Neighbourhood Price
to
Beds Beds
City Price
to
Beds Baths
Enter The MLS Number

To paraphrase from The Social NetworkMovie a bit here, “a million (words) isn't cool, you know what's cool? An infographic.” And since Realtors in our office, in our town, for that matter, emanate coolness to the max, we thought you should also consider these tools below to best exemplify your grasp on not being wack (being wack is opposite of being cool – but look who I’m explaining this too, you cool champ you).

Nowadays, people don't have the time or energy to sit and plow through pages or screens of text; they want to be able to ingest information as quickly and easily as possible. Thankfully, with the recent rise of infographics (information graphics), what used to require an avalanche of stats or analyses to dissect, can now be interpreted and relayed into an easy-to-read, fun, and visually appealing schematic - an excellent content marketing concept! Indeed, you can use infographics to spruce up your different online assets (and again, avoid the monotony of text-only posts), such as your website, blog, email/newsletter, or your social network pages (Facebook, Pinterest...).

Listed below are 5 free (!) apps that allow you to start easily infographic-ing:

1. Visual.ly

Visual.ly hosts a large database of infographics created by other users, while allowing you to create your own in a matter of seconds and share it afterwards, no design skills required.

2. Easel.ly

While still technically in beta, Easel.ly is an incredibly easy-to-use application, as you can simply select a template (called "vheme," short for "visual theme"), add some info, drag-and-drop elements to move them around et voila, you have a workable infographic.

3. infogr.am

While not as simple as Easel.ly, Infogr.am should also appeal to non-designers. It allows you to upload your data to the site, then translate it through static charts or complete interactive infographics using the tools’ different features, all in a smart interface that includes different options for displaying information.

4. Wordle

Describing itself as a "toy" for generating word clouds, Wordle can automatically generate a colorful design based on the content you provide (either from a URL or text you paste in), emphasizing the most commonly used words from your source. You can then put your own twist on it by playing with the fonts, colors or layouts. We created the image above with the words from our Marketing blog.

5. StatSilk

StatSilk offers both web-based and desktop client software that lets you create infographics using interactive, customizable and animated graphics, charts, maps and any other type of data visualization.

Are you using, or have you used of any tools not mentioned here? Share away in the comments!

Dave Browne
Sales Manager
C 604 897 2741
O 604 466 5077
F 877 826 2621

www.MapleRidgeForSale.ca/

We love providing the flexibility to exceed expectations. The Open Platform Real Estate Concept for Innovators and Adaptors.
200-11830 223rd St.
Maple Ridge BC V2X 5Y1
1 - 32540 Logan Ave
Mission BC V2V 6G3
Connect with us on Facebook:
We are giving away a Dinner and Spa prize on Facebook each month, so don't miss out.

 

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The process of buying or selling a house seems to involve a million details.  It is important that you educate yourself on as many parts of this process as you can—this knowledge could mean the difference of thousands of dollars in the long-run.  The legal issues involved in the process are often particularly intricate, ranging from matters of common knowledge to subtle details that might escape the untrained eye.  Any of these issues, if not handled properly, could develop into larger problems 

With so many  legal issues to consider, your first step should be to seek out experienced professionals to help educate you and represent your best legal interests.  Begin with an experienced real estate agent, who can help guide you through the initial hoops.  She or he should also be able to point you in the direction of a reputable local real estate lawyer to assist you in all legal matters involved in the purchase or sale of your house.

While there are countless legal details involved in a real estate transaction, some seem to pose larger problems than others.  We’ve outlined two legal clauses that are commonly misunderstood and may cost you money if not worded correctly.  Handle these carefully and you will be on track to a successful sale or purchase!

1. Home Inspection Clause

Some real estate transactions have been sabotaged due to the wording of the home inspection clause.  This clause originally allowed that the buyer has the right to withdraw their offer if the home inspection yielded any undesirable results.  However, this allowance was known to backfire, as Buyers took advantage of it, using some non-issue stated in the inspection as an excuse for having changed their minds.  Of course, this was unfair to the Sellers, as they’d poured time and money into what they believed was a sure deal.  Not only might they have missed out on other offers in the interim, but their house might also now be unfairly considered a “problem home.”  Additionally, they’d now have to shoulder the costs of continuing to market the property.  All of this adds up.

In order to remedy this potential problem, the clause should indicate that the seller has the option of repairing any problems the home inspection might point to.  With this slight change in the clause, both buyer and seller are protected.

To ensure this clause is fair from one side of the bargain to the other, work closely with a lawyer experienced in these transactions and all the nuances that may affect the outcome for you.

2. Survey Clause

It is the right of a home buyer to add a survey clause to the real estate contract on the home they’d like to purchase.  If you are on the selling end of the contract, be aware.  If you have added an addition or a pool to your property since the last survey was produced, your survey will no longer be considered up-to-date and the Buyer may request that a new one be drawn up—the cost of which you will incur.  The price of this process will run anywhere from $700 to $1000.

Your real estate agent has the responsibility to provide you with the most recent survey of your home.  It is then the Buyer’s right to decide if it is acceptable.  An experienced agent should offer you reliable counsel if you encounter an issue with this clause, but it is advisable to talk to your lawyer if you’re unsure at all of the potential ramifications involved.  Remember, the wording of this clause could cost or save you thousands of dollars.

Dave Browne
Sales Manager
C 604 897 2741
O 604 466 5077
F 877 826 2621

www.MapleRidgeForSale.ca/

We love providing the flexibility to exceed expectations. The Open Platform Real Estate Concept for Innovators and Adaptors.
200-11830 223rd St.
Maple Ridge BC V2X 5Y1
1 - 32540 Logan Ave
Mission BC V2V 6G3
Connect with us on Facebook:
We are giving away a Dinner and Spa prize on Facebook each month, so don't miss out.

 

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It’s Free and it’s simple and our real estate company provides each new Realtor a 16 step process that takes nothing but a little elbow grease to get noticed online!

A “Place Page” is one of the most valuable marketing tools a local business can have. If your place pages aren't set up and optimized properly, then your competitors are getting in front of your customers.

Realtors should be thinking about Google as the new Phone Book. A wonderful place to drive brand new client calls.

With our Real Estate Office technology, you also have the power to help your clients with their own business’s! Increase their Google ranking to help them make more sales, and they will more then likely reward your with referrals. Now that’s a fun reason to contact your data base this fall…”Hey John, do you mind if I help your business!” …. of course he will agree.

ADDITIONAL INFO: Small Business Online Coach.

Claiming and filling out your Google Maps Listing is the easy part, but it’s usually not enough when trying to rank within the ultra-competitive Google Maps 7-Box. The last place you want your local business to be listed in is the “More results near…such, such city” which might as well say “More results near invisible city”.

Even if you do manage to get a decent ranking within the 7-Box by only claiming and filling out your listing, don’t hold your breath because soon your local competitors are going to realize that is a prized position to have and will compete aggressively for that slot. They may even hire a local search marketing company like ours to do it for them – then you’d better watch out!

You have to understand that Google does here is very smart. With a similar idea to link building, everything Google does is kinda like a big social popularity contest. Google is always responsible to their users and so they want to serve up the most relevant results to them. As long as Google does a good job at serving up relevant results to users they’ll continue to dominate the search marketplace. So the way Google chooses which G-Map Listings are the most relevant is by which listings have the most activity associated with them via citations, reviews & user content.

Let’s look at why citations, reviews, and user content is the glue that makes your Google Listings stickier.

Citations

A citation is where your business name and address are mentioned (or cited) on another website. Citations don’t necessarily have links leading back to a website since many business owners don’t have website(s). Google crawls content across the web and anywhere they find a citation on your business they give you a point. A citation is a mention of your business name, address, & phone number.

I am not positive if some site’s citations carry more weight than others, but my guess is yes. I personally believe that with traditional SEO, not all inbound links are created equal. When it comes to citations the same rules apply. I believe some citations have more weight, that is most likely based on some Google Local algorithm similar to what is called Trust Rank.

Trust Rank simply means some sites carry more authority and trust than others and if you have links or citations coming from these sites, then you are given bonus points which ultimately increase your rankings. So sites like the BBB.org or Wikipedia or Yahoo Directory may have more authority and so Google may give you 2 or 3 points for that. Again, the theme isn’t always about quantity, its also about quality.

