Tech in Real Estate

Real estate tech is an emerging industry that has seen a rise in investment, innovation and demand in recent years. CB Insights — a venture capital database — shows that funding in real estate tech businesses jumped from $300 million in 2012 to $1.5 billion in 2015. That’s more than a 350 per cent increase in a field that’s been dominated by in-person relationships.

This money is being sunk into real estate tech companies that are changing the experience of buying a home, from listing services to virtual viewings to property management software.

This could be a good thing. Startups are leading the charge in real estate innovation by reshaping how properties are bought, managed and sold. Apps like Casalova, Canada’s first end-to-end real estate rental platform, guides tenants to their next rental home and matches them to potential neighbourhoods — allowing them to search for listings, secure a unit and pay for rent, all online. More recently, the company has expanded into the selling market, allowing customers to find a property they like, book a viewing, and make an offer — also all online.

These innovations in real estate are pushing agents to be more accountable – agents are shifting from being salespeople to feeling a need to be experts in their field. Platforms are being designed with the agent in mind, especially one looking to develop new business and clients. Buyer trends and emerging tech make it necessary for agents and landlords to adapt if they intend on closing new clients or managing rentals and bookings on the go.

Due to the current private state of the multiple listing service (MLS) — a suite of services used by brokers to share property information with other agents who may represent potential buyers — the model for buying a property is the same as 50 years ago: you work with a certified professional who supplies listings that meet your criteria, gives you access to a property, shows you around and provides an educated opinion.

It’s an industry ripe for change, and many startups are finding loopholes to capitalize on the opportunity. Tech platforms that allow users to feel more empowered about the decisions they’re making are sealing deals and gaining traction at record levels.

With increased access to data, homebuyers now have all the information they need to make an educated purchasing decision. This forces real estate professionals to reinvent their role. Agents won’t become obsolete, but being the sole proprietor of information is no longer a competitive advantage. As selling and buying will always hinge on emotional factors and in-person relationships, agents have the opportunity to become better facilitators by adopting new tech platforms in order to remain relevant in the marketplace. More than ever, high level marketing and negotiating skills have become essentials in the realtor’s value proposition.  

The real estate industry is building platforms that lead consumers online for property searches, keeping them there for essential post sale services. The industry is focused on algorithms and A I, building smart systems intended to replace the face to face experience and emotion of a home sale or purchase. Will the real estate industry go too far with tech and hurt itself in the process, or will relationships prevail? 

Are we forgetting the art of developing, maintaining and nurturing relationships? Are we  missing out on the value of human skill, compassion, experience and emotion?!

Let’s invest in the existing relationships with our clients. Let’s support them, nurture them, respect them and develop them into a continuous cycle of loyal clients. Let’s provide them with service that exceeds expectations, let’s understand and preempt their needs and provide them with everything they and a relationship relies on, in order to thrive.

  • If I am to believe that technology and AI will and is replacing face to face, person to person interaction, and the exceptional delivery and reward of a customer service experience, then I will be retracting from and betraying a 25 year career that has proven otherwise.

Person in the Mirror

Every new year brings a fresh beginning, a sense of redemption and hope for bigger and better things. Diets, fitness, worship, friends, spouses and even wardrobes – it is out with the old, in with the new. Funny enough, January is considered “divorce month”. People start looking for information before the New Year starts, but they can’t do much until the attorneys are back in the office. January 12-16 seems to be the magic week for filings.

Not long after, come big ticket events such as the super bowl, Valentines Day, and a plethora of other social events and functions that will lead even the most committed souls to deviate or even outright give up on their blood sworn oaths to change. You see, change from our forever norms which are deeply rooted and ingrained in our DNA, is not as easy or simple as it may seem. Change from these old habits requires more than willpower or faith – it’s deeper than that…it’s a shift in our thoughts, ways, and innate behaviours and even circle of influence. Take a dog that has been exposed to aggression and conflict with others, remove the dog from the fight but you still have the fight in the dog. To change it’s behaviour fundamentally,  one would imagine that most drastic changes would need to occur. Cruel and harsh measures like defang, declaw, muffle its bark and dampen it’s senses, expose it to doggy daycares and walks in the park. Now, we have a more docile dog which can identify differently and respond differently from it’s previous norm.

