How Technology is Changing Real Estate & How We Can Predict Tomorrow’s Market

Ignorance is not Bliss. It’s Expensive. Especially if you’re investing or in the business of real estate. My tip: on December 1, make an effort to squeeze into the back of one of the PM Expo’s most popular talks about technology and real estate. The speakers are a rare mix of Canada’s most prominent decision makers, innovators and leaders. I guarantee that any investor, landlord, tenant or manager will walk away with surprising facts and views on the real estate market. A must attend if you want to make better decisions (click here to register).

Details About When and Where

Dec 1, 2016 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM Duration: 1.5 hour(s) Price: FREE
Code: A104
Show(s): PM Expo
Location: South Building
Credits: BOMI: 1.5 OAA: 1.5 Accreditation(s): BOMA, OAA
Stream(s): Apartment & Condominium Management

So, who’s involved?

Although I’m the moderator of the discussion and REIC is the generous sponsor, we certainly aren’t the stars of the talk. Rather, it’s the gatekeepers at TREB, Altus and Tridel who will cover a range of topics that investors, managers, tenants and landlords need to know to stay ahead of the curve, identify the best places to buy and attract and retain the best tenants and talent.

The Star Studded List of Panelists

Subhi Alsayed,  MBA, PEng, LEED AP, CEM, Innovation Manager at Tridel

Subhi is energy efficiency and green building expert, technical advisor, and driver of innovation and sustainability adoption in real-estate with over 20 years of experience in Canadian and International markets. As the Innovation Manager at Tridel, Subhi directs the strategic implementation of emerging new technologies and practices in high-rise buildings and oversees decision making process on major building systems such as Net Zero homes, and IoT Smart Connected Buildings. As the Director of Projects at towerlabs, a non-profit founded by Tridel and MaRS, Subhi develops commercialization channels for tech startups and emerging green building technology companies in real-estate markets through pilot and demonstration projects. Subhi is a MBA grad from Ivey Business School, Professional Engineer, LEED Accredited Professional, and a Certified Energy manager.

John Di Michele, CEO at Toronto Real Estate Board

John Di Michele is the CEO of TREB. He entered the Real Estate profession as a salesperson and later worked five years as a Broker/Manager before joining TREB’s staff as Chief Information Officer in 2002. John served in several capacities and on a wide range of committees and Board of Directors as a REALTOR® member of three Real Estate Boards and other organizations of varying sizes. As a TREB member, he served on the Board of Directors and as Chair of both the MLS® Committee and MLS® Selection Task Force. Over the years John has also contributed to the efforts of the Ontario Real Estate Association and served on the Canadian Real Estate Association Board of Directors while Chair of MLS® and Technology Council. As TREB’s CIO John was responsible for all technology beyond the Toronto MLS® system. He has introduced and overseen a variety of notable initiatives including implementation of strong authentication, e-Commerce, Buyer Registry, CONNECT, external data integration and the re- structuring of TREB’s districts to include communities. In 2009 John was moved into the Associate CEO role and in July 2014 John was promoted to the position of Chief Executive Officer. As CEO, one of his key priorities has been to better understand and optimize the economic competitiveness and livability of the GTA and the wider Greater Golden Horseshoe Region. In this regard, he initiated and spearheaded TREB’s inaugural Market Year in Review & Outlook Report 2015, which, in part, consults stakeholders from various sectors across the region on key areas of improvement for a better future. John brings together a wealth of professional experience, the practitioner’s perspective and an intimate understanding of the real estate landscape.

