Erin Davis: Welcome to REAL TIME, the podcast for, and about REALTORS®, brought to you by CREA, the Canadian Real Estate Association. I’m your host, Erin Davis, and episode 38 of REAL TIME promises to be a fun and fascinating discussion. We think you’re going to find yourself nodding in agreement, maybe going, “Huh, I never thought of that,” and just enjoying a great chat with two very interesting members of your own Canadian REALTOR® community. That community includes more than 160,000 real estate agents, brokers, and salespeople.
Now on this episode, we get up close and personal with two of them. If you or someone you know is curious as to how to start, grow, and/or sustain a successful career in real estate, there’s a lot to learn from the people immersed in the profession. First up, James Mabey and Chris Peters reflect on how they got their start. Here we go.
Well, it’s so good to have you both here on REAL TIME and we’re going to start with a quick round of introductions. Chris, we will go geographically, start at the east and begin with you. Go ahead.
Chris Peters: Excellent. My name is Chris Peters. I live currently in Halifax. I’m originally from Toronto. I’ve been licensed since 2011. I have been married for 20 years, this year actually it will be. I’ve got two fantastic boys, 14 and 18 years old.
Erin: Wonderful. James, we’re heading west now. There you are in Edmonton.
James Mabey: My name is James Mabey. I am the chair-elect for the Canadian Real Estate Association, but I’m a broker-owner and my husband and I, along with our miniature dachshund RuPaul, live in St. Albert, Alberta. I’ve been licensed since 2005. I’ve been a broker since 2007 and we have four offices in the Greater Edmonton area.
Erin: Okay. Now, since this episode is all about getting your start as a REALTOR®, first off, James, what drew you to the profession?
James: You know what? I am a second-generation REALTOR® and that is both a blessing and a curse, I must say, sometimes. I watched my mom work in real estate while I was finishing off my high school years and so I saw the number of dinners and family events that she, unfortunately, sometimes couldn’t attend or had to run out from, so at least I knew what I was in for, but there was just so much opportunity. When I finished my Bachelor of Commerce at McGill in Montreal, and had decided to move back to Alberta, I just called up my mom one day and I said, “Well, how about we work together?” She was very enthusiastic. That’s how I got here.
Erin: Had there always been signs that you might head into the direction that your mom was, and did she encourage you at any point when you were growing up saying, “You should see how this all works”?
James: It was quite a shock, I think, to her. They knew I was coming back to Alberta. Family was super important to me and so moving back home, that was a default conclusion. I think she’d always seen me as a bit of an entrepreneur, somebody who would run my own business so I guess from that perspective, not a surprise. It wasn’t something she thought was in the cards.
Erin: What did her life, and your family’s life, show you that made it attractive to you?
James: She loved the business. She was very casual with clients but very knowledgeable. When she sat down with people, she was really able to help them with something that was significant, arguably one of the most important financial pieces of somebody’s life. Knowing that just the pride and energy she put into helping people with that, I thought that was something that was very exciting.
Erin: Now, Chris, you and I have a former employer in common and that is Rogers.
Erin: You started back in telecommunication? This is a great story too.
Chris: I worked for Rogers in Toronto for almost 12 years, and then I got headhunted and recruited out to work out east with Eastlink doing something completely different in telecommunications and managing a national team. That was for about six years. I had always been interested in business ownership, as well as real estate. I remember having a conversation, shortly after my father had passed away, with my little sister about if you could do anything, what would you do? I said I wanted to get into real estate.
My dad, he owned four different Midas franchises in the Sudbury area and I always enjoyed that side of being a business owner. It’s not something that you see with young Black men too often and so that was something that he always inspired me with. At the same time, I was also very fearful. My wife at the time was a stay-at-home mom with our young son. To give up secure income, pension benefits, and everything that comes with being an employee was quite scary but at the same time, it was time for me to move on from working at Eastlink, take that leap of faith in myself, and get involved in real estate.
I’ve always enjoyed helping people and being part of people’s lives and doing what I can to assist where needed in my community and real estate seemed like it was the right time for me to get in, get my license, and get moving. My biggest regret, 12 years in now, is that I didn’t start soon enough, that I didn’t have that bit of confidence and drive to take that leap of faith sooner than what I did.
Erin: It’s never too late to start. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, and the next best time is today.
Chris: This is true.
Erin: Let’s talk about landing your first client. What was that experience like? I’ll go back to you, James, on this one.