Caution, however, the new version of the old dog is more like a docile puppy, and it and everyone around it, must get used to and learn to like the “new version”, of the old dog.

Change too much and those around you may not like the new and improved. Just ask Coca-Cola.

Kidding aside folks, set goals that are achievable and reasonable. SMART goals, as they call them.

ABCDs of goals… Great Attitude, shift in Behaviour, Commit to goals, avoid Distractions along your way. Celebrate when you succeed, modestly or otherwise, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t. After all, we are all dogs of different temperaments and maybe, just maybe, are happy just as we are.

The Redwood Shelter

In 1987, a group of neighbours were united by the same cause: the pressing need for a safe haven for abused women and their children in the Parkdale-High Park community. 

They founded the Parkdale-High Park Rotary Club, and began the hunt for a suitable site for everything they envisioned. In 1991, they were able to secure a rundown former warehouse, and set about the enormous task of transforming the building into a welcoming new home for abused women and their children. 

Similar to an old-fashioned barn-raising, hundreds of volunteers from across the city grabbed their tools and came together. Building materials were donated, and carpenters, plumbers and electricians generously volunteered their services. People from all walks of life participated to help in any way they could. 

Thanks to this incredible community effort, The Redwood welcomed their first family in December 1993. Twenty-five years later, The Redwood has provided crucial emotional, social and practical support that families need to get their lives back on track. The Redwood envisions a world where women and children live free from abuse and all other forms of violence and oppression.  

The Redwood has 12 bedrooms, housing 37 beds in a converted warehouse in Toronto. Residents receive 3 meals a day, hygiene items, bedding, and childcare supplies. Peer support groups, art and play therapy, wellness resources, and parenting classes help women and children to work through trauma. Women are connected with other community supports, including housing support services, referrals to subsidized daycare and school registration, job training, and legal support. Clients stay at the shelter for an average of 114 days and remain in touch with counsellors for a year after leaving.

For many women, the cost of escaping abuse is living in poverty. The Redwood works to connect clients with affordable housing and employment opportunities. In 2018, 160 women attended the Trades and Technology Conference to learn about college programs, trade schools, and union apprenticeships. The Redwood’s Women on the Move Leadership Program coached nine women in public speaking and job skills training.

The Redwood is actively engaged in community outreach within Toronto. It facilitates workshops at local schools, libraries, housing co-ops, and community centres, educating women about abuse, and to create a safety plan when fleeing abusive situations. The 24-hour crisis line provides women in desperate need with counselling. In 2018, 491 women called the crisis line. In 2018, The Redwood sheltered 73 women and 123 children escaping abuse. These clients left a dangerous situation, receiving support and 24-hour protection at The Redwood.

Thank you to all the volunteers at the Redwood Shelter for the amazing work you do for the women and children in our community!

Sahara Desert Trek for Shelter

 

The Royal LePage Shelter Foundation is Canada’s largest public foundation dedicated exclusively to funding women’s shelters and violence prevention programs. Every dollar raised goes directly to helping the more than 50,000 women and children who are served each year by the shelters and support programs we fund. Since 1998, the Shelter Foundation has raised over $30 million and currently supports 200 local women’s shelters and national partners. Participating Royal LePage sales representatives and brokers donate a portion of their commissions the foundation, as well,  Royal LePage offices across Canada hold local fundraising events, such as the annual Royal LePage garage sale for shelter where our brokers, agents and staff also volunteer and provide in-kind goods to benefit the women and children residing in their local shelters.