Jason Lo, LL.B, , Vice President at Go-To-Market Execution, Altus

In his current role, Jason manages all teams responsible for the execution of all aspects of Go-To-Market for Altus Data Solutions, including Sales & Marketing, Client Services and Strategic Partnerships. Jason joined RealNet Canada Inc. in December 2011 to head up its Business Development and ultimately ended up with responsibility for managing the entire RealNet business unit for Altus until assuming his current role. After getting licensed in real estate over 25 years ago, he co-founded and ran as President & CEO, a real estate software company in 1992, which was acquired by Filogix Inc. in 2000. Prior to the acquisition of his company, Jason graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School and concurrently ran a law firm that he founded with 2 other partners and also managed a real estate brokerage. At Filogix, Jason became a member of the Leadership Team and oversaw the Real Estate Technology Division and subsequently, Corporate Development for the company until it was sold to Davis & Henderson in 2006. At the time of the sale, the Real Estate Technology Division had established a network and MLS® system used by REALTORS® from over 35 real estate boards and associations across Canada. Jason also developed numerous strategic partnerships which, with Filogix’ solutions, formed the largest network in the residential real estate and mortgage market. Jason was a previous Director and Chair-Elect of the board of directors of the Ontario REALTORS® Care Foundation and continues to be a licensed member of the Real Estate Council of Ontario and Law Society of Upper Canada.

Talking about fees with your client

A deep and dark confession:  I’d prefer to talk about the birds and the bees with my parents than about fees with my clients. Why? I hate talking about money and I’m very good at making every classic mistakes when it comes to the numbers talk – I give things away before anyone asks and I cave almost immediately to requests to lower my fee. The worst part? I do this despite being a teacher of negotiation, despite being dedicated to every need of my client and despite the fact that I’m an otherwise relentless advocate for others.

Given my issue with fees, I’ve done some homework on how to feel talk about fees without feeling like a sleazy money-hungry salesperson. Here are the best tips I’ve gathered – most are from as this proved to offer the most practical advice for professionals. I’ll be applying this principles in my life and I’ll let you know how it works out!

Take the Lead

True, fees are an uncomfortable conversation. However, if you make the effort to address it first, you’ll keep control of the conversation and you’ll demonstrate leadership. Raising the fee conversation will also make you appear transparent (and, hopefully, you are!) and will help develop trust between you and the client. Transparency and trust are developed because you’re willing to talk about the tough questions. So convince yourself that you have to speak up or else risk coming off as another “shady” agent, lawyer, consultant or salesperson.

Focus on Services, Not Just Benefits

How often do you hear about the benefits of buying a service and not what the service actually offers? “Work with me and you’ll get a better deal!” “I’ll make you more money!” This claims ring hollow and always ring a warning bell of b$%&! So, why are you telling your prospects the same route claims?

Just like you, prospects want to know what you’re going to specifically do to get the intended result. Listing all of your services not only instills trust, but also increases your value in the eyes of the prospect. Why? Because you’re reminding them of all of the work you’re doing – attaining the outcome no longer looks as easy as they thought it’d be, making your services necessary, clear and actionable.

Bonus: listing your services will help if the prospect tries to negotiate down your fee. For example, let’s say you wash cars for $200. The client wants $50 off. Without understanding your services or breaking the work down into components, you” likely just say “okay” and provide the same value for less money. Alternatively, you say “no way” and the client walks. In the former scenario, you lose because you created an imbalance between the value delivered and the price. You also taught the client that the price listed doesn’t truly correspond with the value delivered. In the latter situation, you just gave up a client!

Contrast the above outcomes with the scenario in which you’ve listed the items that support the overall service. You’re now in a better position to negotiate. Why? Because you can easily use the coveted negotiation rule of never giving something up without asking for something in return. For example, you may offer a $50 discount, but only if you wash the windows and exterior, as opposed to washing the windows, tires and exterior of the car. Your offer may be exactly what the client wants, as not all clients need the same level of support. What is more, this approach works because it reinforces the value you’re offering and because it shows flexibility…a rare quality that is much appreciated by consumers.

Benchmark Your Fees with Others

I know exactly what you’re thinking: “Are you nuts? My fees are higher so they’ll go to my competitor!” Wrong. First time buyers or users of your service are likely shopping around for pricing. They want to know if you’re fair and they’re likely unable to obtain the information they need to compare apples to apples. In other words, your competitor may be cheaper, but that’s because he’s offering fewer services or because he has less experience. By being upfront and benchmarking your prices, the prospect is less likely to search others out and make a “false” comparison.  Furthermore, you’ll instil trust with your client and show that you’re willing to go above and beyond. After all, you’ve already done the work for them of finding competitors and determining the best price for value.

