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RISMEDIA, June 18, 2009-Hello, my name is Michael Krisa, aka That Interview Guy, and I will be your tour guide and host as we focus each month on real estate-related happenings in Canada. From the Rocky Shores of Newfoundland to the beaches of Vancouver, we will keep you up-to-date on the Canadian perspective on real estate.

This month, we focus on Barry Lebow, a real estate touchstone in Canada and co-creator of Canada’s Accredited Senior Agent program.

Michael Krisa: Barry, let’s discuss your involvement in the seniors market.

Barry Lebow: The future belongs to the seniors-the Zoomers, as Moses Znaimer calls them-and even their parents. Remember one thing: When you have an elderly couple or an individual widow or widower who has to make a move, it doesn’t matter what’s gone on in the marketplace. They have to sell that house. It’s recession-proof.

Those who work the seniors market can get 20, 30 listings a year just from the estate business alone.

MK: I guess the only time greed comes into play is if you’re dealing with an estate, and it’s the siblings that are fighting over every nickel and dime.

BL: That’s the problem. That’s where a true professional learns-you don’t deal with it. There’s a book called Family Wars that deals with this exact topic.

If [the family has] a problem, let them get a mediator. I will work with the lawyer. If there’s screaming and yelling, let them scream and yell through the lawyer. I will take all direction from the lawyer or the executor of the estate.

MK: Are you saying that there’s a whole different set of tools you need when working with seniors?

BL: Well, look at it this way. I got my SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist) designation from NAR a couple years ago. I thought, “It’s good, but it’s not Canadian.”

So, a year ago I created the Accredited Senior Agent program, written by two of us here in Canada-by Canadian agents for Canadian agents. By the year 2031…almost 50% of Canadians will be over 55. Are you positioned for that market? Right now, 70% of all wealth in this country is held by people over 65.

MK: So, what are some of the subtle differences between regular, residential real estate versus working with seniors?

BL: Number one, for anybody who’s working with seniors, ABC is gone. Always Be Closing? Forget that. With seniors, it’s Always Be Counseling. You’ve got to counsel people. You’ve got to go in as a trusted advisor.

You’ve got to have a very good knowledge of things and say to someone, “Mr., Mrs. So and So, I think you’re going to have a tax problem here. Before we make a move on this property, you want me to sell your house, but you also want me to sell your farm or store or apartment. I think you need to go see an expert or this person.” Or, “This can trigger a certain problem.” Or, “You may have a will problem.” Or “You have a second marriage.”

MK: This sounds like it’s a whole team approach, Barry, because you mention that there could be a financial problem. So, there’s an accountant. Now, there’s a legal problem, so you have a lawyer on your team. So, this isn’t a one-person approach, is it?

BL: Absolutely, not. When I teach all of our courses, I say, “I don’t care if you don’t even have an assistant. From now on, when you leave this program as an Accredited Senior Agent, you’ve got a team, because you can’t do this unless you have a tax lawyer. You’ve got to have an estate lawyer; you’ve got to have a commercial lawyer-all these people that you’ve got to be able to refer people to.

Michael Krisa, aka “That Interview Guy,” has been a practicing real estate professional since 1989. He has won numerous awards for outstanding sales achievement and has managed a number of top-producing offices. For the past four years he has hosted his own syndicated interview series featuring some of the best and brightest people in real estate today. He can be reached at michael@ThatInterviewGuy.com.

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