Part time? My clients know I’m not in it for the money so they trust me

by REP10 Oct 2014
He has a full-time job, sells real estate in the afternoons and evenings, and is building a growing clientele. This is how Eric Chan juggles a day job, rude agents and working his network to get new business.

How did you get involved in real estate?
I actually started off looking for an option for part-time income. I wasn’t sure where I’d end up. I was approached by one of my friends who had been in real estate for the last 18 years. He was looking for people to join his team of part-time agents. So I do this part-time and I have a full-time job.
I’m in technical sales. The skill set that real estate brings me, focusing more on clients and on service levels, absolutely prepared me. The way you work in real estate really varies from person to person, their response and situations. And to put that in a [business to business] perspective, you get a range [of skills]. Learning to deal with how people react to the stress of buying a home has really helped me in my day job.
Where were you when you finished university? Did you think you’d be where you are now?
When I finished university, I graduated from engineering. I didn’t see myself as a real estate agent. I did a typical computer engineering job. I like the flexibility of real estate, and the ability to essentially be my own boss. I didn’t think I’d be doing it but I’m quite happy that I did.
Why did you personally choose to focus on Toronto?
I live in Toronto I know it very well. I also lived in Mississauga for a good portion of my life. I focus on Toronto specifically because a lot of people want to move here. It’s been a prosperous city for the last couple of years. I also know the Mississauga area very well. My clients are growing out of the single life and want to get larger space and its tough to get that in Toronto without a hefty price tag.
What makes you different?
In terms of what makes me stand out, I’ve had a lot of focus in terms of my day job – how to work with clients and be responsive. That’s a key thing I want to make sure my clients know I’m here to help them, teach them so they’re fully aware of how the legal process works. I like to say I’m a student to the game but I want to make that process goes smoothly for my clients.
What role does social media and/or your online presence play in your business?
I use social media to an extent within my network. That first knock on the door allows me to provide more information and establish trust. The online presence really helps. I get a lot of leads from my website – it helps provide me with an extension to my existing network.
What tips would you give to first-time home buyers?
I help them financially in terms of what to expect. There are a lot of hidden costs that they don’t understand, but there are a lot of rebates that the government provides. What to expect financially when they go into it. Being a first-time home buyer is pretty tough, and from personal experience, being a homebuyer and not just a renter definitely helps strengthen you in the long term.
What is some of the criticism you’ve received?
Some of the criticism I’ve received may relate to my lack of knowledge in certain buildings. Clients expect me to be able to answer all the questions they have. But if we’re doing 15 showings a day I might not know all the amenities of every building. But that’s something I try to prepare before going on these showings.
As a part-time agent, what I’ve found is that focusing on my network versus cold leads reduces the sales cycle, so that’s helped. In terms of the work, you’re basically working all hours of the day but that comes in with the flexibility. If you have different sales cycles, you can turn it into a great income source.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Getting new clients and closing deals. It’s exciting to see a new client who wants to work with you and you can build that trust with the clients and ultimately getting them the property that they want. Winning that deal is very rewarding for me and my clients.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
I’m a night person. I work at all hours – my clients know they can reach me at any time and they’re not disturbing me. Most of my clients are at work during the morning, so I get most requests later. It’s pretty conducive to my lifestyle.
What is your most memorable client encounter?
There was a client – a rental client – who didn’t have a very good credit history. He was very difficult to secure a rental, he had made some mistakes in the past. He wanted to improve his life and move into a good place. For him, it was such a relief to be able to find him a good place and move him into a better situation. It turned out to be a very good experience.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
All agents are people and sometimes there are occasions where people don’t treat other agents the same way as you would if you met them on the street. Sometimes dealing with agents, you never know who is on the other end. You have to be very polite and courteous but sometimes people don’t react that way. Some agents don’t conduct themselves professionally and are very rude.
What are you most proud of?
I’ve been fairly successful in real estate considering I’ve only been in it for the last year or so. I’ve been able to accrue about 15 clients and that’s because people know that they can trust me. I have a full-time job so they know I’m not just in it to make a buck. Going into it, I didn’t know if I’d have a single client, so it’s great to have the business that I do.
What is the last book you read?
Having two jobs and a kid, I don’t have much time to read. The last book I read was probably the general real estate transaction textbook.

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