the distribution list of parent email addresses (“I don’t mind approaching people. It’s fun,” she says); supporting the school robotics team through a NASA-sponsored national competition; and spearheading a drive to gain greater teacher recognition for the school at the provincial level. The latter culminated in the school garnering seven nominations for Ontario’s 2009 Premier’s Awards for Teaching Excellence. Gucci says she was the driving force promoting the school to the local media and rallying parents to submit letters of support for various

excellent EYCI teachers, teams and staff. “It increased the profile of the school. And it’s so nice to see teachers feeling good about being acknowledged,” says Gucci. She occasionally does some volunteer teaching herself (on the topic of economics and the importance of staying in school), for an extracurricular non-profit group called Junior Achievement. “I try to focus on under-privileged areas where the kids may not be getting this message at home,” she says. Before getting into real estate Gucci was in pharmaceutical and

Susan Gucci’s broker, Craig Homewood (left) and TREB president Tom Lebour were on hand when Gucci was presented with a TREB Community Service Award.

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Xerox sales, both of which she says provided her with a marketing background and great sales training. Once in real estate, Gucci “figured if I took good care of my clients the numbers would follow.” They have, and she has achievement awards to prove it. “The more knowledge I have the more I can help clients. I want to completely immerse myself, but to take time to recharge too,” she says. “It’s a great feeling, very rewarding, to use the skills I’ve developed. I had clients win a house that had about 30 offers on it. It was like winning a lottery. They were jumping up and down and hugging and kissing me.” “My name is known in the community,” she says. “But that’s not why I do community service. The sweet secret of giving is that you really get so much more in return. It’s very soul-satisfying, something you can’t put a price on.” REM

1 Please refer to the policy for full details, including actual terms and conditions. The TitlePLUS policy is underwritten by Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company (LAWPRO®)/ Assurance LAWPRO®. Assurance LAWPRO is the registered name used in Québec by Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company. Contact LAWPRO for brokers in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and Québec. TitlePLUS policies issued with respect to properties in Québec and OwnerEXPRESS® policies do not include legal services coverage. ® Registered trademark of Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company.

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Collingwood’s shipyards come back to life

After more than 130 years of building ships for the Great Lakes, the Collingwood Shipyards fell silent in 1986. Now they are coming back to life in a spectacular residential development. By Jim Adair

The Side Launch section, where newly built ships were launched for more than 100 years, will form part of a public promenade in front of a three-storey condo building.


n the mid-1800s, the fastest way for someone to get to Western Canada from Ontario was via the town of Collingwood. More than 4,000 passengers went to the town by rail in 1858 alone, and then sailed on steamers through the Great Lakes. Situated on Georgian Bay, part of Lake Huron, Collingwood became an important shipbuilding centre, first for wooden skiffs and schooners and later for steel cargo and passenger steamers. At one point, in a town of less than 5,000, there were 1,000 people employed at the shipyards. The shipyards operated for more than 130 years, and as author Christine E. Cowley writes in her book Butchers, Bakers & Building the Lakers, “Memories still abound of the days when the name Collingwood was synonymous with the Great Lakes and the lakers that ruled their waters.” One of those memories is that of Ted Prokopec, quoted in Cowley’s book: “I remember the day the shipyard closed because we were out on a friend’s boat…I knew it was going to be the last day of the shipyards, but the whistle came unexpectedly. We were just pulling out of the inner

harbour and the whistle blew. It was very sad. Everything seemed to go quiet. Those of us who were from Collingwood heard it and we knew it was the last whistle. It was like a funeral march was going by and out of respect we bowed our heads and we didn’t say anything to each other, we all just understood. It was sad; you could just feel the sadness in the air.” That was Sept. 12, 1986. For more than 20 years, the abandoned shipyards sat on the Collingwood waterfront with an uncertain future as owners Canada Steamship Lines considered what to do with the site. Meanwhile, Collingwood and vicinity adapted to the loss of the shipyards and became better known as a four-seasons vacation destination. Skiing at Blue Mountain started attracting the attention of developers, highlighted by Intrawest’s creation of The Village at Blue development. Summer activities including golf, hiking, and water sports continue to attract vacationers from all over the province. Finally, in 2004, the former shipyards site was purchased by FRAM Building Group and Slokker Real Estate with plans to redevelop the site. It has taken

