Our reality.

Trite…The dictionary describes this as “not interesting or effective”. This is how I would describe last Friday’s puff piece about unscrupulous Realtors. With hidden camera in hand, the report targets Realtors most likely to fail. Missing from this report, footage or mention of the ones acting ethically and professionally.

As a veteran Realtor, I wish to apologize to the consumers who were inflicted; to the rest of the industry professionals who strive to serve their buyers and sellers effectively, professionally and ethically, and to anyone else who was as insulted and disturbed by what they saw.

What is important for us to recognize is that these individuals would be as misguided or unethical, if they were anything other than Realtors. This is just a slice of our society. This is like a few corrupt politicians making the entire sector look bad; a few bad cops tarnishing the job that most others do very well; a few rotten letter carriers that throw away mail; a small group of employees that make the others look bad; athletes on steroids, where most aren’t.  You see, it’s not the industry we are in; it’s the individual in it. As the phrase reminds us, everywhere you go, there you are”.

The report details how in Australia, where real estate is also scarce, parched buyers standing out in the Auzzie heat, gather round a slick talking auctioneer with microphone in one hand and a property deed  in the other. In 15 minutes, he has bid up the house price $100,000.00 over the seller’s best expectations.  Brings a new meaning to the phrase “feeling the heat”.

Not for me, give me a professional Buyer Agent any day. A professional that will help me negotiate fairly, honestly and ethically. A professional who will help control the anguish and anxiety often associated with home buying. One who will guide me through the search process, through the negotiating process, and through every other detail associated with home buying. One I will refer time and time again.

On the eve of this report being aired, a past client sent this to one of our Realtors…” Hi Sarah, I saw the below description of the Marketplace episode scheduled to air this evening and thought of you.  We are so thankful, once again, that we had you as our realtor. Thanks for being so ethical and transparent. You are an example of excellent in your profession”.

So, where does a consumer find these Realtors? Ask for referrals and for testimonials. Interview the individual and ask questions. There is no shortage of professional and ethical Realtors in our industry, just ask a friend.

Long live the buyer agent.

A Hot Market

Canada’s finance minister believes the housing market remains hot, but healthy. It just needs a little more regulatory care to keep it that way and not harm the economy in the process.

For now, Bill Morneau’s prescription calls for some gentle adjusting of existing rules — like closing a tax loophole on non-resident real estate investors — along with new measures, such as a mortgage-rate “stress test” to ensure hopeful buyers can afford to get into the market in the first place and meet their payments when lending levels begin to rise.

Phil Soper, chief executive at Royal LePage, said “we are already starting to see the early stages of a cyclical slowing of the market in both cities — albeit more pronounced in Vancouver.”

“For the rest of the country, I believe we’re actually in a natural expansionary phase and will probably see very little change or slowing … anywhere but in our two biggest cities,” he said.

Overall, these measures should serve to ensure today’s first time home buyer can sustain a rate increase, should rates rise, when their mortgages come in for renewal, three, four or five years from now.

Some first time home buyers may find themselves having to adjust their purchase price, or adjust the location in which they intended on buying in, however, these changes do not and should not deter any first time home buyer from realizing their dream of home ownership. And while it may seem unfair, these changes will help ensure that today’s buyers are fundamentally sound for years to come.

Fishing Trip

So, on my recent fishing trip, I got to thinking about what it is that makes anglers from all over the province and from regions far and wide; converge on their favourite fishing hot spots for days at a time?

Could it be that we go to see the mystic fog rise from the waters at break of day?

Could it be that we do this for the picturesque settings we so often see in remote lakes and rivers?

Could it be for the opportunity to tell fish tales?

Could it be for the sunsets and sunrises? Could it be that we travel for hundreds and hundreds of miles to sit in cold, wet boats, sleep in mice infested cabins, spend hours and hours hunting for that elusive fish, you know, the one that got away from the other guy’s line?

It’s for the moment when the prey meets predator…the strike. Fish on!

In Ontario, recreational fishing is governed through a complex set of laws and regulations, aimed at balancing recreational and economic interests with long-term conservation and management of fish stocks. The federal Fisheries Act protects and conserves fish and fish habitat. The Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act governs the issuances of fishing licences. Anglers must ensure that they have obtained the appropriate licences. They are also regulated in terms of where and when they may fish (open and closed fishing seasons); how many fish of a particular fish species they may catch and keep; the size of the fish that may be caught; and the type of gear and bait that may be used to catch fish.