James: I was a little bit nervous. I was doing an open house, a listing that my mother and business partner had, and a young couple walked in, not too much older than me, which was nice because there’s some built-in confidence there that comes with some similarities. I just started a great conversation with them and they really told me exactly what their goals were in terms of housing. The property seemed to be a good fit for that so shortly after that, I landed my first client and then I was writing my first deal. They got the house and it was just the best experience. The open houses, funny enough, sometimes the old ways are the good way.
Erin: Did your mom give you an ‘attaboy’ or was she surprised at all, or just proud?
James: I think she was proud. I brought home that paperwork and put it in front of her and then we had a glass of wine.
Erin: Wonderful. Chris, tell us about your first client.
Chris: I guess similar to James, the old ways are still the tried and true successful ways. Mine was when I started with my brokerage, mentor and friend of mine, Brad, encouraged me to go out door knocking, which is something I never thought I would end up doing. A gentleman invited us into his home because he was in the process of thinking about selling. He said, “Oh, Chris, you look familiar. You coach one of my sons in soccer.” He says, “You can come on in.”
Thankfully, what I thought was going to be Brad’s experience as a realtor was going to get us that first client, in fact, it was my experience in the community and coaching soccer that got us my first seller client. Then my first buyer client happened a few months later, and that was with a former colleague of mine at Eastlink. She was looking to move communities, so she needed to find a condo that was close by. Funny enough, I moved her into condos in Eastern Passage. That was cool.
Erin: From the stats you need to know to the insight, behind those numbers, CREA.ca has at its fingertips, and therefore yours, the experts to help it all make more sense as you look towards the future. Make it a habit to visit CREA.ca for news and views, blogs, and trends. It’s all there just for you. Now back to CREA board members, Chris Peters, REALTOR® and Atlantic Regional Director, and CREA chair-elect, James Mabey, a broker who manages four offices in the Edmonton area.
Now, you both have multi-dimensional careers and come from, as we’ve heard already, different professional and educational backgrounds. I’ll start with you, James. Did you have a vision of what you wanted your career to look like?
James: This is truly my first career. 23, coming into the business straight out of university, I was having some of my very first career experiences. I studied marketing and communications at McGill University and I was hoping to build my business using those skills. I thought that that was going to be my key to success. What I actually discovered was that the experience of moving across the country and having to reestablish groups of networks and friends and the actual experience of post-secondary education in a different part of the country was more of a contributor to my success because those skills of networking and becoming part of a new community were the actual foundation of my business, and remains so till today. I thought it was going to be one thing, but it turned out to be another.
Erin: It’s like you, Chris, changing lanes and going from telecommunications into real estate. Tell me what your vision was once you decided to take that leap of faith.
Chris: Honestly, I didn’t have a vision, initially. That probably is what allowed me to have a slow start at first, was because I didn’t properly have a vision. I just knew that this was something I could do. I figured that I had strong community connections and I would be able to rely on that. I had good people around me at my brokerage, strong training programs. I thought I knew what it meant to be a business owner just based on watching my dad with his businesses. Lo and behold that I learned that I didn’t know what it meant to be a business owner. Fortunately, I had great people around me and that really started impressing upon me the need to have a vision and the need to have goals because without them you’re going to be lost and you’re going to be wandering around aimlessly for a little bit.
James: That’s so important, Chris, that honesty is coming into it. Setting goals was something that people told me was really important. I didn’t necessarily take the time to really sit down and hone a strategy. It just luckily turned out that hard work is a strategy.
Chris: It is.
James: Now I set goals all the time and I encourage our REALTORS® not just set them, but actually use them as a tool and recalibrate their business as they go through the year based on internal and external factors. I’ve come to appreciate how much goal setting can really influence somebody’s business and help them to get to a faster start. At that time, thankfully, even though hope isn’t a strategy, hard work turned out to be.
Erin: Hope isn’t a strategy. Chris, you had a poli-sci background too. We’ve talked about James’ education in marketing and communication. Did your poli-sci help you out in this at all?
Chris: I would definitely say it did. For me a lot of it comes down to knowing how to talk to people, engaging, again, both on telecommunications and I think a lot of my prior work dealing with customer service, just building those relationships. For me, it’s all about the relationships and everything else is secondary because when you have faith and trust, it’s easy to get the like, but in order to get people to know and trust you, it’s about building those relationships. The political science part of it really was about engaging with different people and coming at things with an open mind and an open perspective and willing to try something new and try something different.
Erin: James, you’ve spoken about this, that you can be confident and you can get your clients to know you, like you, trust you, but you have talked too about the importance of having the skills to back those up. Can we talk about that a little bit?
