experts: real estate column Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What we learned in Whistler

Marty reports on a recent BC real estate conference.

By Marty Douglas

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

Whistler/Blackcomb - site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, resort area for the stars and the real estate boards of B.C.; your humble (well, on a good day) servant among them, as a director of my board. But a director with a difference, a history, a columnist one who, unlike the FBI, knows where a few bodies are buried and some skeletons lurk. When I blunder into a cocktail party conversation, the first words are either "Off the record!" or "How's that REM expense account?"

I arrive at Whistler with dyed blonde hair and a red sports vehicle, an image screaming mid-life crisis. Truth is, the hair is from a just-ended musical theatre gig and I'm enjoying the first sighting reactions. The car, well, if a Volvo XC90 SUV counts as a crisis symptom, I'm guilty. The incoming president of our board, a blonde herself, asks "Where's the 20-year-old?"

"Upstairs in the room exhausted!"

"Way too much information!" she cries. And, I rush to add, a complete figment of my active imagination. After all, my wife reads this column occasionally, if only to qualify for a cash advance.

Two notable absentees from the conference are BCREA past-presidents Bill Lynch and Don Lancaster, who are on a boys' junket to New York City to celebrate turning 60. Have you seen the size of these guys? Two more skyscrapers in Manhattan will go unnoticed.

The first afternoon session with Captain Richard Van Slyke was reaffirming in leadership and in the pride we should feel for our Canadian Armed Forces. I have known Richard as a Realtor since we took the agents in-house course at UBC in 1981 and now I know about his other, more important life as a combat bandsman in Bosnia, able to soothe the savage beast with music or a 9mm Browning. An interesting choice of speaker, and not everyone grasped the connection with leadership in real estate. However, his "Leaders create an environment for people to achieve exceptional results on a regular basis," and "Leaders remove soldiers who fail to measure up for the safety of the rest of the team," left little doubt in my mind of the application of the military experience into the business world.

Before dinner we were lured into a large room with at least 100 African drums, each drum perched on a chair. We were told to sit which involved picking up the drum. The last time I connected a meal and a drum, the Salvation Army was involved and I got a receipt. As for the drumming imagine karaoke for the rhythmically challenged and deaf percussionist. The swelling in my hands has finally gone down enough so I can see my wedding ring and tell the time.

The new CREA Code of Ethics session was informative and critical. Every real estate board in Canada should schedule as many educational sessions on the new Code of Ethics as possible. The new brochure is excellent and the new website may be a mandatory education component.

We participated in an interesting session about natural justice and work shopped four scenarios from a historical and modern point of view, particularly of interest in light of recent citizen protests in Ontario and North Vancouver. The discussion leader, Grant Havers from Simon Fraser University, summarized natural justice this way: "Everyone gets their say, not their way," and "You can find more ethics in natural justice than in written law. It may be above the written law."

Philosopher John Locke certainly thought so his Lockean Proviso held that natural rights precede the law and that a contract was illegitimate if any party to the contract is made worse off even if the contract was freely entered into.

There are two major events for you to consider in your real estate related travel plans in late 2006 and early 2007. The 2006 NAR Conference and Expo is surfacing literally in New Orleans, November 10-13. The very best real estate related trade show, and the education sessions are okay too, but the best part frequently is the headliner entertainment and political speakers. Former Presidents George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton, along with Harry Connick Jr. are scheduled I'll leave it to you to sort out their roles. Full details on the NAR web site.

In January, 2007, plan to be in Banff for the Western Connection, the best little conference in North America. If you sell real estate in or refer clients to Western Canada, you have to be there it's about the networking!

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

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Recent Articles by this columnist:

Surviving in a slower market
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The downside of teams
Saturday, October 02, 2010

Thank you, FINTRAC
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Snapshot of Alberta
Thursday, January 03, 2008

No song and dance for weighty housing issues
Monday, October 29, 2007

All articles by Marty Douglas

Related Links:

Marty Douglas

Western Connection

The 2006 NAR Conference and Expo

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