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A real estate professional’s guide to cell phone plans | REM





In today’s world of 24/7 connectivity, your cell phone may well be the most important tool you use in your business. All three of the major carriers have special plans for real estate professionals…you may just have to do some digging.

Rogers (who I work for) offers a 30-per-cent discount off your primary line, which shares data with up to nine other devices. Bell and Telus typically offer special plans or some discount off on their share plans.

The most popular plans are known as share everything plans. They allow you to share one data plan with up to 10 different phones, tablets or wireless internet devices. About half of all sales reps typically only have one line but it is worth investigating whether it is more cost effective to bring your family members or teammates together to share the cost of data.

All three carriers also offer small business share plans – these require an HST number. These plans often offer flexible data plans, which can be advantageous if your data usage is quite variable. I suggest you compare both consumer and small business options before you decide.

What is a tab?

We at the carriers have done a wonderful job of confusing everyone lately! With some phone prices hitting close to $2,000, the ability to actually afford a new device has been impacted significantly…and device prices keep rising. This is why the carriers came out with the tab concept.

It allows you to pay more on your monthly service fees so that your up-front device costs will be less. There are typically four tabs. Ultra or Platinum (Rogers, Telus) are the top tier and by selecting this you will pay the least amount for your device over the 24 months of your contract, in most cases.

There are then Premium Plus, Premium or Smart or standard tabs. Each of these tab levels are usually about $10/month less, with the device prices approximately $150-$200 more the lower you go. On a primary line at Rogers this difference is $7 after the 30 per cent discount, which makes it beneficial when buying expensive devices on the higher tabs. An example right now would be the apple X – $99 on Ultra tab versus $349 on Premium plus. Here you’re paying $168 more (24x$7=$168) to save $249 – which makes sense.

If you’re bringing your own device it is referred to as smart tab…or BYOD (bring your own device).

How much data do I need?

The easy answer is more. Average data usage for Realtors has gone from about 1GB to over 3 GB in the last two years. If you have teens or young adults on your plan it is safe to factor at least 5 GB per person. Ask your carrier if there are any data bonuses – right now all three are offering 2 GB for primary and secondary lines. Also, make sure you plan for a small cushion. Data overages are really costly…about $7/100mbs or $70/GB.

Minimizing data usage

Streaming music or videos, using navigation apps, social media apps and leaving apps open all tend to increase your data usage. As a sales rep, sending photos or videos in hi res, or looking through listing info on your phone or tablet will also skew your usage higher. If you are an Apple user, be aware of the Wi-Fi assist setting – in most cases it should be turned off. If turned on, this feature will automatically use your cellular data if the signal is stronger than your home or office Wi-Fi signal. I have recently seen overages of $6,000 to $23,000 because of this feature. If you do an IOS software update it usually will turn back on so be cautious.

Canada/U.S. plans

Bell, Telus and Rogers all offer plans that allow you to use voice, text and data throughout Canada or the U.S. These plans are great for frequent U.S. travellers. The new Rogers plan is $10.50/month on primary lines and $15/month on secondary lines and this gives you unlimited talk and text and the use of whatever data amount you’re signed up for. You don’t pay roaming fees while in the U.S. on this type of account. I highly recommend it for those who use over 500 minutes of U.S. calling each month.

All of the big three offer roaming while travelling…the number of countries varies by carrier and can be confirmed on each of their websites. Cuba is one of the rare exceptions – you’ll need to buy a travel plan here simply because the service on the island is so poor that none of the big three will support it.

The major differences between the big three are really the cap on roaming charges. Rogers is capped at 15 days in any billing period while Bell and Telus are capped at 20 days.

Travelling as a couple? If one of you is less busy on the phone than the other, save money by call forwarding that number to the other person’s device. Leave that SIM card at home and then you’ll only pay one daily roaming fee instead of two. You can also buy a local SIM card in the destination country for $1 to $5 and that way you can always stay in touch, while only paying one roaming charge.

Phone selection

Phones for Realtors are often an extension of their persona. Currently the market is equally split between Android and Apple – two years ago it was 80 per cent Apple, so there is a firm trend. Realtors tend to be choosing the higher-memory phones now, mostly to store more photos and videos. I strongly suggest you search for Google comparisons of models, such as the Samsung s8 vs s9, Apple IPH 8 vs X, or Google Pixel 2 vs Apple X. Do your research and pay attention to what you need, not what your office mate has. Most people want the newest of the new, and often the features added with each device iteration don’t bring enough added value to truly justify the cost.

