The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Lawyers for Donald Trump defended him against impeachment Friday by accusing Democrats of waging a campaign of “hatred” against the former president and manipulating his words in the lead-up to the deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol. Their presentation included a blizzard of their own selectively edited fiery comments from Democrats. In hours of arguments, the Trump legal team characterized the impeachment case as a politically motivated “witch hunt” — an outgrowth, they said, of years of efforts to drive him from office — and they sought to reduce the case to Trump’s use of a single word, “fight,” in a speech preceding the Jan. 6 riot. They played dozens of clips showing Democrats, some of them senators now serving as jurors, using the same word to energize supporters in speeches railing against Trump. “You didn’t do anything wrong” in using the word, Trump attorney David Schoen told the senators. “But, please, stop the hypocrisy.” The Trump defence team left out that what Trump was doing in telling his supporters to “fight like hell” was to undermine a national election after every state had verified its results, after the Electoral College had affirmed them and after nearly every election lawsuit filed by Trump and his allies had been rejected in court. Instead, they contended, he was telling the crowd to support primary challenges against his adversaries and to press for sweeping election reform — something he was entitled to do. The case is speeding toward a conclusion and near-certain acquittal, perhaps as soon as Saturday. The defence arguments and the quick pivot to the Democrats’ own words deflected from the central question of the trial — whether Trump incited the assault on the Capitol — and instead aimed to place impeachment managers and Trump adversaries on the defensive. After a two-day effort by Democrats to sync up Trump’s words to the violence that followed, including through raw and emotive video footage, defence lawyers suggested that Democrats have typically engaged in the same overheated rhetoric as Trump. But in trying to draw that equivalency, the defenders minimized Trump’s monthslong, efforts to undermine the election results and his urging of followers to do the same. Democrats say that long campaign, rooted in a “big lie,” laid the groundwork for the mob that assembled outside the Capitol and stormed inside. Five people died. Without Trump, who in a speech at a rally preceding the violence told supporters to “fight like hell,” the violence would never have happened, Democrats say. “And so they came, draped in Trump’s flag, and used our flag, the American flag, to batter and to bludgeon,” Rep. Madeleine Dean, one of the impeachment managers, said Thursday as she choked back emotion.” On Friday, as defence lawyers repeated their own videos over and over, some Democrats chuckled and whispered among themselves as almost all of their faces flashed on the screen. Some passed notes. Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal threw up his hands, apparently amused, when his face came on the screen. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar rolled her eyes. Most Republicans watched intently. During a break, some joked about the videos and others said they were a distraction or a “false equivalence” with Trump’s behaviour. “Well we heard the word ‘fight’ a lot,” said Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett said it felt like the lawyers were “erecting straw men to then take them down rather than deal with the facts.” “Show me any time that the result was that one of our supporters pulled someone out of the crowd, and then we said, ‘That’s great, good for you,’” said Delaware Sen. Chris Coons. Trump’s defenders told senators that Trump was entitled to dispute the 2020 election results and that his doing so did not amount to inciting the violence. They sought to turn the tables on prosecutors by likening the Democrats’ questioning of the legitimacy of Trump’s 2016 win to his challenge of his election loss. When Trump implored supporters to “fight like hell” on Jan. 6, he was speaking figuratively, they said. “This is ordinarily political rhetoric that is virtually indistinguishable from the language that has been used by people across the political spectrum for hundreds of years,” said Michael van der Veen, another Trump lawyer. “Countless politicians have spoken of fighting for our principles.” The defence team did not dispute the horror of the violence, painstakingly reconstructed by impeachment managers earlier in the week, but said it had been carried out by people who had “hijacked” for their own purposes what was supposed to be a peaceful event and had planned violence before Trump had spoken. “You can’t incite what was going to happen,” he said. Acknowledging the reality of the January day is meant to blunt the visceral impact of the House Democrats’ case and quickly pivot to what Trump’s defenders see as the core — and more winnable — issue of the trial: Whether Trump actually incited the riot. The argument is likely to appeal to Republican senators who want to be seen as condemning the violence but without convicting the president. Anticipating defence efforts to disentangle Trump’s rhetoric from the rioters’ actions, the impeachment managers spent days trying to fuse them together through a reconstruction of never-been-seen video footage alongside clips of the president’s monthslong urging of his supporters to undo the election results. Democrats, who concluded their case