The Shipyards are a European-inspired development with 600 homes in a pedestrian village. In this artist’s rendering, the Collingwood Terminals are seen in the background.

years of environmental assessments and remediation, approvals from all levels of government and building up goodwill within the town, but finally The Shipyards are being reborn. The master-planned community will include about 600 homes, with condominium townhouses, bungalows, live/work residences and mid-rise condo buildings. The development will also offer retail shops and a restaurant, as well as a fitness centre with an indoor pool. Prices range roughly from $300,000 to $900,000 for the townhomes, and start at $229,900 for the condo apartments. When completed, the site will include a waterfront promenade to make the shoreline accessible to everyone. A seawall was built on the western portion of the site to protect the shoreline and beach from erosion, and this forms the edge of a waterfront park. Crushed stone, wood and steel were recycled and used on site to create a seven-acre greenspace that will serve as a public park, with recreational activities and a community amphitheatre. The park also connects to hiking trails and ultimately to the Georgian Trail.

A wetlands nature preserve and fish spawning habitat has been created in the harbour in front of the park. The Shipyards was recently named Best Large-Scale Project by the Canadian Urban Institute at the 9th annual Brownie Awards in Vancouver. The award recognizes leadership, innovation and environmental sustainability in brownfield development. Bruce Kerr, president of Slokker Canada, says The Shipyards is “almost a mirror image” of another successful FRAM/Slokker collaboration, the redevelopment of the former St. Lawrence Starch plant in Port Credit (Mississauga), Ont. That development has a lot in common with the Collingwood site – it reopened public access to the waterfront by redeveloping an old industrial site, and connected the new community to the existing commercial section of Port Credit.

lots of time to involve residents in the process, and he says most in the town are happy that something positive has finally happened to the old shipyards. The developers believe that aging baby boomers, who are looking for a retirement or a vacation home, are their prime market. Many of the units are designed so that owners’ children and grandchildren can come and visit and enjoy their own spaces. Some units come with lofts that are complexly self-contained, including room for a separate bar fridge and microwave. The largest of the townhouses have four bedrooms plus a “retreat”. Two- and three-bedroom units are also available. The developers have built ample parking facilities into the site, with covered parking and up to four spaces available for some units.

Kerr notes that the developments form bookends at the end of provincial Highway 10 – one at the south end and one at the north terminus of the highway.

Sotheby’s International Realty is marketing the project, and offers 2.5 per cent commissions for co-operating sales reps. To book an appointment at The Shipyards sales centre, call 1-877-446-2626.

Kerr says that the long process of planning and getting approvals for the site gave the developers

Transportation to The Shipyards was provided to REM by the developers. REM


Vivian Risi Royal LePage Your Community Realty, Brokerage - expands! Maple, Ontario

Andy Puthon, Executive Vice President, Network Development, is pleased to announce that Vivian Risi, Broker/Owner of Royal LePage Your Community Realty has opened the company’s newest location in Maple, Ontario.


Magazine, “I can think of no other location in Ontario with its diversity and growth that offers city amenities while maintaining a small community feel”, Vivian comments.

The newest Royal LePage Your Community Realty office can be Royal LePage Your Community Realty reached at: has offices to serve from Lake Ontario 9411 Jane Street, to Lake Simcoe. The Vaughan office is Maple, Ontario L6A4J3 located at 9411 Jane Street (across Office Telephone: 905.832.6656 from Canada’s Wonderland). To date, Office Fax: 905.832-6918 Royal LePage Your Community Realty Email: has 650 Realtors and has held the #1 For information on the Royal LePage market share in York Region for the past 10 consecutive years. As quoted franchise program, please call Andy Puthon directly at (416) 510-5827. in the October issue of City Life Email: †

†Royal LePage is a trademark used under license.

