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Home buying game changer

The provincial government has made substantial changes to the provision of real estate services that came into effect June 15 with the intention of providing additional consumer protection for those looking to sell or purchase real estate in the province.

Under the new rules, realtors are no longer able to represent both the buyer and seller in the same real estate transaction with the exception of a few very limited circumstances for remote areas with limited access to realtors.

The representation of both parties is called limited dual agency and the government has now banned the practice with the intention of providing better protection and increased awareness to consumers engaging in real estate transactions.

Under the new rules, an agent engaged with a seller to sell their home, will not be able to represent a buyer in an agency capacity and would either need to treat this buyer as an unrepresented buyer or refer them to another licensee.

Chris Grout is the managing broker for Venture Realty Corp, a boutique brokerage in Kelowna, that specializes in representing home buyers.

He says that, in the past, people often ended up in dual agency situations simply because they didn’t fully understand what that meant and in some cases likely ended up getting a sub-par deal.

“If they were hunting for a home and they saw a ‘For Sale’ sign or online listing their first reaction was usually to call up the listing agent,” he says. “Typically these buyers were not aware that it was the listing agent’s duty to get the best possible price for their seller, so they’re not going to have the buyer’s best interest in mind.”

Buyers would often get into situations where they went through the deal as an “unrepresented buyer,” with the listing real estate agent taking care of the entire deal. Grout says that’s problematic because, in those cases, the agent can’t give the buyer any professional advice on price, and has no obligation or duty to protect their privacy or information.

“That unrepresented person comes in and asks, for example, if the seller would take a slightly lower price, or discloses crucial information about themselves or their motivations. That listing agent now has a duty to take that information back to the seller and tell them ‘here’s absolutely everything I know about this person; this is what they told me; this is what I think we can get out of them.”

Someone with a buyers agent, however, has access to an agent that can provide expertise, will collect and interpret information, make recommendations, ensure a deal is structured in a way that is beneficial to the buyer and negotiate the best possible price.

“It’s basically having someone in your corner to guide you through the process of purchasing real estate and ensuring your best interest is at the forefront of the transaction,” he says.

Grout added that with new rules now in place, it is important to talk to a realtor and understand what the new real estate landscape looks like—and what it means for you.

More information about dual agency and buyer agency is also available on Venture Realty Corp’s website.



The Uber of real jobs

Kelowna is a city brimming with businesses desperate for workers, yet many in the region still struggle to find work that fits their needs and schedule.

For local entrepreneur Daniel Rondeau that’s a problem, especially in an age when anyone can connect to essentially anything with just a few swipes on a smartphone.

That’s why he, with the help of his business partner Alex Saunders, created 925, a new freelancing app that Rondeau says could fundamentally change the way people look for work.

Rondeau created the app in part to honour his late father, who he says always had a tough time pinning down a job.

“After dad passed away I just thought, you can touch a button now and get anything you want, but not a job,” he recalls. “And I wanted to make that happen, for my old man but also people like him whose lives might be a little better because of something like this.”

“We want to make the whole process of finding a job easier. For a lot of people, when they need work they don’t want to wait for weeks to put together a resume and do interviews and eventually get put on the payroll,” he added.

925 streamlines that entire process, taking care of everything from the job search to background checks and payment, so both the business and freelancer can focus on the work and not the tedious details surrounding it.

Rondeau says there are some similar apps out there giving people the chance to earn a little money (think Uber and Skip the Dishes), but making any kind of useful money off the scant commissions those services pay can be tough.

925 Freelancing operates similarly to Skip the Dishes and Uber. Users simply download the app and fill out a short profile telling potential employers a little about themselves.

With their profile done users can immediately begin browsing the available jobs in their area. When they find one they simply click a button to connect to the employer, and it’s off to the races.

Rondeau explains 925 Freelancing has partnered with local employers looking to fill out gaps in their workforce. These aren’t permanent positions, so 925 Freelancing users can pick up as many or as few shifts as they need—anything from a day or two to top op their bank account to more long-term gigs.

The developers have partnered with local businesses eager to fill gaps in their workforce, and the app features work like construction labour, fruit harvesting, shifts at manufacturing plants, restoration companies, and more.

