One piece of advice Sarah Higgins imparts to her students is the same piece of advice she received when she started as a salesperson nearly 14 years ago.
“This older REALTOR® in my office came up to me and said, ‘Sarah, bank your first cheque’, and he was right because you don’t know when the second one is going to come,” says Sarah, a broker with Royal LePage Johnston & Daniel Division and an instructor at OREA Real Estate College, a position she’s held since January. She teaches Real Estate as a Professional Career and will also be teaching Land, Structures and Real Estate Trading in the new year.
Sarah knew she would enjoy teaching; what she didn’t anticipate was how much she would enjoy it. She particularly likes teaching adults because many of them are transitioning into real estate as a second career and bring varied professional backgrounds and experiences into the classroom. Sarah also draws upon her own experience as a Realtor in the classroom.
“I bring some real-life examples to my teaching. If we’re talking about representation and how important it is to read the agreement properly and to do the paperwork properly, I can give real-life examples of people who have gotten into trouble because they didn’t do this. Students find real-life examples interesting because you’re putting them into context.”
Another piece of advice Sarah imparts to students is the importance of explaining to clients what could happen in a real estate transaction and what is going to happen with their particular transaction.
“Buyers don’t know that if they offer $50,000 more than the asking price and if the bank doesn’t approve that house for that amount, they’re on the hook for the differential. You need to tell clients this. You also need to tell them that in Toronto, we have a municipal as well as a provincial land transfer tax.”
Sarah recommends that new salespeople develop a booklet of information that they give to buyer and seller clients.
Real estate is a challenging profession. One challenge is finding the inventory. The second challenge is finding clients. Sarah recommends finding out what marketing techniques work and to stick with them.
“You have to tell everybody and anybody you know what you do. And, you have to do what’s right for you. Don’t do things you don’t like because it’s going to come across. If things aren’t working, you have to try something new.”
The challenges, however, have been worth it, at least they have been for Sarah, who’s focus is residential resale in the central core of Toronto. She likes the fact that every transaction is different and there is no such thing as a typical day. She also likes the relationships she forges with clients. One such relationship was with an elderly couple who had been living in the same house since they got married. She sat with the husband for one month as he waded through and cleared 20 years’ worth of paperwork.
“As we were selling the house, I would be up in the office helping the husband with the paperwork. I would say ‘keep’ or ‘throw’ and we did this for one month. The wife would call us and she’d have little egg salad sandwiches with the crust cut off for the three of us.
“After we sold the house, they invited me back to their nursing home for tea. It’s nice to be appreciated and develop those relationships,” Sarah says.