Device protection

With today’s phone prices I highly recommend device protection, whether it’s Apple Care or Premium Device Protection. All carriers offer it and there are some major differences. At Rogers, Apple Care does not cover lost or stolen devices…whereas our premium device protection does for just $1/more/month. Broken screens on new larger devices can cost over $300 and many plans offer one screen repair for free. This is a no brainer in my opinion.

Many groups like TREB and OREA have member benefits sections on their websites that detail both plans, and who the carrier reps are that serve Realtors. I recommend that you work with a specialist. We only serve Realtors and brokerages, so we have a better understanding of your needs. We offer personalized service and most of us are on call 24/7, just like you. After all, we’re 100-per-cent commission too!


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Real Estate

Window repair or replacement is the responsibility of the condo corporation





If the windows in your condo are hazy, drafty, or have rotting frames, it’s an indicator that they need repairs or outright replacement.

However, under the Condominium Act, it is the responsibility of the condo’s board to carry out such changes as a replaced window is a common element.

“Under the Condominium Act, a declaration may alter the maintenance or repair obligations of unit owners and the corporation but cannot make unit owners responsible for repairs to the common elements,” said Gerry Hyman is a former president of the Canadian Condominium Institute and contributor for the Star.

“A declaration for a high-rise condominium invariably provides that the unit boundary is the interior surface of windows. That means that the entire window — whether it is a single pane or a double pane — is a common element. Necessary repairs or replacement of a broken pane is the obligation of the corporation.”

According to Consumer Reports, selecting an installing windows replacement can be very overwhelming for homeowners. Therefore, if you aren’t covered by your condo’s corporation, it would be necessary to hire professional hands.

Wood, vinyl and composite windows need to be tested on how they can withstand various natural elements. For wind resistance, a window can be very tight when it’s warm but get quite cold too—especially when it begins to leak a lot.

Whatever the case may be, the bottom line remains that replacement windows can save you heating and cooling costs, but it’s best not to expect drastic savings.

Additionally, while getting a new window might help you save on your electric and gas bills, due to their expensive cost, it may take a long time to offset their cost.

Mid-last-year, the government withdraw a $377 million Green Ontario program that provided subsidy on windows to installers and repairers. Window companies had to install energy-efficient windows in order to qualify for the government subsidy that pays for up to $500 of a $1,000 to $1,500 window.

Due to the largely generous subsidies from the government under the Green Ontario program, a lot of window dealers were fully booked for months—even after the program had ended.

“We’re fine with the program ending, we just need more time to satisfy consumers,” said Jason Neal, the executive director of the Siding and Window Dealer Association of Canada, the industry group representing window dealers in a report.

According to Neal, the Progressive Conservatives acted hastily, making massive changes with no prior notice.

“No notification was given to us by anyone,” he said, noting he learned about the change through one of his dealers.

“It’s created a ripple effect.If they had just given us notice we would have pushed that down the line from the manufacturer right into the dealer right down to the consumer.”

Neal noted that he wasn’t particularly sad to see the Green Ontario program end, as it was “the worst rebate program in the history of the window industry.”

“It’s been horrible,” he said. “$500 a window has created such hysteria.”

However, despite the program ending about a year ago, numerous homeowners have been contacting window dealers consistently with concerns that they might not be able to afford replacement windows without the government’s subsidy.

“I understand their concern,” said window dealer Chris George. “I would suggest they reach out to their local representative of the government in their riding and let them know about their concerns.”

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Real Estate

7 Vancouver Real Estate Buying Tips





The real estate market in Vancouver is turning around for good for everyone looking to purchase a home.

Previously soaring prices are now beginning to ease up, making it a perfect time for buyers—with real estate agents already getting ready for a very busy spring and summer season.

However, before splashing cash on a new property, there are some very important tips you need to know to ensure you make the most of the buyer’s market.

Here are some few expert tips that would guide you when purchasing a home in the sometimes frustration Vancouver seller’s market.

  1. Get adequate financing

It is very important that before you make the move to purchase a property, you put into careful consideration your credit score.

Normally, home buyers with lower scores use the secondary mortgage market to finance their purchase, as they’re more likely to pay a higher interest rate.However, it is advisable to get loan approval long before purchasing the house. This way, you are fully aware of how much you are able to spend—but never be tempted to borrow the maximum amount of money available.

