experts: real estate column Monday, December 02, 2002

On dress codes and privacy policies

Those of us living on the Wet Coast of Canada believe very little to be admired emanates from Toronto.

By Marty Douglas

As published in REM - independent news and opinion for Canada's real estate industry.

Those of us living on the Wet Coast of Canada believe very little to be admired emanates from Toronto. I'm here to tell you I've found something. Unfortunately they had it and threw it out. I'm speaking of an Ontario law that until 1964 allowed parents and other interested parties to jail unmanageable females aged 16 through 35. How much happier we would be if the process that protected Upper Canada from drunken women or those having children without benefit of clergy were available today.

OK, I'm kidding.

However, sometimes the old ways were the best ways.

Consider the dress code thing. Sergeant Major Hugh Stewart - Sergeant Pepper to the APEC protesters - has introduced a strict dress code adherence for those Mounties under his purview - uniforms while on duty, suits while attending special occasions. Imagine a Mountie looking professional rather than masquerading as a punk rocker. Wall Street is doing away with casual Fridays, suggesting it was the casual attitude toward investment that resulted in the market casualties of the past two years. Another Toronto invention - justwhiteshirts.com - my favorite online shopping store, includes in a recent ad "Business Dress is Back! The office affair with casual dress is over. Executives and professionals are once again turning out in smart, polished business attire that projects professionalism and inspires confidence. Daily, major companies are reacting against the patchwork quilt of casual wardrobes showing up at work by announcing a return to 'business formal'." Saying, in a Madison Avenue kind of way, it's time professions had another look at the attitude toward business caused by what we wear.

About time. I've been wearing a jacket and tie for thirty-two years in this business and never had to sell myself to a client or salesperson based on my dressed down image. REM reader Cheryl Lowry sent me this Arthur Ashe quote summing up. "Regardless of how you feel inside, always try to look like a winner. Even if you are behind, a sustained look of control and confidence can give you a mental edge that results in victory."

I have a little problem in hospitals now that you can't tell a custodian from a cardiologist. And call me reactionary but if I was suddenly a school principal, my first edict to staff would concern their dress. Let's not have any confusion amid the dyed hair and body piercing of who is the student and who the teacher. If you are going to teach in my school and have a bolt and chain connecting your earlobe and nostril, then the bolt had better match your jacket and tie.

OK - enough from the Attila temporal lobe. Now, what about all this disclosure crap I hear going around? And privacy? What's that all about? You mean I'm going to have to tell people what I do with the personal information I've squirreled into my data base? Trading their names with moving companies for referrals is 20% of my income! What paternity challenged commie rat came up with this idea? Oh - the Federal Government. That explains a lot.

In his covering letter in the Privacy Toolkit, CREA President Tim Walsh says, "All Realtors must understand that privacy is now a core business principle that directly affects your ability to collect information." To assist us, CREA has delivered a CD-ROM to every office in Canada - just how did they get my address, anyway? - and that's the point. All of us will soon add a Privacy Policy to the list of disclosures we Realtors have to make before we earn a living.

Next thing you know, we'll have to disclose the briefcase filled with cash down payment. What do you mean, proceeds of crime legislation? If I'd known there was going to be so much BS I might never have signed on with this cattle drive.

We're in the business of getting people to sign stuff. We have a simple job - list property, find people, give them reasons to buy.

Only the government would try to complicate it.

Marty Douglas is the sales manager for Coast Realty Group (Comox Valley) Ltd., one of nine Coast Realty Group offices on Vancouver Island. He is a past Chair of the Real Estate Errors and Omissions Corporation of BC, the Real Estate Council of BC, the BC Real Estate Association and the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. email mdouglas@island.net 1-800-715-3999 fax 250-897-3933




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