What do you do?

“So, what do you do for a living?”  A question that most Realtors struggle to answer with any degree of clarity, conviction and enthusiasm.  In a previous posting, I discussed the need for us to define our purpose as this sets the stage for how we approach our business and most importantly how we conduct ourselves during the course of helping clients.

I recently watched an excellent short video on this exact topic by Brendon Burchard, the online trainer, author, thought leader.  He proposes a simple framework to come up with the answer, which, if anything, will help you stand out from all the others who say things like “I help people buy or sell houses”, or, “I help people with their most important purchase ever”.  These are usually the same people who when asked why they are in real estate struggle to come up with a really authentic answer.  Here is Brendon’s framework:

I help X (your audience) ______________________________ Do/Understand Y (your topic) ______________________________ So that they can Z (benefits) ______________________________ Example: X: I help authors, speakers, coaches, and thought leaders Y: discover, share, and monetize their content and advice Z: so that they can earn revenue and make a difference.

For more on this from Bredon Burchard I encourage you to get his book, The Millionaire Messenger.  It is a quick read and will help identify a number of really important issues like this so that you are clear, focused and can enthusiastically get across how you help your clients improve their lives.

Having done this myself, here is what I came up with;

I help Realtors (real estate solo-preneurs) create, build and run, highly effective and profitable businesses so they can earn more $$ per hour and have a great life!

Ontario 2017 Budget Highlights

Province Announces 2017 Ontario Budget

April 28, 2017 — The provincial government has announced the 2017 Ontario Budget, which includes numerous items relevant to REALTORS®.

What does the 2017 Budget mean for Ontario REALTORS®?

    • Non-Resident Speculation Tax: Implementing a new 15 per cent Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST) on the price of homes in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) purchased by individuals who are not citizens or permanent residents of Canada or by foreign corporations.
      • Upon the enactment of legislation, the NRST will be effective as of April 21, 2017. Binding agreements of purchase and sale signed on or before April 20, 2017 are not subject to the NRST.
      • The province listened to REALTOR® advice on the NRST and will be providing rebates or exemptions to students, workers, refugees and people who acquire citizenship within four years.
    • Housing Supply: The government is taking positive steps to bring more housing supply into the market. This was a focus of REALTOR® advocacy leading up to this announcement as a way to help make home ownership more affordable for Ontario families.
      • Specifically, the province announced plans to look at streamlining the complicated approvals process which delays and prevents housing supply from coming to market. They will also support the building of “missing middle” housing in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and work with municipalities to encourage developers to build on vacant land that is serviced and ready for development.
    • Review of REBBA: While a review of REBBA was not announced in Budget 2017, as part of the Fair Housing Plan, the government remains committed to conducting a broad review of REBBA including looking at practices like multiple representation and representing the buyer and seller. A full review of REBBA will be an opportunity to discuss multiple representation but to do so in a much more thoughtful/rational way. It will also be an opportunity to lobby for other changes to REBBA like PRECs, specialty designations, greater fines, higher education standards and other changes which will help REALTORS® do business better.
    • Rent Control: Expanding rent control to all private rental units in Ontario, including those built after 1991. This will ensure increases in rental costs can only rise at the rate posted in the annual provincial rent increase guideline. The increase is capped at a maximum of 2.5 per cent. Legislation will be introduced that, if passed, will enact this change effective April 20. 
    • Vacant Homes Property Tax: Budget 2017 reconfirms the government’s plan to give the City of Toronto the ability to levy an additional property tax on vacant homes. Amendments will also be made to legislation to give the Minister the ability, through regulation, to give other interested municipalities the opportunity to levy a similar tax.
    • Paper Flipping/Assignments: The Budget outlines that the government will require a purchaser to declare at the time the transfer is registered whether they entered the agreement of purchase and sale through assignment or another similar arrangement.
  • Revenue Tools/Hotel Tax: We are happy to report that Budget 2017 does not reverse the province’s commitment to not give other municipalities MLTT powers. However, the government will introduce legislation through Budget 2017 which will amend the City of Toronto Act, 2006 and Municipal Act, 2001 to give all municipalities the ability to levy a hotel tax. TREB and OREA will monitor the legislative process to ensure no additional revenue tools are added to the legislation.
  • Tarion Warranty Corporation: The 2017 Budget reconfirmed the government’s plans to make changes to Tarion and the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. The government has asked Tarion to introduce new deposit requirements to reflect current housing prices. 
  • Syndicated Mortgages: The government will introduce new regulations to place investment limits on syndicated mortgages and require mortgage brokerages to document their assessments of the suitability of such products for their clients.
  • Land Transfer Tax: Budget 2017 will amend the Land Transfer Tax Act to restrict first-time home buyers from claiming their spouse’s interest from the first-time buyers rebate if the spouse is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada. 
  • Pooled Registered Pension Plans: The 2017 Budget announced that Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs) are now permitted in Ontario as of March 31, 2017. Self-employed or independent contractors, such as REALTORS®, can now utilize this voluntary tool to help them save for retirement.

