Past Being Cranky

November 26th, 2009

Okay, so scrolling through my blog posts, one has to note the number of times I speak out about ethics… I actually left the local real estate board of directors over a point of ethics… I actually left several brokerages over points of ethics… my sister recently changed employment over ethics…

Without my personal set of ethics, I feel I am nothing. Ya, there are “codes of ethics” and “standards of business practice”… but really… you can’t teach people honest morality. It just is. And even though Realtors have to learn the code of ethics, it usually becomes something they memorize for an exam or two… and it gets somewhat hazy after that.

Over the years, I have had people throw snipes at me about rules and regulations and the truth is, they’ve never read them. Over the years, I’ve also had people call me for advice, for they know that I have a pretty good idea of whether the matter is something in legislation or local rules and I can direct folks to the proper source of reference.

I’ve been pretty upset, a number of times… over issues of inappropriate conduct in the industry of real estate… and I’d like to reiterate… I’m not perfect… I strive to be as perfect as I can be.

The past several years have been “learn to bite your tongue, Jody” years… still, I’m baffled.

For the past several years, the Canadian Real Estate Association (who controls Multiple Listing Service®) has been embroiled in a lawsuit. We’re not supposed to talk about it, yet the media is full of reports… and, misinformation, I might add.

Maybe I don’t understand.

The thing is… to be a real estate sales person in Ontario, you take courses (I took mine through the Ontario Real Estate Association) and you learn a whole lot. In fact, a lot of real estate people have to re-take the courses numerous times to pass. These courses are geared into steering the student toward a career in “organized real estate”… that’s what the association calls itself.

Now, to be licensed, you have to get through 3 phases of initial courses and then take an additional group of courses over the next two years. This is professionally labeled “articling”. Sounds good. Licensing for real estate practitioners comes from the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). A real estate sales person does NOT have to be a member of “organized” real estate… a real estate person does NOT have to join the real estate association… but… in order to use MLS®.

MLS ® is a registered trademark of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) falls under the CREA… and our local board comes under OREA. Essentially, to work for most franchises, you need to become a member of your local real estate board and pay dues to them, as well as OREA and CREA- this is above and beyond your licensing fees to RECO.

The benefit of being involved in “organized” real estate is that you may expect notification of changes in legislation, be provided the opportunity to purchase educational courses to learn about changes in legislation and, of prime importance, you have access to the MLS® system.

MLS® then, is a tool used by an organization. It has been thoughtfully developed, over many years, to serve the specific needs of the membership that has paid for its development.

Many real estate practitioners have made a good and honest living without being members of the association and without the use of MLS®.

With membership to a local board, and then OREA and CREA, a real estate practitioner also has the privilege of identifying themselves as a “Realtor ®”. This is a term that was developed to refer to members of “organized” real estate. Real Estate sales people who aren’t members are not permitted to call themselves Realtor®.

Are you with me?

I could go on… but frankly, most real estate sales people have a hard time understanding the babble…

All licensed sales people in Ontario must follow the Code of Ethics of RECO, as well as government regulations. Realtors® are required to adhere to further codes, practices, rules & regulations, in addition to the RECO codes and government regulations. Further, CREA and OREA’s codes are noted as “minimal requirements” for Realtors®- meaning that a Realtor® should strive to be even better and more ethical than the codes outline.

No real estate sales person is allowed to discuss commission rates with one another… this would be a violation of “competition law”… still… the media reports constantly about our rates for service… and there’s a lot of misinformation reported there, too.

Realtors® aren’t supposed to talk about the problems or violations that happen within the organization. These are supposed to be handled according to policy & procedure- and sorted as to whether they fall within the jurisdiction of the organization or are a matter for RECO. In most cases, they are handed over to RECO to be reviewed.

Here’s my point…like all Realtors®, I pay a good deal of money to be a member of “organized” real estate… and I want to believe that I am a member of an elite group of real estate licensees who wish to adhere to the highest code of ethical behaviour… after all, our regulations are more strict than those of RECO. I feel that someone who has been found to have violated the minimal requirements under RECO should be kicked out of the club! At least suspended!

We need to have the public realize that there are Realtors® and there are real estate sales people. & we need to them understand the difference.

Before the inception of RECO (around the year 2000), the real estate industry was regulated by the Ministry of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. You can have a look at the RECO website www.reco.on.ca . On the home page, RECO says “Fostering confidence and upholding integrity in real estate transactions.”

