Move over Robin Leach, here comes Vivien Sharon.
The Sotheby’s International Realty real estate agent specializes in assisting baby boomers with downsizing in style from Toronto’s luxurious Yorkville neighbourhood. Meanwhile, just like the former Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous host, Sharon gives potential buyers an inside view of how the other half lives, but she does it for the social media crowd through her Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook Pages.
Find out how this boomer herself became savvy enough on social media to be named No. 7 on the Top 20 Toronto Real Estate Agents on Social Media by PropertySpark.com and built a business that affords her the flexibility to only take on a few clients at a time.
How did you get into the real estate business?
I got into real estate after being involved in a family property business in Toronto. I had worked in that business for many years, which was managing properties and dealing with property management issues. I decided it would be a really great idea to broaden my horizons and take my real estate license, which I did a number of years ago. Then, I took my real estate broker’s license, which I now have. I’ve been a full-time real estate broker for five years.
What attracted you to real estate in the first place?
I love working with people who have the needs and means to buy their first condo. I have witnessed the full spectrum, from a first-time buyer buying their first home to when they go through a lifestyle change. I’ve been involved in all of the steps myself and that’s really why I love the business because I’ve been through every life cycle. I rented an apartment, I’ve bought a townhome, I’ve gotten married, had a family — it’s the natural progression. Having gone through the final stage of downsizing and living in a Yorkville condo now for a number of years, I understand this progression that people need to go through. Therefore, I understand my buyers and I understand the sellers I deal with because I’ve gone through this myself, so I really have an understanding of their needs.
Given your thorough understanding, what is your advice for sellers?
I think in this market at the moment, it has softened over the summer months. I would tell people to first sell their home or their condo. Then, with the money they net in their pocket, they can go looking for what they can afford, where they’d like to live and the lifestyle they would like to have … I would hope it would sell quite briskly. The Toronto market is still a very desirable, safe place to live and affordable with the Canadian dollar, considering it is one of the world-class cities today. I would tell sellers to price their house at a good price, so it will sell. Then, they can decide their next step.
What about advice for buyers?
For buyers, I would say there are lots of options in the marketplace today. I would say it’s really important to get into the market if one can. If one is able to carry the mortgage and put a good down payment down, rather than renting for the long term and not own anything, the best value for one’s security has always been to get into the real estate market and at least begin by buying a condo or a property. Build your equity from there to go to a higher level, a bigger property — an investment property or a larger home investment — so that your equity will continue to build throughout your life. Then you’ll have some net worth in your pocket.
What do people most misunderstand about working with a realtor?
I think people think realtors are really out there very aggressively trying to look out for themselves and not for the consumer. I think it’s a misconception. There are always wonderful real estate professionals out there and I believe I’m one of those whose basic interest is always for satisfying all the needs of their buyers and sellers. They come first, they are the consumer, they become a client and one is there to help them as a real estate professional every step of the way.
If one is a buyer — finding the best property to suit their needs, finding the most affordable property, directing them to wonderful mortgage brokers, being there to negotiate the entire deal for them and helping them through the closing process. We’re really there as a consultant. It’s a misconception that they’re just there to quickly do the deal. I believe we’re there as top professionals as I feel I am.
These days technology has really taken over the business and you have received recognition for your social media presence and the way you present yourself. How did you begin to do that?
I’m very present when it comes to my business Facebook page, my personal Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and all the social media outlets out there, as well as my website. It’s very important to be out there because people google you first and foremost. In my case, I’m working with a brand manager – a young millennial — who is an expert in this field and has worked with me over the last number of years to craft my business and my brand. My brand is very much a VIP concierge service. I’m not part of a big team, I work one-on-one with clients for best service. I only take on a few clients – buyers or sellers — at a time and I believe I give them A1 service, world-class marketing and worldwide exposure through Sotheby’s.
What kind of lifestyle are you modelling on social media and how has it separated you from your competition?
I am very big on YouTube and in videos. I have my Real Estate YouTube channel and my Yorkville Lifestyle channel. It’s not just real estate. People ask me, ‘Where should I shop? I want to know who to meet, what to see and what actors have been here.’ It’s a whole lifestyle thing going on and I could make a business about being a hobnobber in Yorkville.
Wow! Have you met all kinds of famous people?
Yes, last week I was eating in one of the restaurants in Yorkville (Sassafraz) and posted that Kiefer Sutherland was in the same restaurant. He was with some young lady, I posted that picture and tons of people were Liking it. My second career, in addition to real estate postings, is as the Yorkville person running around and meeting people, going to events and all that stuff. I totally do live the condo lifestyle scene.
Do you do that in service of your real estate business?
Yes, I lived here prior to getting into real estate, but now I realize people really want to know about it. My Facebook following and beyond live all over the world and they want to know what’s going on here because this is a destination. I can really make a whole side business out of this whole lifestyle thing in Yorkville, which I realize is a really strong offshoot from real estate.
Is it hard to keep up with the rich Yorkville lifestyle and constantly be active on every social media platform?
First and foremost is my real estate business, but when I go out I do it on a Friday or a day that’s a bit of a lull where business is taking a break. That’s when I try my best once a week to do a lifestyle shoot, video, interview, Instagram thing or whatever I think of that people would like. I could be doing it much more if I wasn’t doing real estate. That would be a sort of fashion, hobnobbing, networking thing I could do. No question!