Jul 7 | 2017

3 Tips to Stay Healthy When it Gets Busy

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Tips to stay healthyWhether you’re a lawyer, lender, mortgage broker or realtor – working in the real estate industry can be unpredictable. Before you know it, things get hectic and you can slip into bad habits like skipping meals, not exercising and working on just a few hours of sleep. This will eventually take a toll on your health and even your mood. But when you’re busy, it’s even more important to maintain peak performance.

Here are three simple ways you can stay healthy and energetic all year round.

1. Make healthy food choices

Not that you can’t enjoy the occasional pizza party, but think of it this way, nutrition fuels your body and you’ll get the most out of premium gas. If you skip meals, you may end up making bad food choices out of hunger. Try to stash healthy snacks like fruits, nuts and pre-cut veggies at your desk. This way you won’t need to rely on candy bars and fast food to get you through the day.

2. Keep active

You may be sitting hunched over a desk all day or behind the wheel of a car – going to client meetings or rushing from one property to another. Take some time in the day for a quick stretch break or better yet, start a fitness challenge with co-workers. Getting other people on board is a great way to ensure you all stay moving and motivated.

3. Set expectations and priorities

At the end of the day, you’re only human. Make sure your clients and co-workers have reasonable expectations of you. Create a list of priorities for the day to help you get organized and let people know when they can expect deliverables.

Do you have any other tips to get through busy periods? Share it with us in the comments section!

May 25 | 2015

Five things we learned on the Realtor tradeshow circuit

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CRH_smallFCT’s Emerging Business Group and Digital Marketing team has been on the real estate tradeshow circuit for the past few weeks. On this circuit, we had the opportunity to attend the OREA Leadership Conference; the Toronto Real Estate Board’s Realtor®Quest 2015; and Kitchener/Waterloo/Guelph’s XPO6. The primary purpose of our attendance was to generate awareness of FCT’s Certified Resale Home in the GTA and test out the TwinCities (Kitchener/Waterloo) as a potential second market for the product. Following a whirlwind two weeks, the teams got together and summarized a few key learnings:

1. While everyone is talking about how hot the Toronto market is (it still receives the majority of the airtime), perhaps a more appropriate reframe would be that it’s the Ontario market that is hot. Realtors from Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Waterloo, Guelph, and the Durham Region all said the same thing—properties are moving quickly and multiple-bid scenarios are becoming more common. It shouldn’t be shocking to correlate the fast pace of market growth in these areas with their associated robust employment markets. Whether it is the tech sector in Waterloo, the gentrification and rebranding of Hamilton, or the focus on attracting global entities to Burlington and Oakville, the view is that strong employment dynamics are underpinning growth as opposed to a less logical market dynamic.

2. We are nearing an inflection point when it comes to the adoption of technology by realtors (real-tech). The pending regulation around allowing an electronic signature on the agreement of purchase and sale in Ontario will play a big role in the evolution of real-tech. Two years ago you could have asked about real-tech and quoted what was happening in the US market as proof of real-tech’s ubiquity and been met with indifference. This year it was quite different: realtors seem more aware of the shift in the way consumers engage with services; it is a matter of identifying where to best invest their dollars to enhance their own productivity. Millennials are a mobile-first generation, and finding a way to replicate the experiences millennials have using consumer tech like Uber, Amazon, and Netflix will find its way into all spheres, including real estate. Companies like DealTap™, Teranet’s ViMO®, LoneWolf, and a variety of other players are at the forefront of this change.

3. It is critical to have an objective in mind before attending the tradeshow otherwise it is very easy to get lost in the conversations and the pandemonium
of TREBARDY. The most successful booths were those that engaged attendees in a unique way, often avoiding the hard sell, and those able to crisply deliver their elevator pitch within often brief interactions.  We decided to offer free lattes, espressos, and cappuccinos. Suffice to say: realtors love their coffee—we had a captive audience to generate real-time feedback on the Certified Resale Home product, and likely had the type of booth traffic that most would envy!

4. Realtors have won the battle against For Sale By Owner (FSBO) in Ontario. We didn’t hear one piece of feedback that suggests it is even a concern anymore. That’s a strong testament to the branding work that was done by the Canadian Real Estate Association’s (CREA’s) various Why a REALTOR® campaigns. However, the next battle front is really solidifying the realtor’s value proposition across the real estate lifecycle, which can be divided into two phases: pre-agreement of purchase and sale (everything to get the deal signed) and post-agreement of purchase and sale (closing the deal). The realtors we met who are “crushing it” right now understand the value in a full-service, end-to-end offering.