James: For sure. You have to invest in yourself when you come into this business. You come through a licensing program, you are literally starting your own business. You will only be successful with that if you take the time to learn from the people around you. I felt very empowered because of the peers that were in my office and the people that I was taking cues from in terms of how to build a successful business. Knowing your numbers, understanding the neighborhoods, the actual tangible things that customers and clients are going to ask you about, you have to have those answers. If you don’t have those answers, you have to know where to find them. That’s just as important, I must say.
Take the time and make sure that those pieces of your success are resourced properly. Get the boards and associations that you’re a member of, use their resources, make sure that you take the time to take courses, earn accreditations or designations. Those are fundamentally going to be hugely important in terms of long-term and being able to stay in the business. To me, those are the most important factors.
Erin: Now, Chris, when it comes to know, like, and trust, you’ve got a whole different kind of networking right there in the bag on the field, on the pitch. That’s pretty amazing, the volunteering and being part of your community and allowing that to translate and then enhance your business. Tell us about your different kind of networking.
Chris: I always came at it from an organic perspective. I’ve always been a believer of: if you want your voice to be heard, you need to be at the table. If you don’t think your voice is not being spoken to, well, then you need to make yourself be the one at the table. When I had my first son, my wife and I were ecstatic. Of course, from a biracial background, I wanted to make sure that his voice was heard. At the time, it wasn’t a very diverse community, so I always enjoyed volunteering. I’ve been volunteering and coaching since probably the age of 15-16 years old.
I just took it upon myself to get involved with my son’s school. Then I got involved with the local soccer club. For me, it just was something I had a lot of fun doing. I liked being able to contribute. That’s the way we make our communities better is by being part of them, and if there’s something that you don’t like in it, then be part of that chain. When I got into real estate, people already knew, liked, and trusted me as an individual, as a soccer coach, as the person that helped their kids at the school.
I was on the Student Advisory Council. I was the chair of our PTO. People knew, liked, and trusted me and their kids knew, liked, and trusted me. It just was one of those things that now I had to translate that to, “Okay, now they need to know, like, and trust me as a REALTOR®.” I had a lot of fun doing that, and I didn’t realize it was something that would be as effective. I knew that people knew me because I’m a loud guy. It’s hard to miss me when I walk into any room, but I didn’t realize that, also, I was a trusted person. I was someone that people liked.
Erin: When we return – the recipe for immersing yourself in your area. REALTORS® Care; we know that, you know that. Find out what REALTORS® in Canada are doing to give back and also remind the community that they’re there for them before, during, and after the sale. Choose which province you want to focus on and read stories that will warm your heart and inspire you to have your experience shared too. That’s at CREA.ca, REALTORS® Care. Thank you for caring too. Now let’s return to our chat with Chris Peters in Halifax and James Mabey in Edmonton as we continue our focus on building your name on REAL TIME.
Something that both of you have really immersed yourselves in is knowing your market. That comes with what, time, and what else? What goes into that, James?
James: Time for sure, but also research and digging. The internet has, obviously, come a long way since I started my real estate career. Of course, now you’ve got such amazing ways of learning about a neighborhood and even tapping into community events on social media, but that all takes a strategic approach as well. You have to be looking for that information, and to some degree, studying it, and then, of course, sharing it because that’s where that confidence comes from other people, that you’re not just working in real estate but that you know real estate. That is something that some new agents struggle with, is that quiet confidence where you can strike up a conversation with somebody and tell them something meaningful about the neighborhood that they live in. It takes time, but it also takes hard work.
Erin: Tell me about geographic farming. You both are really quite well-versed in this. We’ll start with you again, James, if you don’t mind.
James: Geographic farming is a wonderful prospecting method, especially if you’re naturally inclined to networking and working within your sphere. It’s an awesome way to build that and to network with more people. Especially if it’s a community that you live in or work in, you are already going to have a lot of that information and insight, but then you have to be even more specific about it. You have to tap into those community events. You might host those community events.
You’re going to specifically do more open houses in the neighborhoods that you’re working in. You probably will get people to sign up for information on a monthly basis about sales in those neighborhoods so that they can keep the finger on the pulse. It really feels so authentic because we are community people and I think REALTORS® do that very well. Not only can you do it through technology, but it also means actually getting out and being amongst the people that you would probably be around anyways, but just being more intentional about it. I love it as a strategy for sure and I find a lot of really successful REALTORS® employ that.
Erin: How about you, Chris?
Chris: Oh, 100%. For me, it was just natural. As James says, geographical farming doesn’t necessarily have to be in the area that you live, or even work, in. Most of us tend not to live and work in the same community. As a REALTOR®, I’ve very much invested in my community, so it just made sense for me to pick Eastern Passage and Cow Bay as the area that I wanted to geo farm because it just made it easier. I was a familiar face in the community, so I was also a trusted face. People would ask me about different things. Now to James’s point, it’s a matter of studying what your market is. I knew some of the best trails to go to or the little favorite fishing holes or restaurants and diners but now you have to know about how far certain communities are or certain neighborhoods are from which schools, which school zones are they in. That’s important.
