Ira Jelinek is a Realtor with Harvey Kalles Real Estate in Toronto, and was ranked in the top one per cent of all agents in Ontario after just four years in the business.
How did you get involved in real estate?
I was involved in real estate by osmosis. My grandfather was in real estate and my father is in real estate, just not in sales. I always wanted to be involved in it, so I went into sales to carve my own path.
Where were you when you finished university? Did you think you’d be where you are now?
I finished university out of York and when I finished university, I envisioned myself working full time at my father’s company and I did not see myself getting into sales. It’s been a great career so far.
Why did you personally choose to focus on Toronto?
I was born and bred here. I know the city very well. It’s just the easiest choice to make because anywhere else, if I picked up and moved elsewhere, I would have had to start from square one. But here I have a foundation and relationships that I can build off of.
What makes you different?
I’m highly regimented and focused on business development and prospecting for new business, and doing whatever it takes to make the client happy. And I keep them in my database for future business and referrals.
What role does social media and/or online presence play in your business?
My Internet websites are two-fold. I use my personal real estate page somewhat as a business card and portfolio of who I am and what I’ve done. For example, testimonials and sold properties. Then I have other websites that are specialized for certain areas that I focus on, such as Yonge and Eglinton condos. For my social media presence, my main focus is Facebook with a bit of LinkedIn on the side. I have a business page on Facebook with close to 3,000 followers. I post daily property updates; for example, a new listing that seems like it would cater to my demographic on Facebook.
What tips would you give to first-time home buyers?
Speak with your bank or mortgage broker so you’re not running around looking at properties that may not match your price criteria. This enables them to focus on what they can afford, hence saving time and energy.
What is some of the criticism you’ve received?
Generally speaking, the biggest criticism that Realtors get is about a lack of communication. So I strive to avoid that. I’ve also gotten criticism that I don’t wear a suit every day.
What is your favourite part of your job?
If I decide to wake up and work hard that day, and if I do that consistently, good things will come to me. But conversely, no one is paying you an annual wage, so whatever you put into it, that’s what you get out of it. It requires a motivated-type character to be successful in this line of work.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
I’ve trained myself for the job, so I’m a morning person to get all the more difficult tasks out of the way. But I’m truly an evening person; that’s when I liven up.
What is your most memorable client encounter?
One of my first deals was with this one special 21-year-old lady who has a corporate job, and she really wanted to buy real estate as an investment. I was just so proud of her that she was so young and wanted to do this. We found something that she could rent out and make a nearly 10 per cent return after expenses. I was just so proud of her and how young she was and so driven. She’s owned it and continued to rent it out and make a great return. She was a first time buyer.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Disrespect for co-workers in my business. Maybe it’s true that not all agents are full time and not all of them work as hard as others. But I believe the ones that work hard and take their jobs seriously should not be stereotyped.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of getting into the business at a pretty young age and being able to achieve the top one per cent of 36,000 agents in Ontario in my fourth year of sales. And I found a career that I was happy with. So many people don’t enjoy what they do, and I’m just happy that I found something I enjoy at a young age.
What is the last book you read?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It’s just an inspiring book to read when you’re either on vacation or looking to drift away from reality in the city. It’s a very good, uplifting story.