On any given night in Canada, close to 6,000 women and children stay in an emergency shelter because it’s not safe for them to be at home. At the same time, 300 are turned away each night because all the shelters are full. On average, in Canada, women or girls are killed every 2.5 days, most often at the hands of someone they trusted, according to the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability at the University of Guelph. Women are victims of intimate partner violence more often and more severely than men, 79% of police reported intimate partner violence is against women and women were victims of intimate partner homicide at a rate four times greater than men.

In 2017 @RLPSupreme won Office of the Year in Ontario. Recognized for it’s fundraising efforts such as our annual Garage Sale for Shelter, Bowling for Shelter, Cruise for Shelter events and commission donations! Every year, through our collective efforts, we raise tens of thousands of dollars which are donated in full to our local shelter, The Redwood. 

In November 2019, an enthusiastic group of (number) Royal LePage professionals journeyed to Morocco to trek 100 km across the Sahara Desert. They traversed over uninterrupting, relentless and unending sand dunes, traversed ancient dry river beds and vast desert plateaus in a hot and arid climate that cooled considerably at night. Trekkers hiked for up to 7 hours a day in single file, uninterrupted by modern day distractions or routines, giving up all comforts and conveniences, in exchange for communal sleeping tents and outdoor bathroom facilities under the stars. 

Each step the trekkers took, and every dollar they raised, will help abused women and children find safety and build lives free from violence. As a whole, Royal LePage was able to raise over $1,000,000, on this event alone! Two of RLPS’ realtors participated in this trek. Sarah Garner and Natalie Quintal collectively raised just under $15,000.00 towards the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, and just as importantly, raised awareness. 

We are super duper proud to have such inspiring leaders working alongside us, here at Royal LePage Supreme, thank you ladies! Bucket list, check!

The importance of negotiation

We’ve all been there- after weeks or maybe even months of searching, your client has found “the one” and it’s time to write up an offer. You painstakingly craft a clean, well-researched, well-intended offer. Then you respectfully submit to the listing agent and wait for a response.

While you wait, all sorts of scenarios play out in your head… Maybe the Seller will accept it as written. Or maybe there will be a simple counter-offer, an easy one for your Buyer to accept. Maybe… wait, you were supposed to have gotten a response by 5 pm and it’s 6:30 pm. Or perhaps you’re on the other end – you receive the well-written offer on your listing and happily send back an accepted offer to crickets. So you follow up with a call – only to get the dreaded “this voicemail is full” recording. And so it begins – the all too common deal with a difficult cross-agent. But why is it this way, and why do we set or tolerate these standards?

Clients hire a professional realtor for many reasons, but one very basic and essential one stands out…NEGOTIATE on behalf of a client.

Often times, negotiations break down because respective representatives can’t or won’t negotiate, or communicate effectively enough to get the deal done on behalf of both the buyer and the seller. Agents stubbornly butt heads and create conflict which essentially stalls effective communications, leading to a break down and a failed purchase and sale attempt and unhappy clients.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy or simple solution to this dilemma. You want to (actually, NEED to) do the best job possible and get the best results for your client, it will all boil down to a few basics:

  • Communicate: Just because you don’t hear back doesn’t mean your communications aren’t being received. Often, agents may quickly read an email or text and believe there’s no action needed on their part. You must follow up. And you must do it often and repeatedly until you get some response or acknowledgment.
  • Document: Make sure you are documenting everything. The number of attempts, responses, and items omitted from responses. Should push come to shove on any single point, make sure you’ve documented your calm, persistent, attempts.
  • Overcompensate: It’s not unusual for a lender, the title company, and even the other agent’s clients to reach out to you for an answer to something that is clearly the other agent’s responsibility. It’s just what you have to do to get your client over the finish line. So do it for them.
  • Know when to escalate: Make sure you know when it’s appropriate to go to the other agent’s broker. It might not make you popular with the cross-agent, but the goal is to look out for your own client’s interests.

When the day is done, the real key to knowing how to manage a deal with a difficult agent is remembering why you’re in this business. Go hard, negotiate fairly, honestly and with your clients best interests in mind, but do this with respect, professional courtesy to and a touch of empathy towards your fellow realtor, being mindful that this was likely the primary reason you were hired in the first place.