For now, 925 Freelancing is limited to general labour jobs in the Kelowna area, but Rondeau says plans are already in the works to expand, covering more industries across a wider region.

For more information, or to try out the app yourself, check out 925 online.

Next phase of learning

It’s already one of the most impressive schools in the Okanagan, but Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School will take its campus and programming to a new level this year when it undergoes a massive expansion of its Kelowna campus.

Aberdeen Hall began in 2004 as a small organization serving 70 Kindergarten-to-Grade-3 students out of a handful of rented classrooms.

But over the last decade-and-a-half, the school has seen steady expansion as it has cemented its stellar reputation in the community. Today, more than 650 students of all ages attend classes at Aberdeen Hall.

As its enrollment has grown, the school has steadily transformed its campus into a premier educational facility. Over the years it has added a junior hall, an early learning centre, a great hall, as well as other improvements.

Now, it's taking the next step—and building something truly spectacular.

As Aberdeen’s director of development Sean Ayers explains, the school’s continued success has seen it reach the limits of its teaching space. That’s why it's moving forward with a Phase V expansion that will see it add 11,000 square feet of new facilities to its campus.

Included in the project will be an impressive, 130-seat teaching theatre, a much-anticiapted gym studio, and 10 state-of-the-art teaching spaces.

“The very best education is made possible through the very best facilities,” Ayers says. “Rarely are we awarded the opportunity to make such a direct and dramatic impact on a community, and that’s exactly what we are doing.”

Ayers explains that the staff at Aberdeen Hall see first-hand the tremendous advantages an inspiring, purpose-built facility brings.

Along with creating a more flexible educational environment, the Phase V expansion will allow the school to bring thought leaders from around the world to the Kelowna campus through cutting-edge audio-visual equipment.

It will supercharge the school’s athletic programmes with better equipment and more space for physical education, as well as add a library and research centre for the entire student body to enjoy.

By drawing on the latest in empirically proven methodologies for teaching and learning, Ayers says the school’s reputation for individualized programming, passionate teachers, and dedicated parents has lead to continued growth.

He encouraged anyone interested in learning more about Aberdeen Hall, touring the new campus, or enrollment to visit Aberdeen Hall online or reach out to him personally.


Hope for home ownership

There’s a patch of land in Kelowna, snuggled next to Munson Pond in the city’s Mission neighbourhood, that could very well be one of the last hopes for residents yearning for a chance to one day own their own home.

If you’ve been by recently you will have seen things starting to change there, as workers prepare the land for what could be one of Kelowna’s most important developments.

It’s called Osprey Landing, and if the developer has his way its 48 energy-efficient homes will soon help a lucky group of buyers finally own their own homes.

Helmut Pastrick, the chief economist for Central 1 Credit Union, has calculated housing prices in the Okanagan will more than double in the next 25 years. That, he said, will mean a significant shift in the housing market as more and more people get priced out of the market and are forced to rent.

With the prospect of home ownership starting to slip away, many who call Kelowna home are desperately seeking an affordable way into the housing market that still provides the quality home they desire.

Steve Shoranick and the team behind Osprey Landing believe their development will be one of the last to offer that.

Osprey Landing sits beside Munson Pond, at Burtch Road, and is built to the “legendary quality” the Munson Park Development Corporation has become known for.

The stylish complex features 48 energy-efficient homes built with an eye carefully cast to the living experience many expect from the Mission.

Quartz countertops; European-style cabinetry; spacious bathrooms; sizable balconies; and bright, comfortable designs will make Osprey homes a joy to live in. Shoranick’s commitment to value, meanwhile, means people will actually be able to afford them.

Shoranick has decades of experience creating homes and says his goal has always been to give his homeowners the best value for every dollar they spend.

These are more than just words. Shoranick challenges anyone looking for a new home to check out Osprey Landing and compare its value to anyone else’s. He’s confident, he says, Osprey homes will come out on top.

Shoranick encourages anyone interested to act quickly because only a handful of each type of unit is available, so the longer they wait the fewer options they will have.

Everything they need to know, he says, is available at the Osprey Landing presentation centre at 3090 Burtch Rd., or by registering online. The presentation centre is open seven days a week, Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sundays and holidays starting at noon.

The centre can be reached at 250-469-2127.

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