News and notes from across the very broad real estate landscape:

Real estate ad is a ‘shoe-in’

Last year, the Canadian Real Estate Association — Canada’s equivalent of the National Association of Realtors — created a fairly traditional television ad that focused on the benefits of using a real estate agent to sell your house. Now, the trade group is counting on Mother Goose.

CREA has begun airing a humorous ad featuring a white-haired "Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe," who explains, in a heavy accent — with hordes of little kids at the breakfast table, getting ready for school, etc., in the background — how her real estate agent helped make life better for her.

"My Realtor listened to what was important to me, like schools in the area, and then he found us this place. I love it here, and so do my kids," she explains to the
TV audience.

The camera then pans to the new place, which is — quite obviously, and probably much to her neighbors’ disdain — a very large shoe.

(No mention of whether she "whipped (the children) all soundly and put them to bed.")


‘Hokie’ has its day in court?

The Roanoke Times reported that last fall, Virginia Tech sued a Blacksburg, Va., real estate company for using the word "Hokie" in its name. Now the real estate company has countersued, claiming that the university, based in Blacksburg, has perpetrated a fraud on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The Times reported that the college sued Hokie Real Estate in October, claiming that in using the term "Hokie" (the nickname of the school’s sports teams), it is infringing its exclusive right to the trademark.

A lawyer for the real estate company told the Times that its new lawsuit asserts that the university’s trademark application contains inaccuracies about the use of the Hokies term and asks the court to strip the school of its Hokies trademark, among other things.

The international report

Brazil, with an emerging economy that is being watched worldwide, has "real estate fever" that bears uncomfortable comparisons with what was seen in the U.S. a few years, ago, according to a report from Reuters.

Although the country lacks a gauge of home prices nationwide, residential property values in Rio de Janeiro have risen 99 percent since 2008, with Sao Paolo not far behind at 81 percent, the news service said.

The real estate market in Christchurch, New Zealand, has come "almost to a standstill" in the wake of the earthquake that shook the city on Feb. 22, according to the New Zealand Herald.

The newspaper said local housing-industry experts expected that some suburbs were likely to be left as "virtual residential wastelands, with few people willing to return to live with them." They predicted suburbs farther from the city center and closer to the coastline would become more sought-after than they had been in the past.

Pricing it right

Goddard, Kan., real estate agent Jamey Blubaugh answered the call to "Come on down!" — and went away with more than $26,000 in goodies as the "Showcase Showdown" winner on a recent episode of "The Price is Right."

Among other prizes, Blubaugh won a washer and dryer, sailboat, underwater cameras, and a vacation on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, according to the Wichita Eagle newspaper.

Blubaugh, who was taped on the show in February, had a party for about 100 supporters in his Keller Williams Real Estate office on the morning the show aired.

Reports from the ranks:

The number of real estate licenses issued annually in the state of Florida has plummeted by about 75 percent since the market began to collapse there. Licenses issued declined from about 47,000 in 2005 to 11,700 in 2010, according to the Miami Today newspaper.

Portland business journal

The number of agents renewing their memberships with the Portland (Ore.) Metropolitan Association of Realtors for 2011 declined by 9 percent from the year before, according to the Portland Business Journal.

The organization said 5,685 members had renewed, which is 565 fewer than in 2010. The current number reflects the group’s size prior to 2004, when average membership was 5,641, the publication said.

Gotham City, it’s not

Homes that have gone into foreclosure and sit unoccupied often suffer many indignities. However, a foreclosed house in Tifton, Ga., has more than its share of problems — perhaps 20,000 more.

The house, in the town’s historic district, has been taken over by about 20,000 Mexican free-tailed bats, which have filled the interior and exterior walls with guano, according to a representative of an animal-removal service, who described the accumulated bat waste as a "cocktail of pathogens."

The Tifton Gazette reported that the house has been unoccupied (by humans) for more than a decade; city officials recently declared the house unfit for human habitation until the bats are gone. (The animal-removal service will install one-way valves that will let the bats leave but will block their return to the house, the paper said.)

The paper quoted a local real estate agent as saying she had a buyer who is interested in the foreclosed home, which is reportedly owned by a lender in California.

The clearance rack

Maine went on sale last week.

The Maine Association of Realtors held a weeklong "clearance event" through April 3, advertising $10,000 off participating homes.

Bangor television station WLBZ reported about 750 homeowners had agreed to lower their asking prices for the promotional event.

More taxes, please

About four dozen homeowners in Saline County, Kan., are complaining that the assessed value of their properties is too low.

No, April Fools’ Day is over. The Salina Journal reported that Saline County Assessor Rod Broberg recently told county commissioners that about 50 property owners had appeared at informal hearings and asked his office to increase their properties’ assessed values, on which their property taxes are based.

He called that number "unprecedented," explaining that such requests usually number one or two a year, according to the newspaper.

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