What are you doing while you're waiting for economic good times to roll again? You may not have this amount of free time on hand again for a while. Are you using it constructively to leap ahead of the crowd when it matters?

"Business is slow" is a common response in real estate and mortgage offices, even where markets are showing renewed signs of life. Are you investing that available "slow time" in ensuring you're completely up to date on what's going on in your industry? Are you familiar with government programs relevant to your client base? If not, why not? Maybe the economy is not as slow as you think and it's just you and your attitude that are lagging.

Note to Professionals: There's a lot going on out there!

  • White roofs as a climate solution ... What? How up-to-date is your knowledge of construction advances? For instance, white roofs were in the news recently as a climate control solution. Do you understand the issues?

A recent article in the Journal of Commerce, Western Canada's Construction Newspaper, quoted Dr. Ralph M. Paroli, Director of the Building Envelope and Structure Program for the National Research Council Institute for Research in Construction on two key points:

  1. "Clarifying the [roofing] terminology will help to give building owners and the construction industry the confidence to try these technologies," said Paroli. "The first step in sorting out roofing options requires the understanding of four basic terms: sustainable roofing, high-performance roofs, green roofs, and white or reflective roofs."
  2. "White roofs have been around for more than 30 years," says Paroli. "They reduce building energy demand in summer and help mitigate the urban heat island effect. Although many such roofs are white, there are new pigments being developed that are also reflective, so they don't need to be any particular colour."

Media still report how tight money is for financing

Are you aware of government programs which may offer choices for borrowers and buyers who would still like to invest in real estate?

For instance, there may be some for whom the federal housing agency's Mortgage Loan Insurance Program for 1-4 unit rental Mortgage Loan Insurance 1-4 unit rental properties will provide practical choice when purchasing or refinancing a rental property. Have you shared this information with prospects and clients for whom this Program may offer solutions or opportunities?

  • Where's all the government spending going to end up?

One recent Industry Canada announcement does little to calm fears that spending may not be the solution it was touted to be...

As part of Canada's Economic Action Plan, C$225 million was provided to Industry Canada over three years to develop and implement a strategy to extend broadband coverage to as many unserved and underserved households as possible, beginning in 2009-2010. To discover who feels underserved, Industry Canada is asking Canadians and Internet Service Providers (ISP) to add their internet service data to online maps.

  • How much of the C$225 million is this costing?
  • Is this random effort considered decision-making research?
  • Is this program aimed at broadband at any cost or is practicality an issue?

According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), 7% of Canadian households lacked broadband (1.5Mbps) access in 2008. In rural areas, that figure was closer to 19%.

Industry Canada (IC) considers broadband internet access for small rural and remote communities as "essential infrastructure for participating in today's economy, as it enables citizens, businesses and institutions to access information, services and opportunities that could otherwise be out of reach." IC believes that closing the broadband gap between urban and rural Canada will be a sound economic investment, and will provide long term opportunity for rural households, businesses and community institutions to make use of the internet at levels similar to many of their urban counterparts. What's the situation in your community or selling territory?

Does every one know about this survey? Are all the ISPs responding? If you are underserved by internet access, how can you visit Industry Canada's "Tell Us About Your Internet Access" and contribute to their maps?

Be warned, IC cautions: "By completing the feedback form you are providing useful information to Industry Canada. It does not, however, necessarily mean that Internet services will be extended to all areas that currently lack broadband access."

  • Are you taking advantage of tax-spending that maintains governments' online presence?

Here's one more resource for your list: Communications Research Centre Canada (CRC) has a website that is primarily designed to help members of the media. However, CRC welcomes you, too: "It can also be a great tool for anyone else looking for quick descriptors, contact information or publications."

When the economy is in full swing, who has time to think? Why not get a lot of that thinking done now. Perhaps that's the energy that we need to drive the economy?

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