Other highlights from the 2017 Ontario Budget include:

  • Deficit/Fiscal Outlook: The government is projecting a balanced budget for the current fiscal year. The budget will also remain balanced for the next two years.
  • Infrastructure and Transit Funding: The Budget allocates $156 billion in infrastructure funding over the next 10 years. $56 billion will be invested in public transit and $26 billion will be spent to improve and build new roads and highways.
  • Health Care: The government is going to be spending an additional $7 billion in health care over next three years to assist with the construction of new hospitals and decrease wait times. 
  • OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare: Children and youth under the age of 24 will have access to universal drug coverage beginning on January 1, 2018.
  • Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit: On July 1, 2017, Ontarians aged 65 or older will be eligible for the Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit which will provide a refundable benefit of 15 per cent for eligible public transit costs. 
  • Increased Child Care Spaces: Budget 2017 announces funding for the creation of 24,000 more licensed child care spaces.
  • Basic Income Pilot: The Budget announced the launch of a Basic Income Pilot in Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay to provide voluntary participants aged 18 to 64 with regular payments to help them afford basic needs like housing or food. 
  • Natural Gas Expansion: The budget commits $100 million to be invested in a new Natural Gas Grant Program to expand natural gas access to rural, Northern and First Nation communities.
  • Affordable Housing: The government announced that it would leverage provincial land for affordable housing by disposing surplus land below market value. In a pilot within the GTHA, Ontario will commit $70 to $100 million in land to develop up to 2,000 new housing units which will include both market and affordable housing. 
  • Tobacco Tax: Budget 2017 announces a $2 per carton increase in the tobacco tax. This is part of a plan to increase tobacco tax rates by $10 per carton over the next three years.
  • Drive Clean: While the Drive Clean program will continue, the government has eliminated the $30 fee that drivers pay for the Drive Clean emissions tests.
  • **Credit: Toronto Real Estate Board**

Change – What is it good for?

Absolutely everything!  As opposed to the actual lyrics of the song “War” , a counterculture-era soul song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for the Motown label in 1969, which ended with “absolutely nothing!”

I believe it was also included in a song performed by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.  So you might be wondering what this is about.  A quote by the well-known philosopher Socrates says it best: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

As Realtors, that is what we need to do on a constant basis.  The same goes for Brokerages and their leadership teams.  This is where true leadership is really tested; for it’s ability to come up with a vision for the future.  How is the business going to be conducted in 12, 24, 60 months?  Can technology be integrated to assist us in establishing, maintaining and building relationships with clients? Can brokerage firms incorporate technology, support systems and other new tools to support their agents and help them lead more productive fulfilling lives or will it be more of the same – keep “dumping” new technology in front of them to be able to say; “see what value we bring to the table every day”???

This is the challenge and it is a daunting one for brand new Realtors as they navigate the various offerings of some excellent brands who do offer some great tools and marketing resources.

During the second annual Chestnut Park Symposium, I was privileged enough to moderate a panel of some of our most experienced Realtors who generously offered all kinds of valuable information and feedback with respect to how they run their business as well as tips and success habits.  One consistent theme throughout the session as they responded to various questions, was the ability to adapt to change; be it the market, technology, the customer or any other event that stood in the way of success.

The article in this link offers 7 reasons embracing change can be a good thing – it’s worth looking at from a “glass half full” perspective!  Hope you enjoy it.

Your “Positioning Statement”

I have written on this topic before.  A positioning statement is also referred to as your “unique selling proposition” (USP). Probably one of the more difficult things for a Realtor to identify.

In a recent research assignment for an MBA class, I reviewed the overall marketing systems and tools including the idea of the USP.  Below is an excerpt from my paper:

(Beckwith, 1997) offers an excellent exercise to assist with this process – Creating Your Positioning Statement (p. 113). This approach takes the individual or service provider through a series of questions to help determine how they wish to be perceived.  The questions are as follows: (p. 113)

Who: Who are you?

What: What business are you in?