Ontario’s fisheries contribute substantially to Ontario’s economy, with recreational and commercial fishing valued at more than $2.5 billion annually:

  • 41,000 person years of employment.
  • More than 1.2 million residents and non-resident anglers, contributing $2.2 billion annually to the Ontario economy.
  • A driving force for Ontario’s tourism industry and a key economic component in many communities, particularly in Northern Ontario, with 1600 licensed tourist operators generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues annually.
  • More than 500 active commercial fishing licences, contributing more than $230 million dollars to the Ontario economy.
  • 1200 commercial bait fishing licences are issued annually, with $17 million in direct sales of live bait.

 

I knew you would understand.

 

Just do it

Thursday trip to WLU took 2 hours and 15 minutes, Friday morning heading out of the city, same mess. Brave souls risk life and limb by cycling.  Imagine what this city will be like in ten years.  In 2014, mayor John Tory announced his “Smart Track” plan,  the mayor’s campaign pitched this as a full embrace of the “RER Vision,” which would bring Toronto into the same league as London, U.K. and other cities with extensive commuter rail networks. This means that the mayor looks at transit not as the “TTC” or “GO,” but as one system that should exploit whatever resources are available to move people around the region. Mayor Tory said SmartTrack would open by 2021, and offer service at least every 15 minutes. The Scarborough subway would still be under construction, and a good chunk of the subway’s potential riders would have a better way to get around the city. However, in June, 2016, his much-ballyhooed project has shrunk significantly from the 22-station vision he put forward on the campaign trail, and critics say it’s become virtually identical to the province’s pre-existing Regional Express Rail initiative.
With this delay, and only two years left in office, what will happen to these plans when mayor Tory loses the next election?
Let’s empower our mayor, prime minister, premier, to have the required amount of intestinal fortitude to make sound business decisions and commit to invest on public transit system that can move people. Help get cars off the roads and provide a better option for cyclists.
Mr mayor, we believe in your vision for Toronto. Just do it!

“Coming Soon”

What does it mean to advertise a property as “coming soon”? The answer to that seemingly simple question varies amongst realtors. Some “coming soon” advertisements involve unlisted properties that may or will be listed with a brokerage in the near future. While others relate to properties that are subject to listing agreements where the property is “exclusive” to potential purchasers only through the listing broker and not available, temporarily or indefinitely, for showing or purchase through the MLS system.

In many cases, however, this arrangement can work against the home seller. The whole purpose of the MLS system is to make the property visible to the widest possible market of potential qualified buyers, and realtors looking on behalf of their clients. If, however, the property is shown during the “coming soon” or “exclusive” period only, the amount of offers would be lessened or diminished, reflecting the limited group of potential qualified buyers that had actually toured the home, potentially effecting the bottom line for the seller.

While this post is meant to provoke our thoughts and individual ideas about this new and highly contested topic, it is very important and fundamental for realtors to understand that we must do only what is in the greater interest of our client.

Above and Beyond

Today we will dive into a more serious topic and tackle realtor obligations and duties. Where do the responsibilities and obligations of a professional realtor end?
A recent question from one of our registrants prompted me to define a line between customer care and if “above and beyond ” is infinite.
A recent event with another of our Royal Lepage Supreme registrants further fed into this pursuit of a proper definition. In this most recent case, our client downsized into a lovely two bedroom condo in a familiar and well respected community. Our RLPS registrant was implicit in ensuring a proper exit of the client’s existing home by having movers booked and on time, helped with utility disconnects, ensuring home was left in proper condition and on time for the new home owners, diligent in booking the elevator and leaving a security deposit , on behalf of the client, for a smooth exit and entry of the respective properties, ensuring we had ample time to move and that the move complied with the condominiums regulations.
Upon arrival, sometime between 5:30 and 6 pm of closing day, our registrant, together with the client, arrive at their new home, key in hand!‎ This is where the fun begins. This is where we define realtor obligations and customer service.
The new unit owner has the key, which defines possession. The APS calls for “no later than 6pm”, on closing. The seller, in this case, is still in his unit. Fridge is full, furniture is still strewn about, and his realtor is nowhere to been seen  and non respondent to calls and text.
So, what differentiates one realtor over another?
Does the consumer deserve our absolute best? Of course!  Is there a difference between the two realtors in this case? Of course!  Did one prepare and serve the client (infinitely) while the other did not? Of course! Were both clients served, informed and prepared for this move, equally by their respective realtor? Of course not!
So, there we have it. There is no line, all that exists is a will to go above and beyond the clients expectations, not ours. ‎Picking up keys, booking elevators, delivering deposit cheques on behalf of our client. Helping make clients aware of utility transfers, ensuring our clients are well informed, prepared and aware of their duties, rights and obligations.
A realtor must have the proper marketing and negotiation skills to handle these large and complex financial transactions together, but it should not end there‎. A professional realtor has to do it all, do whatever it takes to ensure every aspect of the transaction goes smoothly for the client.
For those that are looking for the line, aim higher!
At RLPS, helping you is what we do.

