January 21, 2015

Good to Great Neighbourhoods


Good_to_GreatIt’s a sunny mid-January day, and I am reminded of a book that I just re-read by a fella named Jim Collins under the title Good to Great. The book is a research based analysis of how long standing good companies become great companies and what factors contributed to their breakthrough into greatness. It’s a fascinating and humbling read in many ways and one might say that it is a story about a tortoise and a hare. As many of you might imagine, I have put my real estate looking glass on and I am curious about what makes a neighbourhood great?

Today, my associate Daria Kark is faced with both the excitement and the trepidation that comes from being in a bidding war. The home in question is either a full gut or a tear down depending on which way the wind blows for the lucky victor. At last count the showings in under a week are well into the thirties and there is rumour of as many as nine offers today.

This little gem calls the Glebe home.

How is it that this little Glebe home has 9 offers?

What strikes me about all of this is the prevailing market backdrop that we find ourselves in. Ottawa’s real estate market certainly is not all doom and gloom but most would argue that we are more balanced and moderate than we have been in quite some time. The contrast of it all just fascinates me and causes pause.

We all know the famous reference “Location, Location, Location”…but what is it that takes a neighborhood from Good to Great? From one offer to nine offers?

The neighbourhoods inside Kitchissippi form an interesting case study for my query. The Glebe less so as few of us can remember a time when the Glebe was not a great neighbourhood, but many of us can remember when the Kitchissippi ward was not considered a great neighbourhood. The name that many would be familiar with inside the Kitchissippi ward would be Westboro. In fact, several neighbourhoods make up the Kitchissippi ward including McKellar Park, Westboro, Wellington West, Hintonburg, Little Italy and West Centretown to name a few.

What happened inside Kitchissippi to move it from Good to Great?  What was its overnight success 50 years in the making?

Well folks I don’t have a definitive answer, but I have some thoughts. I would suggest that the transformation from good to great is one part DNA, one part speculation and one part luck.

The DNA in real estate speak is the location. The Richmond and Wellington corridor with all its walkable shops and restaurants, the Ottawa River, the beaches, the bike paths, the Parkway with its Sunday morning cycle.  This stuff in one form or another had been present long before the neighbourhood became great.  The DNA was there.

Mountain Equipment Co-op’s arrival in around the year 2000 by many was considered an anchor and speculation ensues. If a big progressive organization was investing in Westboro, then maybe I should too. A clustered effect of sorts occurs and others join the party to either compete through nuance or support through adding other services and products. Alas, all of us that call Kitchissippi home are the net beneficiaries, as our playground just gets more and more interesting with the passage of time.

The boomers move towards retirement and look to a home as a lifestyle rather than a roof to shelter their aspirations. The millennials emerge as the dominating force in terms of sales volume and they reject many of mom and dad’s preferences and they seek ways to live in a home that is efficient and allows for more collaboration with family and friends and more freedom from thoughts about a linear career path or material possession. A Kitchissippi type community is a net beneficiary of many of these preferences.

tortoise and hare

So my question to you is this. What’s next? What tortoise is about to become the hare? The next overnight success 50 years in the making……….


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January 14, 2015

How Sir Terrence Matthews Might Pick an Agent



We had our Royal LePage New Year Kick-Off Breakfast Meeting yesterday morning. Amongst the bacon and eggs and well wishes for the coming year was a speaker by the name of Sir Terrence Matthews.

Some of you might know the name. A 72 year old Welsh man that inspired 400 plus of my esteemed colleagues for over an hour and he did so in the name of charity. Wow. Sir Terry was part of Mitel in the early 70’s, was the founder of Newbridge Networks , and all told, he has tinkered with over 100 companies in his day. He owns the Celtic Manor in Wales along with its three championship golf courses and the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata.  He is the Chairman of Wesley Clover and he is known as a serial technology entrepreneur and Wales’ first Billionaire. Oh and he had a driver. That was cool.

As impressive a resume as Terry’s is, what really struck a chord was the simplicity of his message. Passion, a hard work ethic and an unwavering curiosity for what needs sorting and solving next were the three legs on his stool so to speak. A convivial spirit, a humility and a profound curiosity for the world he finds himself in radiated in his every word and gesture.

There is no doubt in my mind that Sir Terrence Matthews possesses brightness beyond the standard 60 watt incandescent but equally, I believe that passion, curiosity and work ethic are takeaways that we mere mortals can aspire to and incorporate in our day to days to truly live our highest and best.

