Calgary real estate agent’s sexy billboard stirs controversy

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

Everyone knows that when it comes to advertising, sex sells. But a Calgary real-estate agent who's trying to extend that maxim to flogging houses is under fire from her colleagues and the father of a murdered agent.

A billboard on a busy commuter route for Re/Max agent Diana Arvatescu shows the attractive blond giving passing motorists a come-hither look with the line "Let me take you home. It's gorgeous inside."

Some found the tone of the ad disturbing.

“I was very surprised to see something so sexually inviting and provocative,” Mary Valentich, a social work professor at the University of Calgary, told Global TV Calgary News. “It's a misguided effort to communicate selling houses—she’s selling herself and I don't think women need to do that.”

Doug Firby of the Calgary Real Estate Board agrees.

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“Female realtors need to be cognisant of potential risks,” Firby told Global. “We offer advice on what we think are best practices. Do we think this is a best practice? Not at all.”

Perhaps most disturbed of all is Jeff Buziak. His daughter, real-estate agent Lindsay Buziak, was murdered almost exactly five years ago while showing a house in the Victoria suburb of Saanich by herself. The Feb. 2, 2008, killing remains unsolved and her father, along with family and friends, held a memorial march on the anniversary last Saturday.

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“It scares me that anyone would want to put an invitation out there,” Buziak, who advocates for improved safety measures for real-estate agents, told Global.

“As subtle as it might be or humorous as some might think it is, I do believe it's an invitation, opening the door for something else that is not real estate.”

Arvastescu, whose Facebook page features her posed reclining in a silvery minidress and knee-high boots, said she stands by the ad and supporters told Global it was a clever way of standing out from her competitors.

Officials with Re/Max said they don't endorse the ad and said they expressed reservations about it before the billboard went up.

If Arvastescu's goal for the billboard was to get more attention, she certainly succeeded. Does this up the ante for her competition?