There are tons of ways to get citations, from using directories to blogging, having your business listed on your Local Business Association Website, or mentioning your business on your local newspapers website. One great way is to look at your competition’s citations (currently, Google is listing them all) and see if you can get a citation from the same source. If your competition has a citation, then you will most likely be able to gain one from the same source. Use the obvious.

One of the best ways to get a good head start on citations is to submit your business details through Universal Business Listings. For approximately $30 a dollars a year, it’ll hit the top 30 authority directories & data providers like: Yellowpages.com, Superpages.com, infouSA.com, Acxiom and so on. BTW, this service is really only good for USA businesses, if you are in Canada like most of our clients, then it’s not that great of a service. I’ll be sure to put some great citations spots below for Canadians too.

If you can get your business information into these major databases (like Acxiom, Localeze, & infoUSA) which form the foundation of the search engines’ Local indexes and of a variety of second-tier portals as well, you’ll notice a decent amount of citations point back to your G-Maps listing. This can take 2-3 months before your info populates into these verticals so be patient.

The goal with citations is to (obviously) have more than your competition, but much like link building, you want to be consistently dripping in new citations week after week. Build slowly and consistently. Play for the long haul.

For our clients, we have a long list of places to which we can add citations (all discovered from what Google already indexes as a citation) and we have been collecting this list for quite some time and have hundreds of easily accessible places from which to acquire citations from. You want to develop your own swipe list of great citation spots. I will post 200 or more so common citations at the end of this post from where any business should be able to get a citation from. I’ll do this because I’m such a good guy. If you know of more great citation spots, why not add them to the comment section below and help the community.

We then drip in these citations consistently over time for our clients, often winning them the number 1 spot within the 7-Box. Don’t go slamming citations. Just like you wouldn’t hammer 1000 links at a site overnight, similar rules apply to getting citations. Think Drip, Drip, Drip.

When working with citations, one of the most important elements is consistency. Your DBA name, address, and/or phone number should never change. If you have different information, it can have the opposite effect you desire with your G-Map Listing. Even if you are thinking of using tracking phone numbers to monitor advertising/marketing efforts, I would highly recommend in this arena that you find another way to measure data if possible. There is an interesting post here about using Tracking Phone Numbers in your Local Search Marketing that would be worthwhile reading. I am a metrics fanatic too, but not having the same information about your business name, address and contact number builds distrust with Google (It would with humans too). Consistency is KEY from your citations.

Reviews

The Google Maps Listings allows the public to add reviews to your listing. Right now I don’t think Google is looking at the quality of reviews, but they look at the quantity of reviews, so even receiving lots of poor reviews will improve your rankings within the 7-Box (not the obvious goal, but interesting to note).

There have been some recent speculations that Google may put more weight on Power Reviewers sometimes known as Maven Reviewers. These are individuals who have full-fledge profiles and leave lots of reviews across multiple categories of business. Just as there are power bloggers, there are power reviewers and getting a review from a power reviewer may just carry more weight. When dealing with power bloggers & reviewers, approach them the same way you’d approach Oprah. Send them a free sample and press release to entice them to leave you a review.

From my testing, loads of reviews can outrank a competitor with lots of citations. Therefore, I say that reviews hold some serious weight to your G-Maps rankings. The Google Maps will even snag reviews from other authority sites and populate them into the G-Map listings.

NOTE: This only holds true if your reviews are current. Having 200 reviews and having the last one post over a year ago will not help you anymore. Not good for the algorithm and not good for humans. Make sure you are getting constant stream of fresh reviews on your Google Maps Listing and other authority reviews sites.

Some common authority review sites from which you may want to focus on getting reviews from besides Google Maps are: Yelp, JudyBook, Yellowbot, Cityvoter, Citysearch, Yellowpages, Kudzu, etc. You may also want to look at finding authority review sites that are related to your category of business like Rate MDs for Doctors and Homestars for the Home Improvement Contractors. Pay attention to what authority reviews sites Google is citing from in your niche’s industry, whatever they are citing then make sure your info is up-to-date at that site and that you are actively pursuing reviews there too.

Review management (also known as Brand Management) is a very real challenge for all businesses in today’s marketplace. Users can easily jump online and add their opinions (good or bad) to tons and tons of review sites about your business. What we recommend is that you find creative incentives to barter for reviews from your clients. On almost all of our client’s regional sites, we trade discounts/coupons for reviews in Google Maps. Getting reviews is ALL about creating a ethical bribe. We also create a video showing people how easy it is to post a review and if they do we offer BIG discount or coupon that will be mailed to them or emailed them privately after the review is verified. The strategy works great!

I’ve seen some companies who have gone as far as to hire employees with laptop computers and their sole job is to ask customers before leaving if they wouldn’t mind leaving a review on a particular a site and by doing so they receive a special gift (usually a gift card or coupon redeemable on their next visit – you want them to have an additional reason to return, don’t you…?) The point being is you need to have an active and creative way to acquire online reviews for your local business.

Our company offers another review management solution (besides the online incentives) to our customers. We use an offline to online approach to helping our clients get loads of reviews for their businesses.

What we do is supply our clients with a 4 X 6 postcard that asks people to write a review about the business from which they just received products and/or services from. Our clients make sure they put a pre-paid postage stamp on the postcard and ask the customer for a review after services have been rendered. They let the customer know they use a third-party service to learn how they can improve their services and it would be really helpful if the customer could take 60 seconds to leave an anonymous review on the postcard and stick it in the mailbox.

NOTE: Don’t forget to add a disclaimer on the postcard that notifies your customers that the review may be used for marketing purposes or posted online.

Well, the postcard comes to our P.O. Box and we have our team post that review online with one of our many maven reviewer profiles for that anonymous reviewer. We add the review to Google Maps or to some of the other major authority review sites that Google tends to pull data from.

We allow for each of our clients to get between 4-7 reviews a month (depending what is normal amount of reviews to get for their particular local niche): any more (in our opinion) would be unnatural. If our clients use this to its maximum benefit that is 40-70 reviews every year. Now that is what you call actively managing your brand and online reviews. It’s one of the best ways to drive traffic and help convert online searchers into offline buyers.

You see, we understand that it’s very difficult to get people to review your business online because of the multiple steps involved to get a review. We recommend you come up with some sort of offline to online review management strategy like ours for your business. We do want to warn you though, of the potential risks involved with this strategy.

First off, don’t add fake reviews!

Some people ask if we edit the reviews. The answer is… we DO NOT alter the reviews from the postcards. We believe having some poor reviews is natural and it wouldn’t appear normal to only have 5 out of 5 stars all the time. If fact, Matt McGee even thinks Negative Reviews are good for business and we agree with him.

What you want to do is create a strategy that makes it easy for your customers to review online. Don’t spam and keep it real. People can always tell when someone is creating unnatural reviews. The reason our system works is because they are REAL reviews, we just facilitate them getting online.

Writing made-up reviews about your business will not help you. Be very, very careful with this strategy and do not get spammy. You can always tell when they are made-up and eventually someone will catch you and call you on it. It could even cost loads of cash. If you need to resort to fake reviews, then you should rethink why you are in business. If your business provides real value and you take an active role in asking for reviews, you can easily get them.

If you do employ an offline strategy like ours, don’t do stupid things like post reviews under your business profile & post multiple reviews in the same day. Remember, even though you are facilitating your customer’s reviews to getting online, it still has to appear natural. Otherwise, this strategy can backfire in your face.

User Content

User content is generated when people create their own Google “My Maps” where they create a unique (sometimes personalized) list on Google Maps. Anyone can tag a place or location on Google Maps. The more people that tag your business on G-Maps, the more activity you have about your business and again the more popular your business must be (or this is at least how Google thinks).

Therefore, having more references in people’s “My Maps” will give your listing a boost in rankings in the 7-Box. I have written a post in the past on how to use Google’s “My Maps” to market your business. Creating some user content on G-Maps is easy and quick. Create some useful content driven “My Maps” about your city and remember to find creative ways to tag your company. Or run a local contest that involves “My Maps” and get dozens of people adding your business to their own personal G-Maps. The ways to accomplish this are endless if you are a little creative and think about how you can add value.