new certification launched by the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB) will provide real estate agents with new knowledge about the environment and enable them to better inform their clients about environmental issues associated with real estate. To be recognized as a “green” agent, individuals must undergo 18 hours of specialized training over a three-day period. During their training, agents will develop a variety of skills, such as recognizing the main environmental risks and their impact on a real estate transaction, understanding the major environmental standards and certifications, as well as developing the transactional and writing skills related to environmental issues in commercial, residential and industrial real estate. Green agents will also be introduced to environmental law as it

relates to real estate, and will be able to identify the types of ecosystems and natural zones in their geographic area. ■ ■ ■

A survey commissioned by the QFREB shows that while more than 92 per cent of Quebecers consider property price an important factor when purchasing a home, they consider the environment to be equally important. Neighbourhood safety was cited as an important factor by 89 per cent of respondents, followed by a well-maintained neighbourhood (84 per cent), proximity to services (72 per cent) and access to parks and green spaces (70 per cent). Under the theme “Improving Life in Quebec”, the Quality of Life Summit took place recently in Montreal. Prominent speakers included Paul Cote, president and

CEO of VIA Rail Canada, federal MP Justin Trudeau and biologist and filmmaker Jean Lemire. The Quality of Life Program is based on five main principles, adapted for Quebec, says the federation. They are ensuring continuous economic development; providing opportunities for suitable housing; preserving our environment; improving the living conditions of residents; and building better communities. ■ ■ ■

Ursula Morel, a Realtor with Sea to Sky Premier Properties affiliated with Christie’s Great Estates in Whistler, B.C., became the 2010 president of the Canadian Chapter of the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) at its Annual General Meeting in Victoria recently. She holds TransNational Referral Certification and is a Certified International Properties Specialist. Morel specializes in luxury resort and second home property marketing and is a member of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing. Morel, who is fluent in French and German, has been a chapter director since 2006 and at the international level has attended numerous Fay Herman (right) receives her Honorary Life Membership from Karen Cox, chair of the REGBOS Awards Committee.

Tom McDonagh Royal LePage Merritt Real Estate Services Merritt, British Columbia

Royal LePage Merritt R.E. Services has a team of 7 sales representatives, and 2 property managers. In addition to Merritt, the team also services the areas of Aspen Grove, Lower Nicola, Upper Nicola, Sunshine Valley, Mid Day Valley and the Nicola Valley in South Western British Columbia . These professionals dominate their marketplace with a 55% Tom McDonagh started selling real estate in share. Merritt in 1975. Four years later, he opened his own brokerage and within a year bought Tom and his team can be reached at: 1988 Quilchena Avenue, Merritt, BC into the Realty World system. In 1996 he Phone: 250-378-6181 • Fax: 250-378-6184 opened his current brokerage. Active in organized real estate, Tom is Past For information on the Royal LePage President of The Kamloops and District franchise program, please call Andy Puthon Real Estate Association having served in 1993-94, and for a number of years was an directly at (416) 510-5827. active member of the Business Practices Email: and Ethics Committee. Andy Puthon, Executive Vice President, Network Development, is pleased to announce that Tom McDonagh, Broker/ Owner of the brokerage formerly operating as Homelife Merritt has chosen to join the Royal LePage franchise network. Tom’s company will operate under the new name Royal LePage Merritt Real Estate Services.

Ursula Morel with FIABCI-IREF Canada secretary-general Jerry England. VIREB EO Bill Benoit (left) and Ralph Walker.

Ted Scharf †Royal LePage is a trademark used under license. *HomeLife® is a registered trademark licensed to HomeLife Realty Services Inc.


conferences world-wide. Morel says she is looking forward to sharing the FIABCI mission statement of providing real estate professionals throughout the world with an effective means of communication, to enable them to share their knowledge with each other and the international community in order to provide society with the optimal solution to its property needs. Secretary-general Jerry England says he is “encouraged by Ursula’s determination and enthusiasm and I know that she will be a driving force in the new initiatives to effectively bring social networking and referral making to the forefront of membership benefits.” FIABCI is a business organization of real estate professionals in 65 countries and holds special “consultative” status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations Organization. ■ ■ ■

