Canada's largest home hits the market

You won't find it on Post Road or the Bridle Path. To see it, you'll need to go to Haileybury, about 140 kilometres north of North Bay.

It's a fixer-upper but, if you want a home to grow into, it might just be what you are looking for — provided you don't mind the thought of dusting 65,000 square feet or its $25-million price tag. It's as big as the White House, which is about 55,000 sq. ft., and 24 Sussex Drive, home to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which is approximately 11,000 sq. ft., put together.

The building includes a boat house big enough for a 40-foot yacht, two elevators, an indoor pool, a giant hot tub and 30-foot fireplaces in the master bedroom and living room.

There's an exercise room the size of a small gym. Plumbing has also been installed on the grounds for a few golf holes.

But buyer beware: The house is far from finished. There's no flooring, no finished bathrooms and few wall coverings.

Interested? Here's the listing info »

April 18, 2010 in Real Estate Personalities | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Re/Max slams 'indifferent agents'

As reported by Tony Wong in the Toronto Star.

The Canadian real estate industry has too many poorly performing and under qualified agents who are tarnishing the profession and contributing to a backlash by consumers, says a prominent real estate industry executive. "Our industry is overrun by indifferent agents who lack the knowledge and experience to service their clients adequately," said Michael Polzler, executive vice-president and regional director of ReMax, Ontario Atlantic Canada.

"The ease at which they can hang a shingle and tarnish our profession is astounding ... Truth be known, we'd all benefit from an industry overhaul."

Polzler's comments, sent in a letter to industry leaders last month, have become controversial since organized real estate is already under siege from a high profile investigation by the federal Competition Bureau.

The bureau alleges that the Canadian Real Estate Association is being anti-competitive by trying to keep service fees and commissions high with their control over the Multiple Listing Service. The association rejects the charges, which are to be heard before a tribunal. CREA is holding its annual general meeting in Ottawa next week to vote on whether to relax its rules.

In an interview, Polzler said he did not write the letter in response to the investigation, but said the industry must also accept responsibility in "cleaning up its own act. It's time we acknowledged the elephant in the room."

The frank talk by a leading realtor is all the more remarkable because Polzler is one of the leaders of the industry and responsible for day-to-day management of the ReMax brand in Ontario.

Since writing the letter, Polzler said he has gotten mostly positive feedback from the industry on his website.

But not all realtors think the initiative is positive.

"Maybe Mr. Polzler should look inside his own company before trying to impose new rules on all of us," said one comment.

But Polzler maintains that poor-performing realtors are abundant and said it's difficult for consumers to tell the difference.

He said about one in five realtors failed to sell a home on the Toronto Real Estate Board, adding that more than half of all agents fail to sell at least one home per quarter.

Many realtors approach the job as a part-time profession, which can be detrimental to the business, said Polzler. "It is far too easy to get a licence today."

Polzler said consumers should ask more questions of realtors, such as whether they are doing it full time, and ask for references.

Currently, realtors need to take a five-week course and pass exams before they are licensed. They also need to do continuing education courses annually.

Polzler said education requirements need to be bumped up, recommending introduction of a one-year apprenticeship program for new realtors.

Dale Ripplinger, president of the Canadian Real Estate Association, said consumers are "largely satisfied with the service they have received from real estate professionals."

Ripplinger added that "there are lots of agents who may do one or two deals, but they may be big commercial deals, or some agents are winding down, but it doesn't mean they're not qualified."

March 20, 2010 in Real Estate Personalities | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Mike Holmes "makes it right"

And he certainly has it made. His TV show reaches 100 million households, he's building homes with Brad Pitt, and now he's itching to star in his own cartoon series. How much bigger can his brand get?

Mike is a big man. That much you can see on TV. His broad face, topped by a buzz cut, usually towers over the distraught homeowners looking to him for salvation from financial ruin. His bare, beefy biceps appear amply up to the job of tearing out waterlogged drywall or shoddily installed floorboards before his crew puts it all back together the way it should have been done in the first place.

Read about The making of Mike Holmes »

June 5, 2009 in Real Estate Personalities | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Toronto loses real estate icon


Sadie Moranis passed away peacefully in her 84th year on Thursday, May 21, 2009 in Toronto. She will be greatly missed by her son Stephen, her daughter-in-law Monica and her granddaughter Rebecca. Sadie's husband Jules and daughter Terry sadly predeceased her. Sadie will be forever remembered by her sister Betty Dale, her brother-in-law Harvey Dale, her niece Susan Dale (Jim Laing) and her nephew Lawry Dale (Elise Teitler). Sadie also leaves behind her sister-in-law Anne Moranis, her brother and her many nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews and cousins.

