Graham Rowlands loves helping people.
Whether he was working for IBM or making millions of dollars for other companies after an initial investment of $10 into a single website, Rowlands would move mountains to put other people’s needs ahead of his own. That’s still the case today.
Enjoying the process of finding a home but despising that his realtors took him to properties that made no sense for what he wanted, Rowlands decided to become a realtor himself. As a sales representative for PSR Brokerage, he works hard to help his clients close a sale and treats their money as his own.
Not all realtors are created equal, he says. Read on about what he says it takes to be a top producer and how buyers and sellers should respond to Toronto’s current calmer real estate market.
What initially got you into real estate and what attracted you to the business?
For me, I’ve always liked helping people. I used to do online marketing and helped people build websites. Then, when it came to searching for my own condo, I really enjoyed the whole process and I decided I’d like to help make the process easier for other people too.
Once you got into the business, what is now your favourite thing about working in real estate?
I think probably the best thing is handing someone the keys to their new place or making people a lot of money. Especially over the last few years, I’ve had those clients where they buy something and now it’s worth so much more than what they paid for it. Between those two things, those are probably the best things for me.
What do clients misunderstand most about working with a realtor?
I think there’s a general consensus that everyone thinks realtors are all the same and there’s not much difference between one another, but I think that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Can you expand on why that “couldn’t be further from the truth”?
For me, I tend to do whatever it takes to get the deal done for my clients. For example, I just sold a house where it needed a bunch of work. I went up there, helped them with the painting and things like that too. Even with the landscaping company, I was sort of helping them speed things along. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty and get the house ready as quickly as possible. Even when it comes to staging a place, if it’s a last-minute thing, I’ve signed out prop furniture just to get it done.
What is your assessment of the Toronto real estate market now that things have settled down? What is your advice for buyers and sellers now?
I think we’re going back to a bit of normalcy. If you look back at January, February and March, prices were increasing at such a rate that everyone knew it wasn’t sustainable. For now, I think we’re seeing things level off a little bit better. Right now, I think there are great deals to be had for buyers and for sellers it’s tough with certain products because I think the housing market is slowing down a little bit, but if you’ve got a good product, everything is moving relatively quickly still. I think the advice is just to proceed as normal. If your long-term goals are to live in the city, you can’t go wrong with real estate and I think over time it’s only going to go up. Sellers should not make their decisions based on the market, they should make their decisions based on their lives, unless you’re an investor who has bought a number of properties and you’re wondering if you’ve hit the peak right now. I think you have to assess every individual situation.
What issues or innovations do you see affecting the real estate industry in the future?
I think agent teams are starting to become the new brokerage. I think there are a lot of teams out there that offer great value to new agents who are starting out in the business to join up with already established realtors and a lot of realtors are leveraging each other’s networks and what they have. I think that’s one trend I’m noticing and then another is that technology is obviously making things a lot easier and if we can get the Toronto Real Estate Board to release the pricing data it would give buyers even more at their fingertips and help them make a more informed decision.
What does it take to be a top producer in your industry?
You really have to want to do this and put in the hours. There are weeks where I will work 100-plus hours a week. Not a lot of people necessarily want to do that especially when you don’t know if you’re going to get a paycheque at the end of all that work. It can be disheartening for some people, so you should keep your eye on the big picture and put in the work, so it hopefully leads to other things down the road.
If you weren’t a real estate agent, what would you be?
I’ve always had a dream to own a bar on a beach somewhere.
How do you still maintain success in this business without alienating your friends or family?
I think you have to set boundaries with clients and schedule very well. Say I want to have a dinner with my wife one night a week, then I put it in my calendar and schedule it just as if it were a regular meeting with a client. Obviously, if there’s an emergency situation, which can happen, then that’s a whole other story, but I’m trying to stick to those boundaries.