Aging buildings, condominium board ethics and keeping cash flowing during financially difficult times were among the topics covered at the 13th annual Condominium Conference, “From The Foundation Up”, held recently in Markham, Ont. More than 750 delegates attended the conference. Seminar topics, delivered by 67 experts, ranged from condominium board conduct to insurance to the Tarion Warranty Corp. More than 100 exhibitors showcased condominium-tailored products and services that ran the gamut from green and energy efficient products to security solutions. Speakers included MPP Jim Brownell, the key government affairs contact for the Joint ACMO/CCI Government Relations committee regarding condominium issues, including the Harmonized Sales Tax and review of the Condominium Act. Brownell said that the proposed HST, though widely opposed by the condominium industry, will provide some positive benefits once implemented. Condominium board conduct and ethics, a popular topic, was discussed by a panel that included Superior Court Justice John

Macdonald, who advised on best procedures and practices for the boardroom and how to know if your board is acting properly and abiding by the Code of Ethics. A seasoned group of experts discussed the concept of branding a condominium building to maintain its individual character and offered ideas to maintain or improve the corporation’s brand. A panel of speakers including condominium board member and former Toronto City Councilor Gordon Chong offered tips on keeping the cash flowing during recessionary times. Topics included collecting common expense contributions, dealing with unit owners who are in financial difficulty, special assessments during difficult times and negotiating service contracts. With the aging of buildings and deterioration of major components, a reality all condominium boards will eventually face, another session offered advice on how to prioritize repairs, leverage energy efficiency opportunities and establish effective contract management. Next year’s conference will be held Nov. 5 and 6, 2010. ■ ■ ■

Fay Herman of Re/Max Grey Bruce Realty in Owen Sound was awarded an Honorary Life Membership with the Realtors Association of Grey Bruce Owen Sound (RAGBOS) during its Annual General Meeting recently. In a statement, the association says, “Fay has demonstrated professionalism, leadership, participation in various board committees and good community citizenship throughout her 34 years as a Realtor member of RAGBOS.” ■ ■ ■

At a reception held recently in Campbell River, B.C., members of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) acknowledged Ralph Walker as their sixth honourary member. This prestigious award is given to a member who by their exceptional contributions to the industry have significantly aided in its growth and development. Walker was licensed for more than 40 years and a man-

aging broker for over 35 years, all in Campbell River. In 1967, Walker and four other Realtors created the Salesmen’s Division of the VIREB, which gave them a seat on the Board of Directors, a position Walker held in 1970 and 1971. He served on the Real Estate Council of B.C. for eight years and also held the offices of chair and vice-chair. He was instrumental in the formation of VIREB’s Commercial Council in 2005 and served as one of its directors from 2005 – 2007. Walker has been active in the local chapter of the Ducks Unlimited in Campbell River and also sat on the Advisory Board for the City of Campbell River. He has also organized education bursaries for local students that are funded by Realtors in his area. ■ ■ ■

A new board of directors has been appointed to govern the Kitchener-Waterloo Real Estate (KWREB) board for 2010 with Ted Scharf, broker of record, Royal LePage Scharf Realty, as president. Active in the real estate profession for 29 years, Scharf founded Scharf Realty in 1989 and joined Royal LePage in 1999. He has served as a KWREB director since 2005. A volunteer within the community, he is perhaps best recognized for his affiliation with the Kitchener Rangers, where he currently holds the office of immediate past president. Joining Scharf as officers of the association are vice-president George Patton of Royal LePage Wolle Realty, second vice-president Sara Hill of Re/Max Twin City Realty, pastpresident Karen Shartun of Royal LePage Scharf Realty; and EO Bill Duce. New directors are Lynn Bebenek of Team Realty K.W. Inc., Brian Spall of Re/Max Twin City Realty and Neil Strickler of Royal LePage Wolle Realty. Returning as directors are Horace Coelho of Coldwell Banker Peter Benninger Realty, Mario Musso of Trius Realty and Dietmar Sommerfeld of CB Richard Ellis. REM

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What you missed at the NAR conference F

By Marty Douglas

lying to Greece is better than running to fat. But in this case I’m flying to San Diego for the 2009 NAR Conference. As usual the morning flight out of Vancouver is overloaded with real estate industry personalities from executive officers to board pres-