Well, that pretty much wraps up how to improve your rankings within the Google Maps Listings. Most of this is obvious if you study the G-Maps a little closer and read between the lines. If you follow the advice listed above and actively manage your Google Maps Listing, you can easily achieve those preferred rankings for your local business in the 7-Box.

If you like what you have learned here, but know you are the type of business owner who would prefer if the PROS managed your listings, then please visit our Local Search Engine Marketing Services page.

NOTE: We only take on 1 client per business category per city, so if you are considering using us, please take action sooner than later. We’d hate to tell you we can’t help you due to us helping your competition already. The early bird gets the worm!

BTW, let us know your thoughts and let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below.

Dave Browne
Sales Manager
C 604 897 2741
O 604 466 5077
F 877 826 2621
www.MapleRidgeForSale.ca/
We love providing the flexibility to exceed expectations. The Open Platform Real Estate Concept for Innovators and Adaptors.
200-11830 223rd St.
Maple Ridge BC V2X 5Y1
1 - 32540 Logan Ave
Mission BC V2V 6G3
Connect with us on Facebook:
We are giving away a Dinner and Spa prize on Facebook each month, so don't miss out. 
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As we end the dog days of summer a chill has settled over real estate in Canada’s two hottest markets. The anecdotal reports over the last couple of months – that pointed to the federal government’s new mortgage rules – have been confirmed by the latest figures from the Vancouver and Toronto real estate boards.

In Vancouver, July sales were down more than 11% from June and more than 18% from a year earlier. The benchmark price in the Vancouver is $616,000, up 0.6% from last year, but down 0.7% from June. With a sales-to-active-listings ratio of 11.6%, the real estate board says Vancouver has turned the corner to a buyers’ market.

In Toronto, the closely watched condo market led the decline as July home sales fell 1.5% year-over-year and about the same month-over-month. The new federal rules and Toronto’s land transfer tax get the blame from the city’s real estate board. The average home price in Canada’s biggest city is just shy of $477,000, up 4% year-over-year. But there is a growing inventory of unsold condos building up in the city.
Client Centric Tips

 Remain focused on clients' needs. For many clients, understanding the complexities of mortgage packages is confusing and difficult. A mortgage broker that takes the time to explain, indicate advantages and disadvantages and answer queries is more likely to gain the trust and secure the business of prospective clients. A good referral makes you look good.

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As a thank you for all of your support and referrals in 2011 BRMC have done the research for you! Below is a list of the best rated IPHONE apps for Realtors. ALL but 2 are FREE! These IPHONE Apps have made it so you and your clients buying or selling experience is quick, easy, organized, planned, convenient and FUN!

Crumbtracks-FREE
This is a real estate journal for client’s. Buyers can take video, photos, make notes, comments and rate every home they view. It stores and organizes it all for the client and realtor. Even includes a working mortgage calculator!
 

TourNarrator-$1.99
This captures buyer's comments as they view the listing. It is captured in a PDF and can be emailed to your buyer or the listing Realtor for instant feedback on your showing of their listing.
 

RealAlert-$1.99
Safety device for agents that can set off an alarm on your phone, insta-dial 911, locate hospitals on GPS, records suspicious data, instant alerts a friend via email with your location and has a flashlight built in.
 

MagicPlan-FREE
The only app that measures, draws, and publishes interactive floor plans of homes just by taking pictures. Create floor plans of your listings in minutes!
 

Photosynth-FREE
A very simple app that creates 360 degree virtual tours of your listings from a series of shots taken by your smart phone.
 

Milebug-FREE (this one has a free version which is called “lite” or a full version for $2.99)
Full GPS tracking on your phone and reporting of all your mileage in categorized by work or pleasure. One of the most sought after audit areas with Revenue Canada and Realtors.
 

MyMeasures&Dimensions-FREE,$3.99,OR$5.99
Lets you take any photo and quickly draw dimensions on top of objects or spaces in the photo. After photos are marked up with measurements, they can be emailed to anyone, or added to the iPhone's photo library.
 
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…residential housing market has entered its usual summer cycle. In the last 10 years, sales have consistently and marginally decreased from May to June, and this year is not an exception. This shows stability in the market and also represents a continued steady market.

Sales numbers collected from real estate boards across the country clearly indicate that the residential housing market has entered its usual summer cycle. In the last 10 years, sales have consistently and marginally decreased from May to June, and this year is not an exception. This shows stability in the market and also represents a continued steady market.

The new mortgages rules announced by the Finance Minister Jim Flaherty recently is expected to cool the housing market further in Autumn as it will make it difficult for the marginal buyers to enter the market due to the higher mortgage cost.

The Finance Minister imposed new policies on residential mortgages for the fourth time in four years. Effective July 9th, the maximum amortization period for government-backed mortgages was reduced from 30 to 25 years and purchases over $1 million cannot be guaranteed by CMHC. In addition the amount that homeowners can borrow against the equity in their homes is reduced from 85 to 80%.

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The First step is to – “Get your head in the game” – You are a professional REALTOR. Does everybody know that? I mean everybody. If you don’t let them know then who will? Every single person that you come into contact with must hear and see that you are a Real Estate Representative and you are ready for business. This is no time to be a “Secret Agent”. But keep in mind that you don’t want to be flinging your cards at anybody like a ninja star. Remember these are first steps. Sometimes first steps are painful and uncomfortable. That is ok.

SUCCESS
ACTION #1– “Spread the Word Loudly and Proudly”

1) CAR BILLBOARD – Does your car tell everybody what you do? It should. Your name and number and company logo should be on your car. Lettering on the window is great but I say do it as big as you can. Your car is a moving billboard. It is everywhere. People will begin to talk about real estate
with you just because there is no doubt what you do. The more they see it, the more they will think of you and that is what you want. psssst. There are some actual tax advantages in doing that as well.. discuss with your accountant for details.

2) BUSINESS CARDS – Get your business cards done as soon as possible and get them out there and give more than one to everybody you see. Design a
nice card so they will have a hard time throwing it away. Make it special. Don’t waste that chance. It is all about you. What does your business card say about you? What is on the back of it? Is there a special phrase or recipe or mortgage calculator or something of value on the back? Think it through and get creative.

3) DISTRIBUTE INFO LETTER -
Construct your introduction letter and make it quick and to the point. Again offer something of value. Maybe approach a restaurant and ask them if
they will honour a two for one entree for your prospects and clients. Maybe there is a referral benefit to the receiver of the letter. Make that letter work for you.

4) LOGO CLOTHING – Get your company logo on your clothing. Give anybody an excuse to bring up the fact that you are in the real estate business. You can take existing clothing and get your logo attached for as little as $5 or $10.

5) CONTACT LIST – Make a list as quickly as possible of everyone you know. If you just know their first name that is fine.
Just write it down. Keep that list alive on your desktop of your computer or keep a running list hand written and every time you think of somebody get them on there before you forget. Call or contact at least 5 per day in whatever way you can. Call them if you
have their phone number. Email them if you have their email address. Or drop by and say “hi” at their workplace or house and just touch base and leave them something about yourself. You are just letting people know in an enthusiastic way that you are in the Real Estate profession. That is it. Just do it and watch what happens. Touch 5 people per day minimum. I dare you to do that for 75 days.

6) NEIGHBORHOOD PROMO – Go around your neighbourhood with a promo letter and walk door to door and introduce yourself as the new neighbourhood REALTOR and let them know that you are excited to keep values up in the area because you live there too. Keep your lawn nice and have colourful flowers. Show them that you care about how your home looks to them as well.
Don’t speed in the neighbourhood. Slow down and wave to everybody as you drive by. Let them know you are available. Go as far as throwing a neighbourhood barbecue and invite everybody over and get to know them. They know people too. Make sure they leave with a package of comparable sales in the area when they go home. If you can add a fridge magnet or a calendar or a scribble pad then that is great.

7) PUBLIC EVENTS – Go to public events where you will run into people. There is something going on in most communities on just about every
weekend. Let people see you with your family and understand that you are just like them. Stop and talk to as many people as you can. Focus on them and make them feel good. Find something to compliment about them.

