EDGE Newsletter - Current Edition

April EDGE coverThis issue's topics:

Guiding first-time home buyers

Hotsheet: NAR conference and expo

Market Watch: Financial services show progress on women’s issues

OREA website engages viewers

Being thorough in your real estate transactions

Legal Beat: Dispute over amount of parking leads to lawsuit

OREA News: OREA board of directors for 2014

OREA News: Foundation board of directors for 2014

Younger Ontarians value owning home

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Guiding first-time home buyers

Couple look over paperwork

Buying a home can be a highly emotional experience, and REALTORS® who work with first-time buyers often find themselves tempering their clients’ dreams with a dose of reality.

“First-time buyers are eager to go out and look at houses, but sometimes you need to slow them down and find out what they can actually afford,” says Brian Wilhelm, a Stratford broker in the real estate business since 1984.

About 20 per cent of Wilhelm’s current business is first-time buyers, but “some people haven’t been in the real estate market for so long, it’s almost like they’re first-time buyers,” he said. “You may want to treat them like they’re new, because they’re looking to you for advice.”

Wilhelm does most of his selling in Tavistock, a small town south of Stratford, and after 30 years, he knows many properties in the area so he does not usually view them in advance. He generally meets clients at the property unless they are from out of town and don’t know the area. Many of his clients are repeat business or relatives of previous clients, he says, a by-product of being in the business for so many years.

Working with first-time buyers isn’t just about selling, Wilhelm notes. A great deal of educating must be done because members of the public often don’t know much about listings on a real estate board’s MLS® or understand the concepts of agency or broker of record.

“We tend to forget that people view us as someone who finds them houses, but our role is really more geared towards helping them work through their options and navigate the flow of paperwork.”

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NAR Conference 2014 Hotsheet: NAR conference and expo

Registration opens on May 7 for the 2014 REALTORS® Conference and Expo organized by the U.S.-based National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Titled “REALTORS® in Full Swing”, the NAR conference will be held from Nov. 7 to 10 in New Orleans, Louisiana. For more details, visit www.realtor.org.

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Market Watch: Financial services show progress on women’s issues

Eighty-five per cent of Canadians feel that the financial services industry has made progress in addressing women’s issues, but more work needs to be done. That was the finding of a new study from Wealth Management at Bank of Montreal (BMO), released to mark International Women’s Day on March 8. The study found that 83 per cent of Canadians, including 79 per cent of women, feel that the financial services sector has become more equitable in the way it treats female employees compared to their male counterparts in the last 20 years. To read the news release, visit www.newsroom.bmo.com and click on News Releases.


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OREA website engages viewers

iPad image of website

A dramatic increase in mobile traffic to the website of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) has occurred over the past year, according to a new report.

The number of visits to www.orea.com using a tablet grew by a colossal 74 per cent in 2013 to 151,000, while visits to the site using a smartphone also rose sharply by 58 per cent to 320,000, according to Web Analytics – 2013, a report from the association’s Information Technology (IT) department. This document examines a range of statistics and compares data on an annual basis.  

The increase in mobile traffic was the most pronounced difference over 2012, the report reveals. Other statistics in the report demonstrate a high level of engagement among viewers, with increases in various categories reported.

The OREA iPhone App was downloaded by a total of 10,790 new users in 2013. The number of sessions, (the number of times the app was opened in 2013), totalled 127,000. The average number of active users per month was 2,100.

The total number of pages viewed on the Ontario Real Estate Association website showed an impressive increase, growing by 10.8 per cent to 15.3 million in 2013, compared to 13.8 million pages viewed the previous year. Moreover, the average number of pages viewed also rose, with people viewing an average of 6.9 web pages compared to 6.2 the previous year, an increase of 11 per cent.

The average time spent on the website – a good indicator of viewer engagement – also increased, rising to 6 minutes 22 seconds, up 3 per cent over the previous year.

The site enjoyed 6,137 average hits per day in 2013. In total, OREA’s website received 2.24 million visits over the course of 2013.

Some of the most popular pages on the website in 2013 are reported as follows: The home page of www.orea.com had 1.8 million page views; the Course Calendar Page: 223,000 page views; the My Timeline Page: 128,000 page views; the OREA Real Estate College home page: 173,000 page views; the Emerge Tools and Technology series website, launched in July 2013, had 35,000 page views; the Career Night Self Enrolment site, launched in May, had 21,000 page views; and the CE Click and Pick site, launched in August, had 18,300 page views.

“The association’s website plays a key role in giving our members and students the information, products and services they need to succeed,” says Costa Poulopoulos, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association. “By looking at how the website is used, we can continue to make improvements that meet the needs of our members.”

OREA Website At A Glance

  • Tablet traffic to website: Up 74%
  • Smartphone traffic to website: Up 58%
  • Total number of web pages viewed: Up 10%
  • Average number of web pages viewed: Up 11%
  • Average time on site: Up 3%

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Being thorough in your real estate transactions

by Tim Barber

Man holds DONE sign and looks pleased

Thoroughness takes time - a commodity often in short supply in our line of work. The demands on our time, from client meetings and office work to family commitments, can make it difficult for REALTORS® to be thorough. The temptation to cut corners to gain a few extra minutes is always there.

Despite time pressures, it is vital to be thorough. We’re often dealing with a client’s largest financial investment – their house. If we fail to live up to our professional duties and responsibilities, the result can be disastrous for them and us. We’re one of Ontario’s most highly regulated professions, and REBBA 2002, together with our Code of Ethics, demands a high standard.