Under “Who we are”… “fostering confidence…” is defined as the CORE PURPOSE.. and the RECO mission states: To regulate the trading in real estate in the public interest. Responsibility: Interpret, enforce, and suggest modification to regulation.

If you visit the OREA website www.orea.com you will see 5 boxes: 1/ Become a Real Estate professional 2/ Continue your Real Estate Education 3/ My portfolio 4/ Members only and 5/ Questions about real estate. There is a running banner beneath these boxes that invites people to enroll in the OREA Real Estate College.

At the bottom of the page, you have “What is OREA?” and “What is OREA Real Estate College?” if you click “more”… this is what you will get:

What is OREA?
OREA's Mission:

To represent its members and to provide a professional environment for members to maximize business opportunities.
The Ontario Real Estate Association represents over 45,000 brokers and salespeople who are members of the province's 42 real estate boards. OREA serves its members through a wide variety of publications, educational programs and special services. The association provides all real estate licensing courses in Ontario.

OREA was founded in 1922 to organize real estate activities and develop common goals across the province. These goals included promoting higher industry standards, protecting the general public from unscrupulous brokers and salespeople, and preserving private property rights.

OREA continually strives to improve the image of REALTORS® by enhancing educational and professional standards. OREA develops and publishes standard forms, and supports educational and charitable causes through the REALTORS Care Foundation.

What is OREA Real Estate College?

The OREA Real Estate College provides award-winning registration and continuing education in the field of real estate.

All real estate practitioners in Ontario must pass a comprehensive program of study to ready them for the complex business of trading in real estate. The OREA Real Estate College offers this registration education as the nominee of the licensing body, the Real Estate Council of Ontario.

The College also offers a complete program of continuing education courses designed to provide life-long learning and to satisfy the requirement of continuing education for all registrants under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act.

Both registration and continuing education courses are offered in three formats: online, by correspondence and in the classroom.

If you visit the CREA website www.crea.ca you will see that:

CREA represents more than 96,000 REALTORS® across Canada. The Association owns the MLS® trademark, has proprietary ownership of the REALTOR® trademark, and operates national web sites including REALTOR.ca for residential properties and ICX.CA for commercial listings across Canada. AND Not every real estate practitioner
is a REALTOR®.

Only real estate professionals who are members of their local real estate board and of CREA, and subscribe to the ethical standards of the REALTOR® Code, are allowed to call themselves REALTORS®.

In 1986 the CREA offices were moved from Toronto to Ottawa, in effect acknowledging the increasing importance of CREA's government lobbying activities.

The mission statement for CREA is

The Canadian Real Estate Association represents and promotes the interests of the members, enhances members’ professionalism and ability to succeed, and advocates policies that ensure real estate property rights and ownership.Key Objectives: · To maintain an organizational structure for CREA . Its volunteer leadership and professional staff are there to effectively address the expectations of all members across Canada. · To promote, protect and safeguard all certification and design marks associated with this association. · To maintain a continuing relationship with the Federal Government in order to monitor and influence all public policy which affect the industry. · To help members become more aware about the Competition Act and how to apply it to their business activities. · To collect, analyze and disseminate data/information on significant market, economic, demographic and technological conditions affecting the housing and real estate industry. · To formulate, promote and foster consistent professional standards of business practice, integrity and ethical conduct among the membership. · To provide an interactive forum for the analysis and communication of industry issues, trends, and association benefits.

The responsibilities of The Canadian Real Estate Association include national and international representation of the industry, and the maintenance, protection and standards for certification marks and trademarks. CREA also develops and maintains a national Code of Ethics, Privacy Code, and Standards of Business Practice, which are implemented at the local board level. The national association also provides arbitration services for disputes between provincial or territorial associations, or between members from different provinces.

CREA explains OREA’s role:

The association at the provincial or territorial level handles membership processing in non-board areas, and is the facilitator for the maintenance of board jurisdictions, or for resolving disputes between boards or members from different boards in the same province. The association is also responsible for provincial or territorial licensing and education, and for the development and implementation of political action activities at the provincial level.


& CREA explains the local board’s role:

The real estate board is the primary point for processing membership, and the recording and collection of dues. It also operates a Multiple Listing Service® system that in turn, provides data for display on either REALTOR.ca or ICX.CA. The local board develops and implements the regulations that support CREA’s national policies, and is responsible for the enforcement of the Code of Ethics and the Standards of Business Practice.

The board also provides an arbitration service to resolve disputes between members, and determines membership prerequisites, including the planning of seminars and workshops. The board also ensures local industry representation, and works in liaison with provincial associations and CREA.