Thursday, used the rioters’ own videos and words from Jan. 6 to try to pin responsibility on Trump. “We were invited here,” said one Capitol invader. “Trump sent us,” said another. “He’ll be happy. We’re fighting for Trump.” The prosecutors’ goal was to cast Trump not as a bystander but rather as the “inciter in chief” who spread election falsehoods, then encouraged supporters to come challenge the results in Washington and fanned the discontent with rhetoric about fighting and taking back the country. The Democrats also are demanding that he be barred from holding future federal office. But Trump’s lawyers say that goal only underscores the “hatred” Democrats feel for Trump. Throughout the trial, they showed clips from Democrats questioning the legitimacy of his presidency and suggesting as early as 2017 that he should be impeached. “Hatred is at the heart of the house managers’ fruitless attempts to blame Donald Trump for the criminal acts of the rioters based on double hearsay statements of fringe right wing groups based on no real evidence other than rank speculation,” van der Veen said. Trump’s lawyers note that in the same Jan. 6 speech he encouraged the crowd to behave “peacefully,” and they contend that his remarks — and his general distrust of the election results — are all protected under the First Amendment. Democrats strenuously resist that assertion, saying his words weren’t political speech but rather amounted to direct incitement of violence. The defence lawyers also returned to arguments made Tuesday that the trial itself is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office. The Senate rejected that contention as it voted to proceed with the trial. On Thursday, with little hope of conviction by the required two-thirds of the Senate, Democrats delivered a graphic case to the American public, describing in stark, personal terms the terror they faced that day — some of it in the very Senate chamber where senators now are sitting as jurors. They used security video of rioters searching menacingly for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, smashing into the building and engaging in bloody, hand-to-hand combat with police. They displayed the many public and explicit instructions Trump gave his supporters — long before the White House rally that unleashed the deadly Capitol attack as Congress was certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory. Eric Tucker, Lisa Mascaro And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Vancouver real estate: Home sales up 73% year-over-year, market shifting in favour of sellers – CTV News Vancouver
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says the market is heating up so fast that home sales in the region doubled between January and February and have climbed by more than 70 per cent since last year.
The board says February sales in the B.C. region totalled 3,727, a 73.3 per cent increase from the 2,150 sales recorded the year before and a 56 per cent spike from the 2,389 homes sold the month before.
February sales were so strong that REBGV says they were 42.8 per cent higher than the month’s 10-year sales average.
The board says the region saw 5,048 new listings in February, up from 4,002 the year prior.
The MLS home price index composite benchmark for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver reached just over $1 million in February, a 6.8 per cent increase.
REBGV says the market is shifting in favour of sellers because housing supply listings aren’t keeping up with the demand and competition among homebuyers is pushing up prices.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2021.
Real estate sales, prices surge amid strong demand, low inventory; 'mobs' of buyers – Times Colonist
“Mobs” of buyers are viewing homes for sale across the region, putting in offers well above asking prices and waiving inspections as the real estate market continues surging during the pandemic and traditional slower winter months.
Home sales of all types hit a record 863 during February, smashing the previous mark of 780 in 1992, and sailing past the 772 sales in 2016.
And prices are climbing.
The average price of a single-family home in the capital region breezed past the $1-million mark in June as the inventory of available homes for sale withered.
February’s single-family home average price hit $1.16 million — up from $888,000 during the same month a year ago. Last month’s average was beefed up by the sale of 30 properties that sold for more than $2 million — with 12 of those selling for asking prices and above, said Dustin Miller of 8X Real Estate in Victoria.
He said an equestrian farm in Central Saanich listed for $6 million went $155,000 over asking and there were three condominium sales for more than $2 million each, including the penthouse at Hudson Place One, the tallest building in Victoria.
The Victoria Real Estate Board said the benchmark value — or median price without the high and low end of sales — for a single-family home in the region’s core municipalities during February increased year-over-year by 9% to $948,200, a 1.7% increase from the previous month.
The benchmark value for a condominium in the core remained close to last year’s value at $525,400.
Real estate board president David Langlois said the market is caught between constrained inventory and high demand.
“The good news is that we have seen some stabilization in listings and condo pricing between January and February, but we continue to see huge pressure on single family homes,” said Langlois. “New listings are snapped up as soon as they are listed.”
