Andres Alves adopted his approach as a realtor after university, when he began investing in real estate, renovating his own income properties, and seeing what worked — no pressure, straight-forward advice and no hidden agendas.
Now Alves is an award-winning real estate agent and property investor with Keller Williams Referred Urban Realty who has been in the trenches renovating and prepping his own properties, enabling him a true understanding of the headaches and stresses that many of his clients go through in buying or selling a home. Plus, he has moved a lot. From Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, Kelowna and Barrie to Kingston, Peterborough and Halifax, no one knows the stresses of moving like this guy.
Prior to his career in real estate, he worked for the City of Toronto as a Policy Development Officer and Special Projects Manager for the Shelter, Support and Housing Administration Division with a focus on homelessness, community supports and affordable housing issues. He developed a sensitivity towards real estate that few agents typically develop to the same degree.
Alves spoke to us about the city’s most underrated neighbourhood, tips for homebuyers, and his love for whales, dolphins and Game of Thrones.
What are you reading these days?
I have two books on the go at the moment. The first is The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and the nerd in me is playing catch-up with the Game of Thrones series. I’m making my way through book three at the moment.
First album you bought?
It was actually back when you could get seven CDs for 99 cents through Columbia House. In the mix was New Order’s Republic, some Depeche Mode, and the soundtrack from the movie Romeo and Juliet.
When you were a kid, you wanted to be a …
For the longest time, I was obsessed with becoming a marine biologist. I was really interested in whales and dolphins and was convinced I’d come up with a way to use my Casio keyboard to communicate with dolphins. I never tested it, but I was sure it would work.
Advice you would give the younger you?
I’d tell myself to try more things and seek out new experiences. You just never know what you might have a talent for or where a new interest might take you. As you get older, things become much more habitual and change becomes harder.
What sets you apart from all the other realtors in town?
I started my real estate career as a real estate investor, long before helping other people buy and sell real estate. I bought my first investment property at 23 and have taken on all kinds of renovation projects to increase their value.
When working with buyer clients, I bring the unique perspective of helping them find opportunities that may be overlooked and helping to position their home purchase as a smart real estate investment as well. For my seller clients, I’m a partner in their success to ensure their home is maximized to enhance its perceived value and give them the best return. The marketing of real estate is more sophisticated now than it has ever been and the results between those agents that understand this and those that don’t is clear.
Any hot tips for homebuyers in this overheated market?
Right now, patience is a buyer’s biggest asset. Even in the current market, we go through seasonal cycles and opportunities always come up. Be patient and be ready to pounce when that opportunity shows up. Secondly, if you’re open to doing some renovation yourself, homes without the sexy kitchens and modern finishes will often times attract less attention, and fewer bids. It’s better to do the work yourself, than pay a premium to someone else.
What is Toronto’s most underrated neighbourhood?
There are a few neighbourhoods in the west end and east end that still have a lot of upside, but one in particular that I really like is Birch Cliff Village. Properties there tend to have great lot sizes and the housing stock is starting to be revitalized with top-ups and new construction.
For couples and growing families, there’s opportunity to buy a property now that you can expand down the road and it’s still very accessible to downtown and other great Toronto neighbourhoods.
Profession you would most like to try?
If I was to try something, it would probably be an artist. I’ve got a pretty strong creative side.
Favourite architect or architectural style?
I love modernist architecture with its clean lines, squared designs a minimalist approach. However, a classic Victorian façade with a modern interior will always get me in. It was the chance to create a brand new house inside a classic Victorian that attracted me to my own home.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
I’d love to sit down with the Dalai Lama, Tony Robbins and Albert Einstein.
How do you stay a top producer for so long?
The key is putting my clients’ needs first. If you lead with contribution and invest in the relationship with the people that trust you to help them, good things follow.
What’s your secret to balancing work and family life?
Balance is always a challenge but the key for me is to always have time in the week where I turn off from anything electronic and just be present with the people around me. I’m also a big believer in getting away whether on vacation or a mini-retreat to change your scenery and spend time away from work so you can recharge and get ready for the next sprint.