So, with all of these checks and balances, why are there still ethical issues in the industry? Why does the media feel the public should have any proprietary interest in regard to the MLS® system or related websites? Why is there so much misinformation about the industry?

I’m past being cranky and wanting answers. I just want to make an honest living, to do right by my Buyers and Sellers and to be treated with respect.

P.S.

It’s official… Fabian has been made “Ski Hill Coordinator” for Madawaska Valley’s Radcliffe Hills Ski Area (5 minutes south of Barry’s Bay). He is a Level 2 Instructor… in his younger days he was provincially recognized for his skiing talent.

As well as being an avid skier, Fabian is passionate about seeing the local ski hill up and running. I will be assisting him with office administration and day-to-day operations, however, we will both still be available to our Buyers and Sellers.

The hill is being operated by the Township and managed by Craig Kelley, of their offices. Last year, the township had the ski hill open, but faced some serious setbacks. They’ve decided to give it one more try.

Fabian and I believe that the ski hill is an important asset to our community and trust you will understand our dedication to maintaining its operation.

We hope to see you on the slopes!

Seeking The Family of Mollie Wager of Birmingham

November 13th, 2009

I came across this article while surfing... and I am hoping that the spirit of the message conveys permission for me to copy it in full here:

Among a box of cassettes and books bought at a Newport auction for just £2, Jane Atherton and her partner Charlie Baxter discovered the life story of a devout woman who worked with disabled children, wrote fairy stories, and even apparently penned a song for the crooner Matt Monro.

Now the pair are hoping to trace relatives of the woman, Mollie Wager of Birmingham, so that they can offer the material back to them.

“It’s almost like we are holding her life in our hands,” said Mrs Atherton, of Oakengates, Telford.

They came across the material while delving through the box, discovering it included music Mrs Wager had written, manuscripts, an author’s agreement with a publisher, photos, and a handwritten journal, covering the period from November 1982 to December 1983, when she was working at the Jerusalem Crippled Children’s Centre, The Mount of Olives, Jerusalem.

“It took us about three hours to sort all this out and make sense of it. We were going to chuck it on the tip. To me, it’s a shame. It’s like throwing away someone’s life history,” said Mrs Atherton.

They think Mrs Wager was a nurse, as there is evidence that she trained in 1947, and the content of much of the material point to her being religious. There is a hymn called Faith and Hope labelled “words and music by Mollie Wager”, from 1970.

The documents include an address for her at 20 Kelton Court, Carpenter Road, Edgbaston. They have not found a mention of a husband, although she does use “Mrs”.

One discovery was a 1978 letter from Mickie Monro, wife of singer Matt Monro, explaining that her husband was away and saying that she was returning two manuscripts – possibly Mrs Wager had sent some songs in the hope Monro would use them.

“We would love it all to go back to the family, if they are still alive,” added Mrs Atherton, who can be contacted on 07990 988569

Written by Toby Neal
Shropshire Star online
shropshirestar.com

Madawaska Valley’s Radcliffe Ski Area

November 9th, 2009

Come Ski Ontario in one of the most scenic areas of the province! Great Family Ski Hill with small lift lines and a good variety of terrain. There are group Ski and Snowboard Lessons and Rentals available.

You're sure to enjoy the separate Tube Park and lift, too!

With the 6th highest ski vertical in Ontario, mile long runs and small lift lines, Madawaska Valley's Radcliffe Hills Ski Area will be open this year!

This quiet area is well known for its great snow and good mix of easy and challenging runs. They have reasonable rates and relaxed family atmosphere that will keep you smiling, while the lack of crowds will allow you to ski until your hearts content.

Whether you are into Skiing or Snowboarding Ontario, the snow is always here. The region benefits from higher than average snowfall and this hill has snow making services to help Mother Nature.

The Madawaska Valley's Radcliffe Ski Area features a full service pro shop, rental facility, ski and snowboard lessons and a separate Tubing area. The large chalet lounge is a favourite hang out with a crackling fireplace and hot chocolate to help warm you on those cooler days.

Madawaska Valley Ski Area boasts a vertical height of 137 metres (450 feet), making it the 6 highest ski hill in Ontario. Featuring 7 Alpine runs and a maximum slope length of 1,609 metres or 1 Mile. With over 12 runs and a total skiable area of 78 hectares (193 acres), this is one of the biggest ski and snowboard hills in the area.

Located approximately 5 km south of Barry's Bay on Highway 62 (Combermere Road), the area is ideally located 280 km northeast of Toronto, 185 km northwest of Ottawa, and 170 km north of Belleville.

