experts: real estate column Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thank you, FINTRAC

What should we, as Realtors, be thankful for? Me first while you think about your answer.

By Marty Douglas

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


What should we, as Realtors, be thankful for? Me first while you think about your answer.

Thank you, FINTRAC. Without you I would not have been able to create the last three columns. With a little help from some friends.

The Prince George Citizen of July 9th headlined, "Real-estate agents unite against tracking law" and squeezed out some comments from Jim McNeal, the managing broker for Royal LePage Prince George. The comments were not unique, probably had heads nodding in every real estate office in northern B.C., and would receive similar endorsements across Canada. Mr. McNeal gnawed at the Canadian Real Estate Association, deploring the exclusion of developers, property managers and for sale by owners and wrapped it all up with a bitch about storing paper. His apt analogy of two convenience stores, one with security, one without – which would a robber choose? – is one that I have posed with a different slant.

In our offices, we are amassing identity documents or details daily in a locked filing cabinet, storing them overnight in a vault and, as sales close, scanning them to disk and storing them electronically. Sounds good so far.

Of course, when it comes to the critical scanning task, we will likely delegate the dreary chore to our minimum-wage-most-likely-to-date-a-terrorist-junior-employee.

Because I’m old in the business with some memory cells that survived the ’60s, I have the curse of history repeating itself. Fellow time travelers will recall a similar fuss over property disclosure statements, mandatory title searching and disclosure of remuneration, to name but three of the issues Realtors once threatened to have pried from their “cold, dead hands.” I’m old enough to take a breath – particularly when I’m climbing stairs – and remember the most important things in our business are still the ball point pen and a willing client. The rest is just little stuff.

Back to Prince George.

The Realtor police were all over the newspaper article, writing to Mr. McNeal in two days – who knew the mandarins in Ottawa subscribed to the Prince George Citizen? Turns out they are on our wavelength, commenting, “I share your frustration with these new requirements not only because they fail to achieve their primary objective, arresting criminal and terrorist activity, but also because of the fact that they are ill-conceived and are particularly burdensome for brokers and salespeople.”

The letter to Mr. McNeal, signed by CREA President Calvin Lindberg, is a cogent summary of the effort CREA has made on our behalf in this particular matter, citing the real gains made over three years of negotiation. I hate to think where we would be without the lobbying strength of our national association.

Just at deadline, when I’m wondering how to wrap this column, along comes the latest junk mail from the Conservative Party, not from my local MP who happens to be NDP, but from MP Ed Fast. Never heard of him. Google tells me he’s from Abbotsford, B.C., and a backbencher with a penchant for needling the Liberals. This particular mailing piece features a folksy fellow in a plaid shirt, wide suspenders and a ball cap whose logo is obscured but could be a farm implement dealer or feed supplier. His friendly but stern demeanor, weathered features and gray hair are reassuring. The anti-long gun registry message, in a cartoon balloon, is simple – “Gun criminal? Hmmm . . . not likely.”

I think CREA should steal this idea, get the same actor only this time with a Realtor ball cap or pin, and produce our own direct mail piece and send it to Ottawa – no postage required, of course – with a new caption “Terrorist, money launderer? Hmmm . . . not likely.”

Your turn.

Marty Douglas is a managing broker for Coast Realty Group (Comox Valley) Ltd., managing two of 15 Coast Realty Group offices on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast of B.C. He is a past chair of the Real Estate Errors and Omissions Corporation of B.C., the Real Estate Council of B.C., and the B.C. Real Estate Association, and is a current director of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. Email; 1-800-715-3999; Fax (250) 897-3933.

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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

A Snapshot of Alberta
Thursday, January 03, 2008

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

Advice for a Real Estate Consumer
Wednesday, August 01, 2007

All articles by Marty Douglas

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