#BurlON ‘Til July 4

#BurlON Til July 4 This week we have a lot to celebrate. It’s officially summer…

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#BurlON ‘Til July 4

#BurlON – til June 6

After anxiously waiting for spring’s slow arrival we have been suddenly introduced to summer with…

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#BurlON – til June 6

Canada Day 2017 in Burlington

The fun, the festivities, the fireworks …. this year Canada Day in Burlington is going…

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Canada Day 2017 in Burlington

5 Tips for Carefree Glamping

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Burlington Sound of Music Festival 2016

It looks like we are going to be pulling out the flannel shirts, doc martens, ripped jeans and rockin’ our best “grunge inspired” 90’s wear for the main acts at this year’s Sound of Music Festival.  Get ready for 4 … Continue reading →

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Burlington Sound of Music Festival 2016

Real estate: More than just sales

Members of the public seem to think that all I do is sell houses. While that is part of my work, the amount of time I spend selling represents just 20 per cent of my job activities.

The role of the REALTOR®, in my view, is not so much a salesperson but more of a consultant – a good Realtor consults with his or her clients, guides them, and helps them to arrive at sound decisions. This consulting role is crucial because the stakes are high – the client is buying or selling a home, one of their biggest financial investments ever.

As a consultant, a good Realtor explains all of the pros and cons of a property or process to the clients and helps them to understand the true value of a property.

When I’m not consulting, the rest of my time is devoted to many other aspects of the job that consumers may not see or understand, but which are equally important in meeting the needs of my clients. Research occupies 35 per cent of my time, while prospecting takes another 35 per cent. The remaining 10 per cent of my time is spent on administrative tasks and duties.

Whereas a retail salesman is all about unloading a product, real estate sales is a different beast. Our focus must be on striving to promote and protect our clients’ best interests. This is a crucial distinction. I have no interest in selling the wrong product to the wrong person at the wrong price.

Many people seem to believe that ours is a simple job. They think we just fill out a listing agreement, plunk a sign on the lawn, and the property sells. That is far from the whole picture. A great deal of research is involved, and although we might make it look easy, people don’t always understand what went on in the preparation stage.

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Research is essential to success in this business, and it’s the part that the public does not always see because it happens on our own time, behind the scenes. When working with a buyer, a Realtor must thoroughly investigate an area and various properties, among other things. When working with a seller, we must develop a marketing strategy and come up with a price for a given property based on our research. Wide exposure of a property through various channels is the right approach to selling a home and does the best for the sellers.

All of this research is important and time consuming, but it is time well spent since it helps us serve our clients. Information about a property, its current or future zoning, possible changes to pertinent bylaws, material facts, defects and valuation are just some examples of details that must be researched in depth and verified.

A good Realtor is straightforward and tells it like it is to the clients, even when it may not be what they want to hear. It is hard to tell a seller that their expectation about the selling price of their home is unrealistically high, but it is important to bring reality to the discussion. It can also be difficult to deal with clients who dictate to you or expect you to be at their beck and call — available at all hours of day or night. Sometimes our job is about managing expectations.

I was once showing properties to a new buyer client. He liked one place and insisted on submitting an offer that was 20 per cent less than the asking price, despite my advice to the contrary. Obviously, we lost the bid.

After that, I sat down with him and politely explained how the process works, but I did not sugar-coat my words. I advised him that it’s my role to assess whether a property is priced fairly and then to collaborate with him so he can make an informed decision about whether to bid. I told him that I would help him submit a fair offer on a property he likes.

This frank discussion improved our professional relationship. He came away with a greater respect for my effort and ability. We resumed our search, but because we were now working within a more realistic budget, he ended up purchasing a property that was outside of his initial search area. In the end, however, he was happy with what he got and had a better understanding of how to meet the challenges a buyer can face.

The right approach, in my view, is always to try to present the facts as I see them and to give the client information based on my best estimates, backed by substantial research. Doing this, and providing statistics and background evidence for those numbers, saves my time and that of my clients.

Telling clients what we think they want to hear is a mistake we may be tempted to make, but in the end it causes more damage to the process and perhaps to the industry. In fact, it may cause clients to think I am a slick salesman rather than a Realtor.



