An expanded Forest Hill Etobicoke Real Estate brokerage recently opened at Lakeshore and 33rd St., a self-described fun, non-stop, buzzing think-tank of real estate expertise. From left, Leonard Fridman, Diana Victoria Quinn, Leila Tabilova, and Vicky Tal.
The thing about The Justice League, The Avengers or any superhero team is they all have their special powers. But for all the power they possess, they learn they're always much stronger together.
That's certainly the case for the four managing partners at the new Forest Hill Etobicoke Real Estate Brokerage. Each have their own special powers: Diana Victoria Quinn is the darling of pre-construction, Meir Gluzberg of investment properties, Leonard Fridman of multiplexes and Vicky Tal of downsizing.
As individuals they all bring their specialty, but when Toronto Storeys interviewed three of these fantastic four, (Vicky Tal was unavailable) we discovered how strong they are as a team.
How did you get involved in real estate in the first place?
Diana Victoria Quinn: Both my parents are real estate brokers. I love to be challenged every day, I'm extremely competitive and I love the flexibility of real estate. My father had his own brokerage and my mother worked for various companies, but they were both traditional sellers while I spent most of my career in pre-construction.
Meir Gluzberg: It was a passion that started when I bought my neighbouring home and renovated it by myself. This was about 15 years ago and I sold the house in less than a year for double the amount of money I made with a paid salary. I did my license just to be able to do more deals, but I really got addicted.
Leonard Fridman: I started in Los Angeles where I was a mortgage broker. Then, when I moved to Toronto I decided that I wanted to be in sales. I felt that it was more interesting because it gave me exposure in buying my own real estate. I focused on selling multiplexes to my clients and myself.
How did the Forest Hill Etobicoke team come together?
DVQ: There's never been anything like us in the area in terms of a luxury, higher-end brokerage with a name brand. Meir and I did our real estate licenses together, then we connected about 10 years later on a deal and knowing that I live and work in Etobicoke, he invited me into this opportunity to open a Forest Hill office there. He told me about these other existing partners that he wanted to bring in. We met and it took about a year and a half to form the partnership. The others like to use the analogy that we dated before we got married. We went out to eat a lot and had many meetings before we decided to formally open an office together.
What do you think people most commonly misunderstand about working with a real estate agent?
DVQ: Basically that we're all the same. We all offer the same services in terms of listing a home and then marketing it with staging and open houses. They think the approaches and the strategies are all the same. We're a little bit different. We like to call ourselves the brainpower team because we're constantly thinking outside of the box, testing the boundaries and pushing the limits. We're always trying different things to market our properties and have buyers buy our properties.
What issues and innovations are you seeing that might have a profound effect on the industry in the future?
DVQ: I think it comes down to a team approach. Our approach is more of a collaborative team approach, so even though we all have our own clients, we have multiple agents helping that seller or that buyer. We are each keeping track with our conversations with the client and lending assistance where we can, so the client doesn't just have one agent working for them, they have all four of us.
What does it take to be a top producer in your industry?
LF: You work harder than other agents. I find most real estate agents do not work hard. They make a little bit of money and then they flutter away. They take the summer off, go on vacation and buy a new car. It's very much a feast or famine industry. They make a big chunk of money and then they lose steam. Successful real estate agents work day in and day out. They reinvest their money back into their brand, back into their team, back into support, back into an assistant because they're not worried that tomorrow they won't make money.
What is Toronto's most overpriced or overrated neighbourhood?
MG: I think Thornhill is the most overrated because there's high demand there, but geographically it doesn't hold water. I'm not saying it's not justified. It's just more overpriced than other neighbourhoods in the market. There's no real reason that it would be higher than Markham or Woodbridge, it's just that this particular area has high demand.
What do you love most about what you do?
LF: It's a hyper-focus, a needing to win, a putting of people's trust in my hands and not disappointing them. Then winning and knowing that other people lost. I used to be a very competitive surfer and martial artist and now my thrill is winning at real estate. It's the same intensity. Actually when I was a little kid, one of my martial arts instructors was Chuck Norris and I was a sparring partner to many celebrities, including John Cusack. It was an interesting time. Surfing was interesting too. I surfed all over the world for years.
What is your best advice for buying or selling a home?
LF: Pick the best representation and agent you can find. Don't pick your brother, your friend and your mother's agent. Pick the one you feel will compete at the highest level for you because it is competitive. It's like running a race. Some people train harder, some people wear better shoes, some people sleep more and they get to the finish line faster.
Do you believe in real estate bubbles and do you believe it's happening in Toronto?
MG: In general, I do. Do I believe it's happening in Toronto? I don't think so ... There are still global forces that are stronger than the Toronto market. Toronto is still inexpensive when you compare it to the rest of the world and the more unstable the world becomes, the more stable Toronto seems to be.
How do you prepare for your next goal in your business?
LF: I surround myself with smart people. I hire assistants. I work with smart real estate agents. A lot of it has to do with state of mind. This is a business of rejection and failure, but if you have a positive outlook and you're always looking for solutions, that's how you can better yourself.
How do you stay successful in the business without alienating friends and family or neglecting your own needs?
DVQ: It's a challenge. I have two kids and I’m torn because I love what I do. I can't turn it off because my clients need me and I'm committed to them. I'm also committed to my family. Our entire team has children and we all value our time with our families, so when it comes to taking time for ourselves, we really rely on each other for support. It's also great for our clients because there's always someone in the office even if one or more of us is on vacation. We're always there for them and we're always there for each other.