How to Transform a Room in Under 5 Minutes:

It’s estimated that staging your home can often raise the asking price by 6% to 15%. It’s a way of appealing to the emotions of a home buyer to make the home more appealing to the eye. According to an article in Scientific American, room design has actually been shown to affect our mood and even productivity.

It isn’t a realistic option for everyone, however, to complete a full furniture overhaul, or a complete room makeover. Royal LePage Supreme realtors offer a staging consultation as part of their marketing plan! If you’re looking for ways to update your space, here are a few tips to transform any room in under 5 minutes:

  1. Lighting: Getting a room dimmer allows for flexibility depending on the time of day, event or mood – bonus, they are great energy savers! Another tip, LED Soft white light bulbs are ideal for professional photos.
  2. Rugs: adding colour or patterns through an area rug creates an instant statement.
  3. Candles: an incredibly inexpensive way to change the ambiance of a space
  4. Declutter: It is important to depersonalize the space from photos or tchotchke, to make room for the buyer’s own imagination. Less is more! It’s also a great way to prepare yourself for the move.
  5. Switch up your accessories: look for subtle accents you can quickly add to a room ie: throws, pillows
  6. Do some rearranging: the arrangement of a room’s contents is nearly as important as the contents themselves
  7. Painting: Not always necessary, but something to consider if your home has bold colours. Colours mean different things to different people, and are also known to affect your mood. Neutral colours are the way to go! 

You don’t need to spend a ton of time or money to change the feel or ambiance of a room, a few simple tricks can completely transform the feel of your space!

Confessions of a Pet Parent

From 2016 to 2018, the Canadian dog population has continued to grow while the population of cats has stabilized. Dog population figures for 2018 increased to 8.2 million, up from 7.6 million in 2016.  The Canadian dog population is now nearly equal to the cat population for the first time since these measures were established in 2004.

I have, by way of my children, been a pet parent, specifically a dog, since 2002. Truth be told, as a new owner and master of a Jack Russell Terrier, I didn’t always fulfill my duties when it came to poop and scoop obligations. I, at times was unprepared and let it lie where it dropped, and I profusely apologize to my former neighbours.

Today, my daughter and I share parenting duties to a Beagle/Boxer mix, that is significantly heavier than our previous dog, and definitely leaves a heftier poop footprint, if you know what I mean. However, I am much more prepared now, and diligently follow through with my poop and scoop duties. I live in mid-town Toronto, and when I am out and about with or without my dog, I see other responsible pet owners dutifully walking their “best friend” on a leash with poopy bags in hand. 

Now, I understand that there are times where we let it lie where it may, if we happen to be unprepared, however, let’s talk about how owners:

  • spayed and neutered their FIDO
  • licensed it 
  • feed it
  • care for it
  • walk it
  • pay thousands to vet’s for care
  • purchase poop bags

All this work, just to toss said poop bags back onto people’s lawns, when they are full..why not just go back to my early days as a pet owner and leave it on the lawn, forgoing the plastic bags?! Just a reminder to all the pet owner’s out there and some of my neighbours, there is a Toronto by-law which requires that all dog handlers to immediately remove their pet’s waste and dispose of it on their own premises. There are some exemptions for service dogs. Failure to comply with this by-law can result in a whopping $365 ticket – something to keep in mind on your next walk!

So folks, be nice, go the extra step and carry it home with you.

Royal LePage Supreme Realty recognized as Ontario “Office of the Year” 2017, by the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation.

The Royal LePage Shelter Foundation is Canada’s largest public foundation dedicated exclusively to funding women’s shelters and violence prevention programs.

Every dollar raised goes directly to helping the more than 30,000 women and children who are served each year by the shelters and support programs we fund. Since 1998, the Shelter Foundation has raised more than $27 million and currently supports 200 local women’s shelters and national partners. Our agents donate a portion of their commissions and Royal LePage offices across Canada hold local fundraising events. Our brokers, agents and staff also volunteer and provide in-kind goods to benefit the women and children residing in their local shelters.