5. More than ever it is clear there is a proliferation of business-model innovation in the real estate space and that is a good thing! Real-tech is here to stay and will be one of the driving forces that helps power the innovation. Whether it is a full-service strategy, cost leadership, or a hybrid of priced offerings, innovation will drive the next phase of evolution of the industry and the winner in the end will be the consumer.

Certified Resale Home Booth at Realtor Quest

If you also attended any of these conferences and would like to share your learnings, we invite you to comment below.

Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited. The services company does not provide insurance products. Some products/services may vary by province. Prices and products/services offered are subject to change without notice.
Dec 10 | 2013

The huge benefits of home ownership for low-income families

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habitat for humanityA Guest Blog by Kevin Marshman, President & CEO Habitat for Humanity Canada


A home of your own is far more than a financial asset.

For low-income families, ownership of a safe and decent home can play a vital role in a family’s health and happiness, to the point where fewer sick days are taken and kids are getting better grades in school.

Those are just some of the insights from a new study led by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) that surveyed 326 families who have accessed affordable homeownership through Habitat for Humanity since 2000.

For many low-income Canadian families, especially those with children, once the bare essentials are paid — such as for substandard housing, and basic food and clothing — the pay cheque is gone. There is nothing left to go towards saving for better shelter or a better life.

Habitat for Humanity’s model offers a way out of this vicious cycle by providing a path to affordable home ownership. We sell houses to families at fair market value and gear mortgages to income – with zero interest and no down payment required. All we require upfront is hard work and sweat, and the desire to get ahead. Families contribute 500 hours towards the building of their own house, and volunteers help take care of the rest.

For the families that partner through Habitat, the difference shows in the quality their lives.

The results of the CMHC study are astonishing. Among the findings:

  • 89 per cent said their family lives have improved and 86 per cent say they are happier;
  • 78 per cent reported improved health of their families, with 31 per cent reported less frequent visits to the doctor and 25 per cent reported fewer sick days away from work;
  • An across-the-board improvement in children’s well-being and school performance;
  • More than half (58 per cent) reported that they were better-off financially.

Numbers don’t show everything.

Bradley and Charissa Shea have four children. When they first approached Habitat, they were living in a two-bedroom, mould-infested apartment. One of their kids, Caleb, is autistic, and Charissa must stay home to care for him. Habitat for Humanity helped them secure an affordable mortgage to buy their own home. This has taken a load off their minds — and allowed Bradley to upgrade his skills and better provide for his family.

April Smoke grew up on a First Nations reserve in Alderville, Ontario. Though she moved far from home to pursue post-secondary education, she and her son Josh could only afford crowded, unsafe, unhealthy housing in an unfamiliar place. Today, April is back among her community in Alderville, living in a Habitat home that was built there in partnership with the First Nations community. April now feels more at home and Josh is learning about his Ojibwe heritage.

These are only two stories. Over 2,200 families have received Habitat homes in Canada — and we’re working on building more. Whether you donate, volunteer on a build, or just let people know about our important work, we’d like you to be a part of it.

As this new study confirms, your contribution will make a real difference in the lives of families and their children. Learn more about Habitat for Humanity Canada and how you can get involved at www.habitat.ca.

Nov 5 | 2013

Financial literacy month – Test your title insurance knowledge

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In Michael’s last blog he spoke about the need to create informed consumers knowledgeable about title insurance. So in the spirit of being an “informed consumers” its time to test your knowledge of title insurance basics. Check your answers below.

1. A title insurance policy deals only with:

            a) the value of the property.

            b) matters which affect the title of the property.

            c) matters that deal with renovations to a property.

2. Title insurance policies require:

 a)  an annual premium.

            b) a monthly premium.

            c) one payment at closing time.

 3. When does the purchaser pay the premiums of title insurance?

           a)  when the lawyer asks for it.

           b) once a year on the closing date.

            c) once, upon closing.

            d) no later than 1 month after closing.