8) DRIVE BY’S – Go for a drive every day. On your way to an appointment or on your way home or when you have some free time just expand your route a bit. Take a road that you don’t normally go down. Explore and learn about different neighbourhoods. You may see someone outside washing their car or weeding their garden. Stop and say “Hi”. Compliment them on their garden. You don’t have to ask them to sell their house. Just connect with people. Be outward focussed. Forget about what they might think. It will blow their minds that someone just said hi and complimented them on their garden.
It will make their day. Doesn’t that feel good? Absolutely. Make someone else smile. If your car is speaking for you, you don’t need to say a thing. Maybe you will see a “For Sale By Owner” sign. Great. Stop and call the number. Let them know that you were in the neighbourhood and saw their home for sale and ask them what they want for their home. What is wrong with that? Ask them if it would be alright to view the home sometime for potential buyers. Just get an appointment. Get a chance to meet that person. Who knows you could become
the best of friends one day. More on that later.

9) COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION – Be out and active in the community. Walk your children to school and meet some of the other parents. Coach a soccer team. Join a class of some sort to learn something new. Join a service club or the Chamber of Commerce and attend the events. Go on a nightly walk and encourage casual conversation with the people you see. Visit the place of your old occupation or job.

10) BUSINESS REFFERAL NETWORK – Make a list of all the potential business referral sources that you can think of. Anybody that is in business for themselves or relies on referrals as well. That can turn out to be your winning team. Nurture those relationships and create a reciprocal benefit. Ask them how you can help their business. Ask them who their best potential client would be. If you meet somebody that is in business for themselves and you get
their card. Make notes on the back and tell them that you are going to try and help their business. And do it. The return business will come to you tenfold.

Those are 10 things to do consistently and with focus that you can actually build a business on. Simple Really. Very few people actually do these activities. If you do half of those activities you will be in the top 20% within 24 months.

Believe it. It’s absolutely true. Can you commit to doing a minimumof 5 of those things right now. Now go back and pick 5 things that you want to implement right now……

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Circle the numbers. AND DO #5!!!!!!

If you think that you can do them all then circle the whole group of numbers. Now remember you will be coming back to this
manual at some point to remind yourself what you have committed to do. This is a decision and a commitment. Some of the items above may be a little
tougher for some people for budget reasons and that is ok. That is why I am asking you to do at least 5 of them. Pick a minimum of 5. Now you can decide if you are going to be a minimalist or get maximum results. 5 is the absolute minimum ok. You cannot do less than 5. Item #5 has to be included in your five items so pick four others as well.

About
Item #5:

Now, I base everything on a 5 day work week. (Notice the 5 theme?) So that means that we need you to contact 30 people per week. That is 120 people in the first month of business. Your first 30 days are critical. If you have been in the business or licensed for a couple of months or so and have just received this information then your first 30 days is starting now.

Now if you can only think of 80 people in your “sphere of influence” list then that is fine. Some people are going to be contacted maybe in a different way a couple of times.
People that you meet throughout the month count also. Remember this list is alive and ever growing and you need to keep feeding it. If you contact 30 people in one day then that is great. You have the remaining four days to do other pro-active things. Structure it however
you want but do not allow yourself to do any less. Remember the list is your business life-line. It is what keeps your business alive literally. It is critical.

PS OPL– Other Peoples Listings – If you haven’t any listings yet then use other peoples’ listings to market and offer to do Open Houses for them. Anything that you can do to attract a phone call or an opportunity to meet Buyer’s is what you need to be focusing
on. There is no reason that you cannot do an Open House in a strategic area from 4pm to 7pm when people are driving around or on their way home from work. You don’t have to limit yourself to weekends although that is a good time. Any extra work that can be done to
sell a listing is great for the REALTOR that has that listing. It is encouraged in our office. They will probably even allow you to advertise their listings in your own Ad.

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Probably the most self-satisfying is the hotly-debated report from Environics which indicates Canadians are richer than Americans.

There has been a bunch of interesting, even entertaining, data arrive recently that has some Canadians wearing smug looks. Probably the most self-satisfying is the hotly-debated report from Environics which indicates Canadians are richer than Americans. It says the average Canadian household was worth about $363,000 in 2011, compared to almost $320,000 in the U.S., a difference of more than $40,000 – dollars that are pretty much at par. Of course home prices had a lot to do with it. Canada didn’t see the collapse that the U.S. did and skyrocketing values in Vancouver and Toronto did a lot to jack up the national average.

The big credit monitoring firm, Equifax, says Canadians have slowed the speed at which they are driving themselves into debt. It says the rate of debt-growth dropped to 3.1% from 4.4% on a year-over-year basis. Credit card debt is down 3.8% and Canadians are sticking with their existing debt vehicles and not opening new accounts. Mortgage debt isn’t included.

And one dire sounding report that isn’t as bad as it seems from the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. It suggests 48% of the people surveyed would find it “challenging” to meet their mortgage or debt payments if there was a “significant rate hike”. By “significant”, they appear to mean a 3.5% increase over what they are paying now. Rate increases will surely come but, given the current state of affairs, that sort of sudden boost is highly unlikely. Also, keep in mind that “challenged” is not the same as “unable”.

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Since many buyers are turning to the internet to shop before they take a drive around neighbourhoods, photography can make the difference in selling your home quickly.

A picture says a thousand words, and with the right listing pictures, you can attract more people to your property by showing your home’s highlights. Below are tips on how you can take the best quality pictures of your property to showcase it so it stands out from the rest.

Clean the entire house before taking photos.
Never take photographs of a dirty home. Remove all trash cans from rooms being photographed. Tidy up any clutter and remove personal photos and drawings from refrigerators and bulletin boards.

Think about the picture before you take it.
What are you trying to show in the photo? Do you want to move or remove anything before you take it?

Highlight the best features of your home.
Do any of your rooms have spectacular views? You can take pictures of your rooms to show off their views. Let the potential purchaser imagine themselves standing in the room with the view. They will appreciate the picture more knowing where they will be able to enjoy the view when they purchase the home.

A general photography rule of thumb is the closer the subject, the better the photo. However it may be useful to take a few steps back or use a wide-angle lens to give the viewer more context and make your home seem more spacious.

Take a shot of every part of the house including living room, kitchen, dining room, and other key areas of your home.

Pay attention to lighting.
Lighting is the key to good photography, and you must choose the optimum time of the day for the shot, typically when the sun is behind you. If the front of the house faces east, the morning is the best time. If the front faces west you want to take your pictures in the late afternoon.

A good general time of the day is around noon or early afternoon on a sunny day for most exterior pictures since the sun is overhead and there are few shadows. If it is overcast you can set your camera to a lower shutter speed to absorb more light and create a brighter image.

The light source also affects colour. When the sun is lower in the sky, either in the morning or in the late afternoon, you get more intense colour. This time of day makes the sky pop blue and the house shows off its best colour. High noon overhead sunlight tends to wash out colour.

Cloudy and overcast days can often provide surprisingly wonderful diffused light that can bring out great colour, although shots like this lack the bright blue sky in the background.

For dramatic evening photography, turn on all the house lights, and take the picture after sunset but before it is totally dark. You will see light coming out of the windows, however there will be enough exterior light to capture the details of the house.

For interior room photography avoid mid day, since on sunny days the light coming in the windows will be too bright. The best times are after daybreak and just before sunset. Use a powerful flash or turn on all the lights.

Take many shots.
If you are using a digital camera, you can take multiple shots of the same room and then pick which one looks best. You can try different angles and pick the winning view of the room.

You can touch up your pictures on your computer software including brightening up a darker picture. After you have a look at your pictures, you will have a better idea of how to improve them. Some indoor pictures can look too warm due to the lighting. You can always reduce certain colours with your photo editing software to make it look more natural.

Consider hiring a professional real estate photographer.
Many real estate agents and homeowners simply do not have the time, equipment, or skills necessary to take good photographs of a home or building they are listing for sale. Professional photography is provided by many brokerages as an optional service and the price is extremely reasonable.

Photos of your home are the first introduction of your new listing to the world. This is the visual element that captures the imagination of buyers and sends them running to contact you for a first look.

