Page 1

Real Estate Marketing

Issue #249

News

Mortgages

Te c h n o l o g y

Opinion

March 2010

Dogs and deals What dogsledding can teach us about the real estate business Page 14

Competition Bureau moves to strike down CREA rules Page 3

Tales from the Torchbearers Page 12

Neighbours and secondary suites Page 42


REM MARCH 2010 3

MLS rules go before Competition Tribunal CREA’s proposed changes not enough as Competition Bureau files to challenge MLS rules.

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he Competition Bureau’s decision to take CREA before the Competition Tribunal to determine the future of MLS access may not have been welcomed by CREA’s leadership team, but a vocal segment of the association’s membership fully supports the idea of having CREA getting its day in court before the quasi-judicial body. A number of comments posted on REM’s online Forum leading up to the Competition Bureau’s announcement on February 8 that it was ceasing negotiations and seeking a formal tribunal hearing are highly critical of any negotiations regarding access to CREA’s trademarked MLS system. “I cannot believe anybody or any organization would agree to entertain negotiations over the MLS system, which as so many of the Realtors have expressed, we support (and) pay for...This is our MLS system and it is not for sale!” one Realtor posted. Another wrote, “My main concern with negotiating with the bureau is that it appears that we are admitting to doing something wrong…If we in the industry (have) done harm to the public or individuals, then we should be accountable to them in a court of law…Take me to court any day.”

CREA had been in negotiations with the Competition Bureau since last October, when the bureau announced, based on the findings of its three-year investigation into CREA’s access rules regarding its trademarked MLS system, that it wanted key sections of those access rules removed. The crux of the bureau’s contentions against CREA are essentially the same as it expressed last October – that through CREA’s control of the MLS system and the limits it places on MLS information that is shared with consumers via CREA’s public Realtor.ca website, CREA is restricting competition in the residential real estate market and limiting consumer choice. In the Notice of Application filed with the Competition Tribunal, Melanie Aitken – the Commissioner of Competition – alleges that the restrictions CREA places on MLS access “impose minimum service requirements” on brokers and salespeople “which lessen or prevent competition substantially.” As a consequence, Aitken claims that consumer choice is being restricted as well, “...leaving consumers with only one option if they want to sell their home

using the MLS system – they must hire a real estate broker (salesperson) who will and must, because of the MLS restrictions, provide a bundle of services that includes services the consumer may not want to receive or pay for.” In its tribunal filing, the bureau singles out four key conditions contained in CREA’s existing MLS rules: CREA’s “Agency” rule and MLS Interpretations 1, 3 and 6. CREA, in its defence, says it had already notified the bureau that it was in the process of redrafting its MLS rules for presentation to its March AGM, to try to address the bureau’s concerns. Those drafted changes include a significant revision to the “Agency” provision, as well as complete deletions of two of the three Interpretations that the bureau has cited in its filing with the tribunal. In a dispatch to CREA members issued the same day as the bureau filed notice with the tribunal, CREA president Dale Ripplinger laid out a draft of the proposed revisions to the Interpretations, which will be introduced at CREA’s March AGM. Key among CREA’s MLS access revisions: the removal of Interpretation 1 – “The listing

Realtor shall receive and present all offers and counter offers to the seller” – and Interpretation 3 – “The ‘mere posting’ of property information in an MLS system is contrary to CREA’s Rules. A ‘mere posting’ occurs when the listing agreement relieves the listing member of any obligations under the Rules, including the obligation that the listing Realtor remain the agent of the seller throughout the term of the listing contract.” If CREA’s draft proposals are approved at the March AGM, only one of the three Interpretations specifically targeted by the bureau will remain in effect. That one – Interpretation 6 – is where CREA appears to be digging in, although its draft revisions do include rewording for clarification. In essence, Interpretation 6 states that only the listing Realtor’s name and contact information may appear on CREA’s public website, Realtor.ca; contact information about the seller cannot be included. Interpretation 6 is the same provision that CREA said last October it was still unclear about in terms of potential impacts from the changes being proposed by the Competition Bureau. “Removing Interpretation 6

By Kathy Bevan

would mean that buyers’ agents would be able to get sellers’ contact information directly from an MLS listing(s) instead of having to contact the listing agent,” Ripplinger wrote to members at that time, adding, “We are still exploring the full effect of deleting this Interpretation.” Up until the bureau ceased negotiations, Ripplinger was hopeful that CREA and the bureau would be able to reach an agreement. Just the week before the bureau announced it was taking its case to the tribunal, Ripplinger told REM that “both sides have worked incredibly hard to reach a solution” and “fortunately, we are not all that far from an agreement”, although he did mention that “there are still a couple of issues of significance.” He also added a cautionary note: “To use an analogy that Realtors will understand, we’ve all seen a house sale fall apart over appliances.” Much like a failed real estate transaction, there is no guarantee that the ultimate resolution of this dispute will completely satisfy either side. No date has yet been set for the Competition Tribunal hearing, when both CREA and the bureau will get to formally present their arguments. REM

$100,000 reward offered in Lindsay Buziak murder By Jean Sorensen he Greater Victoria Real Estate Board and CREA have joined with the Buziak family to post a $100,000 reward for information that would solve the brutal murder of 24-yearold Lindsay Buziak, a Re/Max Camosun sales rep. The reward, open for six months, is keeping public focus on the two-year-old murder. Saanich police held a news conference on the 2010 anniversary to release new details in the investigation. Police are looking for information relating to a middle-aged couple seen at the home as well as information on the name Paulo Rodriguez, the user name of the cell phone that called Buziak to her death. “Lindsay was intentionally targeted, she was intentionally lured to the home and she was intentionally killed,” say police in a news release. The Buziak murder may be fea-

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tured in the U.S. – as a producer from NBC’s Dateline attended the news conference and has been in a dialogue with the Vancouver Island police department. Police say they have been following leads in Vancouver, Calgary and Washington State. Saanich Police say that Buziak was lured to a high-end property in the 1700 block of De Sousa Place in Saanich on Feb. 2, 2008 by a woman with a foreign accent who wanted to view the home at 5:30 p.m. She said she planned to make a home purchase that day. Buziak was not the listing agent for the house but agreed to a showing. Shortly after, a man called to say he would meet Buziak alone. Buziak was nervous about the viewing and asked boyfriend Jason Zailo to check on her later. Zailo called Buziak before arriving at the home at 6:15 pm but she didn’t

answer and he called police. At the home, he found the door locked but saw Buziak’s shoes inside. Zailo and a friend were able to enter via a back door and Zailo found Buziak’s bloodied body in the upstairs bedroom. She had died of multiple stab wounds. Sgt. Julie Fast, public relations officer for the Saanich Police, says Buziak’s homicide is not being looked at as a random targeting of a real estate agent. (In the past, there have been opportunity crimes that impacted on agents, such as robbery and assault). “We are looking for information, things that might have happened before and after,” she says, adding police believe there are individuals who have intimate knowledge of this murder. The information may also relate to Buziak’s personal, social or professional life. Buziak did not have a high-risk lifestyle, however, police say.

“We don’t know why she was murdered,” Fast says, adding that whoever plotted the murder used the fact she was an agent to lure her to the house. “That’s how it was set up.” Investigators now know that the cell phone used to call Buziak was purchased in Vancouver in late November 2007. The phone was activated late January 2008 in Vancouver under a user name of Paulo Rodriguez with a Vancouver address. Police have since determined that while the address exists, it is not connected with the crime. Police also believe the Paulo Rodriguez name is an alias. Fast says police are interested in hearing from anyone who may also have encountered that name. The phone was deactivated after the murder. Police continue to seek information on the couple. The woman is

described as blonde, Caucasian, 3540 years of age, and wearing a white, black and red/pink dress in large stripes or colour-block pattern. The man is described as Caucasian, approximately six feet in height, medium build, dark (possibly brown) hair, wearing a light to medium brown jacket and well dressed. A video of the press conference is available at the Saanich police department’s website. A spokesperson for the Greater Victoria Real Estate Board said a decision was made to match the $25,000 put up by the CREA. “She was a member of our board and we are distressed about what happened. This is our contribution to help in that regard,” he says. Anyone with information should contact the Saanich Police at (250) 475-4356 or Greater Victoria Crimestoppers at 1-800222-8477. REM


4 REM MARCH 2010

Multiple Listings By Jim Adair

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

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entury21.ca has added Chinese language support for sales representatives and brokers in the Century 21 System. “Cantonese and Mandarin are commonly spoken languages in Canada’s metropolitan centres such as Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal,” says Century 21 Canada President Don Lawby. “We now offer a unique advantage to franchises and sales representatives whose clients predominantly speak these Chinese languages.” Century21.ca already serves Canadians in the country’s two

official languages – English and French – and the addition of Chinese makes it the first trilingual, nationally branded real estate website in Canada, the company says. Brian Rushton, Century 21 Canada senior vice-president says, “We’re helping franchise owners and their sales teams reach an increasingly diverse Canadian housing market with a leading edge, echo-syndicated web platform at no additional cost to our brokers.” Steve Chow, broker of Century 21 King’s Quay Real Estate in Markham, Ont., assisted

by reviewing the Chinese translation of the web platform. Chow was a 2009 director of the Chinese Real Estate Professionals Society of Ontario.

Steve Peroff

Darlene Martyn

Darryl Mitchell

Christine Mitchell

Russ Robideau

Derek Levitt

Shayne Hanna

Rob Desjardins

Jack Broadfoot

Danelle Bolinski

Stan Mills

Larry Matthews

Graham Mayne

Neil Kelly

Mike Holmes

■ ■ ■

Steve Peroff and his real estate team have joined Keller Williams Realty Centres in Newmarket, Ont. Formerly associated with Re/Max, Peroff has a 21-year track record of high-level performance and community service. He was ranked in the top 100 sales reps for Re/Max Canada for 11 consecuContinued on page 6

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6 REM MARCH 2010

Multiple Listings Continued from page 4

tive years, and consistently ranked in the top 50 for unit sales on the Toronto Real Estate Board, which currently has approximately 29,596 members. Marvin Alexander, operating principal of Keller Williams Realty Centres says, “Not only is Steve one of the top Realtors in Canada, he also is a perfect fit for the culture and values of our company. Steve has a long-standing reputation for honesty and integrity within our real estate community and those merits are equally as impressive as his sales production.” Colleen Peroff, Kent Atkins, Pat Henderson, Janet Wasson and Lory Rumley are the other members of the team that will join Peroff at Keller Williams Realty Centres. The brokerage has also welcomed Darlene Martyn as team leader. Martyn brings over 20 years of human resources experience to the position, coupled with a solid managerial background, strong coaching skills and diverse business acumen, says the company. ■ ■ ■

Darryl and Christine Mitchell have joined Re/Max Professionals in Toronto and Mississauga. Darryl is now the broker/manager for Kingsway and East Mall Branches in Toronto. A Realtor for more than 15 years, he has more than 30 years of business management experience. He was previously with Royal LePage, managing offices in Oakville and Etobicoke, and most recently was Central Toronto Area manager. In 2007, he was chosen as Philanthropist of the Year for the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. Prior to his work in the GTA, Darryl and his wife Christine Mitchell owned their own franchised office for Royal LePage in Chatham, Ont. Their Chatham business grew organically and by

Cover photo: DAVE PARTEE

merger to become the market leader with more than 50 per cent market share. Christine is now managing the Dundas branch of Re/Max Professionals in Mississauga. Formerly the owner of a Better Homes & Gardens brokerage, most recently she was with TD Canada Trust as an area sales manager with the Mobile Mortgage Specialists. Her role involved nurturing Realtor and bank relationships. She also provided sales coaching and training to a team of mortgage specialists in Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Mississauga. Christine replaces long-time Dundas manager Derek Levitt, who is spearheading a new coaching and mentoring program at the brokerage. “I will be less involved in the day-to-day management in favour of focusing on what I enjoy the most; coaching salespeople to reach their potential, set goals and help them plot their journey to reach them,” says Levitt. ■ ■ ■

Royal LePage Westwin Realty has expanded operations into the town of Barriere, B.C. The brokerage is owned and operated by Mike Mitchell and Kevin and Lyn Gannon. Its team of 65 sales professionals have been servicing Kamloops and surrounding areas since 1992. Barriere is the “Gateway to the North Thompson,” and is located just off the Yellowhead Highway 5 east of the Thompson River, north of Kamloops. ■ ■ ■

Sales rep Shayne Hanna has formed a partnership with Paul Curzon and moved to Re/Max Twin City Realty, which has several offices in the Kitchener/ Waterloo, Ont. area. Hanna, formerly with a Sutton Group office, says he and Curzon have 28 years of real estate experience combined. “I will be contin-

uing to service the Oxford County area. Paul will continue to service the Kitchener/Waterloo and Cambridge Tri-City area. Our partnership will cover all points in between. My joining Re/Max Twin City Realty will help to further enhance the exposure of Woodstock and Oxford County and what our region has to offer,” says Hanna. ■ ■ ■

The Aventure Realty Network of independent real estate brokerages has welcomed several new members in recent weeks, including: • Aztec Real Estate Inc. of Strathmore, Alta., led by broker/owner Rob Desjardins, with a team of 15 sales reps and brokers that are active in all facets of real estate, providing residential, commercial and rural service to Strathmore and surrounding areas. • Jack Broadfoot, broker/ owner of DynaTeam Realty of Edmonton, with his team of 22 sales reps. • Stan Mills, two-time president and a current director of the Lethbridge Real Estate Board and broker/owner of Sun City Realty with his staff of 20 sales reps. • Larry Matthews, broker/ owner of Hants Realty, who operates from three locations in Elmsdale, Shubenacadie and Stewiake, N.S., serving Halifax and Hants Counties. Matthews has more than 30 years in business. • Discover Real Estate, one of the largest independent brokerages in Alberta with over 300 sales reps and brokers. The company, operated by broker/owner Graham Mayne, grew from its origins in 1995 to the prominent position it enjoys today, says Aventure. • Atlas Realty in Medicine Hat, Alta., a full-service brokerage run by Neil Kelly. • Professional Realty Group of Edmonton, with broker/owner Russ Robideau, who has built one

Publisher HEINO MOLLS e-mail: heino@remonline.com

Editor JIM ADAIR e-mail: jim@remonline.com

General Manager JOHN COOPER e-mail: john@remonline.com

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Art Director LIZ MACKIN Graphic Design SHAWN KELLY

of the area’s largest independent brokerages with additional locations in Leduc and Morinville. • Another large Alberta independent, All Banners Realty of Sherwood Park, led by broker/ owner Danelle Bolinski with a staff of more than 120 sales reps. • Pemberton Holmes, under the leadership of Mike Holmes, is one of Canada’s oldest and most respected brokerages, says Aventure. The organization has been in business since 1887. Operating with more than 280 sales reps from its head office in Victoria, it expands its reach with branches in Duncan, Sooke and on Pender and Saltspring Islands. “With the addition of these new members across Canada, the