Our local boards and associations in conjunction with CREA offer all kinds of different tools that realtors can get to get some of those insights about what’s going on in your specific neighborhood. You’re not flipping through a book or looking up on your phone to find the latest stats. You know it because you live and breathe it every single day.
James: It also is worth mentioning, it doesn’t even have to just be geography. A lot of REALTORS®, you can actually specifically try to work with first-time buyers by targeting properties and neighborhoods that have more first-time buyers in them. To Chris’s point, it might not be the neighborhood you actually live in, but it might be that it’s where you feel most comfortable. That will also come across as being authentic. There’s other ways as well of doing that specific kind of networking and prospecting. It doesn’t even just have to be geographic.
Erin: You both have filled us with so much wisdom that you have acquired not only through study and research but of course just from having been doing it for a number of years. Let’s go back to when you were starting again and the goals that we talked about. How often did you have to calibrate those goals? James?
James: People, obviously, talk about setting smart goals. The goal isn’t necessarily just financially driven or that kind of stuff. It can be also, if you’ve been in the business a while, you could be looking for a better work-life balance. You could be looking to reshape your business where you’re working with more sellers or more buyers. It just depends. I think you have to be really thoughtful. I think you have to involve other people so that there’s some accountability. Whether you’re sharing that with your broker or you’re sharing that even with your spouse or whoever’s running your business with you, those are the important pieces. It’s more than just recalibrating the goals. It’s going through a thoughtful process that you’re really engaged in all year, as opposed to just once a year.
Erin: Chris, you have said that your goal was not to make X amount of dollars at the end of the year or at the end of a decade. That yours was more of a sense of fulfillment. How has that worked out for you as a goal?
Chris: Initially, very poorly. I’ll be honest. When you first started out, both James and I have said part of it is having that mind shift of being from an employee to a business owner, to an entrepreneur, and you need to set those goals and you need to have that vision. When I first started, I’m not motivated by money. I’m motivated more from a feelings perspective of being able to feel a level of success and engagement with both myself and my family. I enjoyed volunteering, so I still want to be able to do that. It’s a matter of knowing how can I make all that work. To be honest, it took me a couple of years before I started figuring out that in order to be that successful person, you have to set some sort of goal.
For me, it wasn’t so much as far as figuring out how many leads or how many deals I needed to do, but it was more so about what is it I need to accomplish? How many families, how many people do I need to help in order for me to be able to pay my mortgage, to be able to put my son in his soccer camps? Then when you put your mind shift into the fact that you’re a business owner, at the end of the day it has to come down to numbers. I think to your original question is, as far as how often do you have to recalibrate that, for me, it’s an ongoing thing.
I think, like what James says, it’s making sure that you surround yourself with smart people. We’re all in this business. Some of us are in this business with only a couple of years experience. Some of us are in this business and we’re bringing baggage and experience from a previous career, but we’re joining, in most cases, brokerages that have tons of successful people, amazing training programs. One of the big things that you learn is that you’re constantly recalibrating what your goals are.
Our market shift, our industry shifts based on things that we have no control over, such as the Bank of Canada raising interest rates eight times in one year. We don’t have a control over that, so that’s going to change things. We have to constantly be recalibrating what our goals and metrics are to ensure that, as James says, that they’re smart goals and that they’re realistic, and that they still fit with what our game plans are. It’s about knowing what that balance is and always making those adjustments in your business.
Erin: We’ll talk more about balance, that all-important element of keeping your mental state and business healthy. If you’re enjoying episode 38 of REAL TIME, and we hope you are, why not subscribe so you don’t miss a future episode and go back into some of our previous conversations from decor to destigmatization; from advertising to analysis. You’ll find a selection of podcast topics as diverse as our REALTOR® community and the people we serve. You’re already here, so why not explore, right?
Right now, let’s jump back into our conversation on building your name with CREA chair-elect, James Mabey, and CREA Atlantic chair, Chris Peters, on REAL TIME. Balance has become something that is so important to the next generation of REALTORS® coming up. I mean, it is to all of us. You’re listening to someone who took one week off when I had a baby back in the early ’90s doing my part of the broadcast from the radio show at home because that balance was not something that was going to be attainable if I was going to succeed.