Sadie was an accomplished pianist having studied with Boris Berlin at the Royal Conservatory, an editor of the Varsity at University of Toronto and an accomplished athlete and sportswoman who loved tennis, badminton, boating and fishing. When Sadie started in real estate, she was a 37-year old homemaker, and seventeen years later she became the first woman president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, in its sixty-year history.

Today Prudential Sadie Moranis Realty is one of Canada's leading real estate companies. Driven to succeed she wanted to prove that given equal opportunities, a woman can accomplish as much as a man; she refused to let anything deter her from what she was capable of doing. And so, Sadie grew her company from a neighbourhood brokerage to one of Toronto's largest and most respected agencies.

Sadie's zeal for life in the face of surviving breast cancer in 1977 to her most recent health related issues can be best described when she acclaimed, 'When you think you have problems, remember that other people may have problems greater than yours'.

Our sincere sympathies are extended to the Moranis and Dale families.

May 22, 2009 in Real Estate Personalities | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Re/Max call to action

We are informed that the following letter was sent to
Re/Max Brokers, Managers and Sales Representative from Michael Polzler (Executive Vice President and Regional Director) of Re/Max Ontario-Atlantic:

Dear Sales Associates, Broker Owners & Managers:

It's time to take back our industry.

The all-you-can-eat real estate buffet in recent years has done little to improve public perception of the real estate industry. Truth be told, inactive and uncommitted realtors have played a serious role in making it even worse, through simple ignorance and inexperience during one of the most heated residential housing markets in recent history. Fortunately, RE/MAX realtors are head and shoulders above the competition, a point best illustrated by statistics from one of North America's largest real estate boards.

Representing a relatively good cross section of agents, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) is one of many boards experiencing the inactivity happening nationwide. We know that if we were to look at statistics from other boards, the same story would unfold. Allow me to share some examples. Last year, 23 percent of Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) realtors didn't sell a thing – that's almost one in every four. Fifty-six per cent of TREB realtors did less than one deal per quarter.

Notwithstanding the agents that are winding down after long, successful careers and those that are just starting in the business – the statistics are quite alarming. You have to question how some of these companies are still in business. According to TREB figures for last year, close to 50 per cent of realtors with Sutton Group and almost 60 per cent with Century 21 did less than one deal per quarter. Homelife and Right at Home agents were neck in neck, with 68.5 per cent and 70.7 per cent respectively, reporting less than one deal per quarter. And that's before we moved into a recession.

Unlike our competitors, we are holding up quite well under recent pressure. In fact, these are the times in which RE/MAX traditionally thrives. During a boom, it's easy to confuse success with heated market conditions. In a bust, sales professionals require a higher level of service and skill. Experience and reputation are paramount. That's where RE/MAX comes into play.

RE/MAX agents in Canada have earned the highest level of productivity of any company in the country, achieving 35 per cent market share in most Canadian markets. RE/MAX has the highest percentage of top producers (50 per cent of the top ten, over 40 per cent of the Top 100, 1,000, and 2,500) on the Toronto Real Estate Board.

Our agents have the highest average number of deals per agent. TREB Realtors averaged three and a half deals in 2008 while RE/MAX realtors — on average — negotiated almost ELEVEN. Our agents are responsible for one in every three home sales in this country and that speaks volumes about our commitment and dedication. RE/MAX has seriously invested in training, career development, and technology — a reality demonstrated on a daily basis by our agents. Our sales professionals are smarter, stronger, and more knowledgeable about the marketplace, outselling the competition three to one.

Despite market conditions, dedicated, full-time individuals who have built their careers on knowledge and exemplary service will continue to excel. Offers to purchase filled with conditions ranging from the typical financing and home inspection clauses to vendor take-back mortgages and offers conditional on the sale of the purchasers' home - the home buying/selling process is more complicated than in year's past. It's well beyond real estate 101 and both buyers and sellers will need the services of a skilled professional to help navigate these uncharted waters.

The number of fly-by-night agents who cast a shadow over our business in recent years will subside in the days and months ahead, but they will not disappear until the real estate industry raises the bar on standards. In my opinion, the introduction of apprenticeship programs — monitored by local real estate boards and provincial and federal real estate associations - would go a long way in better preparing sales associates for a career in real estate. Licenses should be granted only after the individual sales associate has completed a six month or one-year apprenticeship program.

Education is the cornerstone of this industry and by far the best way to improve public perception of our business. As I said in the beginning...we need to take our industry back. We owe it to our customers.


Michael Polzler
Executive Vice President and Regional Director
RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada Inc.