To kick off the season, Madawaska Valley-Radcliffe Hills Ski Area will be hosting an EQUIPMENT SWAP on Saturday November 21, 2009 from 9:30-4:30 at the hill on Highway 62 at 41430 Combermere Road.

Directions from Toronto:

Take Highway 401 east to Highway 115/35, which leads north to Peterborough, eventually meeting Highway 7. Continue on Highway 7 east to Highway 28 and follow this highway north past Bancroft where Highway 62 takes over. Follow this scenic highway to Maynooth where it veers east and then north past the small community of Combermere. Madawaska Valley Ski Area is found halfway between Combermere and Barry's Bay on the right side of the highway. Allow 3.5 hours to travel approximately 280 km.

Directions from Ottawa:

Take Highway 417 west to Highway 17 at Arnprior. Continue northwest on Highway 17 before turning west on Highway 60 at Renfrew. Follow this scenic highway west past Eganville to Barry's Bay. In Barry's Bay, look for Highway 62 leading south. Follow this road for about 5 km to Madawaska Valley Ski Area, which will be on the left hand side of the highway. Allow just over 2 hours to travel approximately 185 km.

Directions from Belleville:

Take Highway 62 north from the 401. This secondary highway crosses Highway 7 and continues north to Bancroft. At this point Highway 62 takes over. Follow this scenic highway to Maynooth where it veers east and then north past the small community of Combermere. Madawaska Valley Ski Area is found halfway between Combermere and Barry's Bay on the right side of the highway. Allow 2 hours to travel approximately 170 km.

Great snow, relaxed family atmosphere, small lift lines and uncrowded conditions make Madawaska Valley Ski Area the place to Ski Ontario!

Madawaska Valley's Radcliffe Hills Ski Area
41430A Combermere Road
(Hwy #62, just south of Barry's Bay)
call 613-756-1ski

see facebook: "Radcliffe Hills Ski Area: EQUIPMENT SWAP"

Sometimes, it is best not to say anything.

October 28th, 2009

It echoes in my mind... thanks to Walt Disney films.... from that famous scene, in which Bambi stumbles while learning to walk. Thumper (the rabbit) turns to Bambi's mother and says, "He doesn't walk very good, does he?".

Thumper's mother calls him out, "Thumper!" "Yes mother?," Thumper replies sheephishly, after realizing he is in trouble.

His mother continues sternly, "What did your father tell you this morning?"

Thumper stops to recall, then recites slowly, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say nothing at all."

You might think I've been neglecting my blog. I have and I haven't. I've thought about it. I've even written bits.

I've sent myself emails... stuff about Barrie, Ontario... about Toronto Realtors' "connect project"... a little about fine print in contracts... about a Toronto Sunshine girl who hopes to become a Realtor....about the passing of Al Martino, Dickie Peterson, Ian Wallace, Don Decker, Rusty Weir, Margaret Fitzgerald ,Luis Aguile, Irene Van Wyke, Lou Jacobi, Joseph Robert Wiseman, Vic Mizzy, Lenore Kandel, Stuart M. Kaminsky, Daniel Melnick,Junior Coghlan, Lawrence Halprin,Shiloh Pepin, Collin Wilcox-Paxton, Soupy Sales and too many child abductees.

I read that China is expected to build more square feet of real estate in the next 15 years than the United States has built in its entire history, and it has no green building codes or green building experience. & that upwards of 50 percent of global CO2 emissions comes from cow farts. I also read a lot of stuff about how the real estate slump is over. Woody Allen's new film is to be called You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger.

I collected a bunch of information on the local Carlow-Boulter area. I researched H1N1 and vaccine debates... I thought about Afghanistan, the opening of "This Is It", the Michael Jackson rehearsal footage film... the whale shark, called “butanding”, that was found dead on Manila Bay by local fishermen... Andre Agassi exposing his secret crystal meth addiction... Samhain.... the McDonald's manager in Japan who died of a brain haemorrhage- classified a victim of "karoshi" or death by overwork, the man dressed as KFC mascot Colonel Sanders who evaded security to be photographed with the new president of the UN General Assembly and Eric Clapton's gallstones. Monty Python is being brought to life on-screen in a six part mini-series which is airing on the IFC Chanel, it's called Monty Python: Almost the Truth -The Lawyers Cut.

That seemed to be the most real thing I'd come across.

2010 Home Trends

October 2nd, 2009

I realize that newspapers, magazines, radio and television are all abuzz with talk that the housing slump is over... however, Real Estate professionals agree that today's Buyer is looking for a different sort of value from a home.