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RICHARD BLACKWELL Toronto— Globe and Mail
May 16, 2012 - 2:06:48 PM

 

Outlook 'incredibly positive' for Canadian economy: Royal Bank CEO
Royal Bank of Canada  chief Gordon Nixon says he is “incredibly positive” about the outlook for the Canadian economy despite the problems bubbling up around the globe.

“The next number of years is going to be a difficult period for the world,” the chief executive officer told a Bloomberg conference in Toronto. However Canada “is incredibly well positioned” because of its fiscal flexibility, its low tax rate, natural resources, strong financial sector and growing industrial sector.

“We have ability to really buck the trend” of what is going on elsewhere, he said, particularly because the country is less reliant on the United States than it was in the past.

Mr. Nixon said he is not concerned about a housing bubble that may burst.

“We feel pretty good about the housing market,” he said, noting that Vancouver's condo market is not representative of the entire national housing market. RBC also has relatively little exposure to the condo market, he added.

There are pockets of vulnerability, but over all, the bank is comfortable with its mortgage lending, Mr. Nixon said. The only worry would be a “shock from a significant increase in interest rates over a short period of time,” he said.

Indeed, Mr. Nixon said he would “like to see the rhetoric [about a housing bubble] come down a little bit.”

Mr. Nixon said RBC, which has been more cautious about overseas acquisitions than many of its competitors, will remain that way. It will look at “strategic, tactical” acquisitions, but only ones that can present a reasonable rate of return.

All banks are looking to more capital growth in the current uncertain environment, so the buying action that took place from 2000 to 2008 will not be repeated for some time, he said.

By Referral Mortgage Consultants, BRMC - Mortgage solutions for Canadians.

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Fraser Valley housing market remains steady; while selection continues to improve

May, 02 2012 11:15:51 am, by FVREB

There were 1,435 property sales processed on the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board’s Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in April, reflecting a 5 per cent decrease compared to the 1,516 sales in April of last year, and a slight increase over the 1,412 sales in March.

In April, the Board added 7 per cent more new listings compared to one year ago, 3,134 in contrast to 2,918 in April 2011, pushing the number of properties for sale in the Fraser Valley to 10,312, the highest level since July 2010.

Scott Olson, President of the Board, says “To put it in perspective, in the last decade, April 2012 ranked second lowest for sales during that month, while new listings came in at the third highest, meaning it’s a good time to be shopping for a home in the Fraser Valley because selection has only been this extensive twice.
“When you combine modest sales with normal, seasonal increases in listings it helps keep house prices in check, which is what we’re seeing. Benchmark prices for all property types remain essentially unchanged from March and for townhomes and apartments, they’re on par with what they were one year ago.”

The benchmark price or value of a ‘typical’ Fraser Valley detached home as determined by the MLS® Home Price Index (MLS®HPI), increased 5.3 per cent in one year. It went from $547,800 in April 2011 to $576,600 last month.

In April, the MLS®HPI benchmark price of a Fraser Valley townhouse was $318,400, an increase of 1.9 per cent compared to $312,600 in 2011. The benchmark price of an apartment increased by 0.8 per cent year-over-year; going from $204,100 in April of last year to $205,800 in April 2012.

Olson adds, “There are a lot of different dynamics to our market right now – all depending on location, property type and price point. For example, some areas are seeing increases in sales and decreases in prices; while others are experiencing the reverse, so if you are thinking of buying or selling ask your REALTOR® to show you how your property type is fairing in the market overall and more importantly in your community.

“In particular, ask about the ratio of sales compared to the number of active listings for your home type. This is one tool we use to help our clients understand if the market for their home is tilted in favour of buyers or sellers or is in balance. Currently, Fraser Valley’s overall market is balanced leaning towards buyers, however each sub-market is different.”

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All of us at some point have said, “I can’t believe what I just saw”. One example is if the Toronto Maple Leafs ever win the Stanley Cup. The conscious mind would not to be able to accept something so outrageous and beyond the realm of possibility. It is so much easier to believe in something that you never see – like all things religious. Religion is purely based on faith and actual scientific evidence is, well, scarce to say the least. Yet, people believe. So how is it that something as simple as economic data makes some economists disbelievers? That’s exactly what’s happening today; they see the data but they don’t believe it.

I find it fascinating that economists are saying Canada’s job creation numbers should not be taken at face value. Over the last two months, Canada has added more jobs than in any other two-month period in the last 31 years, with approximately 140,500 jobs added in March and April. Also, more full time permanent positions were added, meaning more Canadian workers will benefit from employer healthcare benefits. That’s fantastic news! It’s reason to celebrate! But no, economists are suggesting the employment numbers are not sustainable and our job numbers are uneven. As for sustainability, no kidding! But I guess if they say that often enough they’ll eventually be right. As for the numbers being uneven – Alberta, for example, has the hottest job market today, while Ontario lags behind the rest of the country – that’s another debate all together. Ontario’s most recent numbers are clear evidence that the province needs real leadership. What was once the economic engine of Canada has now been reduced to the nation’s punch line. Ontario aside, there’s great news for the rest of the country. Quebec? Everyone was under the impression that the province was headed for another recession. Low and behold, the job numbers in Quebec are rising. Companies are looking for experienced workers – evident in the fact that more people aged 55 and older are being hired. Youth unemployment is still an issue, and Canada’s jobless rate ticked up a bit to 7.3%. That being said, Obama would kill for those numbers heading into the presidential elections.

Canada’s job figures appear to have caught many economists by surprise. The question is why? How can those in “the know” now claim that these numbers came out of nowhere. Of course, they can make that claim, but if they continue to get caught off-guard, their future predictions will fall on deaf ears.
Not long ago CAAMP’s Chief Economists, Will Dunning, said to me that economists base their forecasts on their personality. They’re either optimists or pessimists, and their forecasts will reflect their normal disposition. Based on their recent track record, maybe there should be a third category –Illusionist.

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Survey shows 47% of Canadian homeowners are mortgage-free

Mortgage problems might be an issue for some Canadians — if they had one.

A new survey says 47% of homeowners are mortgage-free. The survey by Forum Research Inc. also found the wealthier you are, the more likely you are to have a mortgage.

Among respondents with household income of $100,000, 62% had a mortgage. Among those with household income of less than $20,000, 36% have a mortgage. The poll found only 13% of respondents are ready to renegotiate their mortgages to take advantages of historically low interest rates.

Participants in the survey less than 45 years of age were twice as likely to refinance their mortgage in the next year compared to older groups. Overall, two-thirds of those polled with mortgages say they expect to have their debt paid off in 15 years or less.

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Canadians dominate world’s 10 strongest banks

 

Banks from Citigroup Inc. in the U.S. to BNP Paribas SA in France are racing to shed assets and raise money ahead of new global capital rules that start taking effect in 2015. For Canadian lenders, these moves have created the opportunity to go on a shopping spree.

Canada’s six largest banks have spent US$37.8 billion since 2008 on about 100 acquisitions at home and abroad, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its June issue.

“We and our Canadian competitors are only able to do that because we have some flexibility as a result of our strength,” says Gerald McCaughey, left, chief executive officer of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which bought JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s minority stake in asset management firm American Century Investments last year. “Over the longer term, this should actually help to maintain the strength of the Canadian banking system and its competitiveness.”

CIBC was No. 3 in Bloomberg Markets’ second annual ranking of the world’s strongest banks, followed by three of its Canadian rivals: Toronto-Dominion Bank (No. 4), National Bank of Canada (No. 5) and Royal Bank of Canada (No. 6), the country’s largest lender. Bank of Nova Scotia ranked 18th, and Bank of Montreal was 22nd.

By Referral Mortgage Consultants, BRMC - Mortgage solutions for Canadians.

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"Call us at Canadian 1st Realty Inc  if you want to know how this program works –
10k income tax write off max! or up to 5% of purchase price!! wow - cheque gets sent as tax refund next year. Still waiting for final approval.

IE) buying a home for 100k - you get 5% income tax credit = 5000.00!! - after you buy a home for more then 200k the rebate caps out at 10k.

*if your net more then 150k a year, you begin to get some of your rebate clawed back!!!"