Aventure Realty Network adds a whole new dimension to the Canadian real estate industry,” says company president Bernie Vogt. “The bringing together of a group of strong and successful independently branded companies, who share a common vision of business practice and the ability to expand their reach, will widen the choices available in real estate. Aventure also announced that Steve Groner is working with it in the area of business development across Canada. “Steve’s great experience in dealing with the brokerage community has already made a significant impact on the organization and will add even more in the future,” says Vogt. REM

U.S. housing ‘a new normal’ “new normal” will prevail when the housing market recovers, according to a report released by the Urban Land Institute. “As the economy recovers, markets will stabilize but the old ‘normal’ will not return. Once nascent trends will emerge as major drivers, creating new markets in new places. Those who fail to understand these new trends will miss opportunities or find themselves building what is no longer in demand,” says John K. McIlwain, a senior resident fellow at the institute, in his new research paper, Housing in America: The Next Decade. McIlwain predicts that, even if unemployment begins to decline, home prices in the U.S. will fall an additional 10 per cent this year before stabilizing, foreclosures will rise, and more homeowners will walk away from “underwater” mortgages – owing more than the house is worth. Consumers will begin to severely question the idea of homeownership as part of the American Dream, as more than 15 per cent of households with mortgages are forced out of their homes, impacting 12 million to 15 million people, he says. “The emotional impact on the children and parents and disillusion about the ‘joys’ of homeownership will be intense; new attitudes to homeownership and the American Dream will emerge,” McIlwain wrote. The paper predicts 40 per cent of mortgages will be underwater this year, putting even homes with prime mortgages at risk. If even one in five homeowners elects to walk away from their home, the number of mortgage defaults will be double those in 2009, the report says. Underwater homes also affect other markets, impeding relocation to a new job, for example, or forcing families and seniors who might otherwise move to stay in their old home. In the next decade, the report predicts that annual home appreciation will slow significantly, between one and two per cent. At the housing boom’s peak, the homeownership rate was 69 per cent. Today, that number is 67 per cent and is expected to fall to about 62 per cent at the end of the decade. – Inman News REM

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Phone: 416.425.3504 www.remonline.com 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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8 REM MARCH 2010

Sales rep to compete at Olympics L

yndon Rush, a commercial sales rep with Royal LePage in Red Deer, Alta., has earned a highly coveted spot on the four-man and two-man Canadian Olympic 2010 bobsleigh teams competing at the Whistler Sliding Centre. Rush, along with Lascelles Brown will compete in the two-man bobsleigh and will be joined by Chris LeBihan and David Bissett to compete in the four-man bobsleigh. Rush’s father Jerry Rush is also with Royal LePage in Red Deer. “LD (as he is called by his family) is fortunate to be in com-

mercial real estate where he has evenings and weekends off and it is easier to schedule regular training times,” says Jerry Rush. “What other career could you have that would allow you such flexibility?” Royal LePage is one of the bobsled sponsors. There are some similarities between being a top seller and being part of Canada’s winning bobsledding team. The backbone of each profession lies with teamwork. “Both are competitive but require co-operation with your peers to do well,” says Lyndon

Rush. “In bobsledding, you need to network with the other teams to gain knowledge about the tracks and acquire new and better equipment. Similarly as a Realtor, you’re competing for customers but need to co-operate in order to serve those customers the best.” Lyndon played football for five years at the University of Saskatchewan before receiving a call from Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton urging him to give the sport of bobsled a try. He has developed into one of the top pilots in Canada while specializing in commercial real estate for Royal LePage’s Team Rush. He is

married and has two daughters, Olivia and Amelia. “It’s an honour for Royal LePage to support Lyndon, and alongside Canadians everywhere, we are proud of his wins for Canada at the World Cup events,” says Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage. “We are very excited for him and definitely consider ourselves part of Team Rush.” Another sales rep, Bret Bresciani of Re/Max House of Real Estate in Calgary, was part of Canada’s 2009-10 World Cup bobsled team, but he did not qualify for the Olympics. REM

A model real estate agent

perfect complement to my fulltime real estate career,” she says. “I love it. The two careers gel with each other. Both are flexible and both are fun.” She says when she’s wearing her real estate hat, people don’t usually recognize her from her modelling work. But she often gets real estate referrals from people she meets in the modelling world. Wagman says her colleagues have been very supportive and think it’s great and fun, never being close-minded enough to think her modelling takes away from her full-time real estate

Real estate comes first, but Elaine Wagman also works as a “lifestyle model” for print ads, commercials and movies By Connie Adair hen Elaine Wagman’s 16year-old son Anthony keeps asking, “What are you doing now Mom?” it isn’t with teenaged distain. He’s just curious. After all, in his lifetime, his mother has been a social worker, a counsellor, a mediator and a university student. Most recently, she’s put her varied experience and education to work in her career as a fulltime real estate agent, and she models on the side. Wagman, a broker with Coldwell Banker First Ottawa Realty, started modelling when she was 37. When she tells people she models, many think of runway and high fashion work, but Wagman says she’s a lifestyle model. She has appeared in a variety of print ads, for ScotiaBank, Rona, Reitman’s and The Bay, among others. She has also done background work in commercials and movies. She does some runway work, most recently showing off wedding gowns at the Wedding Palace Bridal Show in Ottawa in January. Wagman got her first taste of modelling when she was 17 and a group of her basketball buddies were involved in a fashion show. “But I shelved modelling and went to university,” she says. She studied

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criminology, and then got her bachelor of social work. She worked as a social worker and counsellor for about five years. Then, after being told she could not have children, she enrolled in law school, wanting a career she could “sink my teeth into because I couldn’t have kids,” she says. About mid-way through her first year, she was pregnant. She made an appeal to the university and was allowed to take an infant Anthony to school with her while she finished her three-year law degree in four years. “The University of Ottawa is a womanfriendly school,” she says. Deciding law was too demanding for a mother of a young child, she went back to work in addictions counselling, where she was able to set her own hours. “It was there I got my first taste of flexibility,” she says. She then put her family mediation certificate from Harvard to use and opened a private practice. She wound up that business when her own personal life started going “awry. I couldn’t be an effective mediator when my own marriage was going south.” Wagman became a real estate

agent in 2006 and is now a broker. She says she has accumulated a lot of skills and knowledge over the years and has found her experience helpful in her real estate career. She picked a small real estate office because she wanted to be able to call the manager or broker, ask a question and get an answer right away. “I love this office,” she says. Once she started real estate, she wondered why she didn’t do it sooner. “It offers flexibility for a single parent. I’m my own boss and can use my skills effectively. I always knew I’d be self employed, I just didn’t know in what capacity.” Her strong negotiation skills, attention to detail and personality are assets she lists in her real estate promotions. Potential clients will read, “She is a Harvard University trained negotiator who will work hard to get the best possible price.” She sells houses at a variety of price points and because of the number of people who have asked her about commercial real estate, is working to get her ICI licence. She is also honing her acting skills, her goal to expand from print modelling and background work to speaking parts. “Ottawa doesn’t have a market for full-time models, so this is the

Lyndon Rush will compete in the Royal LePage sponsored bobsled at the Winter Olympics.

career. “It’s great. If I’m available, I model. But if it’s a busy spring market or a time when I’m doing real estate, I can decline a job and they will call again,” she says. “Real estate comes first.” When she’s not selling homes or modelling, she says she’s “a halfdecent soccer goalkeeper, a ready and willing drumming student, a questionable but enthusiastic skier, a great cyclist as long as someone else carriers the gear, and a chauffer to her teenaged son.” Mostly, she says, she just has fun. REM

Elaine Wagman


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10 REM MARCH 2010

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between them; • sickness benefits (15 weeks maximum), which may be paid to a person who is unable to work because of sickness, injury or quarantine; and • compassionate care benefits (six weeks maximum), which may be paid to people who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death. Self-employed Canadians who voluntarily opt in to the EI program are eligible to collect benefits as early as January 1, 2011. “It’s nice to know that Realtors now have the choice to balance career and family along with other working Canadians,” says Bruce Mullett, chair of CREA’s Federal Affairs Committee. Realtors who opt in to the program will pay the same EI premium rate as salaried employees in their province. They will not be required to pay the employer portion of premiums, which takes into account the fact they will not have access to EI regular benefits. Premiums, and resulting benefits, will be based on income. REM

Sales rep fined $68,000 for tax evasion Markham, Ont. sales rep pleaded guilty recently to four counts of tax evasion. Claudette Walker of Century 21 Leading Edge Realty was fined $68,000. A Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) investigation showed that Walker, self-employed, failed to report income of $215,412 on her 2002 to 2004 income tax returns. CRA says by not filing income tax returns for 2005 and 2006, she did not report taxable income of $121,609 in 2005 and $78,966 in 2006. In total, Walker pleaded guilty to evading federal income taxes of $70,000 and was fined $35,000. Walker also pleaded guilty to not remitting $35,135 in GST from January 2002 to December 2006 and was fined $33,000. CRA says that in addition to the fines imposed by the courts, individuals or corporations convicted of failing to file tax returns are still obligated to file the returns and pay the full amount of taxes owing, plus interest, as well as any civil penalties that may be assessed by CRA. The agency says that individuals who have not filed returns for previous years, or who have not reported all of their income, can still voluntarily correct their tax affairs. “They will not be penalized or prosecuted if they make a full disclosure before the agency starts any action or investigation against them,” says CRA in a news release. “These individuals may only have to pay the taxes owing, plus interest.” For more information about the Voluntary Disclosures Program, visit www.cra.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures. REM

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ob Moore, Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism, and CREA CEO Pierre Beauchamp announced at a news conference recently that self-employed Realtors can now participate in the Employment Insurance (EI) program. “A large majority of Realtors are self-employed,” says Beauchamp. “By creating a level playing field within the EI program, many of our members will no longer have to worry about taking time away from their careers to have a baby or care for a family member who is gravely ill.” Bill C-56, the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act, extends EI benefits for self-employed Realtors for: • maternity benefits (15 weeks maximum), which are available to mothers and cover the period surrounding birth (a claim can start up to eight weeks before the expected birth date); • parental/adoptive benefits (35 weeks maximum), which are available to biological or adoptive parents while they are caring for a newborn or newly adopted child, and may be taken by either parent or shared


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6:00 a Joey’s field trip: remember snacks 7:00 a Yoga 8:00 a 8:30 a Pick up signs 9:00 a Offer conference call with Julie 10:00 a 11:00 a 11:30 a Attend REBAC Connection Webinar 12:00 p Meet with potential buyer 1:00 p 2:00 p Read Today’s Buyer’s Rep Newsletter 3:00 p Uncle Bill’s birthday: send e-card 4:00 p Order marketing brochures from REBAC Print Shop 5:00 p Lily’s swim meet 6:00 p 7:00 p 7:15 p Update blog: add Green article from TBR HotSheet

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12 REM MARCH 2010

Realtors share their Olympic Torch stories

Pat Jamieson, a sales rep with Royal Lepage Community Realty in Medicine Hat, Alta., took part in the Olympic Torch Relay on January 17th in Bow Island, near Medicine Hat. She and other Realtor Torchbearers sent their stories to share with REM readers. bus we were shown inspirational Olympic videos. You guessed it – more tears.

Pierre de Varennes, broker of record/owner of Royal LePage Performance Realty.

Once I was in place on my corner I was feeling very excited and glad to be finally there. My grandkids, Aidan, 6, and William, 4 had signs saying “Go Nana Go”, my daughter and my husband were taking pictures and my sonin-law taking video. I felt like a star! I looked down the street and here was the flame coming to me for my “moment.”

Thom and Marland both participated in the Torch Relay – Marland in Ottawa on Dec. 12th and Thom in Niagara Falls on Dec. 21.

The torchbearer, Melanie, lit my Torch and we high-fived and did a dance and then I was on my way. It was exhilarating! Pat Jamieson with her grandchildren Aidan and William

I

applied online in January 2009 through rbccarrythetorch.com, and received a call at the end of October 2009 to say I had been “pre-selected” to carry the Torch on January 17. This was all very exciting and I felt quite emotional whenever I thought about it. I only shared the information with my husband until everything was finalized. Once my uniform arrived and I knew my route was in Bow Island, I shared this oncein-a-lifetime news with family and friends. I felt very honoured and proud to have been chosen and looked forward to this event with much anticipation. However, I started to think about things that could go wrong, like, “What if I fall with the Torch?” or worse, “What if I get there too late and miss it?” or “What if there is a snow blizzard that day?” I also wondered if I’d be able to do this without crying as I felt very emotional and tears would well up when I thought about it. The weekend of the event finally arrived. My daughter, son-

in-law and two grandkids arrived from Calgary. We went to the Leisure Centre to enjoy some of the free events in celebration of the flame arriving in Medicine Hat. I hardly slept that night for fear of being late. I had to be at the Bow Island Arena by 8:30 am even though my run wasn’t until 10:03 am. Arriving right on time, I was met by a VANOC representative who checked my ID and gave me my Torchbearer number, 036, and stuck it to my uniform jacket. There were seven other TB’s there too and after the representative gave us a talk about the history of the Olympics and Torchbearers (more tears welling up) she had us introduce ourselves. We were then given our individual Torches and after chatting to each other for a while we had some group photos taken on the ice rink. We had a short rehearsal in the street on how to pass the torch and go carefully on the very icy road surface. We then boarded the bus to take us to our individual locations for receiving the flame. On the

No tears, just smiles, waving and concentrating on staying horizontal on the slippery road surface. Lots of friends came to share my experience and cheer me on. I took the Torch into the morning break at the arena and the mayor made a speech outside on a small stage and there were lots of people and more cheering. Many people wanted their picture taken with the Torch and I was very happy and honoured to oblige. The whole experience was magical. I now have the Torch on display in my living room complete with the soot from the flame.

R

L

Rob Marland

**************

es Myers, a sales rep with Royal LePage State Realty in Hamilton, took part in the Torch Relay in Thorold, Ont.

win a gold medal in the Summer Olympics since 1968. Thom was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1985, and in 1992 was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Rob Marland, also a sales rep at the brokerage, competed in two consecutive Summer Olympics in 1988 in Seoul, and then in Barcelona in 1992. In Barcelona, he won the gold medal for rowing in the men’s eight. Marland was inducted into the Canadian

**************

oyal LePage Performance Realty in Ottawa has a claim no other real estate office can make: they have two Olympic gold medal winners in their midst.

Olympic Hall of fame in 1994 and is also the recipient of the Sports Federation of Canada Achievement award.

