experts: real estate column Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Here's what you missed at Banff

Highlights from the Banff Western Connection, January 2005.

By Marty Douglas

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

"Hey! I know you! You’re that guy! From that magazine!"

Such is the price of fame, unable to have a leisurely loiter near the elevator bank at the Fairmont Banff Springs during the "best little real estate conference in North America," the Banff Western Connection.

Couldn't make it? Left it too late and got turned away? No matter, there's another one in 2007. Mark your calendar for October 2006 and give any of the organizing provincial associations (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta or B.C.) a call to confirm details.

I'll give you a little taste of what you missed.

Me, of course, and I'm hard to miss. Thanks to those at this year's conference who went out of their way to mention REM and my column. Some were holding lumpy, club-shaped objects behind their backs but as I ran away, I at least knew they were readers.

Kathy Bevan, REM's ace reporter (I bet reporters hate that phrase) was again in evidence. REM is a sponsor, after all. She could be seen button-holing the movers and shakers of Canadian real estate for the latest news.

But enough of the celebrities.

Remember Bob Robertson of Double Exposure fame? The comedian who does Queen Elizabeth better than the Queen? He was the opening entertainment and conference MC for three days. Brent Butt of Corner Gas blew us away with an hour of comedy early in day two. With a name like Butt, he couldn't avoid a description of his prostate exam: "The doc came at me like he was trying to get the last pickle out of the jar." He had the women screaming and the men squirming between tears and gasps for breath. Did you know Newfoundland was a foreign country where they take Canadian money at par?

Michael "Pinball" Clemons -- except for his Argos, the B.C. Lions would be Grey Cup Champs -- was the ultimate speaker, an engaging presenter and a kind man, spending every minute he could at the conference answering questions and signing autographs. When I admired the lump of a ring they give him as a Grey Cup memento, he popped it off and dropped it in my hand. It weighs about a pound.

Pinball is a little guy, though. I'm pretty sure that together, me and the other 200 guys in the room could have taken him. The penultimate speaker was Yvonne Camus, of the Canadian World Eco-Challenge team, the first rookie team ever to finish the race. Close encounters with leeches, orangutans and millions of bats while sailing, swimming, scaling and riding 500 km in the jungle, with a broken wrist and way too many slides of blistered feet, apparently resonate well with Realtors who think they have a tough life.

Richard Mendenhall, a past-president of NAR, spoke about the need for leadership. Using the example of Sir Ernest Shackleton's adventures around Antarctica, he urged directors of real estate boards to strive for the same goal: "Leave no member behind."

In a discussion about the viability of real estate brokerages, one panelist urged us to consider the teachings of an unusual sage, Al Capone, who said, "If you want to succeed, you need only three things: a smile, a gun and a plan. If you have to give up any of those, first give up the smile, then the gun, but never give up the plan."

The CREA update at the conference was filled with good stuff, although you had to be alert. Seating was plentiful as fewer than 70 members, including the CREA directors, selected this session. The other choice was shopping or poolside drinks.

By the time you read this, on WebForms you will be able to create and save a personalized form toolkit with templates for customizing your own forms. There's a consumer survey of mls.ca users that says consumers who use the site are very pleased. But, of consumers surveyed who had recently bought or sold housing, nearly 50 per cent had not used the site. So brace yourself. Or snuggle down into your cave dwelling, because apparently not all buyers and sellers have escaped from the 20th century.

New legislation impacting Realtors will emerge in the Income Tax Act. Ouch, it could hurt. And there is also the Do Not Call Bill, supported by consumers but dreaded by cold callers. These legislative tidbits are the reason we send our dues to CREA, to keep an eye on the politicians and taxes we send to Ottawa.

Finally, this just in. The Manitoba Real Estate Association has announced a cure for past presidents, delaying the atrophy of this once-useful member of society. They are being appointed to the board of that province's Quality of Life initiative. And just what is the Quality of Life?

If you had been in Banff in 2005 you would know. But stay tuned. Realtors across Canada are going to make a serious impression on their communities through this new program.

Banff 2007: Be there or perish.

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 B.C., the Real Estate Council of B.C., the B.C. Real Estate Association and the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. 1 800 715 3999; fax 250 897 3933. Email mdouglas@island.net.




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