Ravi Minhas is a Caledon REALTOR® and has been a member of the Toronto Real Estate Board for eight years. She serves as a volunteer on the Marketing & Communication Committee at the Ontario Real Estate Association.


Real estate: More than just sales

Let’s negotiate: Ability to reach agreement vital


If you lack negotiation skills, you won’t be able to put together a deal for your clients or keep your business afloat. Negotiating skills are crucial in real estate and, luckily, they can be learned on the job and improved throughout your career.

The REALTOR® Edge newsletter spoke with two Ontario REALTORS® and a negotiating expert to gain insights into how to succeed in negotiations.

Sharon Shortt of Belleville sold more than 1,000 homes during her 25-year sales career. Now a broker of record, she says she understood that her role in the negotiation process was that of a mediator between buyers and sellers.

“Although I am representing my client, if a deal can be negotiated that leaves both the buyer and the seller happy with the result, then we have a successful transaction, and ultimately everyone wins,” says Shortt.

“As REALTORS® we strive to serve the best interests of our clients, but it’s rare for both sides to get every single thing they originally wanted in a real estate transaction. All of us want to serve our clients, but the overall goal is for both buyer and seller to be happy with the result in the end.”

“The goal was for both buyer and seller to be happy with the result, even if they didn’t end up with every term that they originally wanted,” says Shortt.

There is usually something that needs to be negotiated from an original offer, Shortt notes, whether it is the closing date, price change, chattels such as appliances, or numerous other items. Sentimental items can also be a sticking point in negotiations, such as a tree planted by owners when their daughter was born that they wish to take with them. She has seen offers go back and forth as many as eight times, which isn’t that uncommon, she says.

“The challenging points are always the situations you least expect,” she adds. “Sometimes you can work them out, and sometimes you can’t.”

Negotiations can be very difficult, says Shortt, but she considered the challenge as “the very nature of the business — every Realtor has experience with negotiating.”

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When the words “tough negotiations” came up in conversation, she thinks back to the pricing negotiations she undertook a number of years ago for a chain of sales where the last buyer made an offer conditional upon the sale of his home, and the offer was accepted. “Unfortunately, as time passed, it became apparent that this buyer wasn’t going to be offered the price he needed for his own property to buy the other. We had to go back and renegotiate the sale price on each of the three properties involved in the chain,” says Shortt. “It was a lot of work to get everyone to agree, but in the end, the transactions all closed successfully.”

Chattels can be a huge stumbling block in the negotiating process, says Michael Gibbons, a Chatham Realtor who turned to real estate six years ago after a 20-year career in retail. He recalls a transaction when ownership of the washer and dryer was a heated point of dispute among the two parties. The laundry room had been custom built with a unique setup and the appliances fit perfectly.

“The washer and dryer were taken out and put back into the offer about four times,” Gibbons says. “It was a big sticking point and both sides were really hung up about it. The fate of these appliances probably added three extra days to the negotiations.”

A creative solution was eventually proposed by Gibbons: he offered to give the buyers his own washer and dryer, which were the same size and would also fit the space perfectly. “From a real estate perspective, it worked out well, but my wife wasn’t happy,” laughs Gibbons. “Sometimes in the heat of negotiations, you have to make quick decisions. In retrospect, I probably should have discussed the idea with my wife beforehand, but fortunately everything worked out in the end.”

“The job for a skilled negotiator is to build enough trust to uncover what’s really important to everyone”

Buyers and sellers sometimes let their emotions take over, which can hobble the negotiating process, he adds. Often, emotion overshadows the professional advice the client receives from the Realtor.

“How important is that chandelier?” Gibbons asked rhetorically. “Emotion always seems to make the value of the items under negotiation worth more.”

When clients dig in their heels and refuse to negotiate, Gibbons often takes them back to the questions he asked during the qualifying process so they remember the bigger picture. He asks them to once again consider carefully what they need and want, and whether the property in question fulfils their requirements.

“In those cases, I know that it meets their needs because they’ve made an offer, so I remind them they might be upset later to lose a property they love because of a disagreement over vertical blinds,” he says.

