Danielle Demerino knows those who matter downtown and it’s hard to argue about that.
People call her Danielle in the City for good reason, the YouTube channel of the same name has her riding through the city on an Amego electric bike and interviewing cool Toronto business owners, along with giving viewers an inside look at her life as a sales representative for Royal LePage Signature Realty.
As a child of two real estate brokerage owners and later as a blues singer in her early adulthood, she was exposed to many of the city’s most eclectic people, which taught her that more than anything, real estate agents needed to be an incredibly fun individuals with a myriad of connections and resources of all kinds at their disposal.
Now, christened one of the 20 Top Toronto Real Estate Agents on Social Media by PropertySpark.com, Demerino opens up about where the Toronto market is at right now, how younger agents are succeeding their older counterparts and why she thinks real estate agents as we know them will be obsolete in the next 20 years.
What attracted you to real estate and how did you first get into it?
I grew up in a family where my parents owned real estate brokerages, so I was constantly exposed to interesting people, eclectic people, people who did their own thing, people who dressed the way they wanted, authentic people. I realized that you could combine your life with your work without having any real division of that and that’s what I wanted. I never wanted to feel like I had an actual job. I was a musician before, I did advertising briefly and I realized the only profession where I could ever be completely myself was this or be an artist.
What do average people commonly misunderstand about working with a realtor?
I think younger people mistrust working with a real estate agent more so than the older generation because of their access to technology. I think that younger people think we’re pretty disposable because they believe they can do it all on their own without understanding that in order to complete a good transaction, you need to have a good agent.
There’s a lot of things behind the scenes that they aren’t capable of doing. Older people who have been around for long enough know that they’ve gone through trial and error and they grew up in a time where they had to put complete trust in their real estate agent because there was no access to listings online. I think agents still have a bad reputation as agents among millennials, but as more agents enter the market who are more savvy and younger people understand more, I think all those dinosaur agents … will get weeded out anyways.
What issues or innovations do you see in the industry that will affect real estate in the future?
I think that technology has changed everything. If you don’t have 3D or 4D tours, if you’re not getting constant information and pictures of listings that come up right away, you’re kind of out of the loop. Younger agents are taking over video and social media and I think clients are able to make quicker decisions because they have access to seeing these listings on their phone or Google Maps or whatever. Going to a property and showing them something now doesn’t really matter as much.
Our job as a real estate agent has kind of changed. I also think that real estate agents might be kind of obsolete in 20 years. I think we’re going to become more like consultants where we do more than just open physical doors. I think there will be less and less room for most traditional real estate agents because people can get the information they provide on their own. We’d connect them to all the lawyers, the mortgage providers and all the other resources that you need, but you needed someone who is so centrally connected to really know what you’re getting. I think that’s where I excel. I have every resource, every connection and my dad’s a builder. I’ve become this Danielle in the City thing where I know everybody. You need to have that point of contact that knows the best people in all the best industries.
So is that what it takes to be a top producer?
I think that’s part of it. I think you need tenacity and perseverance. This business will chew you up and spit you out if you’re weak. If you are boring and lack personality I think you need a new job. I think you need to have an “It” factor to be really great at this. If you were working with a real estate agent, wouldn’t you want them to be exciting and fun and smart and captivating?
Right, because you have to hang out with realtors all day while they show you properties?
You know them for so many hours, don’t you want them to be your buddy? Obviously, your smart buddy. I think the people that get into real estate because they like houses are wrong. Just because you’re good at baking a cake, doesn’t mean you should own a bakery. It means you should bake a cake. This business has to be for business people, not just people who like pretty homes.
If you weren’t a real estate agent would you still be a singer, or was there anything else you’d want to do?
If I were already rich, I’d be a travel blogger and if I wasn’t, I’d be a motivational speaker or a life coach.
So you’d do the Tony Robbins walk across fire type stuff?
I don’t know about that. I’m just someone who likes helping people get their shit together. I’m pretty frank, I see the path to how you can live the biggest, fullest life and sometimes people need a stronger personality to help push them in the right direction.
What’s your assessment of the current Toronto market?
I think the government should really do something about double-ending deals because there are a lot of agents out there who are doing it and ruining it for everyone else, so there’s got to be some sort of regulation around double-ending. I think that this is a strong market. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. If you ask our parents’ generation in the ’70s and ’80s they said there was always going to be a crash. I think we can all admit that Toronto is stronger than ever. It’s now a destination, it’s a world-class city, its unemployment is low, its immigration is high, its popularity is booming — everybody is going to want to live here.
I think because of the political situation in the U.S., people aren’t going there, they’re coming here instead. They’re bringing their money here. I think that we’re in a kind of geographic safe zone where we aren’t prone to natural disasters. Our social mentality works for everybody, we are accepting and everybody will want to come here. When everyone wants to keep coming here, the demand is there, housing prices will stay high and there’s going to be no economic downturn unless the banks really raise interest rates and screw everybody over.
What is your next goal and how do you plan to achieve it?
I started a new company called Your Next Steps. It’s full-service transitioning for the elderly. I realized there was a hole in the market where we needed to combine healthcare with real estate and I’m working diligently to complete that because I want to see seniors live their lives longer by moving them out of their old, decrepit houses and isolation and move them to places where they can thrive. It’s consulting on where they should go, evaluating their options, also doing all of their moving, packing and de-cluttering. Then, I’d prep their house for sale and provide them with continuous occupational care when they’re in their new house, so they can adjust to their new life properly. I’m partnering with a therapist and a project manager to make it happen and now we’re really close to launch.