Leslie Tokayer has struck gold in her 13-year career as a real estate broker with The Gerlock Real Estate Group — Royal LePage Partners Realty, Brokerage. She recently took home Royal LePage’s President’s Gold Award for 2016 (the top six-tenth percentile in annual earnings) and the Award of Excellence (having been honoured with the President’s Gold Award five out of the past seven years).
Shepherded through the business by her uncle, Steve Gerlock, Tokayer has established herself as a successful broker in her own right. Driven by her principles and passionate about her career she thrives on coming up with innovative ideas to make sure her clients achieve the results they deserve.
Storeys got the chance to hear how Tokayer sets the gold standard in her work daily.
What initially attracted you to real estate?
I have always been in sales. In the back of my mind, I always felt there would be a natural progression to real estate. From a young age, I was working weekends at my grandparents’ shelving store. I worked at fast food chains, video stores, clothing stores and I also worked in the film industry. Even in my short film career, my focus was on producing and location management. In essence, sales and real estate.
Before getting into real estate, I worked at Decorium Furniture, and quickly went from being a sales representative to a sales manager. Helping people design the interior of their homes was a great fit. And then it happened: Steve Gerlock, my uncle, a top producer at Royal LePage Partners Realty, asked me to get my license and come work with him. His business was rapidly growing and he wanted to work with someone he could trust. It was the natural progression I always imagined.
What do clients most commonly misunderstand when working with a realtor to buy or sell their house?
I think the No. 1 misunderstanding is that “All agents are the same.” There are some 48,000 realtors in the GTA and therefore, 48,000 different sales models. The client’s end result can differ tremendously because of the realtor they choose.
What issues or innovations are you seeing that will have a profound effect on your industry in the future?
How people shop for homes has changed so dramatically in a relatively short period of time and I think it will keep on evolving. It is crucial to know how to effectively market a home and stay on top of current trends.
If you weren't a real estate agent, what would you be?
Real estate is such a great fit. But if I weren’t a realtor, I would still be in sales. I love helping people find what they are looking for. The challenge motivates me and the smile on my clients’ faces when they get what they want is an incredible high.
What is Toronto's most overrated or over-priced neighbourhood?
I am not certain that anywhere in Toronto is overrated or overpriced. There is a very good possibility that Toronto has been undervalued for quite some time. Right now we might just be playing catch up.
What do you love most about what you do?
There is nothing more rewarding than helping my clients achieve top dollar for their house and on the flip side, finding them the perfect home that they can create memories in. It is a very emotional experience for all of us and I love being part of the journey.
What annoys you about what you do?
The low caliber of professionalism that is in our industry annoys me. There is a low bar for entry, which has resulted in a lack of service.
What is your greatest contribution as a realtor?
I like to think of myself as a “make it happen”-type person. I love a good challenge — for example when my clients give me spreadsheets miles long of must-haves, and I have had homes that don’t fit the cookie cutter mold and were challenging to sell. I work closely with my clients — we become partners and we come up with a strategy to make sure we are all successful.
What is your best advice for those buying or selling in a competitive market?
Choose wisely! The right agent can make all the difference in the end result.
Do you believe in the idea of a real estate bubble and how do you deal with it?
The first thing we have to ask is, what is a bubble? If a bubble bursts it disappears. I am pretty certain real estate isn’t going anywhere. Real estate is a market and markets constantly change. The important thing to do is to analyze the market you are in today and make wise choices.
How do you stay successful in this business without alienating friends and family or neglecting your own needs?
It’s all about balance. Many people get into the business because of the flexibility of the work hours. However, I believe it is one of the most inflexible careers one can have. We are always on call, and we work a lot during the evenings and weekends. I work as part of a family team. We all get a well-deserved break when we need one. We take comfort in knowing that one of us is always available to help our clients. Our clients especially love this because they know they are always in good hands. We are a team — our clients know all of us. Many realtors, when they are unavailable, have to rely on colleagues who might not be experienced or of the same caliber. We rely on our family, with a proven track record.