By Colleen Francis- Globe and Mail Feb 20 2014
My clients have been complaining about the health of the global economy. While the United States is booming, Europe is struggling. Canada is edging up slightly and Asia is in flux.
Like international markets, some companies are exceeding their goals while others are crying poor and blaming external factors for their failures.
I see it every day: Having missed their targets, companies look for advice on how to sell in a confusing market. My first comment is this: “If your market has changed and you haven’t changed with it, you will soon be out of business. So tell me: what have you done to change your activities this year?”
The question is usually met with silence. Most companies give up when the markets slow down. They resign themselves to the fact it’s going to be a bad year and they don’t even try. Simply put, they refuse to change.
Some, on the other hand, refuse to wave the white flag. These top performers attack their markets with vigour, and they approach their prospects with new and increased sales activities. They are the few representatives who manage to thrive in the face of an inhospitable economic climate.
I recently met with one of these survivor types. Mike owns a manufacturing company selling to home builders, renovators and consumers. His sales are up 200 per cent this year as a result of “embracing the changes in my market and out-hustling my competition.”
So before you complain about the economy hurting your business, are you taking any of the following actions?
You can change your results in any economy. Just look at Mike. Believe in yourself.
Sales expert Colleen Francis is founder and president of Engage Selling Solutions. Ms. Francis ensures clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.
I don’t know about you but before I earned my real estate license January 2010 (happy 4th anniversary to me), I had no idea how the real estate industry worked here in Nova Scotia. I wasn’t aware there was a legitimate place to complain about a negative real estate experience other than the kitchen table of my friends’ home over a glass of wine. And just what was this REALTOR® logo all about?
So here it is in a nutshell:
The Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission (NSREC) is an independent, non-government agency, responsible for regulating the real estate industry in Nova Scotia. It was established to ensure consumer confidence in the real estate industry by supervising professional activities of all real estate brokers and salespeople practicing in Nova Scotia.
So, have a legitamate complaint about a salesperson or had a unreasonable experience in a real estate transaction? Contact the NSREC.
What’s the difference between a real estate salesperson and a REALTOR®?
⇒A real estate salesperson took a comprehensive 4 week course and passed a challenging exam created by the NSREC to ensure professional standards and can practice anywhere in Nova Scotia.
⇒Licensed salespeople have the option of joining an association called the Nova Scotia Association of REALTORS® (NSAR). It strives to strengthen the image and professionalism of its members through continuing professional education and maintaining high professional standards. They own the right to use the brand logo, REALTOR® to indicate those in the industry that adhere to a higher standard. The Association’s mission is to enhance REALTORS®’ success by providing services and representation to enable them to best serve the public in real estate transactions. The Association also acts as the voice for real estate in Nova Scotia.
In other words, you’d go to a government agency (Access Nova Scotia) to write a test to obtain your driver’s license but you’d have the option of joining the Canadian Automobile Association for additional options and protection. Their brand logo is CAA.
So there you have it. Hope this helps.
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When people renovate or remodel a room, they almost always overlook the door. However, changing the style of an interior door, or adding a new one, can dramatically change the look of a living space – often for the better.
The most common type of door is the traditional solid 6-panel door. But there are many other choices available. Want to add light and a greater sense of space to a room? Consider a door with glass panels. Do you have an interior door that gets in the way when opened? Change it to a bi-fold door, which cuts the distance of the swing in half.
There are also specialty doors that are designed to block noise, and sliding doors that tuck neatly into the wall when opened. Interior doors are typically much less expensive than their exterior counterparts. So making the decision to upgrade or add a door to a room is an affordable design option.
Visit a door showroom and explore what’s available.
Remember the last time you visited an upscale furniture showroom? The furniture and fixtures on display probably looked great. The colours and textures jumped out at you. It was a feast for the eyes!
There is a good reason for this: lighting. Of course, the quality of the products has a lot to do with how appealing they look when on display. But smart retailers know that proper lighting is key to making those products look their best. In fact, some retailers even hire lighting consultants!
What does this have to do with selling your home quickly, and for the best price? Obviously, when showing your property to potential buyers, you want your home to look its very best. Proper lighting can be a big help!
When preparing your home for sale, review the lighting in each room and make sure the space is sufficiently well lit. You want the lighting to be strong enough to prevent dark or shadowy areas, yet not so strong that it’s uncomfortable for the eyes.
