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Real estate, client relations among WE Charity's path forward: Experts – BNN

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TORONTO – As sponsors cut ties with WE Charity and it faces scrutiny from MPs, donors and the Canadian public, experts say the organization must tackle the question of how to move forward financially.

The organization, which stepped away from running a $900-million student volunteer program for the federal government amid concerns about how the contract was awarded, has spent the last few weeks laying off workers, cancelling their star-studded stadium events and launching a restructuring of the 25-year-old youth empowerment charity.

Appearing before a parliamentary committee earlier this week, WE co-founder Craig Kielburger said recent criticism is “killing” the organization, which is “being raked over the coals.”

A number of sponsors including Royal Bank of Canada, Loblaw Companies Ltd., Good Life Fitness and Virgin Atlantic Airways have ended their relationships with the charity in what WE called a mutual agreement. DHL and WestJet Airlines Ltd. have said they are considering following suit.

Caroline Riseboro, the president and chief executive of Trillium Health Partners Foundation, said charities going through a scandal should get in touch with their most loyal donors and be candid about what is going on.

She wouldn’t comment on WE specifically, but recommends that any charity facing scrutiny and financial troubles admit when they are wrong and perhaps, do a governance review or consider some painful departures of top executives.

Some of those steps are already underway at the charity.

WE has announced it will reimburse the government for all funds it received for the volunteer program and waive costs it already incurred as it prepared to administer the program. It is also launching a formal organizational review and said it will hire a chief risk and compliance officer.

“By making these changes within our organization,” WE said in a statement, “we believe we can move forward to the next 25 years … focused on what matters most: the communities and youth we serve.”

As it works to shore up relationships with its donors and partners, there’s no doubt WE can survive on some of the assets it already has, said Mark Blumberg, a lawyer at Blumberg Segal LLP specializing in non-profit and charity law.

WE Charity’s T3010 financial forms it filed to the federal government show it owns $43,724,082 in land and buildings outside Canada last year and had $6,288,180 in capital assets outside the country.

“They’re sitting on $45 million (in real estate). They could probably last for another 200 years,” Blumberg said.

“They can cut their costs and they are already letting go of a lot of people.”

Real estate is a simple way to tackle money issues in troubled times, but not all charities have properties, said Blumberg, who is behind charitydata.ca, a tool offering transparency around the finances of registered Canadian charities.

His firm analyzed 84,181 T3010 financial filings registered charities made in 2017 and found their biggest income source was governments, which gave $184 billion to philanthropic organizations in 2017.

Most government money goes to universities and hospitals, he said. (Using a different metric, WE said less than one per cent of its operating budget comes from government.) That means other charities tend to focus on revenues streams like gifts-in-kind or donations, he said.

For WE, that may be easier said than done.

It’s unclear whether sponsors that have cut ties with WE plan to return, and other donors may be hard to come by at the moment.

“If there’s a huge cloud over a group or there’s a lot of discussion about a group and some of it’s not positive, the last thing you’re going to be running to do is to give them money until that cloud has been dealt with and settled and there’s more information,” Blumberg said.

Riseboro said if you’re a charity who received a donation to cover real estate, you can try to go back to that donor and ask to reallocate restricted funds to keep you afloat.

However, reaching out to any sponsor or donor again will take some due diligence and extra effort, said Riseboro, who raised more than $2 billion in her 20 year career and was previously a chairwoman of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

“You can go back to sponsors, but you’ve got to show that you’ve made the necessary changes at your organization,” she said.

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Kelowna real estate agent fined $6500 for 'misleading' website – Kelowna Capital News

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A Kelowna real estate agent has been fined $6,500 for creating a website that advertised services he was not licensed to provide.

According to a July decision from the Real Estate Council of B.C. (RECBC), James Kevin Adams, an agent who used to work with local real estate firm Sage Executive Group, created a website called “K-O Properties” in 2017. The site advertised property management services around the Okanagan and Kootenay regions.

In its decision, the council called the website “false and/or misleading” as neither Adams nor anybody else affiliated with the site was licensed to provide such services in B.C.

