Real estate agents can come from all walks of life. But what ties them together is a keen interest in real estate and a passion for sales. My father, Boris Sokolovski, is one of these people; before getting into real estate, he worked as a property manager and an investor. Even before that, he was a software developer and computer programmer. Today, he’s a licensed real estate agent with Sutton Group-Admiral Realty who greatly enjoys his work.
Speaking to him over coffee, I wondered what it was like to leap from property management to real estate sales. Boris said, “Well, I wouldn’t say that was a complete leap, just an additional direction for my activity. I learned that if I became an agent, I would have access to greater resources and a better understanding of the industry, and in this way gain a new specialty for me.”
On his clients, Boris says that they all have different needs. There are first-time buyers who are unsure of what they are looking for. There are separated or divorced couples, who need to sell their property and somehow divide their assets. And then there are investors, who may own—or entertain the idea of acquiring—real estate properties. It is this last group that Boris understands better than others, simply because he has relevant experience.
“In real estate, clients sometimes cannot decide what they really want. Sometimes their wants do not match their needs. I make it a point, in certain cases, to advise clients not to buy any property right now if I see that their circumstances are not the best for such a move. My job is to determine their real needs, and to find the best solution for them. There are a lot of parameters to this work, and sometimes they are ambiguous. Adapting to the human factor is a major challenge, but I believe it’s learnable.”
The minimum a real estate agent must do is show properties and close purchases and sales—putting in due diligence to earn commissions. Boris’s approach, however, goes far beyond that. His objective is to build long-lasting and mutually beneficial working relationships with clients and guide them through the research process, transactions, mortgages, interest rates, market trends, investment and more going forward.
“A lot of times during the last decade,” he says, “many people called me and asked a lot of questions about investment, about tenant issues, about districts in the City of Toronto. After they had already made all their decisions and discussed everything with their agents, they went on to call me and ask for my opinion. On several occasions, I had to ask: ‘Listen, why don’t you call your real estate agent and ask him/her the questions you’re asking me?’ Their answer? ‘Oh, my agent is completely busy or I don’t like him/her anymore’, stuff like that. My goal, by contrast, is not just to earn my wages, but to be sure that I find the right solution for my customer, to warn them about potential financial and other challenges and to ensure that they are happy enough with my work to be repeat clients.”
According to Boris Sokolovski, being successful in business—whether in real estate or otherwise—requires organization and planning, good negotiation skills and a strong work ethic. People also need to take care of themselves; if they are not in good health, they might find it difficult to handle a heavy work load. And once you achieve success, don’t forget to give back.
Word Count: 586; Arbitrage Magazine