Dave Browne Sales Manager Canadian 1st

(BC Government detail sheet below)

THE B.C. FIRST-TIME NEW HOME        
BUYERS’ BONUS              
                 
Subject to approval by the legislature, the B.C. government intends to implement a temporary BC First-Time New  
Home Buyers’ Bonus. Effective February 21, 2012, to March 31, 2013, the bonus is a one-time refundable personal  
income tax credit worth up to $10,000.            
                 
Requirements to Qualify              
for the Bonus                
ELIGIBLE FIRST-TIME       bonus will be available in respect  
NEW HOME BUYER       of owner-built homes where:  
You will qualify as a first-time new home buyer if:   »» A written agreement of purchase and  
»» You purchase or build an eligible     sale in respect of the land and building is  
new home located in B.C.;       entered into on or after February 21, 2012;
»» You, or for couples, you and your spouse     »» Construction of the home is  
or common law partner, have never     complete, or the home is occupied,  
previously owned a primary residence;     before April 1, 2013; and    
»» You file a 2011 B.C. resident personal     »» No one else has claimed a bonus  
income tax return, or if you move to B.C.     in respect of the home.    
after December 31, 2011, you file a 2012 B.C.     A substantially renovated home is one  
resident personal income tax return (you     where all or substantially all of the interior
will not be eligible for the bonus if you     of a building has been removed or replaced.
move to B.C. after December 31, 2012);     Generally, 90% or more of the interior of the
»» You are eligible for the B.C. HST     house must be renovated to qualify as a  
New Housing Rebate; and       substantially renovated home (90% test).  
»» You intend to live in the home     Amount of the Bonus    
as your primary residence.       MAXIMUM AMOUNT    
ELIGIBLE NEW HOME       The bonus is equal to 5% of the purchase price of
An eligible new home includes new homes (i.e.,   the home (or in the case of owner-built homes,
newly constructed and substantially renovated     5% of the land and construction costs subject to
homes) that are purchased from a builder and     HST) to a maximum of $10,000.  
that are owner-built. The bonus will be available   PHASE-OUT FOR HIGHER    
in respect of new homes purchased from a     INCOME EARNERS    
builder where:         The bonus will be reduced based on an  
»» A written agreement of purchase and sale is   individual’s/couple’s net income (line 236 of your
entered into on or after February 21, 2012;     income tax return) using the following formula:
»» HST is payable on the home (e.g.,     »» For single individuals, the bonus is  
HST will generally be payable if       reduced by 20 cents for every dollar in  
ownership or possession of the home     net income over $150,000 (bonus is  
transfers before April 1, 2013 – see     reduced to zero at $200,000 net income).
further details below); and       »» For couples, the bonus is reduced by  
»» No one else has claimed a bonus     10 cents for every dollar in family net  
in respect of the home. (back to top right)   income over $150,000 (bonus is reduced  
          to zero at $250,000 family net income).  
                 
                 
                 
Additional Information              
APPLICATION PROCESS       For owner-built homes, the bonus will be based
Individuals must apply for the bonus through     on land and construction costs subject to the HST.
the B.C. government. Individuals can apply once   Eligible new homes will include:  
application forms have been posted on the B.C.     »» Detached Houses, semi-detached  
Ministry of Finance website later this year. Applicants   houses, duplexes and townhouses,  
will be required to submit documentation     »» Residential condominium units,  
demonstrating eligibility for the bonus.     »» Mobile homes and floating homes, and  
ELIGIBLE NEW HOME       »» Residential units in a cooperative  
The bonus is available in respect of new homes   housing corporation.    
(i.e., newly constructed and substantially renovated   For More Information    
homes) where HST is payable. HST will generally be   INCOME TAXATION BRANCH  
payable on homes purchased from a builder where   Ministry of Finance    
ownership or possession transfer before April 1, 2013.   Province of British Columbia    
Potential buyers should consult with the builder to   Telephone: (250) 387-3332 or 1 (877) 387-3332
determine if the home will be subject to the HST.   Email: ITBTaxQuestions@gov.bc.ca  
                 
Bonus Phase-Out for Higher Income Earners – Examples          
HOME P R I C E* – $200,000 OR MORE            
      single   couple      
Family Net Bonus Before Bonus Actual Bonus Bonus Bonus Actual Bonus  
Income Reduction Reduction Received Reduction Reduction Received    

$75,000

$10,000

$0

$10,000

$0

$0

$10,000

   

$100,000

$10,000

$0

$10,000

$0

$0

$10,000

   

$150,000

$10,000

$0

$10,000

$0

$0

$10,000

   

$175,000

$10,000

($5,000)

$5,000

($2,500)

($2,500)

$7,500

   

$200,000

$10,000

($10,000)

$0

($5,000)

($5,000)

$5,000

   

$225,000

$10,000

($10,000)

$0

($7,500)

($7,500)

$2,500

   

$250,000

$10,000

($10,000)

$0

($10,000)

($10,000)

$0

   
                 
                 
HOME PRICE* – $150,000              
    single   couple        
Family Net Bonus Before Bonus Actual Bonus Bonus Actual Bonus      
Income Reduction Reduction Received Reduction Received      

$75,000

$7,500

$0

$7,500

$0

$7,500

     

$100,000

$7,500

$0

$7,500

$0

$7,500

     

$150,000

$7,500

$0

$7,500

$0

$7,500

     

$175,000

$7,500

($5,000)

$2,500

($2,500)

$5,000

     

$200,000

$7,500

($7,500)

$0

($5,000)

$2,500

     

$225,000

$7,500

($7,500)

$0

($7,500)

$0

     
                 
In the case of owner-built homes, the bonus amount will be calculated based on the land and      
construction costs that are subject to the HST.            
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Two of Canada's big five banks have decided to raise the rate on their posted, five-year mortgages.

Royal Bank and TD Bank announced Monday they were hiking their five-year-closed rate by 0.20 to 5.44 per cent, and their special fixed four-year closed offer by 0.50 per cent to 3.49 per cent; their posted five-year variable rate — which rises or falls along with the banks' prime lending rate — will rise 10 basis points to prime plus 0.20 percentage points.

A basis point is one-hundredth (.01) of a percentage point.

The moves follow recent sustained increases in bond market interest rates, where banks raise their funds, and comes amid continuing concerns about the ability of some Canadians to manage their high personal debt loads.

The rate hikes come after a recent race to the bottom that recently saw Royal and others push their special offer fixed rate down to 2.99 per cent. The remaining banks could soon follow RBC's move in raising rates as the big five Canadian banks often move in lockstep.

In a BMO report Friday, its economists argued that with the U.S. recovering gathering steam, central bankers on both sides of the border are becoming more comfortable with the economy and less so with historically low interest rates that in Canada are fanning the flames of the hot housing market.

The increase follows  comments by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty Thursday, criticizing banks who have called on Ottawa to tighten lending and saying that’s their job.

Last week, the Canadian 10-year bond yield climbed close to a five-month high of over 2.24 per cent, a result of increased confidence by in the North American economy by investors prepared to move money out of the bond market and into stocks.

Today, Canada's 10-year bond was yielding 2.187 per cent, up from 2.171 per cent Friday. Bond yields move inversely to their prices.

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VICTORIA - Housing construction and new home sales will soon be on a much firmer footing in British Columbia as the government reverses the harmonized sales tax, industry experts said Friday.

New HST rules for housing starts April 1st this year.
Watch and Share how staring April 1, 2012, more than 90 per cent of newly built homes will now be eligible for a provincial HST rebate of up to $42,500.

http://www.globaltvbc.com/video/hstchanges+announced/video.html?v=2198527369

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon unveiled a series of harmonized sales tax relief measures he said gives home buyers and builders a more solid foundation to transition out of the controversial tax British Columbia voters rejected last summer.

Falcon said the government will officially return to the seven-per-cent provincial sales tax by April 1, 2013, ending a bleak period for the Liberals that included the early departure of former premier Gordon Campbell and continues to shackle Premier Christy Clark, who replaced Campbell last year.

Falcon said starting April 1, 2012, the government will raise the HST rebate threshold for new home buyers to $850,000, up from the current $525,000.