Sales rep Linda Thom won a gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, in the women’s 25 metre pistol event – becoming the first Canadian woman to win a gold medal in the Summer Olympics since 1928, and the first Canadian to

“We are proud of Linda and Rob’s achievements. The dedication, perseverance and hard work required to be an Olympic athlete are qualities that have also served them well in their careers as successful real estate sales representatives,” says

Linda Thom

Les Myers

“It was an amazing experience and I am so lucky to have been chosen to carry the flame,” he says. “Some of my clients and a lot of friends and family went to Thorold to cheer for me. I ran in the downtown section, where the mayor did a speech with the town crier. When the flames were lit, the mayor stood between us and posed for pictures. “The week before I was invited to the Thorold town council meeting, where some of us were presented with thank you certificates and pins. “There is no feeling like it. It really makes you proud to be a Canadian and to see everyone come out to be part of Canadian history.” REM


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14 REM MARCH 2010

Dogs and deals

What dogsledding can teach us about the real estate business key talent to our organization.” Although the local market softened during the past two years, Hartum says, “Edmonton has been relatively stable. The fundamentals are still relatively strong. It’s still a balanced market. We’re certainly not experiencing the pain some of the other key markets in Canada are.” While they may seem worlds apart, Hartum feels strongly that his career and his sport inspire each other. Here are the elements Hartum says dogsledding and commercial real estate have in common: • “Both are adventurous. There’s always variety. Just as no two deals or no two dogs are the same, you never know quite what to expect in dogsledding and in real estate. You have to be prepared.

Mark Hartum and his team. (Photo: Dave Partee)

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uccessful leadership requires passion, consistent hard work, a supportive team, a sense of adventure, commitment, natural ability and boundless energy. For Iris and Ivy, it also requires a daily diet of ground beef fat, liver, poultry, kibble, corn oil, psyllium husk powder, egg powder, bone meal and probiotics. And regular belly scratches too. Iris and Ivy are Alaskan racing huskies, two of Mark Hartum’s strongest leaders, and members of a kennel that has won dogsled races at provincial, national and international levels. They live with Hartum, his family, and approximately 50 other elite sled dogs on an 80-acre property adjacent to Elk Island Park and Blackfoot/Cooking Lake Provincial Recreation Area near Edmonton. The Hartum kennel is now recognized as one of the top in the sport. Hartum’s wife Brooke and their children Mya, 8, Elle, 7 and Noah, 4 are also avidly involved in running, racing and caring for

the dogs. It’s a sport, a hobby, a passion and a lifestyle that Hartum says has enabled him to forge ahead in his demanding commercial real estate career. As one of Avison Young’s principals based in Edmonton, Hartum is a key figure in the city’s thriving real estate landscape. Hartum joined Avison Young three years ago, but has been in the industry for more than 15 years. His specialty is large downtown and suburban office buildings, representing both landlords and tenants, advising clients on substantial transactions and negotiating complex leases and agreements. Clients have included General Electric, Kraft Foods, PricewaterhouseCoopers, EBA Engineering, Maxaam Analytics and all three levels of government. “We’ve experienced tremendous growth in the past few years,” says Hartum. “We’re a privately owned principal company with zero debt. It puts us in a good position to expand and add

• “There are no short cuts. For example, the market (in Edmonton) was extremely hot – red hot – in the last five years, and those who took their foot off the gas pedal a little are now paying the price. Now that the market has softened a bit, they’re finding they’ve lost momentum and can’t keep up. It’s like that with the dogs. You can have all the raw talent and the right breeding, but if you slack off, skip out on training runs, nutrition and vet care, you won’t be able to keep up. You can’t fake the results. It takes consistency, discipline and commitment. • “To be successful at both you have to have some innate natural ability, some psychology skills, the ability to work long and hard and the determination to see something through to the end. You have to be a competitive but patient person. Things don’t happen overnight. Complex deals may take six to 18 months to come to fruition. It’s a lot of risk for a lot of reward, similar to trying to put a successful race team together.”

By Katherine Fawcett

• Whether it’s dogs or real estate, it’s critical to surround yourself with a great team. “With dogsledding, my family is a tremendous support. Mya, Elle, Noah, Brooke, everyone contributes, from doing chores around the kennel to training, racing and travel,” says Hartum. • You have to be able to handle complexity. “In a racing kennel, I’m the owner, general manager, coach and player. I’m responsible for the breeding program, the farm team and yearling development. I’m the equipment specialist, caretaker, nutritionist and veterinarian,” he says. “In real estate you need a high level of competency in finance, marketing, forecasting and negotiating. You’ve got to be able to handle non-stop high pressure.” • Passion. You have to enjoy what you do and be truly passionate about it, otherwise you’re not going to achieve the highest levels of happiness and success. “With real estate, I’ve always loved driving around looking at buildings, interesting architecture and new concepts in real estate development. I find it fascinating. It’s the same with working with dogs. I enjoy visiting other kennels, studying pedigree books and experimenting with new ideas and concepts.” Hartum’s biggest challenge today is that his real estate company continues to expand and require more attention at the same time as he wants to continue competing at an elite level in the most challenging unlimited class sled dog races in the world. “I try to keep it all in perspective,” says Hartum. “At work we have really talented employees. A great team. Even if I’m in another part of the world running dogs, I do have a Blackberry, laptop and a cell phone so I’m always accessible.” He says that

Mark Hartum

because many of his clients are not based in Edmonton, much of his communication is done electronically anyhow. At the time of our interview, Hartum was preparing his 20 fastest, strongest and most experienced dogs for three days of racing at the Laconia World Championship Sled Dog Derby in New Hampshire in February. After that, he is planning to attend races in southern B.C. and the Northwest Territories, and finally the Open North American Championships in Alaska in March. Hartum had returned from a training run on the trails behind his home just before we spoke. “I got home from work today at 5 pm, hooked up an 18-dog team and took off. It was absolutely flawless. A perfect run. No tangles, they took all the turns perfectly.” He said it was “one of the most peaceful runs I’ve ever had.” “It’s such a great stress relief. You’ve got to be so focused on it. There’s a lot of moving parts. Your leaders are 100 feet out in front of you. You have to be right there, in the moment. You don’t think of anything else.” He finished the run and gave each of the dogs their post-run treats, belly-rubs and behind-theear scratches. “Life is good,” he said as three puppies chased his kids around the yard. “Life is good.” REM


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16 REM MARCH 2010

Restrictive covenants  SP7KHEX\HUZDQWVDUHIHUHQFHSODQ

LEGAL ISSUES

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Here we have all the markings for a court to act on equitable principles by forcing S to transfer to A. After all, there was an oral agreement, not matched by the person with priority, with a piece of paper, although drafted after the oral accord taking or placing the deal within the Statute of Frauds. On top of it all, the court held the lands were “unique” so S had to transfer it rather than pay damages. ■ ■ ■

By Donald H. Lapowich

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ave you come across a document that restricts the usage of a particular piece of property for the benefit of an adjoining piece or parcel? If drafted correctly as a “restrictive covenant” it will not only bind the people who originally agreed to the terms, but also subsequent purchasers of either or both of the properties involved. However, there are very specific requirements for this to work. One is that the covenant must be “negative” in nature. Take the case of a purchaser buying land used as a resort with a golf course and campground. That purchaser later subdivides the land into four parcels and sells three parcels to others, with a restrictive covenant imposed for all four parcels. An applicant wishes to purchase the last parcel but does not wish to comply with the restriction and goes to court. Because the covenant was “positive,” requiring successors to maintain a portion of land for a golf course, “it did not run with the land” and did not bind a successor purchaser.

Agent O recommended L as a builder to H, a fellow real estate agent. H contracted with L to build a custom home. Right from the beginning H learned that L could not pay $7,500 for a lot, which the agent H then put up. As one can easily surmise L, the builder, did not pay the tradespeople, did not obtain building permits and did not register under

The court found that the agent failed to perform her own due diligence.

■ ■ ■

the New Home Warranty program. A stop order was issued. When H sued O and L, the court found that H failed to perform her own due diligence and it was inconceivable H would proceed with a builder that could not come up with a small sum of money (deposit) to buy the land on which the house was to be built.

In another case, “A” agreed to buy land from “S” knowing that “T” had a right of first refusal. A and S had agreed on the price and closing date, unless T matched the oral agreement. A prepared a written offer to match the oral agreement and sent it to S. T did not match A’s offer but S notwithstanding accepted T’s lower offer.

Donald H. Lapowich, Q.C. Hon. FRGD is a partner at the law firm of Koskie, Minsky LLP in Toronto, where he practices civil litigation, with a particular emphasis on real estate litigation and acts for professionals including lawyers, real estate agents, insurance brokers/agents and dentists. REM


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18 REM MARCH 2010

7 steps to more clients in 90 days

By Dr. Maya Bailey

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n my work as a business coach I meet with people every day who have dreams of creating success in their business. Sadly, most of them are saying the same thing: “I hate marketing; I just want to do what I’m good at without having to market myself.” The truth about getting more clients is that it’s not that difficult, it just requires following some simple steps. FOCUS: How do you get to where you want to be unless you know where you are going? I always teach my clients a visualization in which they imagine where they want to be professionally one year from today. How much money do you want to be earning? How many hours a week do you want to work? What kind of clients do you want to work with? STRATEGIES: Once you’re clear about where you want to be, you need to create strategies to get there. I tell people, “If you already knew what strategies to use, you’d probably already be there.” Strategies help you to chunk big visions into tangible, bite-size action steps ACCOUNTABILITY: How accountable are you to yourself? Most people I meet in business for themselves find it far too easy to slide in keeping their agreements with themselves. The magical thing about coaching is that when you have a witness to your accountability, you are much more likely to do what you said you’d do. Just knowing that someone cares and will ask you every week, “How did that action step go?” is huge incentive to staying on track. DISCOVERY: As a former psy-

chologist, one of my passions is helping people discover how they block them themselves and get in their own way of success. What I find is that everyone needs to reprogram some self-limiting beliefs, like “I don’t have what it takes to succeed” or “I don’t deserve to have a lot of money.” Another block is that most people suffer from subconscious sabotaging strategies, like procrastination. These need to be reversed. Finally, everyone I’ve ever met has a monstrous, overly developed inner critic, which I call the gremlin. In discovery you learn to identify the voice of you gremlin and learn to tame it way down. PERSPECTIVE: We all spin our wheels and get caught up in our narrow perspective. The best investment we can make in getting more clients is to have people around us that give us the option of another perspective. SUPPORT: If you are in business for yourself, you need all the support you can get. Who helps you? Who do you lean on? It is invaluable to have a support team or a committed ally in your corner. CELEBRATION: How often do you celebrate yourself? As a coach who teaches people how to get more clients, I find that learning to celebrate not only your successes but also your efforts is the way to a long a healthy career. Learning to stop, pause and validate yourself for what you’ve done keeps this process light, fun and exciting. Also, think of how impossible it is for your gremlin to beat you up, if you are busy celebrating yourself. It is one of the joys of my work that I get to help people truly celebrate themselves. With her 30 years of psychological expertise, Dr. Maya Bailey specializes in helping real estate professionals who want more clients, more free time, and a better lifestyle to create confidence, a positive mindset, and a stepby-step blueprint for success. For your personalized step-by-step success blueprint, visit www.90DaysToMoreClients.com. To contact Dr. Maya Bailey, call (707) 799-5412. REM


February 20th, 2010

An Open Letter to all Real Estate Professionals RE: Taking back the industry 2009 proved to be a defining year for real estate, creating two very separate and distinct categories of REALTOR®. Experienced professionals, who stayed the course, adjusting to new conditions and adhering to solid business plans, were ideally positioned for the turnaround and emerged victorious from the downturn. The fair-weather REALTORS® who were ill-prepared and panicked, who chose to bury their heads in the sand, were not. I think it’s time we formally acknowledge the elephant in the room. Last year, one in five realtors® failed to sell a home on TREB—the largest board in the world. The same problem likely exists in boards across the country. In addition there are several large brokerages where 70% of the agents did less than a deal a quarter. No one in the industry has addressed how threatening this actuality is to both the consumer and the profession. Our industry is overrun by indifferent agents who lack the knowledge and experience to service their clients adequately. The ease with which they can hang a shingle and tarnish our profession is astounding. Personally, I can’t believe that this reality hasn’t been challenged. With the exception of those sales associates that are new to the business—and we have some stellar rookies who have already achieved serious results in their first year in the business—and those that are winding down successful real estate careers, I find it hard to fathom that one in five agents sell nothing at all. Fifty-three per cent do not do a deal a quarter yet are prepared to provide guidance to buyers and sellers making the largest single financial transaction of their lifetime. Which begs the question: Just who is looking out for the real estate consumer? We need to create a plan of action—one that represents our collective voice—and your feedback is vital in this process. After all, the greatest opportunity to raise standards is through licensing and we’d like to see stricter rules governing the registration of REALTORS®. Some suggested recommendations that will immediately improve the industry include: 1. Introducing a one-year apprenticeship program that exposes new agents to buying and selling, as well as the art of negotiation before licensing. This will also mean hands-on brokers who have a vested interest in the success of their apprentices. 2. Establishing a referral license program, whereby inactive realtors® can earn a fee by referring their clientele to full-time real estate professionals. 3. Increase educational requirements. In the days and months ahead, we will call upon the leaders and directors of real estate’s governing bodies—as well as CREA, OREA, and other real estate boards and associations to support us in this cause. The open dialogue will lead to an improved model that will better protect consumer interest and the integrity of the real estate professional. Truth be known, we’d all benefit from an industry overhaul. The committed, dedicated professionals who have devoted their lives to listing and selling homes would welcome an opportunity to restore honour and dignity to the profession. After all, the apathy and lack of expertise among the non-committed affects the entire industry. We need to send the message, once and for all – real estate is not a fall-back profession. We want to hear your thoughts on the matter. Visit us now at www.takingbacktheindustry.com. It’s time to make your voice heard.

Sincerely,

Michael Polzler Executive Vice President and Regional Director RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada Inc.

Ontario-Atlantic Canada Inc. 7101 Syntex Drive, Mississauga, Ontario L5N 6H5 . Phone: 905-542-2400 . Fax: 905-542-2318 . Web Site: www.remax.ca


20 REM MARCH 2010

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CHART 1

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ave you ever been on a listing presentation and not been asked if this is good time to sell a home? At a party, mention that you are in real estate and inevitably the conversation turns to what is my house or condo worth and what do you think the market is going to do. Strange isn’t it? People don’t ask their butcher what meat will cost next year, or how much their accountant will charge to do your taxes next tax season. Our daily lives are filled with financial decisions of should I or shouldn’t I. Like should I buy two cases of that absolutely heavenly Bordeaux because they will be worth triple in four years? What things are worth and what they will be worth is part of our daily thinking. I know that I am not the only one who does intricate fiduciary planning for when to fill up my gas tank. I totally rejoice when I fill up and the next day gas goes up by three cents. Let’s see now, three cents a litre – that works out to a little over $1.80 saved. If I keep doing this every week for 31 weeks, I’ll be able to buy one bottle of that excellent Bordeaux that will surely triple in value. If the opposite happens and the gas price goes down, I am devastated. As I drive by not one, but four gas stations that all lowered their prices simultaneously, my annoyance grows and I am bothered that they all seem to collude down to the last one tenth of a cent. My granddaughter was blowing bubbles and as I watched I wondered who coined the “housing bubble� phrase, and why. Bubbles are created in seconds, float for several seconds more and then pop and disappear. That, my dear readers, does not reflect home prices. Only when given a scenario where radio active nuclear waste is found in your backyard, or con-

CHART 2

Let’s count the ways...

