Cailey Heaps Estrin is the managing partner and sales representative for the Heaps Estrin Team — Royal LePage's No. 1 real estate team in Toronto and fifth in Canada.
For Cailey, real estate is a family business, as she works directly with her mother, Heather Heaps, who founded Heaps Estrin, and has worked in residential real estate since 1986. While no one knows the neighbourhoods of Central Toronto like her mother, Cailey has used her business marketing background to rise from an employee who paid her dues and earned her stripes to a managing partner who has substantially increased Heaps Estrin's market share.
Cailey recently sat down with Storeys to give us some insight into what contributed to her meteoric rise.
What initially attracted you to real estate?
My mother was a very successful real estate agent when I was growing up. She got into real estate when I was 10 years old. I never thought I would follow in her footsteps but after working in other industries I realized I was drawn to the world of real estate.
What do clients most commonly misunderstand when working with a realtor to buy or sell their house?
Clients sometimes misunderstand the value of this dynamic agency relationship, which goes beyond knowledge of the market and great negotiation skills. There must be trust, loyalty, great communication and mutual respect which are all very important elements and a critical part of the success of buying or selling a property.
What issues or innovations are you seeing that will have a profound effect on your industry in the future?
The issue that will continue to dominate the housing market is the lack of inventory. The pent-up demand will result in more bidding wars and high prices. Some buyers will be pushing the boundaries and continue to buy farther and farther out of the core to secure affordable housing.
From an innovation perspective, one big change has been the gradual move from a heavily paper-based industry to being able to complete transactions electronically. It has made a huge difference in our lives and our clients' lives in terms of ease of signing.
What does it take to be a top producer in your industry?
To be a top producer in this industry, an agent must continually research the market and stay on top of the ever-changing environment. Most top producers have teams. I believe it is virtually impossible to be a top producer without help. Realistically, how many transactions can you juggle and give good service?
A top producer will also treat their business like a business. It is not just buying or selling a house, but thinking more strategically about how to differentiate yourself in a market and how to make sure your clients’ experiences are unrivaled.
If you weren't a real estate agent, what would you be?
That is a tough question! I love what I do, it is hard to imagine another profession. I would likely work in the food and beverage industry – perhaps running a boutique beach hotel.
What is Toronto's most overrated or over-priced neighbourhood?
I have worked in the Toronto real estate market for almost 20 years now and I must say that I am often surprised to see the price appreciation in many neighbourhoods in Toronto. Having said that, we happen to live in one of the best cities in the world and there is huge demand to buy here. As for overrated neighbourhoods, it is a bit subjective, but I would certainly encourage buyers to purchase property within the city and try to stick to areas that are transit accessible.
What is your best advice for those buying or selling in a competitive market?
Get a good real estate agent. So many rely on a friend of the family or a relative for the biggest purchase or sale of their life. This can often end up with less than ideal or unsuccessful results. An experienced, full-time realtor is going to have the advantage almost every time at the negotiation table. There’s a reason that 90 per cent of the business is done by less than 10 per cent of the realtors.
Do you believe in the idea of a real estate bubble, and how do you deal with it?
We know from experience that real estate bubbles do exist. In the Toronto real estate market, I’m not seeing a real estate bubble now or in the immediate future. When you work in the business, you feel the pulse, you experience the demand and see the outcome. Toronto is a bit of an anomaly. In its current state, we have huge housing demand, low inventory, low unemployment and plenty of foreign investment interest. Toronto became one of the top travel destinations in 2016 and in many ways, has become the new “it” place to be.
What do you love most about what you do?
It is very rewarding to be part of a person or family’s success when buying or selling a home. It is a significant investment and when selling, a good agent can have a meaningful impact on someone’s wealth. When buying, I enjoy negotiating to my client’s best interest and ensuring that they are not overpaying. It can be a very intimate relationship built with a client over the time of buying or selling a home. I genuinely care about the outcome and the excitement and joy of my client.
What annoys you about what you do?
I truly love what I do, but I suppose the one thing that can be challenging is the unpredictability of the hours needed for the business. It can be difficult to plan social gatherings and trips because often when you think the evening is free, a situation arises and you are back in your car, off to negotiate an offer, to show a home or to put together an offer. The time you put into your business can be very exhilarating, but very unpredictable at the same time.
What is your greatest contribution as a realtor?
My greatest contribution is first and foremost, to always provide solid and professional service to my clients. My business is built on great ethics, good relationships and outstanding market knowledge. Our average selling price and days on the market are continuously more favourable than Toronto Real Estate Board averages. I also believe in the importance of giving back to the community. Our brokerage is a big supporter of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, the Ovarian Cancer Society, SickKids Foundation, Sarah’s Food Drive, The Shoebox Project and other initiatives.
How do you stay successful in this business without alienating friends and family or neglecting your own needs?
Anyone who knows me well knows that I strive to maintain the relationships in my life. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by people I adore and people who understand me and support me. There are moments that can be a bit of a juggling act. I do my best to schedule in time with family and friends. My children know that after we get through the craziness of the spring market, I take time off to reconnect with them.