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idents to educators. No hijacker would want to tangle with this group or demand a ransom. And all very polite people too – almost everyone tells me they read my REM column before any others. And then usually pass me a large grain of salt as an hors d’oeuvre. When I travel alone, I have mishaps. Cancelled flights, emergency landings, lost bags, overbooked hotels, strangers with keys to my room – usually male strangers. This trip started with a suitcase about to disappear into the jaws of the luggage machinery when I realized it had been incorrectly tagged. “Stop that bag!” I yell, only to have three husbands turn around, two of them optimistically. Once aboard, in the aisle about two hours into the flight, I got too close to a flight attendant as she backed up without looking. Into me. Spilling both drinks she was carrying onto the passenger in 26B. And they weren’t her drinks. What could I say? Did I mention it’s Air Canada? When I was back in my seat, the same flight attendant missed my glass completely, not by much mind you, and got me right in the – let’s just say I was happy to be wearing dark pants. Unhappy co-incidence? I don’t think so! San Diego Airport is right downtown – you can tell because you look up at the highrises as you’re on final approach. I directed my cab to the Embassy Suites Hotel and he says, “Which one?” The correct one reached, I admired the hollow square central atrium, 12 storeys high – which means it’s 13 counting the mezzanine. The floors are serviced by glass elevators clinging to one interior wall of the atrium. I have seen this movie – someone is going to die, probably when the earthquake hits. But, free breakfasts, free happy hour – a Realtors’ paradise. On Friday the 13th my luck

continues. At 6’1”, 260 pounds, I’m the smallest guy sitting in a row of real estate politicos at a session called The Future of MLS. Before the meeting started, while occupying two seats each, we discuss the usual complaint when Canadians go abroad to a real estate conference – how good is your expense account, and why is Moss Moloney barefoot – again. Has he no socks? Is he poor? Diseased? Joining a cult? The session drove us to drink. Of all the bars in all the towns, she had to walk into mine. Most of you are too young to correct that quote from Casablanca, so I’ll just bluff my way through. There we were guys and girls walking in the old section of San Diego looking for a bar. The women shunned Hooters, and being sensitive we didn’t insist. Their choice? Dirty Dicks. I suppose they assumed it was the proprietor’s name. Oh well. David Knox is worth the price of admission. Seven Changes Managers Must Make is a packed session with folks lining the walls for 90 minutes of hard truths presented in a rapid fire, humorous style. No one argues when he says half of the sales rep population is surplus. His number one instruction is to go home and fire the underproductive. Should we hire or fire first? Knox replies, “What would you rather have – an empty kennel or a dead dog?” He even has a power point slide reflecting the choices. He gets us laughing with his references to our ‘pet rocks’, the ones we should decruit. He urges us to count the ‘piss-off’ factor, not the profit factor. Who do you hate to see at the office? After emphasizing training, he talks about overpriced listings, banging his head on the flip chart as he advises sellers they can either ‘sell’ or ‘stay’ – it’s entirely up to them. Number

five on Knox’s list resonated with me because I’ve been taught, taught and keep harping on it – “answer the #%&@* phone!” He played a video of a buyer trying to penetrate the automated answering voice mail of a sales rep. It was painful. Think the U.S. real estate economy is on the upswing? Sorry to tell you, that’s not likely the case. At the state of the real estate industry session, leading brokers reflected on the shadow inventory of millions of houses that are one month or more in arrears with their mortgages and not yet into the foreclosure inventory – yikes. Portable mortgages, by the way, are a rarity in the U.S. and are only now being considered as an option. Then there’s the commercial real estate financing challenge. Trillions – yes trillions of dollars of debt are coming due. Lenders have less money and need more equity while commercial properties have declined in value since the original debt was placed – double yikes! Canada is rarely noticed on the world stage and for that we can be very thankful. We don’t want the kind of excitement or notoriety or targeting attracted by our southern neighbour. While you are making your resolutions, you might just want to count your blessings. Oh, by the way, Happy New Year! Marty Douglas is a managing broker for Coast Realty Group (Comox Valley) Ltd., managing two of 15 Coast Realty Group offices on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast of B.C. He is a past chair of the Real Estate Errors and Omissions Corporation of B.C., the Real Estate Council of B.C., and the B.C. Real Estate Association, and is a current director of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. Email; 1-800-715-3999; Fax (250) 8973933. REM