What do you see in the new REALTORS® coming up or potential ones when they come in? Do you see yourselves or do you see the newer mindset that hustle culture is out and I want to have a full life, as well as a full career? I’m going to start with you, James, on this thought.
James: I think it’s important to know what the thought process is and where people are at. You have to meet them where they’re at when they’re coming into the business. It’s not just about the numbers. You have to talk to them about what it is that success looks like and feels like for them. That’s where you start. If they do tell you that they’re looking for a certain balance and a certain lifestyle, then you have to be able to advise them about systems and tools that they could use in order to make sure that they work smarter and not harder.
Fundamentally, of course, we have to go to work every day in order to be successful, in order to generate success for ourselves, success for our families, and success for our clients but at the same time, it is possible to, through the use of technology and systems, reduce the burden on yourself, individually. That’s when people start to grow teams. That’s when people start to bring in assistance. It isn’t just one thing that you start with as a new REALTOR®, you’re going to grow into your business. If that balance is important, you’ll find ways to do that, and I think that’s admirable.
Erin: How about you, Chris? You’ve got a son who’s just about to enter university. Say he’s like James and comes out of it and says, “You know what? No, I want to follow in your footsteps, Dad.” What would you impart to him that maybe he doesn’t already know or has he seen from you, the ins and outs of the business?
Chris: He’s definitely seen the ins and outs of how I run my business. I think like what James says, we all run our real estate businesses different based on who we are as individuals and also who, and how, we choose to connect with people. That makes a big difference on what you’re going to get out of the business and how you get that out. I do it very much based on my community. I do a lot of my business through referrals from other agents, from business organizations. I immerse myself in my community. I’m part of several different boards I’m on. For me, that would be the big thing for any new agent is making sure that, one, I think that there is still very much that hustle and grind to this business, especially at the start. James was making a comment about being persistent and intentional and consistent, and I think that when you’re starting to build your business, I think one of the things that people newly getting into this industry have to remember, is that like any other business, you’re going to spend a lot of hours building your business first before you can even think about putting it on cruise control.
People are asking you for their faith and trust and putting a lot of trust in you. Whether they’re buying a home or they’re selling their home or resizing, they’re putting that trust in you that you’ve got to give back to them, understand where they’re coming from, and like James said, it doesn’t have to be a geography, it could be a target market because that’s who you want to do.
James: I’d love to echo Chris’s sentiment here. I think that there’s this false equivalency people put with hustle and being in a rush or being out of control. Hustle means that you’re very much in control but you’re being intentional about things. I, for one, am never too busy to sit and have a cup of coffee with my client. I am never too busy to really listen to them and make a personal connection, and that is what I hear Chris describing as well, is that you work hard but you work hard at being valued by your client.
Chris: James is right because the one thing that I will find that people will say to me frequently is, “Chris, how do you find all the time to do all that stuff?,” because either I’m on the board of directors at CREA, I’m on several other boards and committees, I volunteer in my community, I’m a father, I’m a husband and, oh, by the way, I’m also a full-time REALTOR®. I’m a successful REALTOR® in the sense of people looking at the number of transactions or people looking at the dollar sales. There is a lot of hustle. It doesn’t have to be frantic. It’s a matter of learning how to balance that and how to layer it.
I’m able to do a lot of the stuff I do, a lot of my networking, a lot of my connections, and engaging with people. I’m on the border with the directors at the Youth Running Series and we just had a big run this past weekend. I saw a number of my clients at that event and I was able to talk to them about what we’re doing, our next steps, because you’re layering all the different things that you do. It doesn’t have to be a hustle and crazy rush but it is a bit of a grind.
Erin: Up next, a completely organic and eye-opening way of getting your name out there when luck equals preparedness and opportunity. Be sure to keep up with the latest info and links by following CREA.ca on Instagram and Twitter via the handles @crea_aci. Don’t miss inspiration and information right there on your favorite social media platforms. Now, let’s return to our chat with Chris Peters in Halifax and James Mabey in Edmonton on REAL TIME.
Tell me about some of the other ways that you integrated what other REALTORS® were doing but made them your own, James.
James: There’s nothing new under the sun. Technology has changed some of the landscape but we’ve already alluded to the fact that some of the tried true, and tested ways of selling real estate still actually work. I took time to sit down with the people who I saw being successful in my office and they were very kind. They would share insights about what things worked well for them. It can still be authentically you because you take a little of column A and a little of column B and then, suddenly, that’s how James Mabey sells real estate. That’s really the secret sauce, is that you can make it personal and unique to yourself by just making sure that the things that you’re using, the tactics that you’re using to build your business, also fit with your personality and your style because we are not all the same.