By Leon d’Ancona

versely your house is sitting on top of a newly discovered diamond mine, are there sudden dramatic price changes. Normally residential resale real estate makes gradual moves. The basic underlying reason for this is that real estate is the true manifestation of the law of supply and demand. That is the reason we buy a house with an “offer�. Picture yourself at the supermarket making a $4.50 offer on a box of corn flakes that costs $4.99. So how do you become the oracle that clients seek out for shortterm market trends? First, by showing long-term price trends. Explain to your clients that a home is not an ATM machine. A home is the place you

CHART 3

Exclusively different.

Be the oracle of short-term trends live in, not speculate with. In most Canadian major cities, the information shown here in Chart 1 applies. You will note that real estate may have had its ups and downs over the years. So greedy speculators who bought in May of 2005 would have lost money by September, but long-term homeowners who bought five years ago saw their home value increase substantially. Next, track how cyclical the real estate market is (Chart 2) especially in Canada, where we tend to be much more conservative than our American friends. On a broad scale, home sales tend Continued on page 50


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22 REM MARCH 2010

THE UN-COMFORT ZONE

By Robert Wilson

R

ecently I wrote about SelfEfficacy, which is our belief in our ability to achieve what we set out to accomplish. I wrote about how it is the biggest part of achievement, and that we acquire a sense of self-efficacy in four ways: personal experience, observation of others, a positive mental attitude and from the encouragement of others. This month I’d like to expand on how observing other people achieve

Be a copy cat motivates us to accomplish more. Some of our goals require us to reach a mental threshold; some are more physical; while others are a combination of the two. One of my favourite forms of exercise and recreation is mountain biking. I get out once a week and hit the trails. Some of the trails have obstacle course-like obstructions called technical features; they are basically log and rock piles you ride over for an additional skill challenge. One trail has several advanced features including a seesaw. I rode past this particular challenge for weeks; wanting to do it, but frankly too scared to try. Then one day I encountered another rider who rode across it. He went up to the centre; it tipped and he rode down the other side. It looked easy enough, and so I asked him about it. He told me there was one trick to it. You needed to brake slightly when you hit the centre, so that your weight would cause the

“up” end to tip down. If you didn’t, it would function like a big ramp and you would fly off the end five feet off the ground. Hmm, good advice, because that was definitely what I didn’t want to do. Having seen someone do it, I was ready to tackle it. I rode across perfectly on the very first try. All I needed was to see it done. We do this all the time – sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously. Last summer I was shopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Atlanta where they have a three-storey indoor climbing wall. My nineyear-old son was with me and asked to climb it. I bought him a ticket and the rock wall staff strapped him into the safety ropes. He went up about 12 feet and said he couldn’t go any further. I was surprised because he is very athletic and picks up most sports immediately and effortlessly. I tried all sorts of encouragement, but he had

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made up his mind. The staff lowered him to the ground. Then he asked me to climb it. I looked up and grimaced... it was not what I wanted to do that day, but I had done it once before with my older son, so I paid my way and started to climb. I climbed to the top and rang the bell, then enjoyed the real fun of repelling back down. Once I was down, my son wanted to try it again. I was skeptical and didn’t want to waste another two bucks. But, I gave in, and this time he scrambled like a lizard all the way to the top and rang the bell. Just like me and the bicycle seesaw, all he needed was to see that it could be done. Then he was on his way. I’m totally refusing to acknowledge the unstated thought in his mind... “Hey, if my wimpy Daddy can do it – it’s gotta be easy!” Think of the occasions where you found a role model to show you “how it’s done.”

I remember the night I decided to become a professional speaker. I was serving as a counselor to a group of teenagers attending a Hugh O’Brian Youth Foundation leadership seminar. Patty Kitching was the dinner keynote speaker. She was warm and funny and told wonderful stories to illustrate her points. Most of all she looked like she was having the time of her life. I turned to my wife and said, “I could do that. I want to do that!” Three years later, I was. Go out and find someone who is already doing what you want to do. Watch them, talk to them, then get started! Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. is a motivational speaker and humorist. He works with companies that want to be more competitive and with people who want to think like innovators. For more information on Robert’s programs please visit www.jumpstartyourmeeting.com. REM

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24 REM MARCH 2010

Making fun of real estate listings I

f you’re a real estate agent, you really, really, really don’t want your listings to end up on Sara Lorimer’s blog. That’s unless you want people to laugh at them. Lorimer is the creator and overseer of LovelyListing.com, a two-year-old daily compendium of strange or aggressively ugly homes for sale, culled from multiple listing services by real estate agents around the world. Each photo usually is accompanied by a deadpan remark, usually from Lorimer, who says she’s been smarting off all her life. “I remember my math teacher, I must have been in 7th grade, saying my mouth would get me into trouble one day,” says Lorimer, who says it runs in the family. Lorimer’s mouth, instead, got her into a burgeoning online empire. Last year LovelyListing was acquired by Cheezburger Network, the parent company of 34 humour-oriented sites, the most well-known being ICanHazCheezburger.com, an

endless collection of LOL (laugh out loud) cat pictures accompanied by captions with fractured grammar and spelling. Cheezburger Network doesn’t release data on the individual sites, but says that overall, the 34 sites get 13 million unique users and 230 million page views a month. More than 10,000 photos and videos are submitted to the sites each day. The real estate photos at LovelyListing.com represent a small but nonetheless devoted segment of that total, Lorimer says. She’s unsure how many photo submissions pour in for her own blog because Cheezburger staffers now manage the photos; early on, she got about 20 a day, though she suspects now that there are probably 100. What an … interesting … assortment they are. Straight from the listing agent’s camera, photographed for your homebuying pleasure, one can survey bedrooms strewn with underwear, houses roped off with crime-scene tape, cats drinking from bathroom

faucets and boxes of rat poison prominently displayed in a laundry room. There are rooms slathered in colours not found in nature; rooms that contain enormous pink pig sculptures; rooms with carpeting on the floors, walls and ceiling; and rooms that contain the actual homeowner, unshaven and glaring back at the camera. Lorimer is often perplexed at how “unstaged,” to put it mildly, some home photography in MLSs is. A growing category, she says, is MLS photos of bathrooms with unflushed toilets: “I’ve stopped posting those, because what more can I say?” Then there’s Chair. Chair is hard to explain, except that he/she/it (“I have no opinion on what gender it is,” she says) has become a running gag on the site. Chair is one form or another of the white, moulded-plastic yard furniture that has become a mainstay of American patios. And, apparently, of MLS photography. “I just started noticing these white plastic chairs showing up in

listings – they were everywhere,” Lorimer says. “I personally hate these chairs. They’re hideous.” Lorimer is not now nor has she ever been a real estate agent. Nor did she set out to be a real estate, er, critic. A stay-at-homemom who lives in a Seattle suburb, she has a master’s degree in fine art from Columbia University and worked an assortment of jobs, including factchecker at a number of national magazines. Several years ago she wrote two books – one on female pirates, the other on pregnancy tips – neither of which sold terribly well, she says. About two years ago, she was looking for remodeling ideas when she found herself browsing the listings on Redfin.com. “I kept finding these funny photos, and I couldn’t figure out why anybody would include them in a listing for sale,” she says. She started emailing them to a friend. “But I didn’t want to be that person who emails you funny emails at work, so I thought, I’ll

By Mary Umberger put them on a website,” which she initially called It’sLovelyI’llTakeIt.com. Her daily postings quietly built a following. Last August, Cheezburger Network called and asked to chat, and subsequently Lorimer sold the site, though she stayed on as editor. The Cheezburger staff now handles all the technical aspects of the blog management and culls out candidate photos, but Lorimer makes the final call on which photos are featured, she says. A primary source of photos is agents themselves, and though their profession indirectly has become the object of endless ribbing on the site, they don’t seem to object, Lorimer says. “I’ve heard from homeowners once or twice, but no one has ever complained or sent me an email saying, ‘Take my picture down,’” she says. The agents, though, are clear that they don’t want to be credited as sources, Lorimer says. “They always say, just use my first name.” – Inman News REM


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28 REM MARCH 2010

orna Corbett, broker of record for Sutton Group Right Way Real Estate (2007), has been elected president of the Woodstock-Ingersoll and District Real Estate Board for 2010. Corbett launched her real estate career as an office administrator in 1984, becoming licensed as a sales rep in 1999 and as a broker in 2002. During her three years on the Board of Directors, much of the focus has been on the development and launch of its new website. She says two of the most significant challenges facing the industry this year will be the introduction of the Harmonized Sales Tax in Ontario, and new mandatory energy audits. She also says that one of her mandates while president will be “to keep membership moving forward professionally.” She plans to use her leadership role to encourage new agents to volunteer their time for the betterment of the membership.

Manitoba Real Estate Association, served as a director on the Canadian Real Estate Association, a director of WinnipegRealtors in 1993 and 1994, and a director of the Real Estate Insurance Alliance. He is a current member of the Real Estate Advisory Council. He is a broker/salesperson at Royal LePage Dynamic. Supporting the president in 2010 will be president-elect Ralph Fyfe of Century 21 Bachman & Assoc. and treasurer Shirley Przybyl of Century 21 Carrie.com. Other members of the Board of Directors are Marnie Ross, Century 21 Bachman & Assoc.; Don Cook, Don Cook Real Estate; Richard Dettman, Cornerstone Properties; Claudette Griffin, L. J. Baron Realty; Steve Hunt-Lesage, Re/Max Executives Realty; Ron Tardiff, Trinkle Realty; Don White, Colliers Pratt McGarry – Don White; and Sheldon Zamick, Sutton Group - Kilkenny Real Estate.

■ ■ ■

■ ■ ■

Claude Davis is the 2010 and 107th president of the 1,500member WinnipegRealtors. He replaces outgoing president Deborah Goodfellow. One issue that Davis plans to address is affordability for firsttime buyers. “With few exceptions, there are hardly any places in the country where first-time buyers are required to pay a land transfer tax to the province.” But first-time buyers must pay the tax in Manitoba and “This has to change,” he says. “It is unfair and sends out the wrong message if we want people to stay or come and settle down here. The province needs to give it up for first-time buyers.” Davis has 30 years of active leadership involvement in organized real estate. He has led the

Gord Archibald, executive officer of the Association of Regina Realtors, was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce. Archibald is a long-time member of the chamber and has served on chamber committees for approximately eight years. He currently sits on the Governance Committee. He is also a past chair of the Board of Directors of Access Communications, one of the province’s largest cable television, Internet and telephone suppliers, and a past chair of the Association Executives Council of CREA. Archibald has been the EO of the Regina Association since 1993.

L

■ ■ ■

Bruce Nicholson, a member of the Kitchener-Waterloo Real Estate Board (KWREB) and broker/owner of Nicholson Realty, has been honoured with the Claude E. Dubrick Realtor Award of Merit. The award recognizes commitment and dedication to the industry and to organized real estate, co-operation and support to others similarly employed, personal and professional integrity, and contribution to the community. Active in the real estate profession for 30 years, Nicholson served as president of the KWREB in 1986, 1987 and 2000. He has also served as a director of the Ontario Real Estate Association for two terms, as well as countless committees and task forces at the KWREB, OREA and CREA. In addition to his contribution to organized real estate, Nicholson gives of himself as a volunteer in the community. He is a founding member of Oasis, a ministry in downtown Kitchener that attempts to reach and support the poorer members of the community. He is a former president of Ray of Hope and has also served on the board at Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region, Jacob’s Well Counselling Centre and Rocky Ridge Ranch Youth Camp.

ings now BOMA BESt certified, with some already entering a recertification cycle. “REIC is an industry leader in real estate education,” says Ian M. Stewart, chair of BOMA Canada, “and now with the addition of BOMA BESt to their offerings, REIC will be able to provide their members a powerful tool for benchmarking not

currently available to them.” REIC national president William McCarthy says, “The BOMA Canada – REIC strategic alliance built around the BOMA BESt program is a big step for us. We are very careful with our endorsements. BOMA BESt is an excellent program that will be extremely useful to our members.” REM

REIC executive director Maura McLaren signs the MOU on November 20 in Vancouver while BOMA Canada president Diana Osler Zortea and REIC national president William McCarthy look on.

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The Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada (BOMA Canada) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Real Estate Institute of Canada (REIC) for its formal endorsement of the association’s BOMA BESt program and its promotion to REIC members. BOMA BESt (Building Environmental) is a national assessment program launched in 2005 by BOMA Canada. It addresses an industry need for realistic standards for energy and environmental performance of existing buildings based on accurate, independently verified information. The four-level performance certification program also identifies key best practices and provides members with educational and on-line assessment tools, independent data audits and more. There are 1,200 build-

Claude Davis

Bruce Nicholson

Lorna Corbett


30 REM MARCH 2010

Your influence may span generations

By Ari Lahdekorpi

E

pigenetics is the study of the material that surrounds and encases our genes. (“Epi” is from the ancient Greek word that means ‘above’ or ‘over’, hence the term epigenetics). In recent years there have been some interesting findings regarding this material. It had been thought by scientists and researchers that our DNA was the sole orchestrator of what we are physically. Well, it turns out that our epigenetic structure has a lot to do with controlling the tendencies within our bodies. These tendencies can have a physical impact over just a generation. A recent study has demonstrated that a trauma in the life of our grandparents can create a ‘genetic memory’ in our systems that can shorten our life span or create a physical reaction in our bodies given certain environmental conditions. This in turn can affect the DNA as it adjusts to the epigenetic reaction. Researchers postulate that this explains how giraffes developed long necks in a relatively short evolutionary timeframe. The physical adaptation was due to environmental trauma, and positive physical reinforcement via the genetic memory. Memory and communication are fascinating subjects to ponder. They are two sides to the same coin in some respects. Communication is our attempt to reach outside of our own reality

to impact on the external world. Memory is the reverse, implanting the experience of what exists outside into our internal world. To consider that our physical bodies have a memory that can affect and impact beyond our own lives is truly remarkable. What happens to you will reverberate in your children, and their children regardless of the faded photographs or old stories. Our experiences speak through our DNA long after our tongues are silent. So what does this have to do with our roles as sales representatives and agents? Consider that the ability to communicate effectively is the hallmark of a truly great agent. The effect of successful communication is the internalization of information into our clients. It becomes a call to action. In fact, we help them satisfy one of their basic needs for survival, protection from the elements. The search for warmth and shelter is a primal need, one of the base motivations in the hierarchy of needs, as outlined in the research of Abraham Maslow. This basic motivation revolves around a physical requirement for survival. As such, it can be a powerful implanter of genetic memory, either in a positive or negative way. So in a real sense, the function of a real estate agent hits to an epigenetic level via some of our most basic and fundamental needs and motivations. The notion that our work can have an influence that spans generations should be cause for pause. Not to suggest that anyone in the office has ever taken the importance of our job as Realtors lightly, but our duty of care might be more impacting than any of us truly understands or realizes. Ari Lahdekorpi is managing broker at Re/Max Select Properties in Vancouver. REM