I am reminded of an appraisal I did this past weekend. A lovely couple grappling as many do with which agent to go with. I suggested that one should not choose an agent on the basis of the commission charged or the suggested list price. For not all agents produce the same results in terms of sale price and the correct list price exists in the market as much as it does in the agent’s appraisal. Radical, unpopular thoughts to some but I am comfortable calling them my own.

The value of an agent lies in their ability to negotiate on your behalf, to see what is coming around the next corner and anticipate solutions. It resides in their passion, in their work ethic and in their unwavering curiosity about what needs sorting and solving next. I would encourage you to dig just a little deeper. To move beyond thoughts of list price and commissions and to a place where one assesses what outcome a given agent might accomplish given the chance.

In Sir Terrence Matthews hands, a four thousand dollar loan from the bank of Nova Scotia to buy lawn mowers translated into a 7.1 billion dollar sale of Newbridge to a company by the name of Alcatel.

Not all serial technology entrepreneurs are created equal, nor are all Realtors.

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January 8, 2015

How to sell your home when “all I want for Christmas is iTunes”


How to sell your home when all I want for Christmas is iTunesWith Christmas a faint   memory past, my thoughts are once again orienting towards providing insight into what it looks like to be successful as a consumer in this thing we call Real Estate. I am reminded of the lead up to Christmas and the proverbial questions that daddy Sean inevitably asks his boys of 11 and 9 years respectively. “Aidan, Emmett, what do you guys want for Christmas?”

The answer this year, without hesitation and from both of these guys was “an iTunes gift card”. “What else” I asked. “I don’t know, thats pretty much it dad”.

Wow. Let that one marinate for a minute if you would. This really has some interesting and far reaching implications.  Our world is in fact, a virtual one in many ways. We all  live in the matrix as it were and some  find so much value there that all they want for Christmas is a means to further invest in the matrix. Without attaching any judgment, I think it is a fair assessment to state that our world is an increasingly tethered one and this creates more connection yet more loneliness, more options but often more paralysis as well. Success in a highly connected world is very much about making distinctions, about pushing through the noise and creating an experience, a moment that is worthy of one’s attention. I like to call this a high touch point.

I believe that this is  the key to being a  successful seller in the current Ottawa  real estate market where we have 6 months of standing inventory and only 50% of MLS listings are selling. Create an experience that is compelling enough to be worthy of a pause. The homes that sell and thrive in this market are the ones that do just that–they bring some humanity to a world that sometimes can feel  busy but lonely. Case in point, the CHEO Dream Home… Each room invites you to tell a story and dream.

As you prep and price your home to go to market this year, I encourage you to think about wether your home is a commodity or an experience. Does your pricing stand out as a beacon of transparency and accuracy of market value or is it lost in the noise. There is no where to hide in an increasingly connected landscape but there is plenty of room to standout amongst your peers by connecting with that which brings value to people in their busy, complicated lives.  Think about spaces that inspire and sooth, features that tell a story, conveniences that help connect family friends and neighbours.

Within these insights lie the points of distinction that change the game from selling a home to building a lifestyle and creating stories for your prospective buyer.

Create an experience, reap the rewards.




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May 8, 2014

Square Footage of Homes… Why Such a Mystery?


Square-Footage-350x283When it comes to measuring square footage for a home or condominium it’s not so easy!

Buyers always ask their sales representative for information on the square footage of the home they are considering buying and realtors always want to know approximately how many square feet exists in the home or condominium they are selling.

Unfortunately organized real estate no longer promotes the use of square footage in the details of housing  due to the potential liability on the homeowner and real estate agent as a result of the inconsistency of how a home can be measured. Unfortunately there are no universally applied standards for measurement in existence today.

For example, you can hire different appraiser to measure the same home and they will come up with  different measurements because of the multiple ways to measure and the mechanisms used.

If you are selling a home or condominium avoid providing square footage as you may be found financially responsible to the buyer for any shortage. If you feel you need to market your property’s square footage as an added feature, include a disclaimer referencing  the square footage information, i.e.: square footage is an appraiser’s estimation or from a builder’s sketch of their floor plan etc. and is not warranted and the buyer shall not rely on the information for any purpose.

Note: Ensure that you don’t include illegal spaces, storage space, or the garage in your measurements.