Chris and I both have built businesses through networking and sphere contacts and geographic farming. There’s also other ways to build a real estate business. If you know yourself really well, then that’s where that personalized touch will come in, collecting testimonials, staying in touch through a CRM, joining networking groups, all of those pieces are going to be right for some but not for all, and use the strategies that you see being successful around you in the right combination to make it unique to you.
Erin: Yes. Consistency, Chris, is something that is so important as well, yes?
Chris: Yes. James has talked about doing some of the simple things especially when you’re first starting out like building a- one, identifying the CRM that you’re going to use. The best CRM is the one that you’ll use but then it’s a matter of spending that time and effort and building into it and then consistently staying active in it. There’s no point in spending hours, days or even weeks, putting all this content into something that is going to be your backbone which is your sphere and your CRM unless you’re going to be consistently using it.
Find out what works for you, what makes you authentic. There are all kinds of different ways that you can build your real estate business. Model after someone that you find inspires you within your office. It could be at another office. Most REALTORS® are going to share their formulas of success. Part of that is also learning some of the failures that they’ve had along the way. That is what makes us a successful industry, but that’s what makes you as a successful business owner, is knowing that you’re not starting from square one, but what you’re doing, you’re doing it consistently because it is what works for you. If it’s no longer working for you, and you’re putting the effort in, then it’s time to try something different and something new.
James: New agents do not have to create everything from scratch. We have amazing content even through the Living Room Blog for REALTOR.ca. There is a huge mix of things out there and everybody feels so burdened, I think, by trying to create content these days. The truth of the matter is that you have to create some of the content for it to be you, for it to feel authentic as we’ve discussed, but leverage the stuff that’s out there already. There are so many wonderful resources to avail yourself of within the REALTOR® community.
Chris: Put your own spin on stuff.
Erin: Absolutely. Really, the education never ends as well. Even if we just look at a tech standpoint and where we were five years ago and the tools that we’re using now. You start off with four weeks in a class to get your license, for example, but it doesn’t end there, does it, Chris?
Chris: No. For the most part, every single regulator in the province has mandatory courses that you have to take. Some of your local boards and associations may also have courses that you can take. For me, it was a matter of, also, totally immersing myself in this industry. I find if this family is going to trust me and invest their time and effort in me to be their REALTOR® and either help them find a home or sell their home for them or even an investment property, then I felt it was my responsibility to invest in myself, to become all that I can be and the best that I could be. That meant taking additional courses that my broker offered.
One of the great tools that we have at CREA is the Learning Hub. It’s something that we offer to all local boards and associations where we have content, as James has alluded to, on there from CREA. Local boards and associations put their own additional learning content on that. I know in Nova Scotia, we’re constantly loading up information with regards to local webinars that we do, additional education from attending real estate conferences, your brokerage. If you’re with a large national organization, likely have real estate conferences.
There’s all sorts of opportunities that you can get learnings from, lunch and learns. Learn from those people who are around you, but also learn from other industry partners, whether it be local home inspectors, your mortgage brokers, lawyers. There’s tons of learning to do. The more that you immerse yourself in it, the better you are able to serve your clients, which means you’re building on that initial concept that we talked at the very beginning of this, was like, know, and trust. They turn to you as a leader and as a subject-matter expert, and that’s because you’re continually investing in yourself in education.
Erin: Up next, knowing yourself, working what works, and learning from what doesn’t. James mentioned CREA.ca Living Room. It has more useful information in one spot than my own living room has dust bunnies. Thanks to a new dog. From tax benefits for homeowners, to the benefits of using a REALTOR® when renting, decor tips like combining different tastes in the same space, and so much more, Living Room is the place to enjoy a wealth of great stories that will better the lives of your client and you. Visit CREA.ca and spend some time in our Living Room.
Now back to CREA board members, Chris Peters, REALTOR® and Atlantic Regional director, and CREA chair-elect, James Mabey, a broker who manages four offices in the Edmonton area on REAL TIME. James, do any lessons stick out to you from your early days as a REALTOR® as to what worked and what didn’t work, the things that we do have to learn? We have to learn from the things that didn’t work, too.
James: There were many things that did not work, just to be clear. The things that did work were the things that leveraged my own style and the way that I wanted to build business. If you haven’t got your DiSC analysis and figured out who you are and what makes you tick, it’s pretty tough to pick a strategy. Know yourself, I think that is a big lesson to be learned when you’re starting out. As your business changes and you spend more time working with clients instead of as much time maybe as you should trying to find the next client because you have to keep feeding that funnel, be consistent.