“Negotiation is where Realtors can bring real value to a transaction,” says Suze Cumming, who sold real estate in Toronto for 25 years prior to opening the Canadian branch of the Negotiation Institute. She now coaches Realtors across the country on negotiating successfully. Cumming believes in a collaborative win-win approach, but says Realtors also need access to competitive tactics to be successful.

People are the complicating factor in any negotiation, says Cumming. “Real estate transactions are unique because there’s so much emotion involved,” she says. “If people don’t feel heard and understood, the negotiation process will be far more challenging.”

When clients dig in their heels on a given point, Cumming examines the stand the clients are taking, tries to understand their area of concern and probes further to discover what’s motivating their behaviour.

“The job for a skilled negotiator is to build enough trust to uncover what’s really important to everyone, and to make sure everyone’s needs are met.”

She recalls a situation when her buyers were among 10 bidders competing for a property they really wanted, but they were unwilling to “grossly overpay”. Cumming learned that the seller had his eye on another property. She advised her clients to submit an offer contingent upon the seller’s ability to purchase the house he wanted. He accepted their offer, even though it was lower than some of the other bids, because that offer took his own needs into account.

“That’s win-win collaborative deal-making,” Cumming says. “The offer put the buyers in a good position because it met everyone’s needs and the seller looked favourably on them.”

“Negotiation skills matter more than any other skills for Realtors because they create better experiences and outcomes for the clients.”

Negotiating Tips from the Three Sources Quoted Above:

Don’t be afraid to ask; the worst the other party can do is say no.
Make sure all agreements are written into the offer and the APS.
Negotiating is a learning process; if you make an error, learn for next time.
Become flawless in the essentials of real estate: legal issues, ethical issues, financial issues and negotiation.
Remember that clients, unlike Realtors, don’t negotiate daily. Don’t press them. Most people are reasonable if they are given enough time to think things through.
Share all relevant information with your clients so they can make good decisions.

Story by Elaine Smith

Sources: Suze Cumming, Michael Gibbons, Sharron Shortt

Editor’s Note: Suze Cumming teaches courses on negotiation in real estate across the country. Her course to become a Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE®1 designation) is being offered in May in Toronto at REALTOR® Quest, Canada’s largest REALTOR® trade show and conference. For details, visit www.thenatureofrealestate.com/negotiation or www.realtor-quest.ca.

Editorial Policy: The REALTOR® EDGE newsletter is produced 11 times a year by the Ontario Real Estate Association. The newsletter aims to provide practical and useful news and information about the real estate industry to members of the association. The opinions expressed in the newsletter are not necessarily those of the publisher. The newsletter welcomes submissions from the real estate community, including letters to the editor, opinion pieces, events and news. The newsletter reserves the right to edit, based on space restrictions and/or suitability, and/or to refuse submitted material for inclusion in the newsletter without reason. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher, OREA, is prohibited. Contents are copyright of the Ontario Real Estate Association.

Editor: Mary Ann Gratton

Contributors to this issue: Merv Burgard, Mary Ann Gratton

Web Editor: Shade Lapite

From – 

Let’s negotiate: Ability to reach agreement vital

Tips to protect your home and property: IBC

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reminds Ontarians to review their home insurance policies, update their home inventories and take steps to protect their personal property.

“Reviewing and updating your home inventory list helps protect your personal property and can speed up the claims process in the event of a theft or loss,” says Kim Donaldson, vice-president, Ontario, IBC. “Ontarians are encouraged to take a few moments to review the following important tips on how to help ensure a safe home for their families.”

IBC’s top ten tips:

  1. Review your insurance policy to ensure that you have adequate coverage.
  2. Shop around to find the right policy for your own unique situation.
  3. To prevent possible slips and falls, keep your walkways and front stairs clear of snow and ice.
  4. Create or review your family emergency plan.
  5. Update your home inventory list by adding new items, including gifts received over the holidays. Note the approximate value of the items, including makes, models, serial numbers and any other identifying marks.
  6. If necessary, hire an appraiser to determine the value of works of art or jewelry in order to avoid a possible claims misunderstanding.
  7. Take photos or a video of your home’s contents.
  8. Keep your home inventory list, and photos or video of your home’s contents in a safety deposit box, a fire proof safe or in another secure location away from your home.
  9. If you are renting, ensure you have tenant’s insurance. A landlord’s policy will not typically cover your personal belongings or liability.
  10. If you have questions, speak to your insurance representative.