He said that means more than 90 per cent of new homes will be eligible for the rebate of up to $42,500, up from the previous $26,250.

Falcon said the changes ensure there is fairness through the transition period and provides a road map for the housing industry to make the transition back to the PST as smooth as possible.

"The home building industry has been really looking for clarity and certainty, and that's exactly what we will be delivering here today," said Falcon, at a press conference attended by home building industry stakeholders.

After the HST-end date, those who buy a home built before April 1, 2013 will pay a two per cent transition tax on the full house price, he said.

Home builders, who have been lobbying strongly for HST relief since last year, were pleased with Falcon's changes.

Phil Hochstein, president Independent Contractors and Builders Association of B.C., said the HST changes are well thought out and are "definitely worth the wait."

"This is the kind of thing that deals with housing affordability and I think throughout the province it will help kick start the housing industry and people involved in construction," he said.

Urban Development Institute executive director Maureen Enser said the changes provide certainty to both home buyers and builders.

"At the very least, the industry was expecting clarity on the HST transition rules and how this might affect pre-sale agreements," she said in a statement. "The Government’s announcement today has gone much farther and is a strong reflection of the economic importance of B.C.’s development sector."

The institute represents more than 550 of British Columbia's residential, commercial, industrial and institutional developers who create $30 billion worth of economic activity and more than 250,000 indirect and direct jobs annually.

Last fall, the institute said government's planned 18-month transition process to replace the HST threatened the potential creation of 8,000 construction jobs and more than 2,000 residential housing units.

UDI president Don Forsgren said in October that thousands of residential building units were on hold, with more expected, prompting the industry to lobby the Liberal government to implement a transition strategy to minimize the HST's impact on new home purchases.

Falcon rejected comments from critics who suggest the government should be able to dump the entire HST by April 1 this year.

"I can't agree with those who say, 'Gee, it took 11 months to get into this thing, I don't think it should take any longer to get out,'" said Falcon. "When you are going backwards, this is uncharted territory. It takes time to do it right."

Opposition New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix has frequently said the government appears to be stretching out the HST transition period.

Falcon also said the HST changes also apply to buyers who purchase new vacation or recreational properties priced up to $850,000 and located outside of the Greater Vancouver and Victoria area regional districts.

The government change to the HST, a blending of the PST and the five-per-cent federal goods and services tax, was announced by then-premier Gordon Campbell and his then-finance minister Colin Hansen shortly after the 2009 election.

Anger over the implementation of the tax set off a province-wide referendum, and the tax was voted down last year.

The B.C. government announced last month that it had worked out an agreement to pay back the $1.6 billion the federal government paid to the province in transition money.

While the province has to pay all the money back, it's getting a $118 million break on interest and will be able to repay the money in installments over five years.

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No matter  in which direction you are looking, emotions run high when it comes to real estate.

For many clients, the buying and selling of property goes far beyond the exchange of the product at hand. It comes down to hopes, dreams, and the collection of memories over a lifetime- or the transition from one major life change to another.It is not surprising, given the depth of a fruitful REALTOR®/client relationship, that a rather hefty part of the job description is not about seeking out properties or buyers, but about managing an emotional component of the process- namely disappointment.

The question is, how do you turn a negative into a positive that solidifies the relationship, and sets up for future business? Whether you are dealing with a sale falling through, losing out in a bidding war or another drama, there are many approaches to take, but the best stance is to be proactive to try to avoid disappointment before it happens.

Manage Expectations

Disappointment is a vague sort of concept, but it’s arms can spread out and touch down in many forms.The best way to contain the entity is to neutralize it with open, frequent communication that supports healthy expectations.In addition to relying on your own experience in the market, it is helpful when trying to avoid disappointing clients to back your arguments up with hard data on things like comparable sales, local market and industry information, staging info etc.

You’re not the wedge separating a client and their emotions; you are the voice of reason- a reliable third party with their best interests at heart.

Bidding Wars

In many centers across this country, particularly Toronto and Vancouver, the robust markets set the stage for bidding wars. In a situation that is often all or nothing, there co-exists the opportunity for disaster or dream-making; when stakes are high, emotions often run even higher.In these cases, it is advisable to tell clients to put their best offer out the first time around, obviously- with an eye to securing to purchase.

But the real estate professional must also prepare for possible disappointment.  The best consolation, in this case- is not about sharing platitudes about housing destiny; emotions can be tempered with dollars and cents.  Remind your clients that it is not about what a property costs, but about what they are willing and/or able to pay. And as their REALTOR®, assure them that you will be able to be the matchmaker, eventually, to that end.It is worth reminding clients too, that for some seeking a property is a long term process, particularly in hot markets.

Sale Falling Through

What is that they say about best laid plans? Even when a deal is imminent, there are a number of factors that can pull it off the rails before it is closed.The important thing is to be the calm in your client’s storm, and to be encouraging and reassuring. While your client can know that some things in real estate are left up to chance, in working with you as many of the unknowns as possible are removed.

Disappointment in this case can be softened through education about the process- and in playing out scenarios. Nothing can increase discontent like adding unpleasant surprise to the mix.

Don’t Make Promises you can’t Keep

It may seem obvious, but honesty is the best policy, even if it means telling your client things that they don’t necessarily want to hear.It is easy, in the spirit of encouragement, to make promises surrounding circumstances that are likely beyond your control. Avoid statements like “Your house will sell in a week.” Use your language more carefully, to say things like, "In my experience, homes like yours sell quickly,” or “our goal is to sell your home quickly- and here are the measurable steps I intend to take for that to happen.”

Not only does that involve the client in the process, it defines expectations as well as demonstrating your value as a professional.

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How years of ultra-low interest rates have punished savers, rewarded spenders, and now might be smothering any hopes of recovery


Steven Patterson and his family moved to Vancouver from Cambridge, Ont., in mid-2008, just as the financial crisis hit. After years of scrimping and saving to pay off their first mortgage, they had earned a tidy profit when they sold the Cambridge house and put the proceeds into GICs, where the money would be safe and easily accessible should they decide to buy another home in B.C. Three years later, Patterson, a 42-year-old IT manager, is still sitting on the sidelines, renting, while real estate prices march ever upward in a city where a three-bedroom bungalow covered in warped siding can fetch $1 million.

That might seem like a prudent move in an uncertain economy, but Patterson says his cautious approach has come at a steep price: all his money is steadily being eaten away by inflation, which the meagre interest income from his GICs can’t cover—particularly after the taxman takes a cut. Meanwhile, several of Patterson’s friends have taken advantage of those same low interest rates, loaded up on debt, and bought into Vancouver’s frothy housing market in recent years. And they have enjoyed a windfall—at least on paper—as the value of their homes continues to climb. As for Patterson, “I’m only a few thousand dollars ahead—minus inflation,” he says, clearly frustrated. “So actually, I’m way behind, and I don’t have a house.”

Welcome to the world of ultra-low interest rates, where profligacy is richly rewarded and saving is, well, for suckers. Those who’ve opted to be austere with their personal finances have found themselves on the losing end as governments and central bankers have worked to get people to borrow and spend in the wake of the global recession. While emergency interest rate cuts were to be expected after the financial crisis seized up lending markets, it’s been nearly four years since central banks started slashing rates to the lowest levels in history. For that matter, over the last 10-year period, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Bank of Canada’s benchmark interest rate stayed above four per cent for just six quarters (in 2006 and 2007), while the average headline rate of inflation over that time was 2.1 per cent.

As a result, those saving money have seen almost nothing in the way of returns for a painfully long time. In fact, after accounting for inflation, anyone who dares to be prudent risks seeing the value of their money decline. If one were to put $10,000 into a five-year GIC at two per cent this year, and assume headline inflation goes no higher than the current rate of 2.7 per cent, the future value of that investment in 2016 will have shrunk to around $9,670. (The consumer price index the Bank of Canada uses when setting interest rates is lower than the headline rate because it excludes volatile items like fuel and food, which is fine, if you don’t drive, or eat.)

