Addy Saeed is all about making it rain in real estate.
That is to say he lives to help clients make money in real estate with intelligence, caution and forethought. As a real estate sales representative with Cityscape Real Estate Ltd., he specializes in the sale, acquisition (and sometimes renovation) of unique homes and income properties. If he thinks a property will make you money, he and his team are keeping tabs on its potential. Whether it be condos, plazas, apartments, mansions or fixer-uppers, he helps his clients see what others cannot, or the opportunities they were too late to jump on.
Meanwhile, he helps out his fellow brokers with ReMarkTO — Real Estate Marketing Toronto, a free monthly meetup group he started with fellow realtor Dave Chomitz that hosts seminars and professional development sessions on the latest and greatest marketing techniques in Ontario's real estate industry.
In that vein, he offered Storeys his greatest advice on what to look for if you want to generate wealth by investing in Toronto real estate.
What initially got you into real estate?
My dad always said, 'If you want to make money and you want to be successful in life, do something with real estate.' Back in 1998, I had just moved to Canada (from Pakistan). We were looking to buy our first house and I had just met an agent who actually became a really good friend. I work with him now. He was showing us around and his knowledge of the market, as well as how he carried himself, really impressed me. From then on, I thought being an agent was my calling.
What do you think clients most commonly misunderstand when working with a realtor to buy or sell their house?
People assume being a realtor is easy and buying or selling real estate is easy. One of the main things that I find is how undervalued some of our services are in the marketplace. This is a symptom of a healthy marketplace. Since we have a really good real estate market, there have been a flood of new agents.
A lot of part-timers practising in the market has caused the depreciation of value for real estate agents and the knowledge that we share with our clientele. I don't find that a lot, but anytime we have new clients coming in, they come with the perception that all real estate agents are created equal. People like me, and other full-time agents that spend close to 80 hours a week practising real estate, would disagree.
What issues or innovations are you seeing in the real estate world that will have a lasting impact on its future?
Some of the innovations we're seeing are being able to buy properties off the Internet. But even though you can buy them off the Internet and you have a lot of information available, you still need someone that is on the ground and knows what's happening in the area — that will never change. Of course, technology will make the process more efficient, but there's still no substitute for someone who has in-depth knowledge of the area.
What about virtual reality — where clients can take a virtual tour through their prospective house. Have you seen this technology yet and what do you think of it?
I have and it's a double-edge sword. You want to go take a look at the property. As a buyer, I wouldn't purchase the property without looking at it. First of all, it's very expensive still. You're looking at upwards of $2,500 if you provide a service like that, so it would have to be for a really, really high-end property. Secondly, as a realtor who provides that service, you're actually losing out on meeting the people who are touring your property.
While it's a neat idea, you're looking at a very niche market where you can apply those types of innovations. I like it though ... From a virtual reality standpoint, it makes absolute sense to use virtual tours for clients buying pre-construction.
How do you stay a top producer in the industry?
To be a top producer you have to have a niche. For myself, that niche is any property we think could generate wealth through real estate. It could be pre-construction condos, apartment buildings or plazas. You also have to market yourself based on the product you're selling. Too many agents make the mistake of marketing themselves as being the best, but that's not what their clients are looking for, they are looking for the product you have to offer.
If you're consistent in the type of product you're offering, then there's the niche you're creating and you can be a top producer in that particular niche. No one can be an expert in “everything real estate,” there's nothing like that anymore. It's a lot more specialized.
What is Toronto's must underrated neighbourhood?
For me, underrated means areas where at some point prices were cheap and they are going to be on the upswing. There's a couple different areas I'm keeping an eye on. First and foremost, in Toronto I would be looking at Geary Avenue where there's a lot of new hip businesses moving in and there's construction taking place. If you're an investor thinking about purchasing properties to renovate, I would look at properties around Toronto that have larger lots: Etobicoke, Scarborough, Victoria Park and O'Connor and North York. These are areas where lot sizes start at 40 feet and you have older bungalows — that's a big sign for me.
What do you love or what annoys you most about your job?
What annoys me most is when people say, “You can't make money in real estate,” and what thrills me most is when I prove them wrong because you can still make money in real estate. I'm not a big proponent of investing in condos, but there are projects out there that even today can blow you away with what the potential is. A prime example is Vaughan Metropolitan Condos because Vaughan is actually moving its downtown from Major Mackenzie Dr. and Keele St. to Hwy. 7 and the 400 area because of the TTC station that's coming there.
What's your best advice for clients looking to buy or sell in Toronto's competitive market?
If you're looking for an investment property, look for that hidden potential that others might not be seeing. For example there are duplexes and triplexes around $700,000 and if you were to renovate them those properties could be world $1.1 million to $1.2 million. Keep a long-term focus in mind. When you're buying for yourself it's never going to be a perfect home, so look at different ways to increase the value of the property. Simple renovations like changing the floors can make a big impact. Buy for your needs and don't stretch yourself.
Do you believe in a real estate bubble and how do you deal with it?
The idea of a bubble is that there's so many people buying and there's blind trust that the prices are going to keep going up. If you look at the real estate market, you're seeing the demand. You're seeing the vacancy rate at lower than 1 per cent. Now we're seeing more money flooding into the marketplace, which could be a hindrance on the overall market, but the money that comes from outside actually pays for all the jobs that we have in construction ... I'm an optimist and I see the market balancing out later in 2017 and into 2018. The demand will slow down or you'll start to see more supply coming into the marketplace, which is a symptom of high demand because a lot more people will enter the construction market to create properties that buyers are looking for.
What is your next goal and how do you improve?
I'm a big believer in being learning-based. I read at least a book a month and I try to incorporate at least two or three ideas from every book I read into the business. I don't have a set idea of what I will do, but I'm always adaptable. There could be something new coming down the pike that I don't know about, but I will investigate it, implement it and see how it fares. You can't be set in the old ways, but you must be cautious about the new ways and be informed about the new chase that is coming through, while making the best of the situation at-hand.