For further information, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-227-5422 or visit www.ibc.ca.

Source – 

Tips to protect your home and property: IBC

Changes to pre-registration education

Important changes are coming to pre-registration education that will boost the knowledge of new entrants to the profession. The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) is making these changes with support from the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), the current education provider.

Beginning April 1, 2016, aspiring registrants will have to complete five courses before they can register to trade in real estate, instead of three. The two additional courses, including property law, were previously articling requirements. Including them in the pre-registration phase will help aspiring registrants hit the ground running when they enter the profession.

The change will apply to those who enroll in the pre-registration program beginning April 1. Those who enroll before that date will be subject to the current three course requirement.

“Real estate is a demanding profession, so aspiring registrants and their clients will benefit from additional education before they start trading,” says Joseph Richer, RECO Registrar. “We’re pleased to have worked with OREA to make this happen.”

“Improving education standards will help ensure that the salespersons of tomorrow are even more knowledgeable and capable right from the start,” says Ed Barisa, Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA). “As the long-standing RECO-designated provider of real estate education in Ontario, we look forward to implementing this change. And as always, we will continue to work to improve the student experience at the OREA Real Estate College.”

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Development of new registration education program ongoing

In addition, RECO and OREA have extended their education contract until December 31, 2020.

RECO has been engaging in a thorough review of registration education, and will launch a new program in 2019. The extension of the contract with OREA will allow for an 18-month transition period between the current and new programs.

Richer says: “During our comprehensive review of the current program, we heard time and again that new registrants needed to be more practice ready when they enter the profession. We worked with OREA to see what could be done now to move us closer to that objective, as we work to renovate the program for the long term. The best solution was for the courses to be moved from the articling phase to the pre-registration phase.

Extending the contract with OREA gave us the opportunity to make this much-needed change right away and provide us the time to build the new structure. This was an important first step in the move to the new registration education program.”

You can learn more about the work on the new program here.

More info about additional courses

The Residential Real Estate Transaction and The Commercial Real Estate Transaction

Aspiring registrants will also now be required to take both the commercial and residential courses prior to becoming registered.  Previously, they would take one before registration and the other during the articling phase. RECO’s consultative review of the program showed widespread support for this change, ensuring that new registrants have understanding of both commercial and residential right from the start.

Real Property Law

The existing registration courses cover real estate law, while Real Property Law reinforces and expands on the concepts that students have learned.

New learning path

OREA has produced a learning path (see accompanying visual) that illustrates the revised requirements.

Chart of the course changes

Enrolled before April 1
Enrolled on or after April 1

Pre-registration – three courses:

Real Estate as a Professional Career
Land, Structures and Real Estate Trading
The Real Estate Transaction – General + The Residential Real Estate Transaction or The Commercial Real Estate Transaction

Articling – three courses:

The Residential Real Estate Transaction or The Commercial Real Estate Transaction (whichever they did not complete in pre-registration)
Real Property Law
One elective

Pre-registration – five courses:

Real Estate as a Professional Career
Land, Structures and Real Estate Trading
The Real Estate Transaction – General + The Residential Real Estate Transaction
The Commercial Real Estate Transaction
Real Property Law

Articling – one course:

One elective

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Changes to pre-registration education

Time flies: Organizing your day

Staying organized and managing your workload effectively are crucial to success in real estate. Three REALTORS® from across Ontario share their strategies for managing their schedules.

Given the multitude of tasks involved in real estate, it can often feel like a challenge to stay on top of it all. Successful Realtors learn early in their careers to take charge of their workloads, rather than let the work rule them. They find the strategies that work best for them and stick with this approach so they can accomplish everything they need to do.

Organization and efficiency are absolute necessities, says Carl Vandergoot, who has worked as a broker of record in London, Ontario after working as a salesperson for 22 years. Given the volume of transactions he handled each year, he says time management skills were crucial. Every night, he still writes out a to-do list of tasks for the next day, adding stars to the most important items. Incomplete tasks get transferred to the list for the following day.

“Having a list doesn’t mean you will get through everything,” he says. “If you can get through everything, you’re not doing enough, especially in sales.” Time management is largely about having a good system, adds Vandergoot. For him, that means tackling the hardest tasks first to get them out of the way.