Growing Your Own Urban Garden

As the price of produce in Canada soars, growing your own fruits and vegetables in a garden can be a wallet-friendly — and healthier — alternative.

The popularity of urban gardens has increased significantly in the last few years, with even condominiums allowing small green spaces on terraces or rooftops. Here are some tips for growing your very own urban garden!

If you are limited to space, you can maximise your space by using shelving and placing pots throughout the tiers. Another option is to build an herb and vegetable box, which can give you the space and depth required.

As for feeding your plants, its key to emphasise the importance of opting for organic over synthetic fertilizers, especially for plants that you intend on eating.

Avoid watering on top of your plants, keeping plant leaves wet for too long can promote unwanted pests and diseases. Instead, always aim to water the soil around the plant and keep the plant itself dry.

Optimize the organic component by utilizing rain water for your garden. Most garden centres sell rain barrels.

So now one can enjoy the freshness and versatility of harvesting your own produce, as well, one can enjoy the maturing and nurturing process and take pride in knowing one can survive a short term interruption in the normal food supply chain. ‎
And lastly, we enjoy the added special benefits…birds, bees, butterflies and more of mother nature’s little helpers.

 

The Do’s and Dont’s of Hot Dog Etiquette

This may come as a shock to some of you – but did you know you may have been eating hot dogs wrong your whole life? With summer in full swing, we at RLPS want to ensure you are the most knowledgeable in hot dog etiquette in time for your next backyard bbq!

Don’t…

Put hot dog toppings between the hot dog and the bun. Always “dress the dog,” not the bun.

Condiments should be applied in the following order: wet condiments like mustard and chili are applied first, followed by chunky condiments like relish, onions and sauerkraut, followed by shredded cheese, followed by spices, like celery salt or pepper.

Do…

Serve sesame seed, poppy seed and plain buns with hot dogs.

Do…

Eat hot dogs on buns with your hands. Utensils should not touch hot dogs on buns.

Don’t…

Use a cloth napkin to wipe your mouth when eating a hot dog. Paper is always preferable.

Don’t…

Take more than five bites to finish a hot dog. For foot-long wiener, seven bites are acceptable.

Don’t…

Use ketchup on your hot dog after the age of 18. Mustard, relish, onions, cheese and chili are acceptable.

Don’t…

Send a thank you note following a hot dog barbecue. It would not be in keeping with the unpretentious nature of hot dogs.

Don’t…

Bring wine to a hot dog barbecue. Beer, soda, lemonade and iced tea are preferable.

Don’t…

Ever think there is a wrong time to serve hot dogs.

We hope these tips will help you develop into a top hot dog connoisseur – we at RLPS wish everyone a happy #NationalHotDogDay

Oh Canada

Canada prides itself in being a Country defined as a cultural mosaic rather than a cultural melting pot. The mosaic is based on our belief that Canada as a whole benefits from the diversities in cultures, spoken languages, culinary differences, and of course, the people. Walking about on Bloor street from Bloordale to Bloorcourt and onward to the Annex, in Toronto’s west end, tells us a story about our cultural diversity.

One out of 5 people in Canada’s population is foreign-born

According to the first data from the 2011 NHS, Canada had a total of about 6,775,800 foreign-born individuals who arrived as immigrants. They represented 20.6% of the total population, compared with 19.8% in the 2006 Census.

Many of Canada’s foreign-born have lived in the country for many years, while others were relative newcomers.

Around 1,162,900 foreign-born people immigrated in Canada between 2006 and 2011. These recent immigrants made up 17.2% of the total foreign-born population and 3.5% of the total population in Canada. Together with immigrants who came during the first five years of the millennium, nearly 2,155,000 immigrants made Canada home during the last ten years. Canada was built by immigrants for immigrants, and it continues to thrive as it embraces the strengths of its diversity and evolves into a stronger and greater Nation.

We are fortunate to live in a country where we are able to celebrate our cultures so freely, while also celebrating what it means to be Canadian. So this Canada day, let’s celebrate the country that has welcomed us and allowed us to be who we are – thank you Canada!

Happy Canada Day everyone!

Thanks, Dad

Got up early Sunday morning and made my way to visit Dad at his final resting place, on my trusted two wheeler. On my way, it dawned on me that we hadn’t posted anything on this Father’s Day. So here it is, late but meaningful none the less.
Even in his absence, I look for direction and guidance almost on a daily basis. A Father is a mentor, a source of knowledge, guidance. We seek leadership and motivation, spirituality and inspiration.  We turn to them in times of hardship, and celebrate and share with them in victory.
So today, we say…Happy belated Father’s Day…with apologies;
Ronaldo, chin up;
To the pedestrians, cyclists and motorists that shared the road with me Sunday morning…thank you;
RIP Dad.