32 REM MARCH 2010

Turning renters into homeowners W

ith interest rates sitting at “emergency” levels – low rates never before seen by your parents and even your grandparents – now is an ideal time for first-time homebuyers to embark upon homeownership. But these rock-bottom rates won’t be available forever. The Bank of Canada estimates fixed rates could begin to rise this summer. If historically low interest rates still don’t tip the scales with your potential first-time buyers who are sitting on the fence, it’s important to have prepared answers to their most common objections to help convince them why now is an optimal time to buy. Down payments: The main reason many renters feel they can’t afford to purchase a home has to do with saving for a down payment. But there are many solutions available today that can help first-time buyers with their down payments. Many lenders will allow for a gifted or borrowed down payment. Of those lenders that will not pro-

vide this alternative, many offer cash-back options that can be used as a down payment. Better yet, there are programs available from some financial institutions where they will offer a “free down payment” or a “flex down”. The client ends up paying about one per cent more in their interest rate, but the program will help them get in the homeownership door and start accumulating equity earlier. The client must, however, stay with the original lender for the full initial five-year term or else they’ll have to pay the down payment back. First-time homebuyer incentives: Last year, a $5,000 increase was made to the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan, meaning first-time homebuyers can now withdraw up to $25,000 from their RRSPs for a down payment – tax- and interestfree. If a couple is making a home purchase together, they can each withdraw up to $25,000 from their RRSPs. The budget also included a

$750 tax credit for first-time homebuyers to help with closing costs, such as legal fees, disbursements and land transfer taxes. The tax credit is based on $5,000 for first-time homebuyers. An individual is considered a firsttime homebuyer if neither the individual nor the individual’s spouse or common-law partner owned and lived in another home in the calendar year of the home purchase or in any of the four preceding calendar years. Educating and coaching: There’s an endless amount of information available to prospective homeowners – through the Internet, friends, family members and anyone willing to voice their opinion on a given subject. What they need is education and coaching as opposed to being bombarded with more information. You may want to suggest that they speak to a mortgage broker in order to get pre-approval prior to setting out home shopping. This will help set their minds at

ease, because many first-time buyers are overwhelmed by the financing and buying processes, and often don’t know what it truly costs to purchase a home. Providing real examples can go a long way in showing them what it costs to buy a home in their area versus what they’re currently paying in rent. If a renter is currently paying $800 per month, for example, with that same payment (including taxes) they could afford to buy a $120,000 home. Assuming real estate values increase two per cent per year over the next five years, the new homeowner would have accumulated $27,000 in equity in their home. If they continue renting, however, this $27,000 has generated equity in someone else’s home. It may be worth your while to set up a joint meeting with your undecided client and a trusted mortgage broker to further clarify the situation. Your client will have two professionals in one place

By Rika Lavigne available to answer all of their questions about the home financing and purchasing processes. If you don’t think it would be worth your while to take a team approach with a mortgage professional for just one client, consider holding a free first-time homebuyers seminar where you and other professionals can dispel the myths and educate any clients you have that are undecided about homeownership. This is an excellent way to pool your resources to not only help your clients make a decision, but also tap into the clients of the other professionals holding the seminar with you. Rika Lavigne is a veteran mortgage agent with Dominion Lending Centres Advantage Mortgages based in Windsor, Ont. She has been in the financial services industry for close to 40 years, brokering for more than a dozen of those years. Phone (519) 734-0569; email rlavigne@dominionlending.ca; website www.rikalavigne.ca REM


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34 REM MARCH 2010

HOUSE WORKS

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Now that the holidays are over, your thoughts may be shifting back to your housing situation, including a 2010 move. The real estate market is still front-page news in many cities, with numerous mentions of “short sales.” What are short sales, and how might they apply to you?

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In a nutshell, short sales are homes extensive paperwork involved and that sell for less than the amount expedite your transaction. owed on them. Sellers may choose Usually, short sales are anything but If yo o you’re thinking of making a move, this route over foreclosure to avoid a short process. You’ll benefit from a or ar re just curious as to real estate are damaging their credit rating, as would real estate sales representative who trend d in your area, please feel free trends happen if the bank actually took over is knowledgeable about this specific Market calll at any time. It’s always good to cal their home. Buyers are always looking type of transaction, and who will to hea a from you! hear for a good deal, so if they have the research each short sale situation for wn Bro patience toDa waitnny out the longer of you carefully, and pay attention to the All thee best, s closing period often involved in short many details involved. Compliment sales, they may reap the rewards in n y Brow DannThere are many Inc. of real estate many markets. nstypes et Connectiothat are101 Mark transactions Suite specific to Yonge Street, Whether you’re a seller or a buyer, 4950today’s market. The more educated to, ON M2N 6K1 maneuvering your way through the Toron you are on your options, the short sale process is not something to more satisfactory your real estate do alone. Working with an experienced experience will be. Please call with real estate sales representative is your questions on short sales, or highly advisable in order to protect other types of real estate transactions Name your interests, take care of the you may be interested in. Your Client’s

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1. Got a scratch in your hardwood or laminate floor? Rub shoe polish on to hide it. Choose a slightly darker colour than the floor for best results. If the finish on your hardwood floor is worn through in areas of high traffic, daub on wood stain, then wipe off all excess. This trick works on furniture and cabinets, too. 2 . Does your bathroom sink stink, even after you’ve cleaned it? Microbes living in the overflow passage are often the cause. Use a rag to plug the opening where the overflow meets the drain, then fill the overflow with three per cent hydrogen peroxide overnight. The smell will almost certainly be gone. 3. Planning to upgrade your furnace? Models more than 25 years old are typically 60 per cent efficient. Models 10 to 15 years old are often about 80 per cent efficient. The best current models reach a peak of 95 per cent efficient. Calculate how much a new furnace will save, then compare this figure to installed costs to determine payback period. 4. Your attic access hatch is probably a huge energy waster. Many hatches leak tons of heated air, causing unnecessary heating costs and an increased tendency for ice dam formation. Sealing your attic hatch with weather stripping saves money and also reduces damaging frost build up in the attic during cold weather. 5. Got nail and screw holes to repair in drywall? Use the rounded handle end of a screwdriver, putty knife or ball peen hammer to

Top 10 little DIY tips pound a slight depression in dents or dings before filling with repair compound. The pounding action hides the frazzled bits of paper below the surface and the resulting sloped edges of the hole are easy to cover smoothly with patching compound. Smooth the repair area with a sanding sponge when it’s completely dry, then apply another layer of compound and let it dry before a final sanding. 6. Do you buy bottled water? Consider a whole-house carbon filter to remove chlorine and chemicals. For less than $75 a year for replacement carbon, it treats all the water in your house (including shower water – a source of potentially harmful vapourized chlorine by-products) at much lower cost than bottled water. 7. Do you need a new bathroom exhaust fan? Choose a model capable of changing all the air in your bathroom at least eight or nine times each hour. Anything smaller won’t provide adequate air movement. Also, if the exhaust ducting passes through an attic, be sure to use insulated ducting with a sleeve of vapour barrier plastic on the outside. Without this detail, moisture will condense in the duct during cold weather and dribble back down through the fan. 8. Never coil extension cords around your arm when putting them away. Coiling imparts a twist in the cord that causes more and

more kinks over time. Instead, fold the cord in half as many times as necessary for compact storage. This method also works well with ropes and air hoses. 9. Reducing the thermostat setting on your water heater reduces energy consumption and helps decrease the hazard of hot water burns. Just don’t lower the temperature too much. 120 F is the lowest safe level you can go. Anything cooler and dangerous micro-organisms can grow in the tank, contaminating your water. 10. Wax filler sticks are the best option for covering nail holes in wood finished with stain and urethane. Wax comes in different colours – most look like large crayons – and are used after all finishing steps are complete. When an exact match isn’t available, choose the next darkest shade of wax. Keeping your home well is more about dealing with details than it is completing big renovation projects. Tackle the little things as they come up and you’ll have a better place and more money in your pocket. Steve Maxwell is Canada’s award-winning home improvement expert, and technical editor of Canadian Home Workshop magazine. Sign up for his free homeowner newsletter at www.stevemaxwell.ca REM

Worn areas of wood flooring, cabinets and furniture can be repaired using spot applications of stain, followed by additional coats of urethane. (Photo: Steve Maxwell)


36 REM MARCH 2010

ECOHOME NEWS

By Chris Chopik recently spent four days in LA, investigating two of my favourite topics – green real estate and the effects of climate change on real estate. The first was part of my trip planning, the later just a bit of timing luck. Exchanging emails with the editor of Dwell magazine as I waited for my connected flight in Chicago, his text rolled, “It only rains five days a year in LA, looks like you’re in for four of them. Sorry!” While many might think of the spoiling of beach time, I couldn’t wait to see the infrastructure damage up close, to measure

I

Lessons and LEEDership in LA the property and infrastructure damage from storm and water with my own eyes, and I had my chance. When the rain subsided I took a short journey up the Pacific coast to a location with multi-million dollar beach-front homes in Malibu. I have a passion for modern architecture and after spending a short time admiring the mid-century and recent moderns, I was joined by my local guide (and expat Canadian) Claude. “Can you believe that last week you would have been standing under nine feet of sand that went 60 feet out into the ocean?” I was truly astonished. Claude went on to explain that between storm water and storm surge, the ocean had taken away the beach from 100 or so “beachfront properties”. I often lead discussion among Realtors about the affects of climate change on real estate, from increased intensity and frequency of storm events to changing hydrologic cycles. This new liability/insurability risk is something Realtors need to keep in mind when selling property

NEWS, OPINION, TRENDS FROM AN INDEPENDENT AND

thats valuation is vulnerable to the effects of weather, from ski resorts to costal haciendas. The impact on Malibu beachfront will be interesting to watch as the data begins to flow. Part of my purpose in going to LA was to visit the first LEED Platinum Certified Home in the U.S., labeled by the U.S. Green Building Council, in Santa Monica. This modern home is nestled into the rolling hills of Santa Monica just minutes from the beach. What makes it more remarkable than its striking modern architecture and its environmental story is the construction cycle. It’s a modular home. Designed by renowned architect Ray Kappe, it was factory built and delivered in four parts (with some on-site customization). Visit www.LivingHomes.Net to give you a clear idea of what is possible in the way of factory built home today. Company president Steve Glenn says, “Living Homes is partnering with regional modular builders to deliver world-class architecture and building performance in a modular home.” I pressed Steve to define the benefits

The Living Home in Santa Monica, Calif.

of modular versus site construction. “The prices are comparable but we believe that we can have more control over costs and quality, while saving time,” he says. The Living Home boasts solar

Letters to the Editor

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I have never read a more truthful and accurate piece of prose than the opinion piece by Jamie MacMaster published in the February 2010 edition of REM (Ontario hasn’t heard the news - The climate change battle is over). Al Gore’s completely false and misleading little movie An Inconvenient Truth, apart from making Mr. Gore the first “climate change” billionaire, provided the left wing with a club with which to beat the climate change doubters senseless. Indeed, the truth is coming out slowly, disproving the climate change fearmongers and setting the record straight. It will take a long time to correct this wrong and for everyone to come back to their senses, but they will as more and more scientific evidence debunking climate change caused by mankind is proven. I truly think we should all cut down on our carbon emissions, and to use Kyoto and Amsterdam as models would be admirable, but under NO circumstances should the West be bound by financial penalties to offset the real carbon polluters such as China and India. Dick Brady, Sales rep Century 21 All-Pro Realty (1993) Ltd. Cobourg, Ont.

hot water and solar PV (energy), is built to last and has been finished with non-formaldehyde containing and low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) surface and construction materials. The structure is filled with natural light, maximizing day lighting and minimizing dependency on artificial lighting. The Living Home is designed with attention to flexible use of space, easily transforming from an open concept empty nesting gallery to a three-bedroom + office family home. Tours of the home can be scheduled every Friday. If you happen to be heading there, log on the website to book a visit. I always find the contrasts interesting when I visit California. For me the rain was a blessing. It revealed the contrast between the California that inspires people to push the limits of creativity to achieve meaningful results, with the California perched precariously on a real estate future made all the more vivid by receding beaches and airport news reels of Haiti’s earthquake recovery. Chris Chopik is a Toronto-based Realtor, sought-after public speaker, real estate trainer and writer. Email Chris@EvolutionGreen.Com, Twitter: EvolutionGreen or call REM (416) 993-4870.


CSP International Academy TM

IN THE NEWS: Robert Allen Fabric Group & CSP International™ creates: the “Inspired Interiors” 2010 Collection especially for the Staging Industry. For over 70 years, The Robert Allen Group has been the source for the world’s finest fabrics. Robert Allen is the leading fabric house of the interior design community and long recognized as the vanguard of innovation, the Company pioneered the broad distribution of fabric books. Their creative tradition of exploring the directional trends of color and its subtle nuances ensures carefully chosen palettes that are at once comprehensive and selectively edited.