Fittingly, on March 8, a date which is recognized globally as International Women’s Day, our brokerage was recognized as Ontario “Office of The Year”, by the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation.

We know and recognize that there are many other brokerages throughout the Province of Ontario that are also worthy of this recognition, but we are flattered and embrace this recognition.

Since its inception ten years ago, the National Garage sale events at our brokerage have been a tremendous Community success, raising thousands and thousands of dollars for our local Women’s shelter. These annual events depend heavily on the “hands on” help and support of our sales representatives and staff. Whether collecting valuable items, sorting them on the eve of the sale, selling them on the day of, or grilling sardines on the barby, to everything else that goes along with the garage sale, it would not be possible without the collective effort. So, a big thank you to all of our RLPS volunteers…no effort is too small, we can’t do it without you.

Come visit either or both of our office locations on May 12th, as we once again pitch our tents for this very worthy cause. Or, if you would like to donate gently used items, please contact us!RLPS award

Calling all Toronto sports fans…

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Media Day

Our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs secured their first playoff spot in almost a generation and are now embroiled in fight for playoff survival with the overwhelming favourite Washington Capitals. This achievement, by our leafs, together with recent playoff success by our Blue Jays, Raptors and TFC, have put Toronto back on the map as a major sports town. Our TFC made it to the glorious final but failed to bring home the prize. Our raptors lost valiantly to the Cleveland Cavaliers who went on to win the NBA Championship , and our Blue Jays flickered again in last year’s division series dashing any dreams of a return to World Series Champion status.

Hogtown sports fans don’t ask for much. Our City gets excited with a mere appearance in the first round of playoffs, and in true Canadiana fashion, we will give our sports heroes a standing O at their first hint of failure in their respective arenas.

Last week, Toronto sports fans were treated to a Raptors playoff loss but were quickly picked up by the hope of LeafNation as our young buds went into Washington and stole a victory from the more talented and more experienced Caps, and now lead the series 2-1, after yet another brilliant overtime victory. From where I sat during yesterday’s game, I made an interesting observation as three different generations sat glued to a television monitor watching every nail biting moment as our Toronto maple leafs fought for playoff success. Yours truly, caught the final moment as Joe Bowen called out the overtime game winning goal, over the air waves. At that very moment, it felt as if all of LeafNation jumped and roared simultaneously to the call of the goal. I wondered, I did, if Toronto is a sports town or if we are a hockey town? What would this town do if our beloved group of teenagers brought us any sort of success, let alone our first championship in 50 years? 

Whatever the outcome, this group of well managed and well trained young lads have done us proud, and by the look of things, they will be thrilling Toronto sports fans for some time to come.

It’s just as well if this bunch doesn’t have a lengthy playoff run, this band of young men couldn’t grow a proper playoff beard anyway. Take your time boys, Toronto sports fans are a patient bunch.

Go Toronto Go!!

Budding star…

 

Allow me to introduce young Bruno, a recent conversion to SCP soccer club of Toronto, and a budding soccer star. A young man with obvious great taste in soccer clubs.

Bruno, together with mom and dad, have enrolled in a local soccer academy, where Bruno will undoubtedly develop his hand eye co-ordination, build strength and stamina, and most importantly, where Bruno will develop strength in character and a better understanding of team concepts and team spirit. These important social skills will follow young Bruno, throughout his life’s path. No matter where he lands or what career path he chooses.

So, the benefits of enrolling young boys and girls in soccer or any other team sport are many. We help develop and strengthen our local economy and support groups, we help develop our young minds into responsible citizens and future community leaders, while keeping the precious little ones engaged and away from trouble. Let’s not forget the infectious smiles and the unquantifiable joy this brings to the kids.

Soccer is fun, affordable and a fast growing sport. Get the kids out there.

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Go TFC!