January marks the swearing in of the Victoria Real Estate Board’s new board of directors.
Arriving are president-elect Wendy Moreton, with secretary treasurer Ara Balabanian, past-president Tim Ayres, Kyle Kerr, Mike Nugent, Marijane Smith, Tony Wick and Cheryl Woolley.
The Black Press engaged current president Guy Crozier on the state of the industry.
Q: How long have you been selling in Greater Victoria and what makes it special for you?
A: I’ve been selling real estate for 23 years now – in the Victoria area for my entire career! I’m a fifth generation Victorian, so just getting to know that many more fellow Victorians over the course of all the transactions I’ve been a part of has been special.
Real estate is the perfect career for me. It lets me leverage my background of management in the service industry and build my own business the way I choose. When you look at the industry, realtors are one of the last bastions of entrepreneurs, we are each small businesses who invest in our own technology, products, marketing and so on. Every realtor out there builds their own brand and makes their own way.
I enjoy that level of responsibility for my business and control over my work. I feel very lucky to get to do what I do every day.
Q: What are your background strengths?
A: I think I have the right kind of work ethic to be an entrepreneur – I’m competitive, like to build relationships and hard work doesn’t scare me. When I was new to the business I came in with a lot of ambition, which drove me through the tough times when you wonder if you’ll make it to the next month.
I also feel my experience in the service industry served me well – no pun intended.
I spent nearly a decade on the management track at a global restaurant chain and I learned so much there that has helped me do my work now. Not just around the value of good customer service, but how to balance the books, manage time, all those skills came from my training in the service industry.
Q: Why take on this role?
A: The more time I spend as a realtor, the more I value organized real estate, of which VREB is an integral part. I’ve volunteered on board committees for more than fifteen years, and it seemed like the natural progression to commit five or six years to be on the board of directors after my experience in committees. I felt ready. And my peers did as well, with their support I was voted in as a director and later to the post of president. It’s been an honour.
Q: The traditional process of real estate agents selling homes has been challenged in recent years, do you anticipate any more trends to affect the industry?
A: I think the changing trends have made realtors more important than ever. Twenty or 30 years ago technology wasn’t a factor when purchasing or selling property, and there were only one or two ways to market a home.
Negotiations were simpler. Now, technology changes faster than home values and mortgage rates.
There are endless ways to market a property, sales are complex and there are more potential liabilities than before. Historically realtors were keepers of information. Now that information is readily available online, and realtors have become the experts in how to use and interpret information, create the marketing strategy, navigate the complex paperwork, etc.
Now, more than ever, you need a professional in a property transaction.
Q: Does the VREB have any initiative new projects in mind?
A: Projects we undertake are focused on helping our (1,200 Victoria region realtors) do their job better. For example, our board launched an online StrataDocs service that helps connect users with strata paperwork and information required when doing due diligence in selling and buying strata units, and that’s a Victoria-born initiative that is now being used across the country at many different real estate boards.
One of our current projects is the strata lockbox program, which provides safe and secure places for realtors to place keys for multi unit buildings. We have also just rolled out a complex mandatory education component through our provincial organization. We manage content and delivery at the local level.
Moving forward the board will continue to look for ways to support members – that might be in the form of new technology or physical products that help streamline work and keep property safe.