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“Prospecting was something I always did first,” Vandergoot says. “I was on the phone from 9:30 to 11 a.m. to sell and always made that a priority, no matter how many other things I had to do. Although a lot of people might not be home at that time, I realized that I would never do prospecting at 7 p.m. I spoke to a lot of answering machines.”

As part of his systematic approach, Vandergoot ends each year by creating a business plan for the following year that helps him to move forward. It includes details such as when and where to advertise and when to take holidays the next year. He also relies heavily on technology for his customer relations system, using software that helps him stay in touch with both current and past clients.

“I love technology,” he says. “A good database and follow-up system can help you stay organized.” He has used both the Top Producer and IXACT Contact database programs, and likes both. The latter includes a feature that assembles and helps distribute a monthly newsletter for the REALTOR.

“At some point, you need to accept the fact that you didn’t complete everything but you’re proud of what you did accomplish”

For Ayn MacDonald, an Ottawa Realtor with two young children, time management means scheduling her work around her family. She uses an electronic calendar and “I put my family responsibilities in the calendar first, and then arrange my work time in between. I’m a mom first, but a Realtor always.”

Each night, she creates a to-do list written on an old-fashioned post-it note that sits on her phone. MacDonald takes it along with her throughout the day. Learning to be comfortable with not finishing everything on the list has been a challenge for her.

“At some point, you need to accept the fact that you didn’t complete everything but proud of what you did accomplish,” MacDonald says. “Be comfortable with the idea that perfection isn’t possible.”

Strategic planning and rolling out her business plan are the parts of her job that MacDonald finds most time consuming. The brokerage employs a part-time assistant and another representative who works mostly with buyers, which helps reduce MacDonald’s own workload.

“When you’re running a business, you need to treat it like a well-oiled machine,” she says. “I have a hard time letting go of control, so that’s always a challenge for me.”

Rita Auciello, a Toronto Realtor and OREA instructor, makes a list of all tasks she must complete and checks it in the morning and again at the end of the day.

“I keep the list in front of me so I can cross things off,” she says. Auciello tackles the most difficult tasks first, such as cold calls, but she also prioritizes those items that are most important. Completing the task list takes perseverance, she says. “I try to avoid making appointments first thing in the morning so that I can address other priorities and organize my day before I go out.”

Preparing a house for the market is her most time-consuming task, says Auciello. “This project involves working with the home stager and helping the client to pull things together,” Auciello says. “They’ll need to do packing, organizing and getting rid of clutter, and I help with suggestions to show the property better.”

She works with a partner and another sales representative when they need extra help serving clients, she says. Auciello has taken this approach for the past seven years and she says it enables her to accomplish more.

“The rep helps with paperwork, and my partner and I are backups for each other,” Auciello says. “We try to see clients together so that if one of us is not here, the clients don’t feel let down. We lose less business that way, and I don’t feel so bad about taking a vacation.”

She does try to schedule time for herself, too, which is easier now that her children are grown. However, no matter how well Auciello tries to keep organized, she cautions that “Real estate is unpredictable. Sometimes you get one phone call and then you don’t get anything else on your list done that day.”

Time Management Tips:

Learn to say no, or I’m not available, and offer other options.
Develop good systems and routines.
Take charge of your day.
Read some of the many time management books that are available.
Accept that you may not complete every task on the to-do list.
Focus and discipline are keys to success.
Invest in a good client retention system.

Story by Elaine Smith

Sources: Rita Auciello, Ayn MacDonald, Carl Vandergoot

Editorial Policy: The REALTOR® EDGE newsletter is produced 11 times a year by the Ontario Real Estate Association. The newsletter aims to provide practical and useful news and information about the real estate industry to members of the association. The opinions expressed in the newsletter are not necessarily those of the publisher. The newsletter welcomes submissions from the real estate community, including letters to the editor, opinion pieces, events and news. The newsletter reserves the right to edit, based on space restrictions and/or suitability, and/or to refuse submitted material for inclusion in the newsletter without reason. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher, OREA, is prohibited. Contents are copyright of the Ontario Real Estate Association.


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Time flies: Organizing your day