4. True or False? – There is no deductible on a title insurance policy claim.

5. Can title insurance policies be transferred?

            a)      no, never.

            b)      yes, if the insurance allows it to happen.

            c)      yes, when a homeowner writes to the insurance company indicating his or her wishes.

            d)      yes, in the event of a homeowner’s death and according to the provisions in his or her will.

6. Which one of these potential problems does title insurance protect against?

            a)      any fraud or forgery in the chain of title.

            b)      loud neighbours.

            c)     items that were listed in the offer but then taken away.

            d)     bad wiring.

 7. What will trigger a title insurance claim?

           a)     The deck on your new home has become unstable and wobbly and in need of repair.

           b)     You receive a work order from the municipality to remove the deck that you built without a permit.

           c)    You receive a municipal work order to remove the deck that the previous owners built without a permit.


Answers: 1) b,  2) c,  3) c,  4) True,  5) d,  6) a,  7) c)


1-3 correct – Please ask questions on this Blog

4-6 correct – Thanks for reading the FCT Blog!

All correct- Hey do you work here?

Nov 1 | 2013

Financial Literacy Month – The need for informed consumers

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—November is financial literacy month and since the financial crisis there has been a great effort on the part of governments, financial institutions and financial services professionals to increase the financial knowledge of Canadians.  Financial literacy is also one of the main reasons I am committed to The FCT Blog – to increase understanding of title insurance and answer product questions.

 I believe that an informed consumer is the fundamental pillar of financial literacy and subsequently consumer protection.  But how does the average homebuyer hear about the benefits of title insurance? Normally through their lawyer or notary.  But across Canada there are varying requirements on lawyers to provide information about title insurance. In Ontario, lawyers are required by the Law Society to discuss all options to protect their title – a survey with a legal opinion or title insurance. When given this option guess what? According to the Law Society over 90% of consumers choose title insurance in Ontario on their lawyer’s recommendation. I actually think that it is closer to 100% but we can discuss that another time.

 In other provinces many lawyers take it upon themselves to ensure that their clients are informed about title insurance. Consumers need information about the products that will protect and benefit them in order to make an informed choice. As discussed in previous blogs title insurance can protect consumers from many issues where there is no or limited coverage provided elsewhere. I and FCT strongly support the policy that all Canadian homebuyers be made aware of products like title insurance that can benefit them in the purchase of a home.

 So in the mean time, ask your lawyer or notary about title insurance as an option. Or ask me -as always we are happy to help answer any questions in this regard.

Oct 26 | 2013

Local Improvement Charge – When does title insurance apply?

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We have recently heard of a situation in Ottawa where there was a delay of almost ten years between the time work was completed and the time the municipality levied a local improvement charge against the affected homeowners.  (As reported in the Ottawa Sun http://ow.ly/pJAgW.)

Local Improvement Charges are charges that a municipality levies against properties to recoup the costs of an improvement that was constructed for the specific benefit of those properties.  For example, if a municipality extends municipal water and sewers to a group of properties that were formerly on well-water and private sewage systems, it could then choose to charge the owners of those properties their proportionate share of the costs of the project.  Normally the owner of the property has the option to pay the local improvement charge in one lump sum payment or in installments over a period of time.  If these charges are not paid they can form a lien on the property. 

 The Ottawa homeowners who were affected by this retroactive local improvement charge are understandably upset at now having to pay for work that was completed a decade ago.  Would title insurance provide any relief in these cases? In a word – No. The trigger is the date when the charge was levied and the bill was received by the homeowner. Only those amounts owing on the local improvement charge that had accrued prior to the policy date (normally the date of purchase) would be covered by a title insurance claim. There was no bill received by the previous owner even though the work was completed during their ownership of the affected property. With no bill prior to the Policy Date or lien against the property for a local improvement charge, there is no coverage available in this unfortunate situation.

 When does coverage apply? FCT’s Platinum Residential Owner’s policy does provide coverage for local improvement charges when losses arise from the lien caused by a local improvement charge as to “that portion of the total amount of the charge which had accrued prior to the Policy Date.” So if an insured purchases a property and if there is any portion of a Local Improvement Charge that is unpaid and that is attributable to a period prior to the Policy Date, the insured will have coverage under their title insurance policy for that amount.