After

For these reasons and as the forefront of home fashion textile design, CSP International chose Robert Allen to create a collection of bedding items which are unique, durable, inspiring, time saving, practical and cost effective; combining artful, inspirational designs with highly durable construction to meet stringent standards. Our product range is organized to provide time-saving solutions to stagers & homeowners regardless of performance criteria or decorative style preference. The five inspired bedding collections provide multiple combination options, a truly inspired solution to staging challenges. Visit

www.inspiredinteriorsbycspi.com

CSP ™ International Academy Staging Magazine wins prestigious Staging Industry Award at Real Estate Staging Association Convention in Las Vegas. St. Catharines, ON (February 2010) - Recently nominated and awarded the RESA 2010 Product of the Year, the CSP Staging Magazine™, is recognized for its impact on the home staging and real estate industry. Besides a constant professional’s consumer awareness for the staging industry, this publication is a valuable relationship building marketing tool and an educational read. The CSP Staging Standard Magazine™ promotes awareness for the real estate staging industry through articles and photo documentation. Staging experts across Canada, the US and Australia submit articles of interest designed to enlighten readers on the staging industry as it is today. Readership consists primarily of real estate professionals, real estate staging consultants, home sellers, home buyers and other industry related professionals. Magazine content highlights staging market trends, staging statistics, case studies and industry news. Subscribe www.csptraining.com

Home Staging ranks #1 Career Choice According to a CNN list of 'Seven emerging jobs poised for growth,'Home Stager ranked as the #1 career choice. Christine Rae, President of CSP International Staging Training Academy said she is not surprised. It is the result of two major factors. The economic down turn in 2009 forced home sellers to strategically plan the marketing of their properties to help them sell faster and gain a higher ROI. Secondly the corresponding lay offs forced people in general want to take control of their destiny. A report from Royal Bank of Canada suggests 3.2million Canadians dream of having their own business at some point in their life. CSP International, the largest, independent staging training business recently confirmed global expansion plans with the appointment of Duncan Scott as their Director for International Sales. Scott, a former Equestrian, Real Estate agent, and stager said " It is really important for people in this industry to align themselves with credibility; the staging industry is non-regulated and some sellers and stagers have fallen victim to poor training providers and poor service, leaving them disappointed and disillusioned. CSP has always stood for quality education; taking steps to higher standards both in education and after market support in order to protect stagers, real estate professionals and homeowners alike." Duncan states "Strong training is an essential foundation for any business." "We have rapid growth expansion plans, Rae said; CSP International has a solid reputation, consistent growth, excellent standards, great training and continuing education requirements." Duncan added the "CSP Foundation program married with National vendors means a person can fast track their business. Continuing education is key to continued success and growth"


38 REM MARCH 2010

Mortgage Business CAAMP says mortgage risk is small The Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) says that Canadian mortgage lenders and borrowers, including first time home buyers, are being “extremely prudent” with their borrowing and lending. In December, CAAMP surveyed members who issued more than 40,000 mortgage loans totaling $10 billion, which were funded during 2009 (the data is for home purchases only and excludes renewals or refinances of existing mortgages). The dataset represents about one-sixth of total mortgage activity for home purchases in Canada. Key findings include:

- 86 per cent of these home buyers chose fixed-rate mortgages. This share fell late in the year as variable rates became more attractive (at 2.25 per cent compared to four per cent for fixed rates). - Among borrowers who chose fixed rates, a significant number opted for longer terms – less than five per cent chose terms of two years or less. Twenty per cent took three-year terms, five per cent four years, leaving 70 per cent with a fixed rate for five years or more. - The vast majority of people who took out their first mortgage last year borrowed less than they could afford to, as their Gross Debt Service (GDS) ratios are far below allowed maximums, even at the higher interest rates that are used to qualifying them

for their mortgage. - The high share of fixed-rate mortgages and low GDS ratios for home buyers are contrary to perceptions that consumers and financial institutions are taking on more risk. “This new research shows that Canadians are assessing their abilities and vulnerabilities,” says Jim Murphy, president and CEO of CAAMP. “They are being prudent and the vast majority of Canadian mortgage borrowers are not taking on undue risks. They have factored rising interest rates in to their mortgage decisions.” Will Dunning, CAAMP chief economist and author of the report, says that a small minority of homebuyers are cutting it close when it comes to affordability. He stressed that “this dataset is primarily focused on first-time homebuyers who are considered to be most at risk. Each year, about 2.5 to three per cent of Canadian households make a first-time home purchase. Our data shows that only a small percentage of them are pushing-theenvelope – about 4,000 households, which amount to a tiny fraction of the 13.25 million

homeowners in Canada. For those who borrowed in prior years, risks are even lower.”

Grey Horse applies to get into mortgage business Grey Horse Corporation, a Canadian financial services firm, has announced that its subsidiary, Equity Transfer & Trust Company (ETT), is taking steps to enter the growing field of residential mortgage lending – a $950 billion market. Nick Kyprianou is president, mortgage operations. In order to align his interests with those of the corporation, Kyprianou will also invest approximately $1 million to purchase GHC common shares at $5.25 per share via a private placement, the company says. Grey Horse president and CEO Paul G. Smith says, “This initiative fits with our strategic direction by expanding the scope of ETT’s trust business, generating a new revenue stream for the corporation and further diversifying GHC’s activities in the financial services sector.” Kyprianou is the former president of Home Capital Group and

Home Trust, where he worked for 17 years and was responsible for directing mortgage underwriting, sales and Visa operations.

Dominion Lending launches white label HELOC product National mortgage brokerage and equipment leasing company Dominion Lending Centres says it’s the first Canadian brokerage to offer a home equity line of credit (HELOC) through its exclusive Dominion Mortgage line of white label products. The new Dominion Mortgage HELOC can be comprised of three components – a Revolving Portion, an Adjustable-Rate Portion and a Fixed-Rate Portion. Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professionals who sell this product to their clients earn an upfront commission, and also get paid a trailer fee commission as long as the HELOC is being used. Dominion Lending Centres president Gary Mauris says, “Not only do our agents now have access to another HELOC choice in the marketplace, but this white label Continued on page 40


“Unique, refreshing and life altering, I believe that Keller Williams’ time has come in Canada. It’s models and vision seem to be in step with the directions that the consumer, the business world and the real estate industry are headed and my team and I are proud to be part of it.”

Steve Peroff, Sales Representative Keller Williams Realty Centres

Different by Design This is not your ordinary real estate opportunity 74,175 Associates | 693 Market Centers* To learn more about franchise or leadership opportunities at one of Canada’s fastest growing real estate companies, we invite you to contact us. canada@kw.com | 416.565.3851 © 2010 Keller Williams Realty, Inc. Each office is independently owned and operated.

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*Numbers as of year end 2008


40 REM MARCH 2010

Read what your clients are reading Homebuyers and home sellers are getting the inside scoop with this step-by-step guide about real estate deals. Read it, and be ready to guide them through their home buying and home selling concerns.

Read what your competition is reading Filled with practical insights and precautionary measures to protect clients and you, and increase agent success on every deal - for a longer, happier, and more productive real estate career.

Personal Finances

Home office tax deductions f you work from a home office, you could be in line for some tax breaks, says chartered accountant Douglas Plummer of Neal, Pallett & Townsend LLP in London, Ont. “Working from home – either as an employee with a T4 or a selfemployed individual, may allow you to deduct certain house and car expenses. To qualify, you must meet specific requirements in the Income Tax Act. The guiding rule for deductions is always ‘what is reasonable under the circumstances’, so save your receipts, and be cautious in what you claim.” Here is what can – and can’t – be deducted.

I

Employed:

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“ A very informative book that can help consumers through the potential minefield of real estate transactions. This is a great resource for anyone considering buying or selling a home.” Pat Foran, CTV Consumer Reporter

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• If your home doubles as your office, you must meet one of two CRA requirements to qualify for deductions: either your home office must be where you principally perform your duties of employment, or it must be exclusively used to earn employment income and used on a regular basis for

Mortgage Business Continued from page 38

offering enables them to offer their clients a branded product that pays the agents a trailer fee in perpetuity. This means they are positively impacting the future success of their businesses.” Dominion Lending Centres first launched its exclusive line of white label products under the Dominion Mortgage brand on April 23, 2008. Mauris says, “Should an agent decide to leave us, their trailer fees will follow them because we never want to hold our agents hostage for deals they’ve worked hard to fund.” For information: www.dominionlending.ca

meetings with clients, customers or patients. • Deductions are based on whether the office is used exclusively to earn employment income versus a mixed-use space (home and office together) and the square footage of the house. The equation must also be calculated with the breakdown of hours spent in each area of the home. • A commission salesperson can deduct the cost of renting a telephone line or cell phone as long as they are rented for business purposes. They can deduct rental payments under a rule that allows them to deduct any reasonable expense incurred to earn commission income provided it is not a capital payment. • An employee who does not earn commission income cannot deduct the monthly cost of renting a telephone line or cell phone, even if they are used exclusively for employment purposes, as the CRA does not consider the rental payment to be “a supply consumed in the course of

Advertising dashboard developed for Mortgage Alliance Denneboom Media is launching a self-serve, web-based advertising dashboard for Mortgage Alliance, the largest independent mortgage brokerage in Canada. The Dashboard is an advanced online application that harnesses the buying power of over 1,800 professionals (including over 80 franchises) and allows them to instantly plan and buy their own advertising, nationwide, at discounted rates, says Denneboom Media in a news release. Founder and president Jack Denneboom. says, “The process of buying media is complicated and

performing employment duties.” • While you can claim office costs, surprisingly you cannot claim tax depreciation on fixed assets such as computers. • If the fixed asset is leased (as opposed to purchased), only the commission salespeople are entitled to deduct the lease payments as an expense to earn commission income. • You may not claim a loss if home office expenses exceed employment income. However, any expenses that are not claimable can be carried forward and deducted against future employment income.

Self-employed: • While the same requirements apply, you can also deduct a portion of property taxes and mortgage interest, and claim tax depreciation on fixed assets such as computers, furniture and fixtures. • Whether employed or selfemployed, if you are required to drive to locations other than your principal place of employment or business, you can generally deduct some of your lease and vehicle costs, including gas, insurance and maintenance. If the vehicle is owned, you can deduct a fraction of the tax depreciation and interest if the vehicle was purchased with borrowed funds. What if you do work out of your home, but only occasionally? You’re out of luck – no deductions apply. Written by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario. REM

time consuming, involving hours of research, numerous emails, phone calls and often a great deal of frustration. With our application, a task that once took several hours over several days can now be done online in less than five minutes.” Denneboom has negotiated discounts of up to 60 per cent off. “Newspaper organizations across the country recognized the value in selfserve media buying and were quick to jump on board. To date, we have over 500 daily and weekly newspapers offering discounted rates to Mortgage Alliance brokers through the web-based application,” says Denneboom. For information: www.denneboom.com REM


REM MARCH 2010 41

REM goes to Atlantic City trying to instill confidence and order among the crew remains funny, over 40 years later. I loved his two hit TV series, and innumerable guest spots on everything from Dean Martin’s variety show to Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. Yes, I know – I’m old. In 2009, I decided to take advantage of a chance to see Mr. Newhart live. Not to be morbid, but the man is 80-years-old – my opportunities to see him in concert likely wouldn’t be expanding with the continued passage of time. He had been scheduled to appear in Toronto in December, but I thought that I’d get a jump on that show and catch his one-nightonly November appearance a bit further south, in sunny (and warmer) Atlantic City. Plus, as I said earlier, the man is 80-yearsold. I had hoped to arrange an interview while I was there for future columns and the audio feature I’ve recently launched, but Mr. Newhart’s availability was lim-

By Dan St. Yves

B

ack in March 2008 I wrote a column for this space entitled Bob Newhart, On Floor Duty. It was a tongue-incheek piece speculating what the legendary humorist may have been like, had he pursued a career in real estate. I was quite pleased to receive positive reviews for my attempt to emulate his unmistakable brand of humour. I remember listening to Mr. Newhart on the radio, back when the only things worth listening to were Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts and the odd track from one of his iconic Button Down Mind albums. His routine about the captain of the U.S.S. Codfish

ited. He was flying in that same day to a major city nearby, driving to Atlantic City straight from the airport, and after the show he’d be reversing that very course back to the airport, and then home. I had to settle with attending the show. What a show it turned out to be! Performing his trademark observational humour, interspersed with snippets of some classic bits (the hazards of being a one-eyed bullfighter, vowing to fly only “happy” airlines), Newhart lampooned televangelists, football fans and even modern wedding songs. Best of all, he performed an updated version of his classic driving instructor routine – entirely hilarious to see live. I suppose, just like the completion of his concert, this is where the story should end. But my wife convinced me to stick around and see if we could meet him after the show. Unbeknownst to us, a local radio station had arranged just that – a “meet and greet” after the performance. When the doors opened

Bob Newhart performs in Atlantic City.

to allow the crowd in, we attempted to nonchalantly edge our way in, along with the rest of the guests. We were stopped by a burly gentleman looking for our non-existent pass. Given the element of surprise, I suppose I could have overcome the bodyguard, but deciding

I might like to keep both my arms fracture-free, I decided just to hang out and hope Mr. Newhart would eventually leave the concert hall, passing us along the way. Which, I’m happy to say – he did! We managed to chat a bit, have him sign a copy of his 2006 autobiography, AND – here’s where REM comes in – I was able to give him a copy of that column I had written. He was warm and genuine in his thanks, and said he’d read it on the flight back home. We even snapped a quick photo together – next time (should there be one), I may even remember to turn on the camera’s flash. My column, to Newhart’s hands - proving the theory that a little REM often does go a long way. Humour columnist and author Dan St. Yves was licensed with Royal LePage Kelowna for 11 years. Check out his website at www.nonsenseandstuff.com, or contact him at REM ThatDanGuy@shaw.ca.

2010 Election of Directors

Call for Nominations Real Estate Council of Ontario

ELECTION

Members of the Real Estate Council of Ontario who are interested in serving on its Board of Directors are required to submit their Nomination Forms no later than:

2:00 p.m. Thursday, April 1, 2010

For more information contact:

Shelley Westlake-Brown Tel: 416-207-4800 Toll-free: 1-800-245-6910 E-mail: election@reco.on.ca www.reco.on.ca

Real Estate Council of Ontario Three Directors will be elected - one in each of the three regions of the province as established by RECO. A copy of the Nomination Form and Candidate Instructions are posted on RECO’s website.

3250 Bloor Street West, East Tower, Suite 600, Toronto, ON M8X 2X9


42 REM MARCH 2010

METES & BOUNDS

By Marty Douglas

“Good fences make good neighbors.” – Robert Frost in Mending Wall.

E

xcuse the spelling for those of you retentive types who prefer the ‘ou’ in ‘neighbour’, but I’m trying to be a good neighbor. Having and being a good neighbour may not be a basic property right but it is an essential part of community. The Quality of Life philosophy embraced by the Canadian real estate industry is all about community values, which are, I would like to believe, an extension of family values. Of course, I wouldn’t want to be a part of some families and I’m sure you might run screaming from some of my relatives. Family or community values are something like ethics then, in that we measure everyone else’s against our standards. And our own standards are unique and sometimes sacrosanct.

Neighbours and secondary suites This column came as a result of a recent breakfast conversation and involved a convoluted tale of a neighbourhood now pitted against itself over the actions of one resident who set himself up as the sole arbiter and overseer of municipal justice. You know the symptoms – measuring fence heights, questioning the clothes line, eyeing the RV parked in the driveway for a month. The issue in question has its seeds in a building scheme restrictive covenant on the title of all the properties in a middle class residential block in a city here on Vancouver Island. Among other things, the covenant stipulates homes shall be used only as a private dwelling for not more than one family. Needless to say, like all good Canadians, one neighbour assumed it didn’t apply to him and since the municipal zoning was permissive, he went ahead, built a suite and rented it out to an unrelated tenant. Eventually, our local arbiter/overseer discovered the situation, sued under the covenant and was successful in having the tenant evicted. The judge was silent on the matter of the seeming contradiction of the municipal zoning. The suit resulted in costs being awarded against the wannabe landlord who, when he added his own court costs, found himself out about $30,000 and a tenant.

