Anita Springate-Renaud is a third-generation real estate agent. Both her mother and grandmother made a living in the business, but nepotism has nothing to do with her success. With 20 years of experience under her belt, Springate-Renaud is one of the top agents in Canada representing the international realty firm Engel & Völkers at its Toronto shop.
Not only does she match Toronto homes with clients from around the world, but she donates her time to many philanthropic causes. For Christmas last year, her office helped co-ordinate the delivery of more than 4,000 shoeboxes full of essential and small luxury items to women’s shelters across Toronto as part of her work with The Shoebox Project for Shelters.
She let Toronto Storeys in on how she makes it all look so effortless.
What initially got you into real estate?
I guess I was born into it, but it’s figuring out what my clients need and hunting for it that I really love and find fulfilling.
What was it like growing up around real estate? Was it always predetermined that you’d enter the family business?
No, and I probably tried to veer away from it because I was around it so much, but I guess it’s in my blood. I’m very much like my mom and my grandmother and they loved it, so it took a while, but I eventually got into it as well.
What do clients most commonly misunderstand when working with a realtor?
I find that there are two common misconceptions. First, it’s the actual value of their home versus the perceived value and the second would be the amount of time a real estate agent actually works to find them the perfect home or help them sell their house.
What kind of innovations or issues do you think might have a profound effect on your industry in the future?
I think technology will have a profound effect. Sometimes it’s for the better, but we can’t forget that we’re in a service industry first and foremost. Technology gives us access to an incredible amount of information but you still need someone who knows what they’re doing and has the ability to sort through value. You can’t replace the value of hands-on professional service and expertise.
The speed and clarity you can deal with a potential client, even someone overseas, will also have a profound impact. I think the world is becoming smaller through technology, but it’s not any less complicated. Thankfully for me, Engel & Völkers is already there. It has a truly global reach, so I can call a shop anywhere in the world and get accurate, real-time information, as well as being able to place my listing in any market where I think it would do well, while looking at off-the-wall viewing listings through our website. It’s an interesting model and we’re really the only ones with this kind of international platform.
So basically you can sell a home to anyone in the world?
Basically. What I can do, versus any other shop, is I can have a farm listing that I think will do well in the German market, so I can ring up any of Engel & Völkers’ German shops and say, “Can you please put my listing in your window?” The way all of our shops are set up are with window displays. If you were to come by my shop, I have a section on the United States, I have a section on Europe, and we will get e-mails from all over the world saying, “Can you place this listing in your window?” We do it, so it’s a lot different and it goes to show how small the world’s becoming.
Given that you’re selling and sourcing properties internationally, do you have to be a person with international skills, such as mastery of other languages?
For me it’s not difficult because I speak French and German fluently and in my shop I have someone who speaks Cantonese and someone who speaks Mandarin. I think it helps with the global economy.
If you weren’t a real estate agent, what would you be?
I don’t know. Would Amal Clooney be an answer? I wouldn’t mind being her, but in all seriousness I can’t see myself being in any other industry.
What do you love most about what you do?
I think it’s the satisfaction I get from being able to find someone a great home.
Is there anything that annoys you about what you do?
Nothing really annoys me about what I do, but I do get annoyed when I run into the few bad apples who think this profession is just a way to make a fast buck. We work hard at acquiring knowledge and professional skills to do our job with integrity and it can be really annoying when people undervalue the hard work that realtors do.
What’s the best advice you have for people entering a competitive market like the GTA?
This is something I learned from my mom who started in the late 1970s and early 1980s and had seen it all. She used to say, “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be,” “Decide what a property is worth to you and if you lose it by a dollar, don’t get discouraged or be taken in by the hyperbole of the whole thing.”
How do you advise people to cope with a real estate bubble?
The real estate market is cyclical. Whether or not it’s a bubble depends on what underpins the demand. At the end of the day, it’s better to be in the market than not be in the market, so get in there with whatever you can.
What does the future hold for you?
I just always try to stay current and open to new ideas. My goal is to always learn something new and try to get better.
How do you stay successful in this business without neglecting your friends, your family or your health?
I think it’s the same like any job. You have to bring your values and integrity to work with you and remember that everyone wants to be treated with respect and honesty. You figure it out, just like any other job. I have four children, I exercise and I’m involved in many charitable endeavours. It’s like anything else, you just make it work.