Precise, detailed completion of paperwork is sometimes lacking in transactions. It may be an honest mistake, but it’s easy to see when an Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) was completed in a rush, with missing fields or incorrect information. I recall receiving an offer on a listing during a competing offer situation. When we opened the envelope, the address was wrong and the offer price line was blank. I later questioned the colleague, who said she was so busy she barely remembered looking at it while her clients signed. As they say, speed kills.

We must explain fully to clients each and every clause in our documents. This can be a lengthy exercise, especially if they have questions. It may be tempting to gloss over sections or omit this task if we’re short on time, but we must avoid this pitfall at all costs! Court judgements show that a client’s lack of understanding in real estate transactions can mean steep civil judgements and fines against us. To prevent this, we must become intimately familiar with our documents so that we can talk knowledgably about them at any time. I also make a point of inserting solicitor review clauses whenever I can so that clients have the opportunity to get that important second opinion.

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Legal Beat: Dispute over amount of parking leads to lawsuit

This case deals with the amount of parking provided to a commercial tenant in a shopping mall. The tenant, Farm Boy Inc., operates grocery stores in the Ottawa area and leased space in a mall. The term of the lease covered 10 years with an option to the tenant to renew for two five-year periods.

This expensive dispute centres on the provision of parking. In the offer to lease, clause 16.0 states that “The landlord shall provide a minimum of five and one-half

(5.5) parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of leasable area for the tenant’s use, with not more than fifteen (15) parking spaces to be at the rear of the building.”  A lease was eventually signed between the owner of the lands (2030 Tenth Line Developments Inc.) and the tenant. The parking clause was now 19.19 and it stated: “The landlord shall provide a minimum of 5 and one half (5.5) parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of area of premises for the tenant’s non-exclusive use, with not more than 15 parking spaces to be at the rear of the premises.”

The tenant took the position that both clauses have the same meaning and required the provision of 5.5 spaces per 1,000 square feet of leasable area in the entire shopping mall. There was no dispute that this parking ratio was not provided. According to tenant, it was 13.9 spaces short of the number of spaces contracted for.  Farm Boy viewed parking as essential to its grocery business and claimed that the alleged breach caused a substantial loss of profits. It claimed damages of $876,754 for the initial term of the lease and $1,136,858 to the end of both renewal periods.

The judge heard extensive evidence and found that there was a breach of the lease but that the tenant failed to show that the breach probably caused a loss. He then ordered the tenant to pay the landlord partial indemnity costs of $382,537.45 on a full indemnity basis of $574,334. The court of appeal agreed with the decision but reduced the costs to $200,000 and allowed appeal costs to the landlord of $30,000.

Farm Boy v Mobius 2012 ONCA 692, 2011 ONSC 2877, 2011 ONSC 4832


MERV’S  COMMENTS

Mervin Burgard Q.C.

There were numerous legal issues in this case, including the meaning of the clauses.  Is the “per square feet” referring to this store space, or to the entire mall? Commercial REALTORS® may want to read the entire 28-page trial judgment. These are obviously large players in the Ottawa commercial area who can afford to litigate, unlike most clients and REALTORS®. Take the time to make sure that all of your documents make legal, commercial and common sense.

Mervin Burgard, Q.C.

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OREA board of directors for 2014

President COSTA POULOPOULOSThe Ontario Real Estate Association officially installed its new President and Board of Directors at the Annual Assembly Meeting and Leadership Conference from March 4 to 6 in Toronto. Costa Poulopoulos of London is the President for 2014. Patricia Verge of Ottawa was elected President-Elect and will become President in 2015. Phil Dorner of Belle River becomes Immediate Past President. Directors-at-Large are: Ray Ferris (Port Rowan); Tom Lebour (Mississauga); and Richard Leroux (Timmins). The Commercial Director is Azizali Kanjee (Oakville) and the CREA Regional Director is Gerry Weir (London). Dianne Usher of Toronto is Substantial Membership Director. Provincial Directors are: Ettore Cardarelli of Mississauga and Maureen O’Neill of Toronto (Central Ontario); Linda McCallum of Ottawa (Eastern Ontario); David Reid of Muskoka (Northeastern Ontario); Diane Erickson of Thunder Bay (Northern Ontario); John Oddi of Brantford (Southern Ontario); and Anna Vozza of Windsor (Western Ontario).

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Foundation board of directors for 2014

Hugh FoyThe REALTORS Care Foundation officially installed its new President and Board of Directors for 2014 at the OREA Leadership Conference in Toronto. Hugh Foy of Toronto is the new President. Dreena Gilpin of Sudbury is President-Elect. Krista Del Gatto of Windsor is the Public Director – Executive Officer (EO). Jennifer Kotulak of Milton is the REALTOR® Director for Central Ontario. Debbie Vernon of Bracebridge is the REALTOR® Director for Northeastern Ontario. Barbara Whitney of London is the REALTOR® Director for Western Ontario. Regan Lee of Smiths Falls is the REALTOR® Director for Eastern Ontario. Elizabeth Wale of St. Catharines is the REALTOR® Director for Southern Ontario. Linda McCallum of Ottawa is OREA Director, and Karen Gerrard of Unionville is the Toronto Real Estate Board Director.   

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Younger Ontarians value owning home

Home ownership is important to the younger residents of Ontario, according to a new survey conducted by Ipsos Reid for the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA). In the research, 79 per cent of those surveyed in Generation X (people born between 1965 and 1980) and 77 per cent of those surveyed who are in Generation Y (people born between 1981 and 1995) said owning a home is important to them. Moreover, 82 per cent of Gen X and 76 per cent of Gen Y said it makes it makes more sense to own a home rather than rent one over the long term. Furthermore, 82 per cent of Gen X and 73 per cent of Gen Y said they believe real estate is a good investment. The study is the first of its kind for OREA. For more details, visit www.orea.com and click on “About” and then on “News and Press Releases.”

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