For seniors and others living on fixed incomes in particular, low rates threaten to wipe out their savings. Yet it’s also depressing for those in the second half of their careers who don’t have an appetite for risk but feel they now have no other choice. “People in their 50s are worried about what they’re going to retire on,” says Susan Eng, vice-president of advocacy at CARP, which works on behalf of aging Canadians. Between the carnage in stock markets and the collapse of interest rates, “there’s a huge amount of anxiety. You’re aski ng for a lot of trouble with this situation.”

Some will argue people like Patterson are simply bitter because they didn’t buy into Vancouver’s soaring housing market. And yes, those who take risks should enjoy the potential for greater rewards. That principle is at the heart of capitalism. Only, in the current environment where central banks have pushed down interest rates to abnormally low levels, and government policies encourage consumption over thrift, the dynamics of risk and reward have been severely distorted.

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Tough words, army mentality, but could it be true? “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” —General Eric Shinseki retired Chief of Staff, U. S. Army

When it comes to Real Estate, and planning for the future, you can either throw your professional tea leaves in the air- or you can proactively try to predict what lies ahead based on past evolution and the current state of Real Estate.

There is much in this dynamic, swiftly moving industry that is changing, and continuing to evolve.  The industry over the past several years has been characterized by vast changes, from the opening of the marketplace to new players who have changed the way that REALTORS® must position themselves, to ongoing industry challenges from the Competition Bureau, to a shift in client demographics and tastes to the explosion of technology and social media that has completely reshaped and rebuilt the way in which an industry functions, from the inside out.

The question is how to stay ahead of the curve, and remain competitive? Part of the answer lies in the ability to read the professional crystal ball, and adapt. Michael McCann, Royal LePage Connect, hangs a quote on his desk to remind him that, as a REALTOR®, standing still while things move around you not only challenges the laws of physics, it doesn’t make good business sense: “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”—General Eric Shinseki retired Chief of Staff, U. S. Army

Technology

Fact: More than 80% of home searches now at least have some interaction of the internet. For all the changes that have taken place in the industry, no more than this heavy influence of technology, drives home the truth that when it comes to technology and Real Estate, you’re either in, or you’re out- and watching your competitors snap up your market share.

It’s not just about staying abreast of new technologies either; being tech savvy, and fully leveraging things like social media is more than effective marketing and distribution of information- it has become a base line expectation for the consumer, and is likely to evolve even further in the years to come. The inclusions of technologies like social media, visual experience and video technology are quickly becoming industry standard. Just like the market ultimately will determine the value of a property, so will the requirements of the consumer dictate the way in which REALTORS® interact with them.

This is where planning for the future can be beneficial to the REALTOR®, as McCann suggests: “Segments of my business plan for 2012 includes a strong social media platform, technology updates, expanding online marketing strategies and updating information delivery systems.”

As McCann says too, technology is only useful if it is relevant- to the marketplace and to the client; as REALTORS® evolve their usage of technology to address client needs, it is important to consistently look at themselves through the eyes of the client.  Some common themes in the future will likely be an increased immediacy in the access to information, as well as in increase to the visual component to marketing and property sales.

“As REALTORS® it's critical that we communicate with buyers and sellers via the messaging vehicle of their choice.  Clients are now mobile and their expectations are that we are as well.

For today's buyers and sellers text content represents a small fraction of their needs.  Over the next couple of years we will be sending more data, pictures, video and links tailored specifically for their criteria.”

These new technologies that are gaining popularity- through things like video blogs, digital floor plans etc. represent a real opportunity for REALTORS® on many levels, like strengthening client relationships through more personalized technology, but also provides an opportunity for REALTORS® to really add value, and give them supporting reasons to compel consumers to choose to do business with them, especially with an increasing For Sale by Owner presence in the market.

Although the idea of incorporating new technology can be daunting, there are several compelling reasons to get on board, and the key, according to McCann, is to commit to tackling technology with training, a little bit at a time, both to find out what is current, and what is expected. “So REALTORS® don't get lost in the forest of technology, my suggestion is every year learn one new social platform and one technical device. Commit and be good at one thing rather than fumble through a dozen platforms.”

More Players, Same Space

While there is some truth to the old adage, ‘change is good’, there have been some challenges for Real Estate Professionals in opening up the marketplace to For Sale by Owners.

The fact is, this may be the new economic order for Real Estate, although the jury remains out on exactly what the future will look like in this regard; will there be a number of private sellers or will several companies merge? The strategy here is to include some sort of co-existing marketing strategy, not so much to overcome the ‘other’, but to more clearly define the space that belongs to each player.

Again, consumers and their perceptions of the industry are a factor in driving this change, and in ultimately setting up territories in the marketplace, and it is up to the professionals to verbalize their position proactively. The difference is not with commission, as is often the centre of the debate, but with service.

Robert J. Morrow, Editor: www.HamiltonHomeReview.com,Sales Rep, Chase Realty Inc, Brokerage, says that, for those that plan to continue their success, it may be worthwhile to take a look up once in awhile to see who is standing next to them in the workplace, and tap into their sense of the future: “As with any industry, the veterans resist change and due to their current success (based on referrals and reputation), they continue to have a strong voice within the industry. But the boomer generation is aging and the x and y generations are entering the industry more and more each day. These young, smart, and technology-savvy professionals not only accept change, they embrace it. They take for granted that what worked last year might not work this year. As a result, the pace of change will increase in coming years. The "new" consumer will demand a fairer way to buy and sell a home. And the "new" agent will have a solution. When those two voices become stronger than the voice of the veteran, the industry will change. Better for the consumer. Better for us.”

Location, Location, Location

In years gone by, the picture of idyllic living involved an expansive property with lush lawns in a suburban setting. Propelled both by the beginning of the Baby Boomer migration towards retirement and property downsizing, and by a re-evaluation of professional  and living needs, increasingly, the urban centres are where it’s at. This is evidenced by the surge in condominium development in urban cores around the country, which may be a sign of things to come.

Steven Fudge, Sales Representative, Bosley R.E. Ltd (www.urbaneer.com), says that this is more than just a change, but that there is a buyer role-reversal in the works, that could have widespread impact on the marketplace. “As commuting times increase our residential differentiation will experience a cultural role reversal of sorts, as white collar suburbanites will increasingly flock to inner city neighbourhoods- many of which were once the nuclei of the ethnic working class, whom in turn will relocate to the suburbs to be closer to production centres.”

For demographic evidence of this shift, one need look no further than the Baby Boomers, and the ample statistical data from across the country to suggest that, as they near and enter retirement, are fleeing the suburbs and returning to the city centres en masse, as Fudge observes: “Baby Boomers- an aging affluent mass, prefer having their principal residences in the City- rather than in the country, as the proximity of healthcare facilities and services quickly move to centre stage.”

Modern housing has increasingly become a commodity that included a certain degree of obsolescence in its’ trappings, but as Fudge suggests- there is a rebirth of love for tried and true quality a-comin’ that will effectively change buying habits, for many of those moving towards urban centres, as well as the physical landscapes that will emerge from the shift: “Canadians who have once too often renovated over budget - and with time delays, will desire for high-quality, low-maintenance, and more efficient move-in space in the city centre. City politicians, pressured by demand, will loosen zoning restrictions downtown - and embrace and then celebrate live/work zoning enabling the creative, entrepreneurial and financial service consultants to legally operate their small firms out of their dwellings which may even have separate work quarters at street level. When city residents travel locally, pro-urbanites walk, cycle and use public transportation because it will soon take less time than driving.”

“With growing collective public pressure on behalf of the environment, influence by media value and consumer buying patterns, the housing industry becomes cognizant of recycling waste- the result of which is integration of housing with natural and urban co-systems, as well as the inclusion of green materials and construction techniques; there is an acute awareness of the impact of healthy housing environments on productivity that results from battling late twentieth century hazards, like the sick-building syndrome, created by the noxious gases of synthetic materials, and sponsoring research on the psychological benefits of good design on the human psyche.”

Client: Past, Present and Future

While the industry itself is in a state of flux, one thing remains front and centre- as an invisible anchor: The client.

Although the industry continues to evolve, one thing does remain constant- that real estate is first and foremost, a client centric business built by developing relationships. To understand the future of the business, one must know your clients, and know where they are heading, in terms of demands, tastes and expectations. Furthermore, you can’t follow them there; you must be waiting for them when they arrive.

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