Word of caution: when you benchmark, make sure you’ve also listed all of your services to demonstrate the value and services they’re receiving. If you don’t, benchmarking will make it appear that your prices are arbitrary and negotiable.

Put it in Writing

Well, this is just obvious as to why. So, do it. And good luck!


Why You Didn’t Get the Deal

Building Rapport Isn’t Enough

You got the meeting, you met with the critical decision maker and you had a fabulous conversation about his kids, hobbies and his company’s needs. Yet, you still lost the deal to a competitor. The most likely reason why you lost is because you left him confused.  Confusion is highly problematic because, as every politician knows, if you leave someone confused they’ll vote for the “simpler” guy….even if that guy has no idea about what he’s doing!

To avoid confusion, you must clearly prove the following during your pitch and during every interaction with the client:

  1. They need to act now or they’ll lose something important.
  2. You’re the best option.
  3. You, your team and your company are trustworthy.

The way to ensure that you leave each prospect convinced that your service/product etc are right for them is by answering these questions (provided by Rain Group):

  1. Why is it important and urgent to act?
  2. What will they lose if they don’t act now?
  3. Why are we the best choice?
  4. How can I substantiate #3 and show that our claims are to be substantiated?

Answering these questions will not only provide clarity and help you get the deal, but also anticipate and provide the perfect retort to these common objections:

“I don’t need your services or product.”

This objection may mean that you:

  1. didn’t understand the client’s problem;
  2. you didn’t listen or bother to understand the personal challenges of your client and global challenges of the firm;
  3. you focused on selling your generic service, rather than a specific solution; and/or
  4. you failed to show the opportunity costs of not acting now.

Now that you know what you likely did wrong, here is the simple solution: ask why and clearly respond to the reasons for the prospect’s assertion that your services aren’t needed. While you respond, be sure to repeat back her concerns and roadblocks and draw her attention to what she’s going to lose if they won’t act.

 “You’ll have to come down on your fee.” or “I already know someone who’s in the industry.”

If you’re hearing this, you’ve failed to differentiate you and your company from the crowd. The solution: develop a differentiating service or process that clearly drives maximum value to the client. In other words, having a slick logo or another service that everyone else has won’t cut it. If the service isn’t 100% geared to improving the client’s interaction with your service, then cut it out. Some services may include providing services online so the client doesn’t have to move from the comfort of his home, automating requests, shortening response times and providing “free-bee” additional services that help increase the client’s bottom line.

Be sure to visually demonstrate the value of your specilized process or service by taking the client’s current situation (e.g. current sales price or revenue) and compare it to a better future that can only be granted by working with you. Graphs, charts and pictures are your best friend in avoiding confusion and clearly demonstrating your value add.

“I already know some people in the industry.” OR “It’s too much of a risk.”

If you don’t substantiate with solid evidence that you can bring the prospect excellent value and protect their interests, buyers won’t believe you’ll follow through on your claims; instead, you’ll be automatically categorized as just another salesperson and they won’t take the risk of giving you the business.

The solution: provide testimonials, referrals and case studies showing your ability to outshine and be the trustworthy resource your client needs. Trust is built over time, so don’t be discouraged if you get a “no” more than once. If you continue to put the prospect first and demonstrate clear and relevant value, you’ll eventually prove your worth.

Why you should be an expert

People will almost always defer to and draw their opinions from the expert. This is true even if the expert is completely wrong.

We like to adopt and follow the lead of “experts” because it’s easier.  Someone has done the work of thinking for us and we are freed from this tedious and heavy burden. The lure of appealing to authority in our business decisions is similar to the lure of fast-food in our diet decisions: everything’s ready for us and it goes down easy.  Even if it’s crap.

Why You Need to be an Expert

Simply having the appearance of authority increases the likelihood that prospects will trust you, believe you, comply with your requests and follow your lead. Isn’t this reason enough to become an expert?

