How did you get involved in real estate?
I was a primary school teacher and used to love to go to open houses on weekends. I was not happy with my career, which I was at for seven years, so a friend of mine said, “You should take the real estate course”. I had heard that real estate was a very difficult, terrible business and everything about it was awful. But I decided to take a leave of absence from teaching, and I took the course and I loved it. And the rest is history, 31 years later.
Where were you when you finished university? Did you think you’d be where you are now?
I went to York University, then I taught for seven years. I had no idea what I wanted to do. In the ‘70s, you were either a nurse, a secretary or a teacher.
Why did you personally choose to focus on Toronto?
I’m born in Toronto and I’ve been here my whole life. I wouldn’t think of working or living anywhere else.
What makes you different?
I’m a very focused, organized person. When people ask me how many hours I work a week, I say until I’m finished. I’m quite a serious person and I strive for as close to perfection as I can be. I love to please people; I love to do a great job.
What role does social media and/or your online presence play in your business?
I’m a very strong believer in social media. I was one of the first people to have a website when I didn’t even know what a website was. A web developer offered to do it for me, he was starting a business. I probably have had between five and 10 generations of ElliDavis.com.
What tips would you give to first-time home buyers?
Be qualified. Be ready. Have a wish list. Get a great agent who you can trust and who will work for you on your behalf.
What is some of the criticism you’ve received?
Some people think I’m a little cool and abrupt; Tough; That can be pursued as good or bad. Always professional and to the point, focused. Some people think I price too low, but it’s a proven fact that when you price reasonably or low, you actually achieve a better sale in dollars.
What is your favourite part of your job?
The freedom. I work a lot more hours than a nine-to-five. But the freedom of the job allows me to work nights or weekends, at home, in the car. I can do my personal errands during the day if I need to, and don’t have to ask anyone permission. Flexibility is key to me. I’m my own boss. Another favourite part of my job is meeting new people and how every day is different. No two days are the same.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
I am a night person. I love just catching up at night – doing my email, making a list for the next day. I am disciplined that I get up in the morning – “the bell rings at nine” – I still think it’s important to get up, get dressed and go to an office. But very often I’m up until midnight or one in the morning. It’s quiet then too – the phone doesn’t ring.
What is your most memorable client encounter?
Walking through a house, and before we got to the top floor, the buyer said, “Okay, I’ll take it.” And selling a house for over $15 million was pretty exciting.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
When people don’t believe I’m the right person for the job. I have a lot of successes, but there are disappointments. When I hear the reasons why they’re not going to use my services, it bothers me. Sometimes they think I’m not the expert in their area, but I’m well-versed in everything and if I’m not, I make it a point to be. Many people have given me listings in areas I’m not familiar with but I still do a good job at it. I’m always looking to learn new areas and tackle new challenges. But you have to be able to go on with your day and get back to work.
What are you most proud of?
I have a balance in my life. I have a great personal life, wonderful family and friends. The balance has been difficult to achieve but I’m much better at it now than I used to be. And that I’m here after 31 years and still loving my job and being very successful at it.
What is the last book you read?
The last book was Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg, who is the chief operating officer of Facebook. It’s about women achieving success. She grew up in a very traditional family as I did. A lot of us don’t believe we can do what we’ve done. One has to take a chance, a risk and “go for it”.
Elli Davis is top of her class but the path she took to real estate is hardly a common one. But now, after more than 30 years in the business, this teacher turned agent has earned an A+.