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Michael Bourque’s 3 priorities for CREA | REM

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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 Realtor.ca 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 Realtor.ca 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 Realtor.ca 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 Realtor.ca 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 Realtor.ca.”

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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Couple from Toronto buys dream home in Mushaboom

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MUSHABOOM – A couple who lived and raised a family in downtown Toronto developed a five-year plan in 2015 to purchase their dream home.

In September they moved into the home – located on Malagash Island in Mushaboom on Nova Scotia’s stunning Eastern Shore – that met and exceeded their best dreams for their retirement.

The Camerons, Bruce and Tanya, decided in 2019 they would explore the Maritimes to see what real estate was available to become their potential retirement home. In the spring of 2020, during a global pandemic, the real estate boom hit their city, and they were hearing the same for Nova Scotia. Our province was their first-choice for attaining their desire for an entirely different lifestyle – away from the busyness of the city.

“We had $300,000 to $350,000 as a home value in mind to buy. Our semi-detached located off Danforth in Toronto was priced at $850,000. We wanted to come out ahead, so we would be secure in retirement,” Tanya said.

Their century-old home had prime location near the subway and GO Transit Line for a great 13-minute commute downtown.

“We enjoyed our community,” explains Bruce “… we had great neighbours, young children around and street parties – lots of social activity.”

Bruce says, “Our agent suggested a starting quote of $899,000. We did not do any renovations and only some staging. Fifty couples went through and we received four significant offers. Six days later we sold – with zero conditions – and a price of over a million dollars. We just requested a closing of September 2020 to get the kids off to school – which we got.”

The couple got more than they had anticipated.

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Rabobank Announces Leadership Changes in U.S., Canadian Offices

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NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Rabobank, the leading global food and agribusiness bank, has appointed two of its top executives, Tamira Treffers-Herrera and Robert Sinescu, to become Co-Heads of North American Client Coverage, positioning the Bank for future growth in the region.

Treffers-Herrera has also assumed the role of Vice Chairperson and Head of the Atlanta office, where she additionally oversees Rabobank Mexico, which is led by Eduardo Palacios. Sinescu is the Head of the Chicago office, and also oversees Rabobank Canada, led by Marc Drouin, who was recently appointed as Canada’s General Manager.

Treffers-Herrera and Sinescu report to David Bassett, Head of Wholesale Banking North America, the Bank’s corporate and investment banking business for the region based in New York.

“Both Tamira and Robert have a demonstrated history of strong leadership, operational excellence and passion for our clients,” Bassett said. “Their broad experience and deep sector expertise will be invaluable in delivering dynamic results for clients while accelerating our growth trajectory in North America.”

Each office will have an even greater focus on key Food & Agribusiness sectors and clients: The Chicago office will drive growth in sectors including Dairy, Farm Inputs and Grains & Oilseeds, which are also key areas of focus for the Canada office. The Atlanta office will focus heavily on sectors such as Animal Protein, Beverages, Sugar, and Supply Chains, which are important sectors in Mexico as well.

“Rabobank is fully committed to our clients throughout North America, and we believe our new sector-focused coverage will improve our ability to provide knowledge-based, value-added solutions that benefit our clients,” Bassett said.

Treffers-Herrera was most recently based in London as CEO of Rabobank’s European Region from 2016-2020, where she took the organization through Brexit. Prior to that, she worked in the Atlanta office from 2002-2016. During her tenure in Atlanta, Treffers-Herrera served as Global Sector Head – Consumer Food & Beverages, and prior to that she was a senior banker for a portfolio of large beverage and consumer foods clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Arts from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and has studied at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Sinescu has been with Rabobank for over 21 years and was previously General Manager of Rabobank Canada, where he oversaw all operations, business development, commercial strategy and relationships with regulators. In addition, he continues to serve as CEO of Rabo Securities Canada Inc. Prior to Canada, he was a senior banker, Head of Corporate Banking, European Sector Head for Sugar, and a member of the Management Team for Rabobank France. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the Bucharest School of Business, a Master of Business Administration & Management and a Master of Science in Banking and Corporate Finance from Sorbonne University in Paris, and has studied at Brown University.

Drouin has worked with Rabobank’s Canadian team for more than nine years and most recently served as a senior banker, Head of Rabobank Canada’s AgVendor Program and a member of Rabobank Canada’s Management Team. He brings extensive wholesale banking experience within the Dairy, G&O, CPG and Supply Chain sectors. Drouin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a Master of Business Administration in International Finance, Marketing and Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

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Greybrook Realty Partners & Marlin Spring Brand Jointly Owned Asset Manager – Greyspring Apartments

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TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Greybrook Realty Partners and Marlin Spring are pleased to announce the new branding of their jointly owned investment and asset management firm, Greyspring Apartments. With a portfolio of more than 2,000 units and CAD$375 million in assets under management, Greyspring Apartments is focused on the acquisition and repositioning of multi-family assets throughout Canada.

The new name and branding is an important step in Greyspring’s evolution as an independent operating business. Formed in 2018 by long standing-partners Marlin Spring and Greybrook Realty Partners, Greyspring Apartments was established with the goal of building a leading asset management firm with a robust portfolio of residential rental real estate assets in primary and secondary markets across Canada.

Greyspring’s talented team of real estate, asset management and finance professionals is overseen and guided by the Management Board, whose members include Benjamin Bakst, CEO, Marlin Spring; Elliot Kazarnovksy, CFO, Marlin Spring; Sasha Cucuz, CEO, Greybrook Securities Inc.; Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Chris Salapoutis, President & COO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Ashi Mathur, President, Marlin Spring; and Karl Brady. In addition to his role on the Management Board, Karl Brady leads Greyspring Apartments as its President. 

“We are pleased to announce the official name and branding of a business we formed with our partners at Marlin Spring a few years ago,” said Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners. “Greyspring has been diligently focused on the execution of strategic value-add programs across its portfolio that are improving the quality of housing for tenants and overall asset values. For Greybrook investors, expanding from our core business in real estate development to the value-add space through Greyspring, has allowed us to provide our clients with investment opportunities that diversify their real estate investment portfolios.”

“Marlin Spring and Greybrook have partnered on many residential real estate projects in recent years,” said Benjamin Bakst, CEO and Cofounder, Marlin Spring. “To a great extent, Greyspring illustrates our approach to partnerships. We believe in, and strive for, responsible growth through deepening our relationships with our trusted partners. With Greyspring, we’ve formalized our focus on providing better and more affordable living experiences for Canadians. This vision aligns with our mission to deliver exceptional real estate value to all our stakeholders with an uncompromising adherence to our core values.”

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