A Poppourri of Items from Stan Alberts Desk

(The following article has been reproduced here by the permission of the author.)

A potpourri of items from Stan Albert’s desk

It was about the beginning of March when REM Editor Jim Adair and I had a chat about the March article on taxation and I blurted out to Jim: “I’ve got writers block!” I flippantly said that maybe I would write about why I feel that women in our industry make better agents, but not necessarily better and bigger producers. Jim laughed and said I should get a lot of email about that.

Then I thought of an article in the Toronto Star by David Olive, where he highlights Frank Baum’s well-known Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy is held out as a role model for business leaders. We thought that may hit a few home runs with our readers. I said to Jim, “Well, maybe I’ll just let the brain tell the keyboard what to write and see what comes out in the end!”

As I was about to embark on my latest attempt I was interrupted by my dear wife, Audrey. She asked if I’d seen the morning edition of the National Post – the obituary section. An old school friend of mine called her to see if it was true. What was true? I asked. The friend said that my death notice was in the Post and wanted to know if it was true and where the Shiva (a week of mourning usually held in the Jewish faith) would be. Audrey assured him, as did I later, that as Mark Twain once said, “No one has informed me of my untimely death!”

It was another Stanley Albert, but not the guy writing this article. It took several emails, one to the real estate board, one to the condo corporation, and others, to tell people I was not that guy. The Toronto board was good enough to publish on their web pages that it wasn’t the Stan Albert – Realtor who had passed on. In responding to my next door neighbour at the condo, Audrey assured her that I was alive and well and had been at the office since 8:30 am.

Was the month of March brutal or what? My senses, as yours must have been, were really spiked by all the news of the world and in our own country, spinning doom and gloom. Beware the Ides of March!

I don’t know if Al Gore and some of his warnings about global warming are true or not, but we did have record snow falls here in Ontario, including a massive storm in early March. Headlines to the south were screaming RECESSION! The sub-prime fiasco hitting the real estate industry is somewhat being felt in some sectors in Canada now. Remember that whatever happens in the U.S. usually will come to haunt us in the next five or so years. CMHC, bless them, have come up with 40-year amortization, zero down mortgages for marginal borrowers and a whole new host of goodies for first-time buyers. Can this be a harbinger for things to come? I don’t think so.

We have been through, what, three or four recessions, including the one in 1988-99, which we didn’t come out of until 1995. It’s a long accepted fact that when the market weakens, the strong agents and brokerages get stronger because they know how to survive and prosper.

Those of you old enough to remember the early 1980s when the mortgage interest rates hit 25 to 28 per cent will recognize that regardless of rates, economy and world issues, that fact remains: people need to sell and people need to buy. These coming months may not be easy for newcomers to this business, but if they have strong coaching and a passion for meeting people, they will not only survive, they will thrive.

I promised a potpourri, didn’t I? So back to the Wizard of Oz, and the view by Carol Stephenson, dean of business at the Ivey School of Business, who identified Dorothy as an ideal role model for contemporary business leaders. Stephenson says Dorothy displays all the necessary elements of great leaders. Writing in the Financial Times (U.K.), she says Dorothy is “inquisitive, compassionate, consultative and courageous.”

Now guys, don’t get your Irish up yet. I’m not saying we don’t have those qualities. But the main reason to why I feel women make better salespeople than guys, is that they, for the most part, exemplify Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Most women that I’ve managed or coached respond better than their male counterparts in caring for and counseling of their clients. I don’t expect that will impress the men reading this column, but hey, I’m not here always to appease and please! I must close off this article with some comments about Bob Aaron’s recent shot at Seller Property Information Statements (SPIS) in the May issue of REM.

He wrote: “If your agent insists on an SPIS, then get another agent or hire a good litigation lawyer.”

It’s interesting that a lawyer who does a ton of real estate continues to flog this issue of SPIS and the dangers it’s fraught with. I don’t know why he continues to bash the real estate industry’s attempts to make the seller accountable, without providing an alternative. What protects us, the agents, from being sued, without the SPIS? For years, the brokerages that have come under my supervision have never had a solitary case go to litigation – and that may include some 15,000 transactions!

As mentioned before, when Mr. Aaron and I exchanged a few literary barbs, I don’t dispute for one moment that many cases do go to litigation. Many are handled quite well by individual provinces’ E &O insurers, so my investigation showed. If the agent in the case described in Aaron’s story last month was truly diligent, the case would never have been in court. He erred in his directive to the sellers. We should always disclose all the facts that are known to us without restriction, unless otherwise directed by the seller’s solicitor. Since I am aware that Mr. Aaron is an avid reader of this paper, I am sure we’ll hear from him soon.

Last but not least, when attending our annual awards gala recently, I was truly flattered by all the agents who read my column in REM. But what is more important, is that they read this wonderful publication across Canada.

Oh, how I digress! So much for writer’s block.

Quote of the month: “Hell, there are no rules here…we’re trying to accomplish something.” – Thomas Edison.

Stan Albert is celebrating his 39th year in active real estate, and is with Re/Max Excellence in Woodbridge, Ont. He serves on committees at RECO and at the Toronto Real Estate Board. He is an established trainer and business consultant and can be reached at salbert@trebnet.com,