The Shocking Experiment that Revealed the Power of Authorities

A famous experiment conducted at Yale University by psychologist Stanley Milgram asked ordinary people (we’ll refer them to the shockers) to shock ‘victims’ when the victim answered questions incorrectly. The shockers were instructed by people in white lab coats who gave the appearance of high authority. Little did they know that some of these authorities were just students.

The shockers were told that the shocks they administered increased by 15 volts in intensity every time the person answered incorrectly. Of course, as the experiment went on, the shocks did intensify. And the victims started to scream. Some victims even begged the shocker to stop. Some screamed that they couldn’t breath or that they had heart problems. But, the shockers continued on whenever the white lab coat “authorities” told them to do so. Incredibly, about two-thirds of the shockers ignored the cries of pain and inflicted the full dose of 450 volts.

The truth is the shocks were completely imaginary and the victims were acting. This did teach us a very valuable lesson:

The real culprit in the experiments was the [participants’] inability to defy the wishes of the boss, the lab-coated researcher who urged and, if necessary, directed them to perform their duties, despite the emotional and physical mayhem they were causing.

The lesson for anyone in sales or marketing: when people are unclear or uncertain, they’ll seek out “authorities” to help guide their decisions. Given the undeniable and powerful influence of authority figures, “it would be wise to incorporate testimonials from legitimate, recognized authorities to help persuade prospects to respond or make purchases”. Better yet, it’s about time that you made yourself an authority.

How to Become an Authority: You Should Already Be Doing it!

There’s too much evidence to ignore: becoming an authority is necessary to attract clients and will fill your pipeline with qualified people who want to your help. While becoming an expert is hard work, it shouldn’t be “another thing to do”. Rather, it should already be integrated into your daily work life. After all, it’s no secret that success only comes after significant effort and after gaining significant knowledge. Here are a few tips which, again, should be part of your routine and strategy to succeed:

  1. Don’t be afraid of learning. Take courses from legitimate bodies and get designations.
  2. Write for various publications relevant to your industry. The publications don’t have to pay you or be massive. They just have to be legitimate.
  3. Deliver excellent work, pay attention to the details and place knowledge and service over money.
  4. Speak at any events – small or large. And then have attendees write testimonials about your knowledge and put these testimonials on your website.
  5. Interview experts in your field and write articles about those expert’s opinions.

Taking on these tips will not only elevate your status, but it’ll also help you learn and boost your confidence. What is more, you’ll become the source of knowledge for your clients. No longer will you be sending “just following up!” emails. Your knowledge will be in demand and can be used as a legitimate reason to reach out to prospects and subtly remind them that you are the (ethical) expert.

Get a Referral Without Being Awkward

The Steps to Asking for a Referral Without Being the Obnoxious Pushy-Salesperson

Step 1: Be Excellent

Before you even think about asking for a referral you have to do be excellent at what you do. If you’re not, the cilent would is unlikely to be motivated to spread the word about what you do and how well.

Step 2: Be the Ultimate Connector

Be the ultimate connector. Think about referrals before you begin and afterward. Be the person that connects others. Doing so helps grow your reputation as a generous person and this will encourage others to reciprocate your generosity with referrals.

Step 3: Start Early

Remember the prerequisite to any referral: you have to deliver excellent service. This means that you first have to work diligently and ensure that the client is not just satisfied, but thrilled that they had you for support and not your competitor.

After you delivered a big “win”, casually raise your performance and ask for your client’s feedback. If they have issues with you, make sure to immediately rectify these issues. It’s better to solve the perceived or real problems before you move on or you risk not getting a referral and, potentially, gaining a client who spreads negative rumours about you. Follow or modify this short script to un-awkwardly raise the performance question:

You: It’s clear to me that you have a sharp eye for value. I’ve promised you that I’ll deliver excellent value – may I ask you a quick question?

Client: Sure.

You: At this point, is there anything you’d like me to do better?

Client: No – it’s going great so far 

You: Great – I want to make sure that you get the support you need so that you can hardly contain sharing it. 