By Dan St. Yves


uring some of those cold, wintry weekend days and nights ahead when one doesn’t quite feel like jogging through eight-foot snowdrifts, one just might find themselves dusting off a classic board game, like Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit. Not restricted exclusively to family gatherings, board games used to be a popular group pastime among humans, back before the days of televised dancing with stars. Back before Nintendo, Sony and Wii invented hardware capable of gluing you into the family room sofa. Back before movies on demand and bulk bags of Cheezies. That said, in some ways board games were kind of like the forerunner of reality TV. Most often a large family would break into groups (tribes), and after much competition (peppered with cheating, taunting, begging and balderdash), one side would emerge victorious hours later, much like your average 12-week reality series run on syndicated television. The “food challenge” wouldn’t be an intentional part of the actual competition, it would simply be a bit of a bonus to see who would survive chewing on thawed shrimp and Jalapeno cheese puffs that had been lying on an open tray for eight hours, in a room warmed by body heat, after-dinner natural gas, and airborne sneeze particles. Board games of old could be as simple as rolling a pair of dice and moving tokens around a game board, or they could be as elaborate as a murder mystery, requiring participants to role-play, and determine who did what when, where, and why. Sometimes how. A detective-style game like Clue somewhat mirrors popular forensic science shows such as CSI and the like. Well, maybe not so much

Games people play forensic science, but upon solving imaginary crimes perpetrated by fellow players through a process of elimination, standard game pieces were rather easy to identify. Candlesticks and lead pipes were most often to blame for an imaginary character’s demise. That dastardly Colonel Mustard was never much one for originality. Just once I would’ve liked to have seen Mrs. Pistachio whack him in say.…the gazebo, with a pitching wedge. If for no other reason than a bit of variety. The more modern board games come souped-up with all kinds of bells and whistles. It could be some form of computerized game board, voice-chip technology or trivia questions. The newest version of Trivial Pursuit is on DVD, so that those obscure questions like “Which company printed posters for the 1977 civic election candidate slate in Yak Junction” become even easier to guess, while staring at a digitally scrambled picture on the TV screen. Hey, even playing board games, we’re back in front of that darn TV again. No afternoon or evening spent playing games would be complete without hearing one (or all) of the following phrases: “Sure they’re winning. They get all the EASY questions…” “Are we done yet? I think I see the sun rising…” “I’ve won! I’ve won! Thanks for the game, LOSERS!” “You landed on my property, with six hotels. My lawyers will be in touch…” “Who wanted to play this stupid game in the first place???” Hang in there folks – spring will come eventually. Humour columnist and author Dan St. Yves was licensed with Royal LePage Kelowna for 11 years. Check out his website at, or contact him at REM


Good Works R

ecently Re/Max Ultimate in Toronto donated $9,241 to the Sick Kids Foundation. Money was raised at the brokerage’s annual golf tournament, which 85 people attended. The company is also a Miracle Office, “which means that every sales rep makes a donation to the Children’s Miracle Network from every transaction,” says broker of record Tim Syrianos. “The company also supports Walk for the Cure and the Children’s Breakfast Program. Our team believes in that it’s essential to give back to the communities that we work in.” ■ ■ ■

For 16 years, Rick David, a sales rep with Sutton Group About Town Realty in Burlington, Ont. has committed many volunteer hours to the Schizophrenia Society. In 1993, David’s son was diagnosed with schizophrenia. “When my son was diagnosed with the condition, all of a sudden, our family had to be aware of this brain disease that can be debilitating if an attack is severe,” he says. The Schizophrenia Society’s objective is to improve the lives of people affected by the disease. One of its main initiatives is the Justice and Mental Health Program. The program’s objective is to help those with the disease who have come into con-

tact with the law, by diverting them from the court system and ensuring they receive the appropriate mental health treatment. In addition, they provide support to their families to cope at every stage of the justice process. David first became a member at the local chapter for the society in Burlington. He organized and ran a support group for family members of those who have schizophrenia. Later he became president of the local chapter. In 2003 he became a member on

the provincial board, the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, and since 2007 he has served as chairman and president. ■ ■ ■

