When advertising to the general public, here are five lessons to remember to avoid complaints from your fellow real estate professionals, the general public or your provincial regulator.


  1. While it is true that practical product (construction) knowledge hasn’t received tremendous attention through the teachings offered by organized real estate, some points should be clear through the application of ordinary reason. For example, a home with exterior wall systems etc. that are insulated with R20 (rated) insulation should, generally speaking, be more energy efficient that a home built with R12, which should be more efficient than a home that utilized R10 and so on. While the initial capital costs associated with constructing homes built with higher levels of insulation tends to be more than homes built with lower levels of insulation (as would be expected, assuming all other aspects of construction being equal), the ongoing savings to be had as a result of: lower heating and cooling costs has generally been regarded as being more than sufficient to warrant the construction of more “energy efficient” homes. Consequently, when one home is regarded as being more “energy efficient” than another, the more energy efficient home should have the higher market value — all other things being equal.

  2. Speaking of “advertising” I don’t know if anyone noticed the ad at the top of the REM home page featuring the in motion van offering your mobile services; I recently told editor Jim (who has nothing to do with advertising dept) that, bar none, it is the best ad I have ever seen, anyplace; combined with a really great logo, that now overprints on your personal video screen here.

    Just excellent! Please pass along my compliments to your partner, Jim V, and to your advertising firm. Whatever it cost, it’s worth every penny.

    Carolyne L ?

  3. PED – you might have found one “judge” to de-robe, as per a current poster comment: it would seem that there is at least one rep who agrees that “sometimes” sales reps are correct to “measure inside,” as he wrote: “you could measure outside of the foundation wall, or the actual interior finished living space.” [AM]

    Even in reference to finished living space – I was taught that below grade space for purposes of describing the house size, finished or not, in particular to a buyer, (and certainly not to his bank – you would know about that PED), and even when discussing with a seller, (as to how his home information would be presented to the world at large), such space was not included as part of square footage, except for insurance purposes, should the property need to be repaired or replaced.

    Carolyne L – and a PS

    I had already corrected the R10 typo – s/b R20 that was pointed out in his current comment. But note he didn’t offer any explanation about how the R20 foibles could be explained away. And whether such product would be of greater value to a buyer …

  4. As we would expect from a seasoned property lawyer Mark’s presentation is precise. It’s hard to imagine that some Real Estate Boards don’t always use members of the legal profession when they teach Agency Law, related, courses. It’s equally as difficult to imagine that some Boards or Associations don’t utilize some sort of formatted measurement guidelines, as such guidelines have been available for more than a decade! In order to teach a course on measuring you need guidelines. Of course, it is the exterior of he building that will be measured for the most part, however reductions in the functional living space above a main floor area because of the effect of roof lines etc., should usually be taken into consideration — within a good set of guidelines. A set of measuring guidelines may also allow for two different approaches for measuring the below grade (basement) space — you could measure outside of the foundation wall, or the actual interior finished living space.

    I found Mark’s description of how the Courts would handle the subject of incorrect measurements was particularly valuable to Registrants, as this sort of information may not be the kind of information that would typically be taught to a Registrant/ Practitioner. I think that the main message here is that if we want Real Estate consumers to be entirely happy and get exactly what they expected they were going to get, in relation to the size of a home, that this needs to be clear before the matter ever goes to Court. The Courts are going to look at the matter in a more general practical way that puts something of a burden upon the complainant — which becomes all the more complicated when the Registrants or Practitioners involved don’t typically work with any kind of measurement guidelines.

    Building related terms such as: R10, R12, R20 and “built too tight” need to be referred to in a proper context — otherwise it can be misleading. First of all, there is no such thing as an R10 house. The term R10 relates strictly to a rating for a particular level of: resistance to heat loss, as it pertains to the insulation material used. The insulation material used (R10) isn’t or wasn’t the major contributing factor to condensation issues, as compared to the vapour barrier itself and other components such as better and tighter exterior windows. The problem of excessive interior condensation is more of a convection issue than a conduction issue, and that is why the problem was essentially eradicated with the utilization of central mechanical ventilation units (early 1980’s) and became even more improved with the larger modern units that contain a heat recovery (core) component.

    While Mark’s presentation was great and is appreciated, it would be even more appreciated to hear his comments as it relates to some of the more recent developments in our industry such as: “mere postings”.

