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Michael Bourque’s 3 priorities for CREA | REM





Michael Bourque, CEO of the Canadian Real Estate Association, doesn’t like the term “organized real estate”. He says the staff at CREA’s Ottawa offices no longer use it, because they know he doesn’t like it.

“You’ve got organized labour and organized crime and I don’t want to be associated with either of them,” he says with a grin.

A former president and CEO of the Railway Association of Canada and VP of external relations for the Chemical Industry Association of Canada, Bourque says he considers himself an employee of the real estate industry. When he started the job at the beginning of 2018, a big issue was the Three-Way Agreement – the interaction between local boards, provincial associations and CREA – which led to a vote allowing boards to bypass their provincial associations and apply for direct membership in CREA.

“I think people have been trying to change things, so we could react quicker and be more responsive to the marketplace, which is changing rapidly,” he says. “But I’m not interested in having an inward focus – I’m interested in how we can serve our members.”

Bourque’s brother Paul has been selling real estate for 38 years. “He’s an absolute classic Realtor – a real people person, a big-hearted person who would do anything for you, like so many in this industry. But he doesn’t know anything about the difference between CREA and OREA and the boards. He has enough knowledge to operate but if you talk to many of these guys, they don’t care about that. They don’t know what their dues are. They just want us to do our jobs.”

His job, says Bourque, is to deal with the many changes happening in the industry. “My perception is that on any number of issues, they want us to lead the change. They don’t want to resist change,” he says.

“We have almost 129,000 members out there now and there are a variety of challenges in terms of new business models, new technologies and an immense amount of new capital coming into the industry. At the end of the day, the relevance of the Realtor is a constant and our job is to ensure it remains a constant and that we maintain this co-operative business model we have.”

He adds: “It starts with the Realtor. A listing goes on the MLS, and our job is to make sure that their listing through is seen by as many people as possible, that all the information they need is there and that the inquiry for that listing goes back to that Realtor. That it isn’t intercepted and resold or repackaged to someone else.”

Bourque says that is his No. 1 priority. Noting that many well-funded companies are setting up real estate advertising sites online, he says CREA can compete by partnering with other brands, such as Kijiji, via the CREA Data Distribution Facility.

He also points to a partnership with TD bank. When consumers use its affordability calculator, it suggests three listings from that are within the parameters of the price and neighbourhood entered by the user. “So, people might start their homebuyer journey by going to the bank, and then they are coming back to and that lead is going to a Realtor as a qualified lead,” says Bourque.

“Over the next several months, we will bring in new partners. Where we are lacking in capital ourselves, we’re bringing in partners that are well capitalized and big brands that have enormous public appeal. That adds a lot of value to the Realtor and leads the consumer back to”

Bourque’s No. 2 priority is advocacy. He has been involved in government relations since he began his career working on Parliament Hill during the Brian Mulroney years.

“There is one thing we do better than anyone else,” he says. That’s the PAC Days that are held annually in Ottawa, when Realtors visit their MPs. Having Realtors in every riding in the country is a big advantage for the industry, Bourque says. “We do a very good job bringing Realtors together with MPs as a tactic,” he says.

“Where we need to do better is on the other 360 days of the year, making connections with other important decision makers – particularly in the bureaucracy. We need to advocate for homeowners – buyers and sellers – and not just be advocates for Realtors. It’s an important part of what we should be doing and gives us credibility.”

The No. 3 priority for Bourque is reputation. “The Realtor word was invented 120 years ago to differentiate shysters that were selling land with no title on street corners from professional property traders,” he says. “And 120 years later we are still working to differentiate a Realtor from somebody who is operating in an ethics vacuum outside the rules.”

Bourque says one of the most important things that members want from CREA is “to make sure we get rid of the bad apples, that we protect the reputation, that we set the bar higher. We have a number of initiatives underway to try and improve the reputation and it starts with having a strong Realtor Code that’s rooted in the brand and the trademark.

“Then, if somebody is not exhibiting the attributes of what we consider to be a Realtor, which is a professional who has integrity, who has expertise, who offers a high degree of customer service, then they won’t be able to be a Realtor. It doesn’t mean they won’t be a sales agent somewhere, but they won’t be wearing our brand.”


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Real Estate

The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021





Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary





Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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Real Estate

‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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