Royal LePage brokers/owners and managers raised $41,000 in a live auction for the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation at this year’s National Brokers’ Conference in the Bahamas in November. Items for the auction were donated by Royal LePage brokers. Kent

Re/Max Ultimate staff celebrates its donation to the Sick Kids Foundation.

Browne, broker/owner of Royal LePage Team Realty and Royal LePage Gale Realty, acted as auctioneer. The money raised will go to women and children fleeing domestic violence across Canada. ■ ■ ■

Jason Steele, chair of the Community Services Committee for the Realtors Association of Grey Bruce Owen Sound, recently presented Mandy McNab, executive assistant for Women’s House Serving

Rick David

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From left, the PRHC Foundation’s Lesley Heighway, broker Andrew Galvin, and licensed assistants Calum Yule and Betty Cook.

Mandy McNab and Jason Steele.


Bruce and Grey, with $2,000, representing a grant from the Realtors Care Foundation. Ontario Realtors have donated to the foundation since its establishment in 1967. The capital base grows through donations and interest earned, and each year a portion of the income is disbursed in the form of shelter-based grants. Since the capital base is preserved, donations are made in perpetuity. The Realtors Care Foundation made grants of $280,000 in 2008 and $292,500 in 2009. ■ ■ ■

The Galvin Team at Re/Max

Eastern Realty in Peterborough donated a portion of its fees for every buyer and seller this year to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre Foundation. “Our goal back in January was to raise $5,000 this year,” says broker Andrew Galvin. “I am thrilled that we have just surpassed that goal with two months to go in the year. Government funding covered 70 per cent of the construction of the new hospital and is responsible for the majority of its daily operations but a continuing partnership between the government and private donations is essential for PRHC to offer more care and services, faster and closer to home. The

best hospitals are the ones that have generous communities.” ■ ■ ■

One day in the office, Jennifer Kelly, a sales rep with Sutton Group - Premier Realty in Ottawa, overheard office administrator Sandra Lozanski speaking about the Charlebois family. They were encountering some challenging times; the father suffers from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and they were moving to Ottawa to a home that required many modifications to accommodate his physical handicaps. Kelly wanted to help. A fundraising event for the family and ALS Society was already in

the planning stages. Kelly, with the support of Alana and Donald Abraham, owners of the brokerage, put together a full realty package for a silent auction. It included home staging, handyman services and professional photography. They also donated a dinner and cruise package for the live and silent auctions at the event. The fundraiser was a success, with 300 guests attending. With the money raised they have started renovations on the Charlebois’ home, installing a lift, building a ramp at the front entry and also adding a ramp inside the home. “The story touched me; it is a


■ ■ ■

Neil Devlin, president of the Realtors Association of Grey Bruce Owen Sound (RAGBOS), along with Jason Steele, RAGBOS Community Services chair, recently presented Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce executive director Dennis Scott with a $1,000 grant from the Realtors Care Foundation. That brings the total 2009 donations made to Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce through Realtor involvement to $11,000 and total donations to date to the Wiarton “Four Homes for Four Families” REM project to $21,561.

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good feeling as a Realtor to help families return home,” says Kelly.



Aventure Realty Network ™

Announcement The Aventure Realty Network is pleased to announce the addition of two outstanding independent brokerages to its’ network. These companies are rooted in their communities, committed to great service, and building strong, independent organizations.