You have to make sure that you’re putting just as much effort into working on the business as you are working in the business so that you’ve built something that will offer you consistent results. One of the terrible things about real estate that takes a lot of people out is the inconsistency of it. It’s that ebb and flow of the market and that kind of stuff. If you take the time to be consistent and to do the activities that you know will breed success, they are taught in every course, and you do those things day after day, week after week, year after year, you’re setting yourself up for a long-term business success.
As an entrepreneur, that’s the holy grail. That’s what I learned from my peers around me when I asked them, day one in real estate, what is it that makes your phone ring? They told me just to be consistent and to make sure that I employed the tactics that were going to work for me but did it in a really consistent and effective way continuously.
Erin: You, Chris, as someone who didn’t grow up surrounded by the real estate business, how has your approach to business changed over the years from when you started out?
Chris: I would say, one, it was just knowing what works for me. Obviously, the first thing I did was something that my mentor had asked me to do and that was going out door and knocking. For me, it didn’t feel authentic. It didn’t feel truly me. Walking up and knocking on someone’s door and saying, “Hey, when do you plan on moving?” wasn’t me, however, do I enjoy engaging and talking with people? 100% but I do it differently.
It was a matter of knowing what works for me, what doesn’t work for me. I tried going to those networking functions where there were other like-minded business leaders, REALTORS®, real estate agents, those type of networking functions which most people think that would be a perfect fit for me. It wasn’t my cup of tea but I would prefer to go to the local PTO. I would prefer to go to a local charity event. That, for me, was more, as James says, know who you are, know what makes you tick, and then find a way to leverage that to your advantage to make your business work for you. If you’ve got the passion for it, then find what makes you passionate about it, and use that to your advantage.
Erin: If I’m inferring correctly from what you’re both saying, it’s two main things: be consistent, and be yourself. There is nobody else out there who is you. Is there anything that I’m missing here in a trait, and I’ll start with you, James, that you’ve noticed among realtors who have successfully set themselves apart?
James: I noticed that in my colleague Chris here. They put their clients first. That is the fundamental thing. If I look at all of the people who have been successful in this business, it’s that they focus on the clients and helping them meet their goals. They’re not focused on the paycheck. Sales are great. We love in this REALTOR® community to celebrate the success of our peers, but it’s the people for whom that is secondary and primary is their client relationship and making sure that they’ve reached a desired outcome for their clients.
Erin: And you, Chris?
Chris: I would add to that the old saying giving starts the process of receiving. I think what value are you offering to people to make them want to come to you, to make them believe in you? That goes a long way. I think from an education perspective, the process of getting your license teaches you the basics of trading in real estate, but it doesn’t teach you about being a business owner. If you start understanding what that process is as a new agent and knowing that to be a successful business owner, you’ve got to be authentically you and you’ve got to put the people first, it’s about the relationships that you create, and creating those relationships will bring the transactions to you.
Erin: When we wrap up on this all-encompassing talk today, if I knew then what I know now, as Chris and James share more of their wisdom. Look, we’ve all heard the saying there are no dumb questions, right? Many of us would rather have somebody else ask them, we’re not alone. The most popular post on CREA.ca so far in 2023 is REALTORS® answering the most Googled real estate questions. Check it out. The answers are all there.
Now our final segment of this enlightening REAL TIME discussion with Chris Peters and James Mabey, two working REALTORS® who want to help others find their way too, and then we’re going to hear from a few other REALTORS® to share their wisdom. James, you were 23 when you started out as a realtor. Can I ask you, Chris, how old you were?
Erin: Okay. What is the one thing you wish you knew starting out? Now, Chris, you’ve already referred to being a business owner and that mindset, but what else do you wish that you could go back and tell 38-year-old Chris as he was making this huge leap into a new career?
Chris: Oh, good golly. I would say first and foremost it’s respecting the fact that real estate is a business. Who you are, knowing what you’re about, knowing why people already know, like, and trust you, and working that to your advantage. People gather around you for a reason. Most people who are in real estate are doing this because they’re genuinely passionate about helping people. I think if I had known that that was what I needed to be doing right out of the gate and be able to set goals around that, that would probably be the biggest thing I would tell 38-year-old Chris Peters, is focus on your goals of how you intend to help people because that is what’s going to help you get the sales activity that you need to make this career a success.
Erin: James, what do you wish you’d told 23-year-old James Mabey?
James: I wish I could go back and just tell myself it was all going to work out.