While it is still important that a home has received the appropriate care and maintenance AND is clean and tidy... there are other factors and forces at work.

'Cocooning' (the trend that saw individuals retreating to their homes rather than socializing) is OUT. As we near 2010, people are looking for a home that they will enjoy as social meeting place- for family and friends.

Flipping is out and nesting is in. We want to feel “invited” in our own homes.

Studies in areas of sociology, fashion/décor, construction and even toys, confirm that people are people looking for a 'safe' refuge at home. Whether due to the economy, flu fears, aging population, ecological concerns or the desire for authenticity, the focus is on making one's home the centre of all social activity.

Toy manufacturer, Mattel, is focusing on releasing parlor games this fall- to take advantage of the growing trend. The world's interior designers trends hint towards more traditional design, family values, eco-awareness and a back-to-basics approach. Parenting professionals speak of the trend toward simply getting back to the basics and taking a step back from the technological rat race to really enjoy family time. Health professionals speak of the growing awareness of hygiene.

There has been a shift to consumers having more home-cooked meals it shows in the increased sales of dishrags, placemats and other kitchen linens. Sales of kitchen and dining textiles increased 6% for the calendar third quarter, compared with a 3% decrease in overall home-textile sales. That follows 3.7% growth in sales of kitchen and dining textiles during the 12 months ended June, compared with a 3.5% decline in the total home-textiles market AND Buyers' wish lists include a full sized, eat-in kitchen again.

Video nights have replaced the cinema, cooking at home instead of fancy restaurants and family game nights are more popular than going out.

According to the Home Design Trends Survey for the first quarter of 2009, the size of homes is shrinking, too- possibly a result of the economic recession &/or the aging population, or maybe heating costs, or all of the above.

Most importantly, people want their homes to fit them- they want floor plans that suit them and add to their lifestyle. Buyers want a home that may be seen as an extension, or expression, of their “personality”. They want a place that they can feel proud of, a place they will want to share with their family and friends.

Seeking the best in emerging technologies, looking to customize, Buyers talk about making improvements so that their home will be energy efficient, environmentally friendly and sustainable- they want to feel good, all around. Buyers are seeking bathrooms that have a spa-like vibe.

Steam showers are becoming a particularly sought after item. Touted as an effective treatment for respiratory & sinus conditions and said to increase flexibility & circulation, while stimulating the immune system and enhancing skin tone, steam showers may be enjoyed by the entire family for relaxation. Some have options to include essential oils, aromatherapy, in scented steam.

The emphasis, in all areas, is simplification and reduction of daily stressors. Consumers are no longer spending frivolously- they need a reason-to-buy and they want to invest in brands that express social values. Some would label this new era “careful chic”… while there is still a desire to be smart & stylish, it’s important for today’s Buyer to be socially and environmentally responsible at home.

Homeowners want measures of authenticity to support their engagement in the important socio-cultural matters of our times. With today’s real estate market becoming increasingly “online-driven” and international- it is obvious that these values are global. We are coming into a new era of understanding and caring. Improved systems of social networking is creating a flow and exchange of information that unites the planet and the talk today is that no matter what it is, if we call it our “home”, we see it as a place of refuge from the not so enjoyable bits of day-to-day reality.

Buyers are looking to bring a little luxury into the function of their private space and there is a strong desire for versatile spaces that are practical for many purposes. It seems that the easiest way to achieve this is through a more minimalist approach and many Buyers are looking to downsize their load. Popular is the all-white scheme, including crisp sheets, fluffy pillows and a down duvet. A monochromatic palette can also translate to the bathroom, there are always appreciative remarks at a basket stocked with fluffy guest towels.

This trend is toward white towels and linens contrasts well with solid coloured splashes in décor and pale shades have given way to bold, intensely saturated colors. In all matters of home, subtlety is out- replaced with joyful, exuberant expressions of who we are. In colour- go for that splash of red.

Orange is in. Japanese motifs are popping up all over. The eye, delighted by lacquered whites and hints of neon, luscious, rich tones or delectable citrus shades - like mandarin orange, lemon yellow and pink grapefruit. Chrome, pewter, stainless steel, antique finishes in the form of a vase, lamp detail and even metallic or iridescent wallpaper incorporated will give the perfect amount of reflection to a space.

A word of warning, clutter is OUT, make sure not to overpower a space with too many “things”. Go for a clean look, using one or two accessories to define the space and make it feel “finished” and inviting.