 Most standard forms of agreement of purchase and sale deal with local improvement charges in the same way as property taxes.  That is to say they are usually apportioned between buyer and seller with the seller responsible for paying the local improvement charge bill up to the date of closing and the buyer responsible for all amounts falling due after the date of closing.  Many home buyers may be unaware of the existence of a local improvement charge prior to closing. But if it is paid up to date, there is no title insurance coverage and the home buyer is usually contractually obligated to pay all amounts owing on the local improvement charge that fall due after closing.

 So title insurance applies when there is an outstanding payment by a previous owner or a related lien on the home buyer’s property. So from a title insurance perspective, it is the date of the Charge, Bill or Lien that is relevant not the date of the work.
Local Improvement Charge

Oct 15 | 2013

A bit about me and my vision for FCT

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Michael LeBlanc, LLBRecently in August, I was honoured to become FCT’s second CEO in its 20+ year history. I owe a debt of gratitude to all FCT employees whose contributions have made FCT the industry leader it is today. In my first blog, I would like to introduce myself and give you a glimpse of where I see FCT going in the future.

I have been working with FCT for almost 20 years starting as their Atlantic Regional Director in 1994. Here is the link to my corporate bio if you want all the details.  At the time I was practicing law in Nova Scotia and focusing primarily on litigation. As a litigator like an insurer, I had to make judgements about “acceptable” risks- which strategy would minimize the risk for my clients? What were risks that my clients wanted to avoid? And did this risk profile offer any opportunities?

These questions are also relevant to how an insurance company approaches risks. As the pioneer and leader in the Canadian title insurance industry, FCT changed the way homes are bought, sold and mortgaged by introducing a third party risk taker -the title insurer- into these transactions. For over twenty years FCT has been reducing the risk in real estate transactions through innovative products and services  for lenders, legal professionals, insurers, real estate agents, mortgage brokers and homeowners like our title insurance, valuation insurance, and indemnity insurance products. We also have a relatively new division providing leading edge solutions reducing the risks in debt and default management.

While I intend to build on this legacy of innovation and risk management, I also know that the changes in the real estate and financial landscape from new market entrants, new technologies, government regulations, are changing the risks in real estate and financial transactions and therefore offering new opportunities. FCT will continue to introduce new solutions to reduce financial risks that build on our core commitment to our customers and ensure that they will “experience excellence.”

We intend this blog to be a gathering point for all professionals (and consumers) involved in the real estate and financial marketplace to discuss risks in Canadian real estate and financial transactions. I say “we” because FCT is a company built on the expertise and excellence from every one of our employees. Through this blog you will meet FCT’s product leaders and experts who will be able to respond to your questions about our products, services and solutions.

As part of FCT’s culture we have a standard saying at the end of a presentation – so I will conclude with it here because it is now your turn – “What questions do you have?”

Oct 4 | 2013

Title insurance — can someone please explain?

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Title insurance It’s been about 20 years and almost 11 million title policies since FCT (then First Canadian Title) opened its doors and created a title insurance industry in Canada. Lawyers use title insurance regularly and, in some parts of the country, almost without exception. Banks and mortgage lenders rely on it. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners have it. One might conclude that it is well understood. But, raise the subject at a backyard barbecue or cocktail party and you’re likely to get blank stares and a bit of mumbling.

What’s more, it’s not easy for the average person to become informed. Lawyers get it. But who has regular, easy access to a lawyer? Insurance brokers can’t help — they don’t sell it. Even the Internet provides no current interactive Canadian source for such information. So, where does one turn for answers? Right here!

FCT is pleased to introduce “The FCT Blog,” a new forum to foster interactive discussion around all things title insurance – and the one place where all your title insurance questions will find informed answers from the industry experts. In the beginning, we will focus on what it is, what it covers, how it is acquired and how claims work. We are open to your questions and plan to address those topics most interesting to you in future posts.

Looking more broadly, FCT recognizes that title insurance is one of many products and services supporting a vibrant housing industry. Through our interaction with buyers, sellers, realtors, lawyers, lenders and appraisers, FCT has built significant expertise and developed unique insights related to our mutual marketplace. As our blog evolves, we plan to share our insights, observations and opinion to build understanding of our evolving marketplace, the changes and impacts we see and the emerging opportunities for innovation and growth. What an opportunity for important dialogue!

So, welcome. We look forward to hearing what you think and how we can serve you better with this exciting, new endeavour.