That’s resulted in pressure on single family homes, where there is significant competition for desirable homes. “And in our marketplace most homes are desirable … and people are competing for properties and pushing prices up.”
There were 1,318 active listings for sale on the board’s Multiple Listing Service at the end of February — 38% fewer than the same period a year ago.
Miller said there are fewer than 400 single-family homes available across the entire system right now. “In a typical year we will see the most amount of inventory go online in April and May, but if the current trend continues, we will see only around half of the number of new listings compared to what was normally seen in the past.”
Kevin Sing of DFH Realty listed a modest, three-bedroom no-step rancher in East Saanich on Thursday for $759,000 and has shown it to nearly 50 prospective buyers over four days. He’s scheduled appointments from dawn until dusk and has received several offers, some unconditional, and several well over the asking price.
Sing said although the federal government’s mortgage stress test has put many younger buyers out of the single-family-home market, empty nesters, older couples who are downsizing or families with students at nearby Camosun College and the University of Victoria are lining up for the East Saanich home.
The demand for real estate seems insatiable, said Sing, and it isn’t just Greater Victoria.
“It’s worldwide,” he said. “I get on regular Zoom calls and everyone is experiencing the same thing, from Manhattan to the Grand Caymans. Unless you’re in a war zone, the demand for housing right now is just ridiculous.
“It’s hard to explain … it seem we have collectively decided [during COVID] that nesting is what we want to do.”
Langlois said the theme for 2021 is going to be inventory — “where does it come from and how much new supply can be approved — so that this situation does not persist.”
“We’ve seen the government attempt to influence the housing market in hopes of dampening the demand for home ownership,” he said. “The foreign buyer tax has changed nothing … our market continues to zoom forward with almost no foreign buyers. The government adjusted mortgage qualification rules, those are absorbed by the market and buyers adjust.”
Langlois said concerns about housing prices and availability should be addressed by supporting new developments in municipalities. “Be vocal with your local council or neighbourhood association,” he said. “These stakeholders hold the power in these negotiations and help to make space in your community. Gentle density and the building of new homes are the only pathway to moderate housing prices in our area.”
Miller said buyers and sellers should expect a competitive trend, including “mob-like numbers of people” showing up to see new listings.
He noted “bully offers” being submitted within hours of a property being listed and the waiving of all buyer protection contingencies such as home inspections.
SoftBank-Backed Compass Real Estate Brokerage Files for IPO – BNN
(Bloomberg) — Compass Inc., a SoftBank-backed company that’s among the largest real estate brokerages in the U.S., filed for an initial public offering, disclosing growing revenue and shrinking losses.
The New York-based startup in its filing Monday listed the size of the offering as $500 million, a placeholder that will change. Compass will disclose further details of the offering, including the size and target price range, in a later filing.
The company lost $270 million on revenue of $3.7 billion last year, compared with a loss of $388 million on revenue of $2.4 billion in 2019, according to its filing.
Compass was founded in 2012 by Robert Reffkin, a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. alumnus who was once Gary Cohn’s chief of staff at the bank, and by Ori Allon, an engineer who had sold previous startups to Google and Twitter Inc. After initially exploring different models, they wound up building a traditional brokerage that invested in tech designed to make agents better. They also spent liberally to poach agents from competitors and roll up smaller brokerages.
By 2019, Compass had raised more than $1.5 billion in capital, including hundreds of millions of dollars from SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund. The company, valued at $6.4 billion, had also grown into the third largest U.S. brokerage with more than $98 billion in deal volume, according to its filing.
Despite its fast growth, Compass’s critics argued it was a traditional real estate brokerage that’s valued like a tech company. Those voices were loud enough that the company’s chief financial officer sent an eight-point memo to employees and agents in October 2019 detailing the ways the company differed from WeWork.
“They say they’re a tech company, and they back it up in the sense that they have hired lots of engineers, who are building and releasing technology,” said Mike DelPrete, a real estate strategist who follows the company. “They’re talking the talk and walking the walk, no question about that. The question is, does it make a difference?”
Compass contends its technology offers agents better and more time-efficient ways to schedule meetings, design marketing materials and communicate with clients. The company has invested heavily in engineers to build artificial intelligence that pulls those tools together, arguing that its innovation is integration.
The offering is being led by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Barclays Plc. Compass plans for its shares to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol COMP.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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