If the client says that you need to improve certain areas, say this:

You: Absolutely, I’ve taken note and will deliver. After all, I want to make sure that you get the support you need so that you can hardly contain sharing it. 

Step 4: Remind Your Client of Your Value

After the service has been delivered and before the bill is sent, give your client a call to ask for a referral. Start by reminding them of the work you’ve done and how thrilled they are and were with having you on their “team”. Try the following approach which Rick Roberge, blogger and advisors to rockstars and the like, loves to use:

You: You told me you’re happy with my work thus far. Have you told anybody about what we’ve done together?

Client: No.

You: Is it because you’re not pleased with the outcomes?

Client: No, we’re pretty happy.

You: Well then, do you think what we do together would be beneficial to any of your vendors, business partners or clients? 

Client: I don’t want you working with my clients, but maybe some of my vendors.

You: Your vendors then — do you have a favorite? Do they sell to other people you know?

Client: Yeah, we have a good relationship.

You: But you haven’t mentioned that you were working with us yet.

Client: I haven’t, but maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

You: Do you remember why you hired me?

Client: To find a new place that’s affordable and makes sense.

You: And are any of your favorite vendors trying to grow their businesses?

Client: Yes, a few in particular.

You: Okay. In that case, if you called or sent an email and said ‘I’ve been working with [your name] for six months, and she’s delivered on her promises. I know you’re looking to  [XXXX] so I thought I’d put you two together,” would they like you for that or not like you?

If the client is comfortable with providing the referral, send her a template to use or a script if she prefers to make a call. Here’s an example slightly modified from HubSpot:


I may have mentioned this when we last spoke – I’ve been working with [salesperson] for a few months to [achieve X]. Since you’re looking to do the same,  I realized that I should put you two together. So…

[Referral], meet [Salesperson, with a LinkedIn profile URL].

[Salesperson], meet [Referral, with a LinkedIn profile URL].

Can I leave the rest to you guys?

Talk to you both later.

If they hum and haw, however, tread carefully as you don’t want to come across as a pushy and money hungry. Emphasize that your purpose is to help and not to be an obnoxious salesperson. Then drop it.

Step 5: Follow Up with Your Client

Follow up with your customer a week or so after you make the request. If they haven’t made the referral, don’t push anymore. If they have, but you weren’t copied to the email or you haven’t heard from the referral, ask if the referral responded with a “not interested – ever”. If they did, cross them off the list and move on to Step 8.

Step 6: Make Sure Your Client Has a Great Reputation and Relationship with the Referral

Know your client’s reputation in the industry and with whom they have a great relationship and not just who know. I’ve been a victim of this in my past younger years – I’ll never forget the time when I called a referral assuming that they’d be thrilled to know that I knew Mr. S0-and-s0 and that we should connect etc. etc.. The referral had nothing to say but a chain of expletives about Mr. S0-and-s0 and told me to do the same. It turns out that Mr. S0-and-s0 had a terrible reputation in the industry and offended many people in the past. Needless to say, the referral didn’t work out and I laid low about knowing Mr. S0-and-s0.

Step 7: Get in Contact with the Referral, Listen First and Be Casual

Referrals are not cold calls. These are not strangers and so you shouldn’t treat them a one. Talk to them as you would to an acquaintance. You’re already part of the inner circle, so act like you’ve made it and that you’re an expert in your field. Confidence – with the goods to back it up – can go a long way.

Step 8: Say Thank You – NOT in an Email

Say thank you – NOT with a lame email, but actually write out a thank you note and mail it to your client and include a small gift card. We all like to get mail that isn’t junk or a bill. Compare the feeling to getting a small gift and handwritten note to getting yet another email in your inbox.

Thank you and updates are also important because no one likes to waste time on fruitless ventures (hence the sunk cost fallacy that compels us to throw good money after bad just because we don’t want to admit we wasted time). Rather, we all like to know if our efforts were valuable or a waste of our time.

These small steps will not only improve your service delivery and rapport with your client, but will also increase your level of success and help prevent the pipeline from going dry.

For some other great tips, visit this Hubspot blog.