This is not the stuff that promotes a block party and during the process, neighbours aligned themselves on one side or the other, some financing the lawsuit, others staying clear of the shrapnel. Living between the houses of the two litigants are a working couple, empty-nesters, who, seven years ago, welcomed to their home his mom and dad. Checking with city hall, they made sure all building code requirements were met for a suite. Even got a permit. I know that last bit is a surprise but it’s true. During the first nastiness, they refused to support the lawsuit for obvious reasons. You can guess what happened next. Fresh from his financial victory and aware of who is living next door, our anti-hero set a bailiff on his neighbours one suppertime with service for a legal action, the result of which would have the son evict his mother and father from their home. What is particularly galling is the antihero used to talk over the fence like a real neighbour and invite himself to family outings. Well – what to do? How our story unfolds might be a future column update but for now the lawyers are lining up, the politicians are being buttonholed and armchair quarterbacks are pontificating. Other than the fact the anti-hero has the law on his side

as far as the covenant goes, the crux of this issue has to do with the occupancy of the suite and the definition of “single family residence”. I think you would be hard pressed to say the suite itself was illegal, given the municipal zoning allows suites. One might argue, as some have in the past, a building scheme has no right to restrict the zoning established by the higher municipal authority. Our city bylaws contain a number of definitions. “Household” means an individual; two or more persons related by blood, marriage, adoption or foster parenthood; or not more than five unrelated persons. A single residential dwelling contains one dwelling unit. A dwelling unit has only one set of kitchen facilities. A secondary suite is limited by size and percentage of habitable floor area and a granny flat is an accessory building on a single residential use lot. So if the suite is legal as far as the zoning is concerned then, subject to the definitions in the covenant, it’s the unrelated tenant that is the problem. The problem might be solved by removing the kitchen facilities. Hopefully, neither our municipalities nor our neighbours will argue with a family’s basic right to provide shelter to its own. That just leaves the problem of the neighbourhood.

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How do you fix a dysfunctional group? If you were a Realtor with knowledge of the rancour, would the poisoned neighbourhood meet the definition of a “material latent defect” requiring disclosure? Before you answer, would you disclose a half-way house, a pedophile, a crack house or drug dealer? Ask yourself if the knowledge of the type of neighbours you are considering living beside would effect your decision on price or whether to make an offer. Last thought. Terry Bradshaw, not only a great quarterback but a hall of fame motivational speaker, said, “One in three people is ugly. Have a look at the folks on either side of you. If they seem pretty good looking to you then chances are . . .” How good a neighbour are you? 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 mdouglas@island.net; 1-800-715-3999; Fax (250) 8973933. REM


REM MARCH 2010 43

Trade Shows and Conferences For complete listings, visit www.remonline.com To add a listing to this calendar, email jim@remonline.com Royal LePage 2009 National Chairman’s Club Retreat February 24 - 28 The Landings St. Lucia Castries, St. Lucia www.royallepageevents.ca Veronica Love-Alexander veronica@royallepage.ca (416) 510-5726 Canadian Real Estate Association AGM Monday, March 22 CREA Leadership Summit Tuesday, March 23 Westin Hotel, Ottawa http://events.crea.ca Century 21 Insight 2010: Your path to profit Tuesday, April 6 Hotel Saskatchewan Radisson Plaza, Regina Thursday, April 8 Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel, Surrey, B.C. Friday, April 9 Capri Hotel, Trade & Convention Centre Red Deer, Alta. Monday, April 12 Delta Halifax, Halifax Tuesday, April 13 Hilton Garden Inn Ottawa Airport, Ottawa Wednesday, April 14 Canad Inns - Club Regent Casino Hotel, Winnipeg

Coldwell Banker Canadian Conference Achieving the Dream April 8 - 10 Westin Bayshore Hotel Vancouver Coldwell Banker Broker Synergy Meeting Thursday, April 8 Westin Bayshore Vancouver, 1- 4 pm Brokers do not need to register for the conference to attend the Synergy meeting. 2010 AE Institute Beyond Borders Conference April 16 - 20 Quebec City The single largest gathering of real estate association executives from Canada and the U.S. http://events.crea.ca New Brunswick Real Estate Association AGM & Conference April 27 - 29 Fairmont Algonquin Hotel St. Andrews, N.B. www.nbrea.ca/conference/2010_conference.html HomeLife 2010 International Conference Celebrating 25 Years April 29, 30 Fallsview Casino Resort Niagara Falls, Ont. Info: 1-800-668-0186

For tickets and more information, contact your local Century 21 broker. Tickets required for entrance.

Compiled with the assistance of Bob Campbell at Colour Tech Marketing, www.colourtech.com


44 REM MARCH 2010

Good Works T

he Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) has donated $50,000 to the Canadian Red Cross to help with relief efforts and help the people of Haiti. TREB has a long history of donating at home and abroad when disaster strikes. Last year alone, it presented Realtors Care Foundation grants totaling $171,000 to 20 local shelter-related charities, including relief efforts to help victims of an earthquake in China and those struck by a cyclone in Burma in 2008. “We can take great pride in the fact that our country has stepped forward to provide one of the three largest military contingents to Haiti,” says TREB in a news release. “There is certainly much work to be done: the international airport’s traffic control tower was severely damaged, as were hospitals and prisons, to name only a fraction of the affected infrastructure. “For those of us fortunate to live in prosperous nations, this devastation underscores the importance of emergency preparedness on an individual level. Those living in Haiti however, were at a tremendous disadvantage with regard to facing such a cataclysmic event. Even prior to the earthquake, more than two million people in Haiti were homeless, and shortages of potable water and fuel were the norm. With this degree of poverty and no building codes in existence, it is unlikely that the people of Haiti would have been in a position to withstand a disaster of any magnitude.” ■ ■ ■

Royal LePage also wasted no time in setting up a relief fund for Haiti, with 100 per cent of the donations to be directed to the Red Cross. Within hours, the fundraising target was met and continues to be exceeded. More than $40,000 has been raised so far by Royal LePage agents, brokers and staff. “We stand in solidarity and hope the people of Haiti will

recover from this devastating catastrophe,” says the company. ■ ■ ■

For children who have grown up in troubled homes and spent time in foster care, becoming an adult and moving out into the world alone can be an especially daunting transition. Many have little more than a suitcase of clothing. Recently, two such young adults were touched by the generosity of Ginette Campbell, her fellow sales reps and broker of record Ron Small at Sutton Group - Classic Realty in Whitby, Ont. The team collected pans, dishes, bedding and a warm jacket which, along with donations from other individuals and a corporation, gave each youth $350 worth of necessities to begin their new lives. “It was wonderful to see that despite the other charitable and personal obligations, people were able to help these young wards of the Crown,” says Campbell. She learned about their need from two Children’s Aid Society employees who volunteer with the Adoption Support Group. Campbell and other members of the group provide a kind, supportive environment and information to birth parents, children given up for adoption (adoptees), adoptive parents and siblings. “The process of reuniting families can be very emotional,” says Campbell. “We also make people aware of the services such as the Canadian Adoptees Registry (www.canadianadopteesregistry.org) to help adopted children find their birth parents and siblings and vise versa.” Assisting people affected by adoption has been cathartic for Campbell. She was a young mother in the 1970s when she had to give up her baby son. Thirty-three years later, when her son was a father with two children of his own, they managed to reconnect. “His parents had always encouraged him to find me and I’m grateful for that,” says Campbell. It was

a Thanksgiving weekend when she spoke with her son for the first time. “A year later, his children who were seven and three, were calling me Grandma.” As a young married mother raising two children, Campbell fostered several teenage girls. “The first question people would ask me is ‘Are you crazy?’ and I would laugh. I just wanted to give them a chance to experience life in a normal family.” All the girls who she fostered eventually returned to their parents or close relatives. Campbell remains in touch with two of them who are now in their forties.

company president Barry Clark says he is proud to continue the tradition. About 150 swimmers entered the chilly waters with 500 spectators cheering on the sidelines. MLA Ron Cantelon judged the wacky costumes. Clark says the company is fortunate to have dedicated sales reps Fred Maguire and Buddy Mcrae, who organized the event. “They garnered a helpful band of pirates that arranged the harvesting of bananas, bathtub dollars, hot dog vendors, entertainment, St John Ambulance and ice to cool the waters of Departure Bay.”

■ ■ ■

Sales rep Trevor Thomas and broker Jean Jamieson of North Bay Century 21 Blue Sky Region Realty in North Bay, Ont. have pledged a $50,000 donation to the One Kids Place Children’s Treatment Centre.

Royal LePage Nanaimo Realty held its 50th Boxing Day Swim at Departure Bay Beach in Nanaimo, B.C. The company’s founder, Frank Ney started the popular event 50 years ago, and current

■ ■ ■

“We are very lucky that the support we receive from our clients has given us the ability to maintain an ongoing involvement with and commitment to One Kids Place,” says Thomas. “Our line of business is all about building our community and being able to contribute to the ongoing success of One Kids Place is both an honour, and a means for us to reinforce our commitment to the North Bay region,” Jamieson says. She is Thomas’ mother. One Kids Place provides a wide range of services and support to children, youth and their families throughout the region. After several years in a temporary location, they recently opened a new permanent facility that has allowed them to more effectively provide their services and reach an even wider range of families throughout the districts of Muskoka, Nipissing and Parry Sound.

Ginette Campbell

Swimmers prepare to enter the waters at Departure Bay Beach in Nanaimo.

Below: Kids in grades 4, 5 and 6 in Tillsonburg enjoy a break from school so they can go swimming or skating, courtesy of Royal LePage R.E. Wood Realty and other sponsors.

From left: Scott Clark, co-chair, Fund Campaign; Judy Sharpe, executive director, One Kids Place; Trevor Thomas, sales rep and Jean Jamieson, broker, Century 21 Blue Sky Region Realty; and Dr. Joseph Madden co-chair, Fund Campaign.


REM MARCH 2010 45

“We are constantly looking to grow and develop our services and the reality of our situation is that it takes a substantial financial commitment to do so; the generosity of people like Trevor and Jean is what has allowed us to become a true regional leader in children and youth treatment,� says One Kids Place executive director Judy Sharpe. The money will be paid over a few years. The first cheque, for $15,000, was presented to One Kids Place recently. ■■ ■

Every year since 1998, Royal LePage R. E. Wood Realty has sponsored an event for the Tillsonburg, Ont. children in Grades, 4, 5 and 6 – about 600 children in total. The children enjoy a morning of free skating or swimming. In return, they are invited to bring along a non-perishable food item to donate to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Hampers. The broker of record of the office is Richard Wood. Several other sponsors were involved in making the annual event a success. REM

Marketing Canadian farms around the world A

world-wide targeted audience, a listing and leadfinding tool and a miniwebsite to promote individual agents and their farm properties are among the many benefits being offered by www.farmmarketer.com. Launched in January 2008, the website was started by a group of farm real estate agents in Manitoba and is dedicated to promoting Canadian farms. The website benefits both buyers and sellers. Real estate agents can advertise their properties to a target audience and anyone interested in a farm property will have access to listings from across Canada, and from a variety of agents and companies, says Tracy Brunet, general manager and CEO of FarmMarketer.com. The site is dedicated to promoting Canadian farms, ranches and land for sale, with a goal to

connect buyers and sellers worldwide. The site is open to agents, whether they have one farm for sale, or many. It is not available to for sale by owner properties. Agent Package 1 offers unlimited farm listings for $69.95 per month plus GST. Package 2 gives an agent up to three farm listings for $29.95 per month plus GST. “Each package gives the agent their profile and listings on the website. Listings can include up to 15 pictures and once a property is entered, the website will automatically generate a printable features sheet for that property. Other features include the ability to upload an informational brochure, track the hits for each property, and highlight their properties with a virtual tour,� Brunet says. The Internet affects almost every area of life and has changed the way people buy and sell real

estate, and that’s especially true in the case of farm real estate, she says. If an agent wants to market farm properties around the world, they would have to attend trade shows in foreign countries. This form of marketing is not cheap and takes the agent A screen shot from farmmarketer.com away from their home and business Almost 100 agents are currentfor extended periods, she says. “But ly on the website, which has had the Internet has removed the barriers. Now agents can advertise list- visitors from more than 140 counings and get them in front of inter- tries including the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, national buyers. “People looking to move to France and Japan. For more information, visit Canada can visit the website, which lets them search by www.farmmarketer.com, call 866province, farm type, price and 609-1359 or email tracy@farmmarketer.com. REM agent.�

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46 REM MARCH 2010

Who are you? Defining your brand By George O’Neill

M

y daughter, at a heady eight-years-old, was overheard several times during the recent holidays asking relatives and friends lucky enough to be seated next to her a rather soul-searching question: “Who are you?” The first time I heard her I thought she was joking or just asking what she must have thought to be a silly question, just to fill time. But, the more people she asked, the more I realized she actually was posing a rather serious question and trying to engage in worthwhile conversations. It was interesting to observe the responses, since many avoided answering the question because they did not seem to have

a clear response. How often do we ask ourselves: who are we; what do we stand for and how do we differentiate ourselves from our competitors? Why would a consumer ask us to serve them? What is our brand? What is our value proposition? Can we clearly articulate our response in 30 seconds or less? It is important to understand and be able to clearly and succinctly explain what our individual value proposition is. Breaking it down to two dimensions, let’s look at value and proposition individually, then bring them together. Value: I believe everyone knows what value means, albeit it can mean different things to different people under different circumstances. For example, to a buyer, value may come in the form of a low purchase price (monetary value), advice from a sales rep throughout the process (expertise value) and recommendations on qualified professionals to contact accountants, lawyers and tradespeople (time-saving value). To a

seller, the later two conditions may also apply, but monetary value would equate to getting the highest possible price, instead of the lowest. Value therefore can come in many forms, and is determined by the recipient as to its worth. As service providers, we must be providing value, even adding value, to the sale or purchase process for our clients. Otherwise, why engage us? Proposition: We have all either made or have been on the receiving end of propositions, some great and some less so. To propose something is to make a suggestion or recommendation you believe will benefit another person, and therefore should also benefit yourself, either directly or indirectly, in some way. In negotiations, this is often referred to as “Win-Win”. Therefore, a proposition is a concise statement of a suggested action you or someone else will take. Value proposition: Bringing the two dimensions together from a Realtor’s perspective, our individual value proposition defines, in terms our clients appreciate, what it

is we will do to help them achieve their real estate related goals and ambitions, therefore allowing us to earn a suitable fee for our service. The key is to make statements that outline how we will add value to improve their situation. Just the other day I heard a sales rep say something like: “By hiring me I will ensure your property has the broadest market exposure by not only placing the property on the MLS, but also on several syndicated Internet sites I use, all marketed appropriately using my social media toolkit. Therefore, I will ensure the absolute largest number of buyers looking for such a property know yours is for sale, resulting in you getting the highest market price in the shortest period of time.” That is an example of a value proposition, since both dimensions are covered, outlining the benefits accruing to the client (the “value”) as well as what the sales rep will do to obtain that value (the “proposition”). But the catch is every sales rep

should be able to honestly state the above, and in doing so are not really differentiating themselves. This is where the 30-second answer comes in, to start the conversation with the client to articulate what makes us each unique and therefore better (in the clients’ eyes) than anyone else. What we want to paint is a clear picture of why we are the most qualified individuals to work with that client, so we can earn the fees we charge for our service. This helps define our brand. So, be ready to answer the question, “Who are you?” at any time. The next time it may not be an eight-year-old asking. George O’Neill is a full-time Realtor in Toronto with Royal LePage Estate Realty, founder of the monthly Real Estate Technology Toronto Meetup and founder of the annual Social Media Marketing Summit for Real Estate. He is available to speakat real estate meetings and association events. Email George@GeorgeONeill.ca; Phone (416) 690-5100. REM

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48 REM MARCH 2010

What’s

New Zoocasa.com acquires renovation websites Search engine Zoocasa has acquired HomeRenovationGuide.com and HomeInteriorGuide.com, two online destinations for homeowners and contractors seeking information and resources for their homes and projects, from Avid Media. “The home renovation process is a natural extension of Zoocasa’s mission of helping Canadians find the best home to suit their needs, wants and lifestyle,” says Butch

Langlois, general manager of Zoocasa. “Providing renovation guidance as part of the overall search process will enable home buyers to make optimum purchasing decisions.” Founded in 2001, HomeRenovationGuide.com and HomeInteriorGuide.com are online resources for homeowners and contractors seeking information and advice for their homes and projects. The sites provide content and services to these communities, partnering with established companies and media outlets to give users the full home experience. The websites provide guidance for every step of the home building process featuring a directory that connects people across the continent with the right person for the job and advice on everything from mortgages to drywall. Combining listing information and mapping technology, Zoocasa.com allows users to personalize their search experience and discover community, demographic and lifestyle information to help them choose the right home.