As a Buyer don’t make your buying decision based on square footage. Determine if the house size and space works for you and your family. The feeling is more important than a figure that may or may not be real.

When buying new construction,  you may want to make a comparison from builder to builder as to price per square foot, finishings and upgrades that are included. It is recommended that you take square footage information with a grain of salt and don’t get too hung up on it as builders also use different approaches to measurement and may include space or spaces that are not necessarily what you would consider living space.

Note: the floor plans that a builder provides are in no way accurate as they may include stud walls etc. and during construction no home can be bang on the floor plan sketch that the builder provides in their marketing material. Contact your Team Realty Professional who will help with all appropriate disclosures  to ensure that your home sale does not become litigious.

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April 3, 2014


Royal LePage’s New Mobile App Breaks Industry Barriers With Draw-and-Search Feature

Iphone App


Royal LePage, in partnership with award-winning mobile agency Plastic Mobile, recently announced the launch of the Royal LePage mobile app for Canadian house hunters. Available for iPhone, the new app is simplifying the property search process down to the swipe of a finger.

The app’s innovative Draw-and-Search feature allows users to easily zero in on a specific geographic area of interest on a map, by simply drawing the area of choice with their finger. Upon doing so, property listings within the selected region will pop up on the screen. On-the-go house hunters no longer need to log in or fill in forms to see search results.  And with one tap, users can save their search to get updates on new homes, open houses, and current listings within the geographic area they selected.

“At Royal LePage, we are constantly looking at how we can better serve homebuyers in their search for the perfect home through new digital services,” said Carolyn Cheng, SVP, Strategic Business Services, Royal LePage. “With our new app’s draw feature, the very first in Canada, we are making the home buying search as easy and personalized as possible, while ensuring our clients don’t miss crucial updates as listings and opportunities change by the moment.”

The new app is the latest in Royal LePage’s suite of digital real estate solutions for Canadians.  Last year, Royal LePage launched a new mobile website featuring Google’s renowned map-based technologies as well as its new and innovative cloud-based services, which allowed users to search for homes, using not only standard criteria, but also local landmarks.

“As Royal LePage’s mobile agency, we identify the best practices across all industries worldwide and apply them to real estate, ensuring  that Royal LePage’s clients always have the best and latest features at their fingertips,” said Melody Adhami, President and COO, Plastic Mobile.  “The Draw-and-Search feature of Royal LePage’s new app is designed to provide the most intuitive user experience so that homebuyers don’t have to browse through all of the clutter to find what they need.”

Please visit www.royallepage.ca/realestate/iphone for more information, and/or to download the app which can be used on iPhone, iPad, iPad mini and iPod Touch.

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March 20, 2014

News to “bark” about…


Greetings to all my fellow Winter Olympians! I certainly feel like an Olympian in the face of Mother Nature and all the charms that she has brought to our Capital City this year. It has been quite a Gold Medal Performance of sorts.

So, the perennial favourite question: how is the Ottawa market? In short, it is breathing. Inhaling and exhaling, with ebbs and flows—nothing too drastic to report. This is the Ottawa “government insulation” that we are all graced by. Times are not as bullish as we have become accustomed to as of late, homes are moving and sales are balanced. We are forecasting slight price increases this year in the range of 1 to 2% and relatively consistent volume to the five year average sales. Breathe easy.

New additions and new beginnings! We are pleased to announce the arrival of our fifth member to The McCann Team, Nick Gallon. Nick brings a dynamic energy and we are very excited to have him on this side of the fence as it were. He has joined the administrative leg of our team so that we can continue to wow our clients with timely, accurate, and attentive service.

Stephanie has returned from maternity leave and we are glad to have her back. She is also thrilled to have a little “work break” amidst her busy job as Mommy to her girls, Rowan and Quinn.

Our year is off to a fantastic start and we have all of you to thank for this! Your gracious referrals and advocacy continue to be the cornerstone of our success. At the risk of being a bit bold, please, keep them coming! We look forward to continuing to surprise and delight, with the help of Gezellig Restaurant, in acknowledging those referrals.

We are here if you have questions or need a bit of help. We want you to think of us as your real estate resource throughout the home ownership journey and not just during the purchase and sale process.

Finally, we are excited about our upcoming annual movie event. Saturday morning at the movies has become such a tradition and we look forward to seeing you all again soon.

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