April 2, 2009 in Real Estate Personalities | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Toronto's Condo King says:

Brad Lamb (Toronto's self-appointed Condo King) says he's convinced the worst is over. "There are 1,600 condos for sale on MLS right now. That's pretty low, considering the economic holocaust we're in. So maybe it's not that bad; maybe it's more like apartheid.

"But then, I'm a glass-100-per-cent-full kind of guy", Lamb says.

See full story in the Toronto Star »

March 29, 2009 in Real Estate Personalities | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Conrad Black settles realty suit

Former media baron Conrad Black settled a lawsuit brought against him by Sotheby's International Realty Inc claiming that he failed to pay the commission on the $10.5 million sale of his New York apartment. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Sotheby's alleged in a 2006 lawsuit that Black's attorneys issued a check for the $557,000 commission on the Park Avenue apartment but stopped payment on it. The case was set for trial last month.

Black said in a statement on Tuesday that the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago improperly seized the proceeds from the sale, including funds for Sotheby's commission. Black accused prosecutors of coordinating with the buyers to attend the October 2005 closing so they could issue seizure warrants to force him to forfeit $9 million in sale proceeds.

"Conrad was outraged by the conduct of the government and how they handled this," Black's attorney Marc Powers of Baker Hostetler said on Tuesday. The seizure occurred before Black was criminally charged with obstructing justice and defrauding shareholders of Hollinger International, once the world's third-largest publisher of English-language newspapers and now called the Sun-Times Media Group Inc.

A jury convicted Black on four of 13 charges but acquitted him on all counts related to the apartment sale, Powers said.

July 2, 2008 in Real Estate Personalities | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Singer's condo hits a high note

Nine years ago, singer Alannah Myles was living in L.A., discontent with her business and personal circumstances. Then one weekend she packed up her belongings and moved back to Toronto.

"I moved around for about six months; one of the places offered to me by my real estate agent was this high-security building, so I jumped at it," she says.

See Kathryn Kates story from the Toronto Star »

November 25, 2007 in Real Estate Personalities | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Stinson puts businesses in bankruptcy

Harry Stinson, the Toronto real- estate developer who was in competition with Donald Trump to build the city's highest residential building, placed four of his businesses in bankruptcy and, according to the receiver running the operations, violated a court order by doing so.

"It's going to create more chaos," Joseph Latham, lawyer for the receiver, Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc., told Ontario Superior Judge Sarah Pepall at a hearing in Toronto. He urged the judge to annul the bankruptcies.

Stinson operated The Suites at 1 King West, a luxury condominium-hotel, through his company Stinson Hospitality Inc., one of the four companies placed in bankruptcy. He had also proposed to build twin towers, the highest at 81 stories, surpassing a 70-story condominium Trump had planned a block away.

Trump's tower proposal has been scaled down to 57 stories, while Stinson's Sapphire Tower has been shelved, with Sapphire Tower Development Corp. having been placed in bankruptcy protection July 20.

Latham also asked the judge to order Stinson to return financial statements and computer drives taken from 1 King West. He said Stinson removed two computers Aug. 24 and a box of documents on Labor Day, material that should have stayed in the possession of the receiver.

The receiver is reviewing security tapes to see if Stinson was caught on camera removing the material, Latham said.

September 26, 2007 in Real Estate Personalities | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stinson's dreams are tumbling down

Harried Times

Originally planned to reach 81 storeys on a site on Toronto's Temperance Street, the Sapphire Tower was to have two connected cylinders covered with blue glass, capped with a globe that would minimize building sway in the wind. The 1,000-unit project was to feature studio and one-bedroom units in the lower levels, two-bedroom units in the higher levels and some full-floor suites.

The project was later redesigned and reduced to 62 storeys. Amenities were to include a private hotel, spa, 24-hour grocery store, dry cleaning service, daycare and valet parking.

In December 2006, the Ontario Securities Commission alleged Stinson broke securities laws by selling units without issuing a prospectus, and Stinson agreed to pay a fine.

The construction start date had been set for 2005, but the project has never broken ground.

Harry Stinson's Sapphire Tower Development Corp. entered bankruptcy protection on July 20. Beleaguered developer has been granted protection for his shimmering, elusive Sapphire condo project

Not so long ago, Harry Stinson's dreamscape floated high above his condo-hotel at 1 King West, soaring to 81 storeys of shimmering blue glass that would arise from a parking lot at 66 Temperance Street.

As Stinson imagined the Sapphire Tower, there would be a sky-lit infinity pool, glass-walled shuttle elevators, circular apartments with two-sided "Citizen Kane" fireplaces, and a "Sky Spa," which even on the cloudiest days would never be gloomy.

There are no blue skies for Harry Stinson these days »

August 10, 2007 in Real Estate Personalities | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


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