Welcome to Meet the Agent, an ongoing series profiling real estate agents from across Canada. With more than 150,000 agents, brokers, and salespeople working in 75 different boards and associations across the country, we thought it was about time they had a place to properly introduce themselves.
If you or someone you know deserves the same chance, email firstname.lastname@example.org to apply.
Name: Donna Harding
Brokerage:Engel & Völkers Nova Scotia
Personal Channels: Website | Instagram | LinkedIn
Years of Experience: 19
Areas of focus: All of HRM including Halifax, Bedford, Dartmouth, Prospect, Hammonds Plains and the South Shore of Nova Scotia.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small fishing village in Grand Bank, Newfoundland.
What neighbourhood do you live in now?
We have an oceanfront property in Prospect, Nova Scotia, in a small fishing community called McGrath's Cove located 25 minutes outside of Halifax. During the week, we reside in Halifax's thriving west end in our duplex, so our children are closer to activities and school.
What made you want to become a real estate agent?
I have always loved design, homes, and working with people as my parents did. When I looked for a second career after 24 years in the Canadian Navy, real estate seemed like a natural fit.
What’s the biggest challenge you see facing the market today?
One of the biggest challenges is the changing post-pandemic market. With significant speculation and interest rate hikes, as well as the global impacts of the war in Ukraine and significant immigration to our province, there was a period in the last six months of 2022 when the market stalled. Prices have not come down, however, and as the average sale price continues to grow in Nova Scotia, although much slower than the period from 2020 - 2022, educating clients on the changing market has become a big challenge.
What’s the single best advice you have for sellers?
Our market is stable and still a sellers' market. Inventory is at an all-time low, making it an excellent time to list.
What’s the single best advice you have for buyers?
The speculation that Nova Scotia’s housing market would see a significant price adjustment has not come to pass because low employment, high immigration, and a shortage of housing stock have kept prices growing. The market in Nova Scotia will continue to grow as we remain the most affordable major city (Halifax) and province in Canada with significant waterfront properties. Now is the time to enter the market as we expect growth to continue over the next 5-10 years.
What’s the best thing a realtor can invest in for their brand (a bus bench ad, a solid Instagram strategy, etc.)?
As I have transitioned from full-time realtor to brokerage owner, many of the lessons I learned during my career have helped mentor my realtors working with us throughout Nova Scotia -- from Yarmouth to Cape Breton. Sales are about relationships, and therefore, the best investment a realtor can make is the use of a robust CRM system and a focus on their client base and SOI. Your brand naturally develops when you create a business focussed on developing your client relationships into the future. The most prolific business is one based on repeat and referral business.
Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
I look up to the 80+ advisors in my brokerage who work tirelessly each day for their clients and community, giving back in every way they can.
Is there anything you wish people knew or understood about realtors that you think they’re constantly getting wrong?
Working in this industry requires significant dedication, long hours, and often, giving up precious family time. It is a career that requires constant education and an understanding of markets as they change daily. Realtors are entrepreneurs whose businesses require 24/7 attention. They are affected by economics, politics, and provincial, national, and international trends. Realtors must adapt quickly to the changes around them and success requires professionalism, integrity, and ethics.
Tell us about your favourite (or most memorable) sale.
There have been so many. Yet when I think of a memorable sale, it is not about a big sale, it is about a historical one. I sold a property in Peggy's Cove Nova Scotia that was one of the original homes in that little iconic fishing village known globally. The home was owned by European descendants living in the United States who visited Peggy's Cove in the late 1980s on their honeymoon. They decided to buy and restore the property, even adding back a second loft level that had blown off in a storm in the early 1900s. Learning the history of the property and the love this couple had for it was a definite highlight of my career.
What are the three words you hope your clients use to describe you?
Honest. Professional. Client-focused.
What’s your favourite thing to do outside of selling houses?
I love to paint landscapes, a hobby I picked up during the pandemic and one I hope to do in retirement one day. I love to sail with my husband and partner around the beautiful bays and ocean surrounding Nova Scotia, as well as spend time with my two boys!
This interview may have been edited for both length and clarity. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of STOREYS.