For whom: What people do you serve?

What need: What are the special needs of the people you serve?

Against who: With whom are you competing?  (Tip; not just other Realtors but your customer as well!)

What’s different: What makes you different from those competitors?

So: What’s the benefit? What unique benefit does a client derive from your service?

Once the Realtor has understood their unique selling proposition, they can really begin to focus on the group, community or neighborhood as well as their own personal sphere with a much clearer marketing message and campaign.

The section above is from the book Selling the Invisible which I have recommended in past posts.  It is well worth reading. Beckwith, H. (1997). Selling The Invisible. New York: Business Plus.

 

Multiple Offers & Professionalism

I had the opportunity to get some further first-hand insight into how my fellow colleagues are doing when it comes to their level of knowledge, understanding of rules and overall professionalism as a result of overseeing offer presentations.

As a policy, our firm prefers to have management step in to represent its clients when one of our own sales people has their own offer presenting a potential conflict.

On one such occasion  a listing generated lots of interest as they do in the Central Toronto Core which resulted in multiple offers including one buyer who elected to ask our listing sales person to represent them.  As a result, yours truly stepped in to represent the Sellers and guide them through the process.  The instructions on the listing were clear as was the process which was relayed to all participating sales people as required under REBBA 2002.

The first two presentations were professionally done.  The paperwork was correct and the sales people were very thorough.  Unfortunately the next five were a complete disaster and quite frankly an embarrassment to our industry.  The sales people had missed clauses “pay the balance….”, a rather important one.  Information was wrong.  They could not explain or answer basic questions and had not included important schedules that were attached to the listing to disclose important information to prospective buyers.

It was clear, notwithstanding that these sales people were from reputable brands, that there was a complete lack of knowledge and understanding about the business.  The question then becomes, why?  Several of my colleagues and I have had numerous discussions as have had many others in organized real estate as to the quality of realtor education both during the licensing phase and the post license phase, i.e. continuing education. RECO recently announced that the licensing program will be taken over in 2020 by Humber College.  A move to refresh and rehabilitate, we hope, a program that currently only seems interested in driving volume through its doors without regard for quality.

The finger can also be pointed at the Brokerage industry itself.  There is no mandate for brokerages to have to train and monitor the professionalism of their sales people other than the Code of Ethics and laws as found in REBBA 2002.  Again, the focus appears to be one of volume – i.e., collect as many licenses as possible.  Hopefully some of them will make some money and the brokerage will too.

Of course, it’s not this simple and black and white, but if the Registrar and some of his staff were to sit in on some of these offer presentations, I think they would quickly realize that all is not well with the Ontario Real Estate profession! Obtaining a license is easy and cheap.  It appears that that is how a lot of Realtors are conducting their practice as well.

 

Chaos!

On a recent coaching call with a top performing team they used the word “chaos” to describe how things were currently going.  Merriam-Webster defines Chaos as follows: a state of things in which chance is supreme; the inherent unpredictability in the behavior of a complex natural system; a state of utter confusion.

All three definitions imply a lack of control!  Further questioning led to some interesting conclusions.  Firstly, the market is the market.  Whether up, down, balanced, it is not to blame for a lack of business nor is it to blame for a lack of client commitment.  Ultimately, Realtors are totally in control of their own destiny and if they follow a disciplined approach to their operations then their production will reflect those efforts accordingly.

In this case, looking at 2016 production, they realized that over 85% of their transactions came from their sphere of influence.  Quite an astounding feat given the fact that another conclusion was that they were not communicating at all regularly with their database – no calls, personal visits, newsletter, or any other value offerings.

A recent assignment for an EMBA class involved reviewing what the most important skills were for new Realtors to succeed in real estate sales.  I suggested the following: Perseverance, Knowledge and Discipline/Focus.  The last one is the key attribute that helps agents avoid “chaos”.  Here is my short comment on it: One of the areas that I see major differences between those Realtors who are successful and those who struggle is that the successful Realtor has control of and over their time.  They pre-plan their day, week, month and year and generally do not stray from the plan.  The new Realtor typically does not stick to their plan for the week and consequently ends up chasing their own tails.

Planning is essential to having and maintaining an element of control.  If there is no business plan then your ship has no way to navigate the chaotic waters.  Furthermore, without a pre-planned set of actions for the next day, week, or month, everyone else but you will have control over your day, week and month.

There are lots of ways to gain control and the first might be to ask for help or look for an accountability partner.  Either way – get started!

Whether you say you can or you can’t, you’re right. Walt Disney