James: Strangely, not knowing that it was going to work out and being motivated to work hard and to get engaged and to be involved was probably the thing that contributed to success for me. It’s funny because it’s a double-edged sword. It’d be nice to have that certainty, but it’s that uncertainty that probably drives a lot of people to find success. I also, as a Virgo and have some slight OCD, I thought everything had to be perfect. I came out with this marketing and communications background and everything was creation of content myself and all this other stuff. I would really like to remind myself back then that 95% perfect but 100% done is a heck of a lot better than 100 % perfect and never done.
Chris: From my perspective, it’s knowing what your deadlines are and really tracking that detail and the accountability. When you’re an employee, you’re responsible to me, my operations director, or my vice president, as well as my employees who report to me. As a business owner and as a REALTOR®, I’m responsible to myself and to my clients. It’s hard to keep your clients on track if you’re not on track yourself. There are certain things that your clients need to do as buyers and sellers and if you’re not, yourself, organized and staying consistent and persistent, and as James says, intentional, then it’s hard to ask them to do that.
You’re going to have all different personalities. I’m working with a client right now who’s very much about spreadsheets and color coding things and itemizing things, and it’s great. It works for him. I have to fit that into my schedule when I talk to him, present that communication in the way he needs to receive it. It’s a matter of knowing that I have all of that stuff.
Erin: James, you and I are at a dinner party. First, we’re going to talk about dogs, and then I’m going to ask what you do, and you’re going to tell me you’re a REALTOR®.I’m going to say, “I love those home design and home sales shows on TV. I think I’d like to be a REALTOR®.” What would you say to me?
James: I’m not a big sports person, but I tell you, that’s like playing fantasy football. Those shows are very contrived and they do not reflect the blood, sweat, and tears that go into real estate. Of course, I say it in a very nice way, but I would try to disabuse you of the notion that what you see on TV is actually what success in real estate looks like. That being said, I’d probably also ask you a lot of other questions about what your other backgrounds are that you think might contribute to your success, where you think your clients might come from.
All of those points and questions I might ask you would just drive at that centralized point, which is that becoming a REALTOR® is the equivalent of starting your own business. That’s really what you have to feel passionate about. You have to have that entrepreneurship in order to come into this business and feel like it’s right for you, but also to achieve those results. That’s what I would share with you.
Chris: Those TV shows are so structured and they spend days filming that one clip. If I could find a home for every single buyer after only looking at three homes and tell them, “You can only pick from these three and nothing else because nothing else is out there for you,” oh, gosh, that would make life so much different, probably easier, but that’s not the way it works.
Erin: Yes. You’ve said you don’t try at real estate. It’s not something that you dabble in. Is that right? You’re all in, right?
Chris: Oh, a pet peeve of mine is when I hear someone say, “Oh, I think I want to give real estate a try.” It comes down to, like you said, about people have these preconceived notions of what it is to be a REALTOR®. I think that real estate is about the long game. It’s about building relationships. It’s about being all in. If you’re not prepared to be all in for both yourself as a business owner and for your clients, who are investing and entrusting you, then I think you’re selling both yourself short, but you’re also not doing any favors for your clients.
Erin: From all in to all out of time, it has been such a pleasure to talk to you both today. Your insight and wisdom and humor and everything. It’s just been a joy. Thank you so much, Chris and James. We so appreciate it.
Chris: It was a pleasure. Thank you, Erin.
James: It was awesome. Thanks, Erin. You are the best.
Erin: Now let’s hear a few other CREA members’ insights on building your name.
Donna Mathewson: Hi, it’s Donna Mathewson from the Ontario Real Estate Association. My advice that I would give to any new agent starting out in this business would be to make sure and maintain your integrity, be honest, and be ready to work hard. Real estate is a very engaging and very rewarding career, but it’s one that you get out of what you put into.
Rob Longo: Hi, I’m Rob Longo from Sarnia, Ontario. Something that I wish I knew when I started out as a REALTOR® was patience. I think one of the biggest things we find as new REALTORS® is that we want to be successful very quickly and very early, and we see the success that others are having. The biggest thing is patience. Take your time, build that business into a long-term career that you’re going to be able to enjoy for decades to come.
Tania Artenosi: Hi, I’m Tania Artenosi, and I’m a broker-owner from the GTA to Muskoka with eight offices. My best advice for new REALTORS® starting out in the business is to go out and meet people, have conversations, and build relationships with new clients, future clients, families, and friends. You’ll never know where your first client is going to come from, so go out there and have conversations.
Erin: Thank you, Donna, Rob, and Tania. We are so grateful to you and to James and Chris for sharing your wisdom. REAL TIME is a production of Alphabet® Creative with technical magic by Rob Whitehead of Real Family Productions. I’m Erin Davis, thanking you so much for joining us. We can’t wait to welcome you back for the next episode of REAL TIME. Talk to you then.