  5. As in to “defrock” – totally agree, PED.

    There are “some”dirty old men behind those robes; some recently in the news as you might have read. People are people wherever you find them :)

    Octopus expert arms of our industry can sometimes totally obfuscate information so as to serve the purposes of clients they represent. I know you follow such findings.

    I merely ask, because like you I have not heard of officialdom using interior measurements bulked together to form square footage; not trying to be argumentative, just curious as to under what such circumstance it might apply.

    Could it be a “commercial thing,” perhaps? Can’t imagine.

    Good synonyms:
    Defrocked – Related Words can, cashier,discharge, dismiss, fire, muster out, remove, retire, sack;overthrow, subvert, supplant,topple, usurp; banish, boot (out),bounce, cast out, chase, drum(out), eject, expel, extrude, rout,run off, throw out
    Thanks, PED.

    Carolyne L ?

  6. Hi Carolyne:
    Whilst working as a real estate appraiser I always had to measure each domicile around the outer perimeter to establish square footage. Although my appraisals were contracted to establish “market value” (market value for the purpose of financing/refinancing; market value for the purpose of establishing a sale price within thirty, sixty or ninety days of market exposure; market value for the purpose of a marital disposition–a spilt up; market value for the settlement of an estate; market value for the purpose of Revenue Canada etc.) the purpose of each appraisal had to be noted within the body of the appraisal documents, because each appraisal arrived at would necessarily be comprised of a different number according to the reason for the appraisal being needed. Each appraisal document had a market value segment and a cost approach segment. Never the twain should meet, because the replacement cost was then a fixed cost per square foot per construction differences in quality according to then recent CMHC guidelines, whereas market value was almost always in a constant state of flux. That is why market value appraisals are always dated as stating that the appraisal only applied for the date of completion and signing-off on said documents. Things can change in the marketplace, fast. Market value appraisals include land value as opposed to fire insurance policies which only factor in building and content replacement and/or repairs and lot clean up.
    When I would personally deliver appraisals to lenders who were nervously waiting for same in order to immediately extend financing to a purchaser or refinancer (they were always in a rush due to the request for appraisals being let only a day before deadlines arrived), they would quickly look to the bottom line, market value, then shove the whole thing, unread, into a drawer, and say “Thanks Brian”. They weren’t interested in the “how-to’s” of the arrival to the bottom line; they just wanted to be able to move money, and most lenders had their favourite appraisers. It was quite a symbiotic relationship, and people wonder how bubbles develop. Kill too many deals, and poof,,,your requests for appraisals from lenders dry up. I would say that the bread and butter income, by far, for appraisers is for the appraisals commissioned for the purposes of mortgage financing/refinancing. Realtors, appraisers and lenders are a tight-knit group, especially within smaller communities of operation. Some appraisers simply call a couple of their real estate sales buddies and ask their opinions regarding market values of certain properties, then fill in the blanks on the market value comparison grids with appropriate comparables that make the final numbers jive. Subjectivity on the part of the appraiser often plays a major role in determining market value numbers as well. You can never get rid of the human factor.
    Finally, an appraised value is simply one appraiser’s ‘opinion’ of value for that particular day based upon said appraiser’s choice of comparables (usually three) from amongst many comparable sales available. Appraisers do not know the reasons why comparables’ sales were completed at their sale prices, thus they do know if sale prices accurately reflect true market values. It is a crap shoot buttressed by official looking documents with signatures affixed thereto, which in the end allows for the appraiser to be successfully sued by a negatively financially affected former client plaintiff. A good lawyer will always be able to pick apart any appraisal document as being inaccurate. in fact, during one of my appraisal classes, the instructor told us that all of us would be sued, sooner or later, and that we would lose, thus the need for errors and omissions insurance. True. I guess I was one of the lucky ones; I was never sued over a six year run (hundreds of appraisals per year, some days six appraisals per day) and the seven-year statute of limitations has run out since I left the “profession”. Surprising, because most of my appraisal requests had target numbers that I was to work to (which is against the rules of the Appraisal Institute of Canada) and my boss would not sign off on the vast majority of them unless the targets were matched. I had many a disagreement with my boss, which ultimately led to my demise with him and the “profession” The game is rigged folks.

