Jamie Sarner admits he isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel in the real estate game.

The real estate agent representing PSR Brokerage has found success with meat and potatoes, nose-to-the-grindstone hard work and determination. He knows how to stay in his lane: only focusing on the neighbourhoods he wants to work in and the clients he wants to work with.

This level of specialization, a willingness to do whatever it takes to represent and market a property and a dogged ability to stay on top of new technology have garnered him great success over the last 15 years.

Not bad for a guy who became a real estate agent because his mom told him to. Wait! What? That story, along with many others, below.

What initially attracted you to real estate and how did you get into it?

I was 21 or 22 and I really wasn’t interested in real estate. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career. I was out with my mom and a lady named Elli Davis knew my mom from the past. My mom said, “You should be a real estate agent. Elli’s a real estate agent and she’s rich.” I said, “That’s interesting.” I was so young — I thought, why not try something, and that’s really how I got into real estate. I took the courses and it just kind of happened.

So what made you stick with real estate and what appealed to you about it?

I like that every day is different and I get to work with people … and help them make one of the biggest purchases of their lives. Everyone has a different story and it keeps it interesting. I like flexibility in terms of running my own business. If you do well, you can do well financially and I find it rewarding. You see a lot of people during the day. I’m in the office, I’m out of the office, every day is exciting and I’m never bored.

Did you get rich like your mom was thinking you might?

I don’t think I’m rich, but I’m very satisfied with the results of hard work. My mom definitely thinks I’m rich. It doesn’t make a difference if she thinks that, but maybe it makes her feel good.

What is the most common misunderstanding people have about what you do?

I think the most common misunderstanding is that a real estate agent is a salesperson, meaning that they sell a product and are no different from a shoe salesman, a car salesman or someone else who is selling a product. Really, I think of a real estate agent as more of a consultant and information provider and there’s a big difference for me. We’re not selling properties owned by a company that we’re working for or we have a vested interest in. No matter what property we sell, we have to give guidance — that’s the big difference.

What issues or innovations do you think will have a profound impact on the real estate industry in the future?

I think every year we’re seeing new technology. I don’t know other markets, but I think the Toronto Real Estate Board does an amazing job of keeping up to date. The people under the age of 50 or 60 are online first and it’s not as much the hustle as it used to be when Elli Davis started actually, it’s more about being speedy and making sure you’re utilizing technology — you know what’s going on and you’re kept up to date. There are a lot of agents who work hard and work a lot, but don’t know how to be technologically efficient.

I don’t see many threats. I only see opportunities from technology. Now, we’re starting with virtual reality — I haven’t experienced that yet — but, if anything, that’s a potential positive. I think it makes things much more efficient and easier to weed out properties that people shouldn’t see, based on one description in the paper with one chosen shot taken by an agent who is trying to promote just their property. No one wants to see 15 to 20 properties that they would never buy.

What are the qualities you need to be a top producer in this industry?

It’s a people business. You’re running your own business. My experience has shown me that as long as people are themselves, working within their limitations, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to door knock or do a few open houses. I think that not trying to crack every aspect of the market and focusing on the strengths of the neighbourhoods you like and want to work in by being focused is what I see has success for people. I’m not the agent for everyone and not every client is for me.

The reason I love my job is I’ve done a very good job of keeping in line with that philosophy. I only really work with people who want to work with me and I want to work with. This has always served me well because every time I’ve deviated from that philosophy, I’ve paid the price. This is such a large city and there’s so much business to go around that you don’t need to chase every single lead.

How do you keep up on your professional development and industrial education?

Technology is a big one. I always try to keep up with new technology and new client offerings. I always try to make sure that everything I’m utilizing is up to date, current and fresh. Every property deserves every bit of marketing fuel that I can use to sell it. There’s never any cost-cutting or cutting corners. I believe in doing everything and continuing to do those things that actually resulted in the sale.

I’m always networking with younger and older agents. I’m always mentoring at the company I work for and am always working with a number of newer agents who I always learn from as well. I team up with them to provide that certain level of experience they may be lacking. Continually keeping up with everything that’s being offered out there is very important. Also, I have no fear and no hesitation when it comes to doing everything I can in my power to make the process of buying or selling as smooth as possible, and it has paid off so far.