Meet the agent: Toronto Storeys talks to Amit Kalia

amit-kalia

When clients work with Amit Kalia, a Re/Max real estate agent in Mississauga City Centre, they get a broker who lives in the same neighbourhood he sells.

“Most people feel very comfortable when they know that the person helping them with their biggest purchase in life lives in the neighbourhood. They want to know if the schools are right, they want to know if condos or homes are right for them, they want to know which neighbourhoods are good to live in and which to stay away from,” says Kalia.

At one point, he was just like them, having originally moved to Mississauga so he could put his kids in a good school, and now his knowledge of the community has made him the top 1 per cent Re/Max broker in the city.

We caught up with Kalia to find out the secret to his success.

What are you reading these days?
I’m more of a spiritual guy, so I’m reading a book called the Bhagwat Gita. It’s about life, the material world and the holy spirit. It’s about how we get caught up in the material world and chasing our desires for a lifetime—not just this life, but many other lives.

If you look back at real estate right now and the way prices are going up, it’s all about people wanting more, which has made us come to a point where homes have become unaffordable. It shows us that we have to have contentment with what we have, what we still need and what we can leave for the next generation. Learning what will leave you truly content and assessing your priorities is what this book is all about.

What was the first music album you ever bought?
I like Dire Straits. I’m a rock fan. I like big guitars, Pink Floyd and Bob Marley. I grew up listening to ABBA, Madonna and other 70s and 80s music. I also love Bryan Adams. He’s always at the top of my mind. I grew up listening to more western music than Indian classic music.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid I wanted to be an air force pilot. I wanted to fly planes. I did clear my exams, but I didn’t pass the interview. Maybe I was too smart to be a nice officer, so I couldn’t get through to flying fighter jets.

Sales was my forté, so I started with Xerox Group and the rest is history.

What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell him to be a little more calm, less aggressive and more content. There are three modes: good, passionate and ignorant. When I was younger I was a little more ignorant and passionate than I am now as I get older and wiser. With more goodness, comes more contentment. You’re born ignorant and passionate, but you can change with age and education throughout your life.

What sets you apart from the other realtors working in the GTA?
Real estate has three big words: location, location, location. This comes with deep knowledge of the local market. Like Toronto, Mississauga has now become out of reach, but I’ve been focusing on this market since 2007 and my clients know that I can buy their properties low and sell them high because of my local expertise.

Do you have any advice for homebuyers in the current overheated market?
Well, there’s very good news! The federal government has raised the standards for first-time homebuyers and requires a 20 per cent down payment for non-resident property.

What was happening was people who were putting 5 to 10 per cent down were instigating bidding wars as if it was free money given to them, and they used to get a kick out of inflating prices without being serious about what they were doing. That’s my opinion. Now that there are standards, the government wants these people to slow down and think more about their purchase, so they don’t get qualified for bigger loans and mortgages.

My advice is, don’t get excited. Stay within your means and don’t spend more than 40 per cent of your household income on your shelter. If your dream is a 2,000 square-foot detached home but all you can afford is the one bedroom apartment, buy the apartment.

What’s the most underrated neighbourhood in the GTA?
The most underrated neighbourhood is where I work, Mississauga City Centre. Being just 20 minutes from downtown Toronto, while being connected to the new LRT system, Metrolinx and the BRT system makes the city no longer than a 25-minute commute. Mississauga is the new downtown and more people should be buying in the City Centre in the next four or five years.

If you could invite anyone to a dinner party dead or alive, who would you invite?
If I had to invite someone for dinner, I would invite God. If you believe in Jesus, you’d call Jesus, but I would call Krishna. This is my Jesus and I would offer him food.

What’s your secret to staying a top producer in your business?
The secret is to work very hard and share a lot of knowledge and information with your clients. I have a popular blog which I started writing in 2007 called Condo Pundit. In it, I share knowledge about the market, the buildings and the neighbourhoods. That’s how people figure out that I know what I’m doing, plus it allows them to go and check my reviews.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?
I wake up at 4:30am or 5:00am. My philosophy is early to bed, early to rise.

To stay balanced, I take at least a one-week holiday every year. Contentment is the key. I’m happy with whatever business I get being a top producer. I don’t want to make too much. I have contentment and that’s the key which keeps me balanced.

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