Graham Rowlands, born and raised in Toronto and successful realtor shares his story of how he left the corporate life to become a passionate real estate entrepreneur.
Graham studied computer programming in college and was soon hired by the well-known technology company, IBM. While working at IBM, he decided to start an online business with his friend and leave the corporate life as he wanted to venture out on his own path. Graham soon realized his passion for real estate once he bought his own condo in Toronto and as he became familiar with the real estate buying process. He is committed to his clients and takes the time to understand his client's needs, no matter how time consuming this process is. To learn more about Graham’s success story as a real estate entrepreneur, check out his interview with us!
When did you start your career in real estate?
I have been following and studying the Toronto Real Estate market for approximately 10 years and have been licensed to help clients buy and sell real estate for just under 4 years.
Please also in 2 short lines brag about yourself, if you really had to impress someone about what you do, what would you say?
I currently hold the record for most expensive sub 500 sqft condo ever sold in the city along with several $/sqft records for my seller clients. In 2016 I saved my buyers a total of approximately $150,000 which was pretty tough to do in such a hot market.
What inspired you to start in real estate and how did you motivate yourself to keep going?
I actually left the corporate world about 10 years ago. I had worked at IBM for 5 years then started my own online business which I ran for about 10 years. It was going great but times were changing and I decided it was time to head in a new direction. I spent about 2 years (on and off) finding my own condo (a Realtors’ nightmare) so I got really immersed in the process and really enjoyed it but found the Realtors I had didn’t seem to really be looking out for my interests and often I would miss out on places because they didn’t spot them fast enough. I didn’t want clients to have to go through what I went through so I wanted to try to do things a little differently than just being the guy who opened the door for me to see the places. This has pushed me to constantly study the market and really understand my clients’ needs so that I can react quickly because speed is everything in Toronto’s market.
I am kept motivated by watching how much money I have helped my clients make along with the smiles on their faces when they get the keys to their new homes.
Comparing your business from back then to now, what has been the main thing that allowed you to expand your business?
Ever since day one I have always tried to treat my real estate business like a business. There are plenty of people with real estate licences who dabble in selling real estate, but I think when you make real estate your main focus it really shows in how you handle the process with your clients.
What's the most profitable aspect of your business, why do you think this is and how can others apply this to what they are doing?
Referrals are by far the most profitable because there is very little marketing spend to get those clients. If you create incredible experiences and show your circle of influence that you really know the market then people will naturally refer people your way. It is also such a huge compliment to have someone trust me with their referral and I don’t take that lightly.
How do you work? (Do you wake up early, work late, communicate, what jobs do you do yourself, who do you talk to, etc.)
Sometimes it feels like I work 24/7 but there is also plenty of downtime in between. Just last night I showed a commercial listing that I had at 9:30 at night. Not something I typically would do but that was the only time they could come so I made it work. Then I was right back to the office at 9am this morning. I am working harder on outsourcing certain things but right now I still do most of the stuff myself. If I have issues I can reach out to my amazing management team or other agents who I’ve built relationships with.
When did you realize you were successful/made it and how did you feel/celebrate?
I don’t really think I’ve made it, because that would mean I would stop trying so hard. When I reach my goals I just set new goals. It is a never ending cycle.
Looking back, what could you of done sooner to of got to that point quicker?
If I were to go back in time I probably would have joined a team right away. I think it is a great way to quickly learn the business and have a mentor you can turn to.
What should other real estate entrepreneurs reading this be focusing on to expand their own business?
Find what you really like to do and do that. If you like working with others, join a team, if you like running social media campaigns, do that. Look deep within at what your strengths are and use those to your advantage.
What do you consider the main differences between those people who have been successful in your industry and those who have failed?
I don’t really think there is a perfect formula for success as I think it is dependent on the people. Some agents fail because they run out of money before their business actually has a chance to take off. The ones that I think do the best seem to be the hungriest and are willing to put in the hours and the work and do whatever is necessary to succeed.
How has social media and online marketing affected your real estate business? How much more success have you had now after implementing social media and online marketing efforts?
Social media and online marketing are two of my biggest strengths and are incredible for my business. Much of my business starts off with a message on Facebook or other social media channels. I have implemented social and online marketing since day 1 in my business and can’t imagine it any other way.
With 85% of buyers finding their home either online or from their agent (source: NAR) and just 1% finding their home from a print advertisement, do you really want to hire your realtor just because they sent you a glossy postcard in the mail and advertise in the Globe & Mail or do you want someone who can get in front of those online buyers?
We hope you’ve learnt a great deal about becoming a successful realtor. Be sure to reach out to Graham Rowlands for any questions about the Toronto real estate market or any information about buying, selling or investing in a property!
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