As part of the transaction all of the employees of the two websites will join the Zoocasa team at the Rogers Ventures base camp in Toronto.

Lone Wolf adds property analysis to web platform Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies has launched a strategic partnership with eRealInvestor to address the needs of investment-minded buyers for residential and commercial properties, the company says. Lone Wolf will immediately integrate and resell eRealInvestor’s products and services as part of its Global Wolf real estate web site platform and has also acquired a minority interest in eRealInvestor. The first application to be offered is eRealAnalyzer, a browser-based investment analysis solution, integrated with for sale property listings, that computes important financial metrics to help real estate buyers and their professional advisors zero in on attractive investment opportunities. For investors, it demonstrates current and future monthly cash-flow potential based on easily modified offer price and other figures. For homebuyers, eRealInvestor shows pre-tax minimum monthly payment and future equity growth estimates for that home. “We believe in the product and feel it brings even more value to the suite of products and services that we offer,” says Lorne C. Wallace, president of Lone Wolf. “Investors are a significant share of the market and eRealInvestor’s solution will enhance their experience, thereby increasing the value proposition of our clients’ websites.” An example of a brokerage leveraging eRealInvestor on the Global Wolf platform is Re/Max Marquee Partners of Los Angeles (www.realestatelosangeles.com). On any of the property details pages on that site, a user can click the “Investment Analysis” button. The button launches a new window that allows the user to interact with multiple “what-if” scenarios and is given different purchase prices, rents, appreciation and other key financial factors. eRealAnalyzer provides market data from multiple sources so a buyer or their agent can quickly determine if a property meets their

investment criteria. For information: www.lwolf.com.

CCIM Institute offers site analysis website for Canadians CCIM TECH recently launched Canadian Demographics for the CCIM Institute’s Canadian members. Using CCIM TECH’s STDBonline.com Site Analysis, more than 300 Canadian CCIM members can now receive demographic data, reports and maps on locations within Canada. They can create study areas by entering an address, drawing on the map, clicking on the map or entering a latitude/longitude, then access nine report templates and a map. The service also includes the Map Presentations service launched in October 2009 to present information on aerials, street maps and hybrid maps. STDBonline.com is a website for real estate information and market analysis in the commercial real estate industry. It uses data provided by database providers such as ESRI, Tele Atlas, i-cubed Imagery and Experian. The data is aggregated in seconds and presented in various formats. The website may be used for nationwide aerials, demographics, business information, consumer expenditures, retail market potential, financial data and flood maps. CCIM TECH is a wholly owned subsidiary of the CCIM Institute (www.ccim.com). Since 1969, the Chicago-based CCIM Institute has conferred the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation to commercial real estate and allied professionals through a curriculum of 200 classroom hours and professional experiential requirements.

Happy Real Estate News now available as iPhone app IMS Incorporated has released a free mobile application, Happy Real Estate News. The application gives its users only positive real estate news to dispel a tendency towards gloom and doom reporting, the company says. The application is available to iPhone users from Apple’s App Store at no charge.

Designed for real estate professionals and homebuyers alike, Happy Real Estate News provides up-to-date market information from many areas in the United States and Canada, showing many cities where real estate has performed better than the previous month. The idea is to help the real estate recovery by focusing on good news in real estate. Taking advantage of the company’s statistical engine (called Reality) using proprietary formulas, Happy Real Estate News divides encouraging information into four specific categories: homes sold by units, average value of homes, average home sale prices and number of days on the market. It was originally launched on a web-based platform, www.happyrenews.com. Leon d’Ancona, president of IMS Incorporated in Toronto, says, “As a real estate information services provider, we have a definite stake in the real estate market. If you’re looking to enhance sales and create aggressive strategies, Happy Real Estate News is essential for your professional toolbox.”

CRL Network (Canada) to support Habitat for Humanity CRL Network (Canada), an online marketplace for commercial properties, has formed a national partnership between Habitat for Humanity Canada and the online commercial real estate marketplace. The goal is to fund the construction of a home over the next year within an Ontario community. A portion of the advertising fees paid to CRL Network by all participating property advertisers and sales professionals will support the building of a home for a family living without affordable housing. “We are excited to have the opportunity to give back, with our advertisers help, to the communities and regions we support. The vision and mission of Habitat for Humanity Canada is a natural fit for our network and we look forward to a long relationship together,” says Michael Seebeck, managing director, CRL Network (Canada). For information: www.crlnetwork.com REM


REM MARCH 2010 49

U.S. appraisers defend travel distances T

he typical driving distance traveled by independent appraisers, according to a U.S. survey of that country’s largest appraisal management companies (AMCs), averages 13 miles in urban and suburban areas, says the Title Appraisal Vendor Management Association (TAVMA). “Our members track a variety of metrics, including for distances traveled,” says Jeff Schurman, executive director of TAVMA. “We polled our AMC members in light of unsubstantiated statements that AMCs send out-of-market apprais-

ers great distances to value properties. Based on what our members are reporting to us that’s simply not the case. Going forward, we will survey and report on average driving distances quarterly.” Schurman says that AMCs typically use one of three methods for controlling how far appraisers travel: Geo-coding; zip code to zip code mapping; and/or order form instructions not to exceed defined distance parameters. “That an appraiser services a particular area, how often and how recently are three critical selection criteria that AMCs use in selecting

the most appropriate appraiser for an assignment,” says Steve Haslam, CEO, StreetLinks National Appraisal Services. “Does this mean that in Montana or Wyoming, some appraisers aren’t driving further than 13 miles? Of course not. The United States has over 3.5 million square miles of land area and about 60,000 residential appraisers; a land-to-appraiser ratio of 59:1. The nature of the business is that appraisers sometimes travel outside of their own neighbourhood – but that doesn’t mean outside of their sphere of professional expertise. In many mar-

kets, our selection criteria divide heavily populated counties into smaller zones that we don’t let appraisers cross.” Haslam added, “Remember that as licensed and certified appraisers, the appraisers who work with AMCs are required under their industry standards, known as USPAP, to refuse assignments where they are unfamiliar with the markets.” AMCs currently provide approximately 60 per cent of all residential appraisals used in the mortgage industry, and TAVMA’s 40 AMC members together

account for more than 80 per cent of this volume. Although some AMCs employ in-house appraisers, most assign orders to local independent appraisers. “When you consider a 2007 national survey reported that 63 per cent of the appraisers in the country work with AMCs, it stands to reason that AMCs will have a deep pool of appraisers from which to choose,” says Schurman. “Plus, the economics of the industry give neither the AMCs nor the appraiser an incentive to go great distances to conduct an appraisal.” REM

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50 REM MARCH 2010

THE PUBLISHER’S PAGE

Aventure Realty Network ™

By Heino Molls

A creating Canada’s network of leading independent brokers

www.aventurerealty.ca

lot of newspapers are scrambling to be online because they fear that if they don’t do it, somebody else will take their news, put it on the Internet and become a more favoured place to go for updated information. It’s true that general newspaper readership is down but so is general television viewership. It is not because there are less people watching TV or reading newspapers – there are more people watching and reading than ever before. The challenge for mainstream media is that general viewership is down. People have a choice of hundreds of specialty programs on hundreds of TV channels. It’s the same for the newspaper business; people have the choice of literally hundreds of newspapers across the country. REM is one of those specialty newspapers out of the mainstream. We focus on a specific industry, real estate. Some newspapers are looking desperately for new ways to generate revenue that they have lost mostly from classifieds ads, but they don’t know how. Papers that used to be the “main news provider” in town now don’t know what to do. On the other hand, there are many newspapers that understand what needs to be done. It is simple. Be a good read. Have good information. Have correct information and deliver the news. That’s it. Produce good stories that are credible, informative, educational, important and above all fact checked. If you can do that, you will win. It is simple but it is not easy. Take it from an old warhorse in the business. I am not a reporter or an editor but even I can tell you there are a lot of newspapers in our towns that have lost the concept of

A tough time for newspapers good stories. They are just not that good anymore. If you live in a smaller city than Montreal or Vancouver, for example, take a good look at your local paper. There was a time that they had stories about regional, provincial and even national events as they affected you and your town in addition to the local stuff. I remember a little paper out west called The Albertan that was one of the best reads in the country. Now it is gone. Small papers today write about the local news but the big stories all come from the head office in the big city. If a notorious incident should occur in their neck of the woods, local reporters will be handy to provide background information but the main story will still be handled by the head office. It’s just so cookie cutter now that the grasp, the understanding and the passion are missing in so many papers. For me that is the greatest challenge this business has, to write with real understanding and credible facts. You want readers? Get good stories. To get good stories you need good editorial. To get good writers you have to pay good money. That’s the hard part. Some newspapers have good writers and

Be the oracle

huge comprehensive editorial departments and lose a lot of money, like the National Post. Some newspapers don’t have good writers and instead run opinion, criticism and columns by bad writers and claim they make money. The bottom line is that producing a good newspaper is simple. Making money on it is hard. At REM, we will keep trying. Here is what I wanted to let everyone know this month. One of the elements of being a good newspaper is being a good steward to the community. With this in mind, REM is, as of this month, printing on 100 per cent recycled paper – not some, not half but truly 100 per cent recycled paper. We get to put a special logo on our masthead that says we are certified. This is all due to the efforts of our printer, Metroland Printing and Publishing, who managed to get this paper for us. Thank you Peter Marsh, Steve Renaud and Ed Woodley at Metroland for helping us be good stewards. Now if only you could help me make money. Heino Molls is publisher of REM. Email heino@remonline.com. REM

Continued from page 20

to rise the first part of the year and generally decline thereafter, with a few hiccups as sales march towards their December doldrums. You don’t need a degree in statistical analysis to interpret the sales trends in your city. As you drill down and granulate to smaller areas these trends tend to become more difficult to spot. I generally recommend at least a 500home sold statistical basis to spot these trends. Finally, add pricing parameters, and the picture becomes even clearer. Chart 3 shows a five-year cyclical graph of million-dollar homes. While markets may differ, short-term pricing trends in this country can be traced once you have the historical data at your disposal. If you need help with this you can call my office. As you can see, there is no magic to real estate short-term predictability. Once you understand the reality of real estate, you will be the guru people call for advice. A larger income is bound to follow. 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. www.realestatestatistics.com Email: leon@realestatestatistics.com REM


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An Open Letter to all Real Estate Professionals RE: Taking back the industry 2009 proved to be a defining year for real estate, creating two very separate and distinct categories of REALTOR®. Experienced professionals, who stayed the course, adjusting to new conditions and adhering to solid business plans, were ideally positioned for the turnaround and emerged victorious from the downturn. The fair-weather REALTORS® who were ill-prepared and panicked, who chose to bury their heads in the sand, were not. I think it’s time we formally acknowledge the elephant in the room. Last year, one in five realtors® failed to sell a home on TREB—the largest board in the world. The same problem likely exists in boards across the country. In addition there are several large brokerages where 70% of the agents did less than a deal a quarter. No one in the industry has addressed how threatening this actuality is to both the consumer and the profession. Our industry is overrun by indifferent agents who lack the knowledge and experience to service their clients adequately. The ease with which they can hang a shingle and tarnish our profession is astounding. Personally, I can’t believe that this reality hasn’t been challenged. With the exception of those sales associates that are new to the business—and we have some stellar rookies who have already achieved serious results in their first year in the business—and those that are winding down successful real estate careers, I find it hard to fathom that one in five agents sell nothing at all. Fifty-three per cent do not do a deal a quarter yet are prepared to provide guidance to buyers and sellers making the largest single financial transaction of their lifetime. Which begs the question: Just who is looking out for the real estate consumer? We need to create a plan of action—one that represents our collective voice—and your feedback is vital in this process. After all, the greatest opportunity to raise standards is through licensing and we’d like to see stricter rules governing the registration of REALTORS®. Some suggested recommendations that will immediately improve the industry include: 1. Introducing a one-year apprenticeship program that exposes new agents to buying and selling, as well as the art of negotiation before licensing. This will also mean hands-on brokers who have a vested interest in the success of their apprentices. 2. Establishing a referral license program, whereby inactive realtors® can earn a fee by referring their clientele to full-time real estate professionals. 3. Increase educational requirements. In the days and months ahead, we will call upon the leaders and directors of real estate’s governing bodies—as well as CREA, OREA, and other real estate boards and associations to support us in this cause. The open dialogue will lead to an improved model that will better protect consumer interest and the integrity of the real estate professional. Truth be known, we’d all benefit from an industry overhaul. The committed, dedicated professionals who have devoted their lives to listing and selling homes would welcome an opportunity to restore honour and dignity to the profession. After all, the apathy and lack of expertise among the non-committed affects the entire industry. We need to send the message, once and for all – real estate is not a fall-back profession. We want to hear your thoughts on the matter. Visit us now at www.takingbacktheindustry.com. It’s time to make your voice heard.

Sincerely,

Michael Polzler Executive Vice President and Regional Director RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada Inc.

Ontario-Atlantic Canada Inc. 7101 Syntex Drive, Mississauga, Ontario L5N 6H5 . Phone: 905-542-2400 . Fax: 905-542-2318 . Web Site: www.remax.ca

March 2010 (update)  

March 2010 issue of REM.

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