Guest Column – Stan Albert

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Stan Albert: A new door opens for Canadian agents

Sometimes being a pest can turn out for the best. Some years ago I got wind of a course in the United States that trained salespeople about how to capture their share of the escalating mature and seniors markets. I liked the concept, saw some of the material and started to bug my friend Barry Lebow to bring the course to Canada, since his school is associated with REBAC (NAR).

Barry liked the concept but he told me that he had reviewed the material in the U.S. at a conference and did not like the course content. For the next few years, whenever Barry and I discussed various real estate matters I would bug him about the seniors’ market and what was he going to do about it.

Some time last year some new material pertaining to the senior’s market came into Barry’s hands. Again, he just did not like it and told his assistant Ida Kolenc, “I can write a better course than this one,” to which Ida replied, “Why don’t you?”

Barry has done just that. It took him most of a year – he retained experts in law and taxation and worked with various professionals, and he has created what I believe is a dynamic education course, the new Accredited Senior Agent professional designation.

Barry took a step rarely taken by Canadian real estate educators. He convened a beta test group made up of 11 Realtors of various backgrounds (small towns, big cities, major franchises, independent) and I was privileged to have been included in this group. Close to 350 years of combined experience sat for two full days as Barry taught his new course to us. We offered criticism and input. At the end of two days, the biggest criticism we gave him was that he had priced the course too low! It is without doubt one of the finest education courses for Canadian agents ever offered. It is intensive but well stated and taught in straightforward language. Thanks to Ida, it is well presented and laid out.

The best parts of the course? Barry has focused on how to make money, how to best serve the public and how to become a niche player, making business come to the designated member. As a former national director of the Real Estate Institute of Canada and other associations, Barry felt that getting a designation in real estate is important – but none of the organizations really have done a solid job in branding or making the need to work with a professional strong in the eyes of public. He is determined to change that. His goal is to brand the new designation into the public’s mind with a strong public relations campaign that never will stop.

Do you realize that in the next 20 years, many communities across Canada will have more than 50 per cent of their population over the age of 55 and that number will increase? Did you know that most seniors live in their own homes and that they are buyers and sellers? And it has been estimated that this generation of baby boomers will inherit trillions of dollars and they will be the first senior group in history that is affluent, well educated, in good health and yes, in many cases, spoiled! They may be aging, but they are living well and well-positioned players are going to make more money from the aging demographic than from any other sector of the buying or selling public during the next two or three decades.

First-time buyers? If prices increase, if the economy hiccups, if interest rates rise, their numbers are diminished. For seniors, many will have to sell and the second home market is going to rise as well as they inherit money that will allow them to indulge in the lifestyle that they always wanted.

I am proud to have bugged Barry to the extent that he wrote this great course. As a reward I was given the first Accredited Senior Agent designation, and made the only honourary life member.

Barry is now gearing up teach this course across Canada, create new instructors in various provinces and this summer start to translate the material into French so that it becomes a true Canadian course. The first courses kick off in January and February in the Toronto area and British Columbia is now being planned for April. Having known Barry for more than 30 years, I can tell you that when he becomes determined to do something, it gets done and well. Given his 40 years of extensive real estate experience, he is determined to make the Accredited Senior Agent designation the most desirable and most publicly accepted designation in Canadian real estate. He will do it, as his drive is amazing, I don’t believe that this man truly sleeps, just dozes. For information about the new course, visit www.thesenioragent.com.

The future? I am betting on the fact that the mature and senior market is ready to explode and only the best educated and positioned agents will get their share. It’s 2008, a time to become a niche player, the time to earn your Accredited Senior Agent designation.

Quote of the month: “Luck is what you’ve left after you’ve given 100 per cent.” – L. Coleman

Stan Albert is celebrating his 36th 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.

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