Why did you get into real estate and what did you do in your pre-real estate life?
To be completely transparent, I got into real estate because of a relative who is extremely successful in the business. I was in my late twenties and had just met my future wife. I needed to do something more than bartending. The hours sucked and the lifestyle of being a night owl and waking up in the afternoon, hardly ever seeing the sun was not for me anymore. So, I took the real estate course. Failed the first phase because I didn't take it seriously. Got another job bartending. Got sick of it after 2 weeks. Redid the first phase and here I am almost 20 years later.
What do you love most above what you do? What is the most rewarding thing about it? Etc.
The thing I like most about being a real estate agent is the flexibility of the schedule. I am not a morning person and I am not wired to be in an office environment. I need to be out on the road in an ever-changing environment, and real estate does that for me. As for the business of real estate, I get a true sense of accomplishment when I find a really great deal for a first-time home buyer and can negotiate the price and terms in their favour. This doesn't sound that exhilarating, but when they have lived there for a few years and it's time to sell, I get to witness just how much money I helped them make.
What is the best advice someone gave you that you can share with other agents?
The best advice I've ever heard was "spend time in the market, rather than try and time the market". I'm paraphrasing but it is true and I tell this to all of my home buyers. I think it's ridiculous to get so immersed in their so-called real estate investment gurus' advice about when is the best day on the best month of the total lunar cycle to offer on a property in order to maximize your investment. Please. If you're buying a home, it's just that. A home. I find some home buyers get confused that your home becomes a part of your overall investment portfolio but being stubborn and not looking at the big picture, in the long run, will cost you more than many may realize. Whether it's a condo or a house, buy one that you can afford as soon as you can. Of course, if the property is a piece of trash, I'm here to tell you that. That is where some people get into trouble with real estate, they buy a bad house in a less than desirable area, or pay too much for one.
What is something you know now, that wish you knew when you first started your career in real estate? This could be a strategy, advice, anything.
Something I wish I had learned earlier in my real estate career was to not get caught up in the whole "real estate agents need to drive a fancy car" bull crap. Drive a good-looking car, yes, but don't think it has to be a luxury car.
Your best advice for a Toronto home buyer? OR Seller? OR both?
My best advice to home buyers was mentioned above. Get into the market as soon as you can. You'll thank me in 5 years and give me hugs and kisses in 10 when you see how much you've gained from simply living in your place rather than renting someone else's. For home sellers, I would say interview a few agents before deciding who to work with, and don't just assume that the self-professed "#1 agent" is the best choice. In my experience, they tend to be the agents that simply want to get a deal done and provide very little service. Any time I've negotiated what I consider a good deal for my buyers is when the "top agent" is representing the home sellers. They always seem to be in a rush to get the offer signed and don't do much in terms of negotiating and standing firm with their list prices.
Can you recall one of your proudest/most memorable moments as an agent?
My most memorable moment was helping a young person buy their first condo in downtown Toronto. I negotiated hard and saved her $30,000 off the list price. 2 months later, once the property had closed and I got paid, I received a letter from another brokerage stating that my client was under contract to them and they are taking me to the real estate ethics council for the commissions. That day in the real estate council changed my view of the industry. I lost the case even though my client provided emails from the other agent telling her she should just rent a place rather than buy because she won't find anything in her price range. I couldn't believe it. I had to pay the other company all of the commission I had earned because their agent had a contract that they decided they didn't want to fulfill with my client and told her so. To this day, it leaves me bitter towards most other agents and is the main reason why I do business the way I do today. I will never be like that agent. Pure sleaze.
Can you recall the strangest/most bizarre moments or stories in your time working as an agent?
The strangest thing that ever happened to me as an agent happened in The Junction. The Junction was not a good place back in 2007 and I had an appointment to look through a house prior to bringing my client through because it was a fixer-upper. The agent needed to be there to open the door and let me in rather than have a key box on the door. It was raining hard that day and the agent arrived on the TTC. When the door was opened for me, the agent stayed outside, under his umbrella. I told him he was more than welcome to come in because I was only previewing it. He said he was ok waiting outside. The house was a dump. It had disgusting-looking mattresses everywhere, stains on the ceilings that I hoped were not blood and it stunk like burnt hair and wet dog. I was inside for maybe two minutes. I didn't even bother going to the basement (I was too afraid, to be honest). I thanked the agent and got in my car and left. As I was heading East on the Gardner, I thought I saw something small jump onto my dashboard. I thought it was one of those tiny jumping spiders so didn't worry. Then I felt an itch on my inner thigh. Then another on my ankle. I looked down and saw many tiny things jumping. Fleas! Luckily my wife was home. I had her meet me outside with a garbage bag. I stripped on the front porch (didn't care who saw), threw my clothes in the bag, and ran upstairs to the shower. I will never forget that day.
Your favorite neighbourhood/s in the city and why?
My favourite neighbourhood is West Rouge. It is a great combination of 50s-style bungalows, modern subdivision homes, and impressive custom-built houses. There is a Go station, TTC stops, and you can get to the 401 easily. The beach is a ten-minute walk and the Rouge Urban National Park is amazing to explore.
Your favorite restaurant, café or thing to do in the City?
My favourite thing to do in the city is to see a concert. What can I tell you? I'm a simple man with simple needs.
My favourite restaurant is 7 Numbers on the Danforth. My wife and I had our wedding rehearsal dinner there, and the Agnello Brasato is orgasm-inducing deliciousness.
Why did you choose Blue Door and how does BDR support your business?
I chose Blue Door Realty because the broker, Dimitri, actually has interest in helping me be successful. All of the other brokerages I've worked at could give two you-know-whats about their agents. They claim to have training and mentors that will help you to become successful, but it's nothing more than corporate jargon and canned letters that you're expected to read to your friends and family hoping they'll do business with you.
What do you think sets this brokerage apart and how does that help your clients?
There are marketing pieces in place at Blue Door Realty that I wish were around when I first broke into the business because I wouldn't have had to learn on the job.
Anything else you’d like people to know about you? One interesting fact about you that you’d like to share?
I am not the top-selling agent in a neighbourhood and I am not the agent professing to help buy your dream home. There are 60,000 other Toronto real estate agents that will tell you that. My business is based on more than 80 percent of referrals from satisfied clients. I’ve spent two decades excelling in the competitive landscape of Toronto real estate and worked behind the scenes with hundreds of other real estate agents. My secret sauce, and the reason for the 5-star client reviews, is directness, transparency, stylish home staging and compelling listing marketing, expert negotiations, and the ability to keep people and deals on track — calmly and professionally. This ability is part natural instinct and part commitment to advanced, ongoing training and education. A lot of what agents do sound similar on paper. What varies (significantly) is how they do it and the resulting outcomes for their clients.
On a personal note, I care very deeply about my client’s individual situation, goals, and dreams. Toronto real estate is exciting, challenging, and often exhilarating. It’s not for the faint of heart!