As a rule of thumb, the total wattage of lights in a room should equal the room’s square footage times 1.5. So, if a room is 120 square feet and has three light sources (ceiling light and two lamps) then the bulbs in each should be 60 watts.
Pay particular attention to traditionally dark areas, such as the garage, basement, and closets. Make sure those areas are well lit.
If you have a viewing scheduled during the day, take advantage of natural light through windows. Open the curtains!
Finally, one of the most important areas is the foyer. Always make sure the entrance has sufficient lighting. You don’t want buyers to think they’ve entered the home of classic TV’s The Adam’s Family!
Want more ideas for preparing your home for sale? Call today.
The Bank of Canada kept its benchmark interest rate at one per cent on Wednesday.
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By David Larock
Statistics Canada recently changed the way it calculates key economic data to bring its methods into line with agreed upon international accounting standards. As a result, the debt-to-income ratio for the average Canadian household shot up 11 per cent, literally overnight, to 163 per cent (a record high).
This has inspired lots of foreboding talk about how our “soaring” household debt-to-income levels are now higher than U.S. debt-to-income ratios were at the peak of their housing bubble. That may be technically true, but it is also totally misleading.
That’s because the standard method for calculating this ratio uses after-tax income, which isn’t a fair comparison because Canadian personal income taxes cover health care costs and American personal income taxes don’t. (To put this difference in perspective, according to my initial research the average American spends anywhere from 10 per cent to 20 per cent of their after-tax income on health-care related costs.)
While it has become fashionable to predict that Canada is headed for a U.S.-style housing crash, most economists still think that is unlikely and they use plenty of data to support their position.
To be clear, I readily agree that our household debt levels are too high and that’s why I have consistently supported the federal government’s attempts to reign in borrowing by changing the lending policies and regulations used by CMHC and OSFI. But that’s a far cry from believing that our debt levels are about to cause our houses to start spontaneously combusting. (Did I just give Maclean’s an idea for their next apocalyptic magazine cover … or have they used that one already?)
Before you start loading up on canned soup and fire extinguishers, consider this sampling of recent comments from the experts I read:
* A report by BMO economists in January 2012 first pointed out the flaw in using after-tax income to compare Canadian and U.S. debt-to-income ratio levels. Instead, they argued that using a debt-to-gross income ratio would provide a better apples-to-apples comparison. Using this revised methodology, BMO economist Sal Guatieri reported recently that Canada’s debt-to-gross income ratio (121 per cent) is still well below both the current (146 per cent) and peak (166 per cent) U.S. levels. That presents a very different comparison from the popular one being bandied about in much of the mainstream media.
* David Rosenberg, a well-known Canadian economist, wrote recently that our ratio of housing starts to the civilian population is “not far off the average of the last 10 years, whereas as in the U.S. back in the 2006-07 peak, that ratio was 25 per cent above the long-run norm.” In other words, Canada has not seen the kind of short-term spike in speculative real-estate investing/borrowing that we saw in the U.S. during the latter stages of their housing bubble.
* Mr. Rosenberg also notes that Canadian policy makers and regulators have been pro-active in responding to our rising household debt levels while their U.S counterparts were basically asleep at the switch until it was too late (hyperbole mine).
* Further to that last point, Benjamin Tal, an economist with CIBC, recently noted in an interview with Rob Carrick that overall Canadian household debt is now rising at its slowest pace in 10 years, while consumer debt levels are actually falling for the first time in 20 years. That kind of momentum makes for a trend in the right direction.
* In a separate report, Tal notes that the crash in U.S. house prices was far more extreme in cities with above-average levels of sub-prime lending, where prices corrected by an average of 40 per cent. This is more than double the average decline seen in U.S. cities with below-average levels of subprime loans.
“Eradicate subprime from the U.S. housing market and, instead of the most severe house price meltdown since the Great Depression, you get a soft landing.” By comparison, Canadian subprime loans account for about seven per cent of our total mortgage debt outstanding while U.S. subprime loans peaked at a little under 25 per cent of their total mortgage debt outstanding before their housing crash.
The bottom line: Like any informed observer who can see beyond his own short-term self interest to what is best for the whole economy over the long term; I am concerned about how ultra-low interest rates have pushed our household debt levels to record highs. But I reject the implication that we have driven over the debt cliff to financial ruin and are now in free fall just waiting to hit the ground.
David Larock is an independent mortgage planner and industry insider specializing in helping clients purchase, refinance or renew their mortgages. His posts appear weekly on his blog,