“What’s your mortgage payment that you’re comfortable with? And take into the fact the taxes you’re going to have to pay, if it’s a strata – what the maintenance fees are, if it’s a home what type of maintenance are you going to have to pay in the future?” said Phil Moore, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver in a report.

Always be careful of the type of loan you secure and ensure that you can comfortably afford it over a long period of time.

  1. Get a real estate agent

Buying a property without professional help is a very risky move and can be likened to choosing to represent yourself in court without a lawyer. While you might trust your negotiation skills, only realtors are permitted to present offers directly.

Therefore, it is necessary to get a professional real estate agent in the area to represent you. So, screen a few agents and select the best one who has in-depth knowledge of the markets and has a great reputation.

“They’re there to protect you. They’re there to walk you through each step of the process,” Moore said.

  1. Sign up for automated alerts

Most—if not all—realtors have access to the Vancouver real estate board’s database which is updated approximately two days before the public MLS website.

Therefore, you can request from your realtor to sign you up for automatic real-time alerts of all new listings. Doing this gives you an edge as you’re among the very first to know about new properties.

  1. Do a thorough inspection

After receiving an alert for a new listing, it is necessary to push almost immediately for an inspection from your realtor. In this current market, buyers now have time to make an inspection.

Making a quick inspection eliminates any surprises—as there could be major maintenance or repair issues that could spring up. Therefore, you can now table your offer based on the outcome of the inspection, with clauses about claiming your damage deposit back if everything isn’t as was advertised.

Additionally, if you notice that renovations were done, you need to be sure that it was permitted work and carried out appropriately. Failing to do this would ultimately lead to further cost down the line and simultaneously affect the resale value.

  1. Have a back-up plan

There’s always the possibility that everything may not go as smoothly as you’d want. From the inspection being a failureto the property not living up to your expectations—or not being able to agree on the closing date that matches with your needs.

However, a professional real estate agent will definitely help you get past all of these things. If you plan on selling the property as you buy, you can table that and make it part of the deal.

“You’ve got an option, especially in a buyer’s market: you can put in an offer subject to selling your place. So maybe you want to have a place lined up,” Moore added.

Additionally, building contingencies into your buying plan is necessary. Things such as unexpected delays in closing the deal, closing cost and moving costs that could result in added living expenses if that’s your permanent home.

  1. Don’t fall for the buyer frenzy

The Vancouver market buying frenzy that caused a serious climb in the prices a couple of years ago has ended. Thus, it is important not to get caught up in bidding wars with properties that have been deliberately under-priced—with the hope of initiating multiple offers.

“Some of the sellers have been on the market for over a year and they’re eager to sell. So what I’m saying to consumers is: you have a lot of choices, you’re in the driver’s seat, let’s go out and take a look at what’s available,” said Moore.

  1. Never be wary of multiple offers

When purchasing a property, don’t be afraid of multiple offers as you have the same opportunity as anybody else.

Typically, there are just a few offers below the asking price: a couple priced fully, and two or three above the asking price—depending on how close the fair market value is from the asking price.

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Real Estate

Do you know what kind of condo you’re buying?





(NC) Condominiums can come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to know that not all condos are created equal when it comes to warranty coverage.

Whether you’re buying a condominium townhouse, loft-style two-bedroom or a high-rise studio, they are all classified as condominiums if you own your unit while at the same time share access (and the associated fees) for facilities ranging from pools and parking garages to elevators and driveways, otherwise known as common elements.

The most common types of condos are standard condominiums and common elements condominiums. The determination of how a condominium project is designated happens during the planning stage when the builder proposes the project and the municipality approves it.

When you’re in the market to buy, you need to know how your chosen condo is classified because it affects the warranty coverage under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Standard condominiums have warranty coverage for units and common elements, but common elements condominiums only have unit coverage.

How could this affect you as the owner? If your condo complex has underground parking and, for example, there are problems with leaks or a faulty door, the condo designation will determine whether there’s warranty coverage.

If your unit is a standard condominium development, then the common elements warranty may cover the repairs. If it’s a common element condominium development, then repairs might have to be covered by the condo corporation’s insurance, which could impact your condo fees or require a special assessment on all the owners.

To avoid surprises, you should have a real estate lawyer review the Declaration and Description attached to your purchase agreement to be sure that you know the designation and boundaries of the unit you’re looking to purchase. Find more information on the types of condos and their coverage at

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