If you're buying or selling a home with the help of Nadia Saloojee, class is always in session.
Though this leading Toronto real estate agent fell in love with houses and interior design at an incredibly young age, she had a different career previously — she was a teacher. Feeling a lack of control over her destiny, however, eventually led her back to her first love.
If you ask Saloojee, real estate is not the grand departure it may appear to be to the outside observer. Selling homes and teaching surprisingly have many things in common.
Saloojee, of Right At Home Realty Inc., explained that crossover to Toronto Storeys and weighed in on a variety of regulatory issues that she has found herself educating her clients about in recent weeks. Plus, find out how she views Toronto as a market and what she does to relax in her downtime.
What initially attracted you to real estate?
My journey into real estate is an interesting one. I've always loved houses for as long as I can remember and I was very fascinated by the process of selling a home from a very early age. However, when it came time to choose a career path, I actually chose education. I am a teacher by profession. I actually went into early childhood education. But after teaching for a number of years, even though I loved a lot of things about teaching, especially the ability to foster a person towards their greatest potential, I just felt there was something missing, so I ended up getting my real estate license and coming back to my first love.
I was also drawn to working as a real estate agent because it is client facing and still allows me the opportunity to work with people. It is a privilege to help buyers and sellers through arguably one of their most significant financial decisions, and provide support, guidance and sensitivity through the process.
What did you think was missing?
It's a little difficult to articulate. In a way the thing I love about real estate is the heavy teaching component that goes along with it. You're always educating clients and walking them through incredibly complex rules and processes. I like being there to help them navigate the complexities. But I guess I would say the thing that real estate has that teaching doesn't so much is that sense of entrepreneurship and being in control of your own destiny. Sure, you do have some degree of control in how you conduct your classroom and organize your assignments as a teacher, but generally, you are restricted by the regulations set out by the school board, or institution.
Speaking of education, there have been a number of new legislative edicts and regulatory changes that real estate agents in Toronto have been scrambling to educate their clients on in the past weeks and months. What is your take on these new rules from the foreign buyers’ tax to the new mortgage stress test?
I don't think the foreign buyers’ tax did as much as anticipated to slow down the Toronto market. Of course, January to April was absolutely insane and the summer, especially July and August, slowed down a little bit. But now we're in the fall with September and October and according to the latest stats that I saw, the Toronto market was actually up in September two percentage points higher than where it was for the same month last year. It seems after a short slowdown the market is already rebounding.
"You're always educating clients and walking them through incredibly complex rules and processes," says Saloojee.
As for the stress test, people still can apply for mortgages and it's probably actually a good thing. I mean it forces buyers to be more financially responsible and that's always welcome. When any new regulation is put in place, it is our responsibility as real estate professionals to educate our clients about what this means for them, and how it may impact the purchase and/or sale of their property.
A lot of real estate agents tell us that Toronto is on the cusp of becoming a world-class real estate market right alongside New York, Hong Kong and London, but it's not quite there. What do you think is holding it back?
Wow, that's a great but really tough question to answer. I've often seen the strength of the Toronto market and wondered the same thing. I guess if I had to answer I would say that Toronto's greatest weakness as a real estate market is public transportation. It's ridiculous that Canada's largest city only has two subway lines, especially since people are hungry for homes near a subway stop. I don't understand because if you look at the other cities you mentioned, they all have multiple interconnected subway lines that ferry people all over the city.
Toronto has all these dead spaces and our highways are stretched to the max, gridlock happens every day, so it's not like driving is any better. Hopefully, the upcoming SmartTrack initiative improves the situation. I recognize that Toronto real estate prices are relatively low in comparison to many major cities globally, however that's not how it seems to locals. There is still a need for more affordable housing, and especially more affordable rentals for Torontonians.
With all this industry prognosticating, let's switch gears and get to know you a little more. When you're not grinding and doing deals 24/7 as real estate agent, how do you relax? How do you balance out your life amid the accelerated rat race the real estate industry can often be?
Yoga is a big one for me. In addition, fitness, cooking, travelling, spending time with friends and family are all of the things that keep my life balanced. I'm all about physical fitness and generally living a healthy lifestyle so I can give my friends, family and clients the best version of myself at all times. My friends and family are incredibly understanding about my schedule and the demands of my business. They recognize that sometimes if we have plans I may need to reschedule, or work while spending time with them.
I love to travel and see the world, and try to do so when work isn’t too busy. When I am out of town or unavailable my clients are very understanding and they still receive seamless service as I work with an amazing team of realtors who ensure that my clients are taken care of, and all of their needs are met. My clients know they are in great hands with my co-workers, and I am still only a phone call or email away. I do believe I am privileged to be working in a field where I have such fantastic clients and get to work with people who I love. I can’t say it enough, I do have the best clients in the world, and I believe that the key to keeping them satisfied is through open lines of communication, integrity, honest and respect.