Adams said the K-O Properties site was a working prototype, which he planned to have fully-running only after he was licensed to provide strata and rental property management services. He argued he only published the site to “work out the bugs” and “see how it would work by having [his] friends interact with it.”

The web designer Adams hired to build the website said Adams “most likely was not aware that [the website] was live.”

While the council said no evidence existed of Adams actually providing such services through K-O Properties, it still deemed his actions constituted professional misconduct.

Adams signed a consent order on July 16, agreeing to pay a $5,000 fine and a further $1,500 in fees to the council. He also agreed to complete a real estate and trading services remedial education course at his own expense.

READ MORE: Class resumption raises challenges for Central Okanagan schools

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


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Real estate market in Durham advantageous for sellers during coronavirus pandemic – Global News

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Industry leaders are reporting a resurgence in the real estate market in Durham after the region took an initial hit in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Vicki Sweeney, president of the Durham Region Association of Realtors, if you’re looking to sell your home in Durham, now is the time.

“The pandemic hit and obviously our numbers went right down,” Sweeney said. “But now we’re seeing unprecedented numbers for a summer market.”

According to housing reports released by the association, in July there were 1,583 homes sold at a record-high average of $709, 640.

Read more:
Coronavirus — Home sales surge outside of Toronto as residents seek more rural life

This is a notable difference compared to sales in April, when only 513 homes were sold at an average of $612,563. What’s more, in July, properties only lasted on the market for an average of 16 days compared to 23 days this time last year.

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Sweeney says right now the competition is fierce for buyers, with sellers getting multiple offers. She says the sudden increase in sales could be due to a number of factors.

“I think there’s also another trend happening right now, where before living in (Toronto’s) downtown core was important for avoiding long commutes,” she said.

“Since COVID, we’ve had to adapt to the online platforms, and people have realized, if they can work from home they don’t have to live in the downtown core.”

Mortgage brokers say another reason for the spike in interest for homes in Durham is a significant drop in mortgage rates, which currently hover around two per cent.

Read more:
Coronavirus — Real estate market in Ontario’s cottage country experiencing boom

Mortgage broker Craig Howie says that while the current state of the market has posed a challenge for first-time home buyers, it’s proven to be even more difficult for those who are self-employed.

“Previously, lenders would look at a two-year average and look at what their self-employed income was,” Howie said.

“Now they’re looking at whether or not the job is going to be feasible, if it’s going to be around in the next couple of years because of everything that’s gone on with the pandemic.”

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Howie adds that with the value of homes going up, there have also been difficulties when it comes to appraisals.

Read more:
Controversial Pickering, Ont. condo proposal draws hundreds to open house

“When a lender is, say, lending 95 per cent of the value of that home, there’s concern that maybe the value isn’t there and some appraisals aren’t coming in the way we need them to be.”

Realtors in Durham say Clarington is currently the region’s largest hotspot for buying homes.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Huge month for Chilliwack real estate in July – Chilliwack Progress – Chilliwack Progress

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Last month was the biggest month for real estate in the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB) by dollar volume since the housing sales boom of 2016 and 2017.

For the first time since June 2017, more than $200 million in residential homes traded hands, that’s up 48 per cent from $136 million year-over-year and four per cent from the $193.3 million a month prior.

The month prior, June, saw a large surge in single family home sales, something that continued in July with 195 houses sold for an average price of $672,645 up 9.6 per cent from the July 2019 single family home sale price of $613,826.

• READ MORE: Single family home sales in Chilliwack surge in June – June 2020

• READ MORE: Chilliwack home sales numbers moving in the right direction: Realtors – July 2019

The average price of all homes sold in the CADREB area – which includes Chilliwack, Cultus Lake, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs, Hope, Boston Bar and the rural areas in between – was $570,087 up 12 per cent year over year from the $509,521 in July 2019.

The average of the 96 townhouses sold was $458,756, and the average of the 44 apartments sold was $327,792.

In July, 21 homes sold over the $1 million mark and another 26 sold over the $800,000 price point.


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