    • Likewise, thanks Brian. Life is “rigged” it often seems; not so much what you know, but whom – where; a support system often referred to as the old boys club. Cf: Tied closely to the government procedures… Lobbying…

      An extended support file to have on hand, of deemed experts, is worth having but when certain ones take advantage it defeats the purpose.
      There was one woman appraiser locally who called me repeatedly when i was new, until I got wise to her. I’m a slow learner :) always willing to help.
      At first it was a compliment but as time went on she was a nuisance interruption, calling sometimes several times a week. Too lazy to do her own research. And never any reciprocal action.

      But admittedly it must be difficult for appraisers seeing as how they mostly don’t get to view the innards of their comps.
      And hardly any listing rep puts such information out to be viewed: be careful to step over the doggy-doo on the stairs; or, sadly the males (cats) sprayed the basemt studs, and poop trays are mostly full (bought by buyers to whom it simply didn’t matter); it felt just like home to them.

      So for all intents and purposes mostly winging it with the comps. That’s why it’s important for appraisers to “farm,” too. Should know their work area like the back of their hand and even so historical info doesn’t count, they would at least know the history.

      And that applies to houses where uffi was first installed at government nudging, often in whole subdivisions, and then removed at government expense. A massive undertaking.
      And speaking of anomalies: after the fact how is a house appraised after it was built as an R10, and practically had to be rebuilt? Due to condensation issues? Built sealed too tight… Does such things even enter the equation?
      Initially we were taught to promo them as being extra-special therefore worth more.

      Carolyne L ?

  7. PED – were you around way back when?

    Clearly it has been many years since we heard the term: solid brick construction, as in air space between the framing and the actual bricks. Have seen “solid brick construction” noted on listings that weren’t. And the legal repercussions would be?

    Such interesting construction; homes sometimes came complete with beautiful real hardwood floors and stairs, hand sculpted real plaster ceilings with a real plaster rose, surrounded by massive full hand applied swirls. Today, as new, that would be a custom built home.

    A dying or dead art form for sure, it became fully popular here in the 50s and 60s, as Italian craftsmen emigrated bringing their valuable, wonderful skills with them.

    If you ever have the joy filled opportunity to list these homes or sell them to your buyer, take a little time to understand that construct.

    Many sales reps don’t know that brick built houses are often only the norm here in Southern Ontario. In most other areas we find homes built using clapboard wood or vinyl covered wood exteriors. Rarely all brick.

    It’s been reinforced by world travellers that we have the only subdivisions with whole streets, and even whole subdivisions frame built using only all beige brick with roofs of pale colour brown shingles and boring colour painted doors and shutters. Many having faux hardwood floors and siding made of particulate that “gases-off.”

    In some municipalities new owners were forbidden to paint their doors and shutters any other colour than the builder’s approved colour choice for x number of years. Does that apply where you are located? Have you ever had to tell your buyer that bit of into? Would you share that information?

    Many stateside refer to our clapboard homes as board and batten or lap siding. In New England and east coast Canada there are many homes built using real cedar shingles construction. It weathers so beautifully. And although some owners paint the shingles, others leave them in original state for ever.

    Homes in various areas have no basements, no built in or attached garages.

    Off topic: did you know that if you sell both half’s of a semi detached to the same buyer, the semi-detached definition type description changes? Well at least it did? Anyone know current descriptor regarding this subject, in current selling habits?

    In Brampton there are semi detached houses built back to back. Neither has a back yard, only a side yard, Looks like detached from either street view.
    Can just imagine an out of town listing rep up to their ears explaining that one, often marketed as fully detached – because the listing rep never went into the back yard (that wasn’t).

    It’s fun to learn about oddities and eccentricities out there in our working world. Some days everything old is new again.

    Carolyne L ?

    • Hi Carolyne in answer to your questions:

      I was around back then but working in finance.

      I presume you’re talking about the restrictions placed by buildings on new sub-divisions like in no clothesline or in condos requiring the outer face of window coverings to be a specific colour? I hope this is still taught in the real estate courses considering that some of these restrictions are time limited and can be reversed by municipal by-law.

      As to square footage, I’ve read most of all the published court cases involving real estate issues and it seems to me that the courts, while, they admit there is no one specific guideline, look to whatever requirements there may be within a particular jurisdiction to make their determination. From the guidelines found within a province’s real estate regulations as it seems to be out west; to our OREA encyclopedia, to guidelines established by organizations within the building framework. I can say that I’ve never come across a judge supporting interior measurements to calculate square footage and if one ever surfaces he should be derobed.

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