By Heino Molls


Martin & Meredith Limited Toronto Broker/Owner: Heather Fuller, Broker of Record

Abbey & Olivier Montreal Broker/Owners: G. Shepherd Abbey and George A. Olivier

The Aventure Realty Network is the non franchise alternative for Canadian brokers. If independence is in your plan, please contact Bernie Vogt, president, 647 638 8930 or

e all make sales goals for ourselves. For 2010 my goal is to sell a car manufacturer or retailer to advertise in REM. We have had car advertisers before. A long time ago a car leasing company did a campaign with us but in recent years we have not had much advertising related to the auto industry. I have tried to understand why. I once spoke to someone who worked for a car maker, who told me he knew the way these guys were thinking. He told me their advertising budgets are so big they look to sweep everyone, not just real estate professionals, with big TV buys and major print books like Time magazine. They don’t want to target a specific audience. Okay, I guess. On the other hand, I don’t understand why they would not advertise cars in REM. When you think about all the tools that are critical today for real estate professionals, one thing that has not changed over the years is that they must have a good reliable car. There are, of course, exceptions. I met a sales rep from London Ont. about 20 years ago, who took clients to see properties on a bus. That would be pretty innovative today. I also know that selling properties in high density urban areas often necessitates subway rides. Aside from those exceptions, almost every sales rep drives a car. So there is our goal. I hope that between Dennis Rock, John Cooper and I we can catch the eye of the car industry this year. You will be able to measure our success every month by looking

Chasing cars through REM’s pages. By reading this column in the back of REM, you already know we didn’t manage it this month. We have 11 more chances so wish us luck. And by the way, if you know anyone in the car business, please let me know their name. I sure would like to talk to them. There’s no prize but you will receive some serious gratitude. Cars today have gone through some fantastic innovations and impressive technological developments compared to the cars I first drove so many years ago. You could compare those old cars to the old infor-

It astounds me that we do not implement that technology now. We could begin by easily making it mandatory for young drivers to only drive cars with limiters set for safe speeds like 50 km per hour. We could also set out bylaws that restrict taxis from speeding. That might make our roads safer. It really is stunning that we do not put this technology to use. I often am chided for not using all the abilities and technologies available to me on my computer or even my cell phone. There is so much more I could be doing with the technology right

When you think about all the tools that are critical today for real estate professionals, one thing that has not changed over the years is that they must have a good reliable car. mation systems and communication technology that all of us old dogs used to work with so many years ago. My first car was a 1959 Chevy Biscayne. Back in the day when I first worked for a real estate newspaper, I was driving a 1965 Acadian Beaumont. Things sure were different then. There is one piece of technology that every car is built with today, but is not used even though it could be so practical. It’s called a speed limiter. I’ll bet you’ve never heard of it. It is a device that can be set to limit the speed of a car. They are used in trucks today to prevent them from speeding on the highway. They are also set in performance cars to prevent them from blowing up. Believe it or not, limiters are set in cars such as Mercedes and BMWs at about 190 m.p.h. to prevent drivers from going faster and blowing up the engine and themselves.

in front of me. I understand the frustration others have with me as I explain that it is difficult for me to learn all this stuff. A car limiter, on the other hand, is a whole different thing. You take it to the shop get it set and it is done. Nothing more to do. The car is unable to go at an excessive speed. The only thing holding us back on this is politics. For the life of me I cannot understand how anyone can be against implementing this technology. What is the hold up? Then again, I can’t understand why car manufacturers and dealers aren’t falling over themselves to reach the real estate community by advertising in REM. We’ll see if we can change their minds. I wish you every success in 2010! Heino Molls is the publisher of REM. Email REM

Helping homeowners through difficult times

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Š 2009 Genworth Financial

January 18th & 19th, 2010 Metro Toronto Convention Centre South Building Don’t miss the industry’s greatest event! Feature Speakers*

Complimentary Admission Convenient Location

Joe Stumpf “Dramatically Increase Your Productivity ”

close to parking, TTC and GO Transit


with over 4,000 of your industry peers; join us at the reception the evening before to mix and mingle


Tom Ferry “Become the Person Who Can Have it All!”

yourself in dynamic sessions presented by Joe Stumpf & Tom Ferry


Meg Soper “Get Connected and Stay Plugged In”

about the current LeadStreet & Design Centre technology

WIN prizes

EARN CE credits * Subject to change.

Each office is independently owned and operated.

For more information or to Register Visit

January 2010  

REM issue for January 2010.

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