What made you go in to Real Estate?
Life presents different opportunities at the right time, if you pay attention. I’ve always been a book worm and a self-professed nerd: I received my Masters in Fine Arts and had my own art Gallery. But after I became a single parent, I decided to combine my love of learning, passion for interacting with and getting to know people, and creativity to provide a comfortable life for my child and a new challenge for myself; before I knew it, Real Estate became my calling.
How many years have you been in the business?
Almost 26 years. I started in new home sales, once that was conquered and learnt, moved to residential sales, then land and development and commercial sales. As soon as I feel I have the full command of a niche in Real Estate, I like to read and learn about a different area in this business and add that to my expertise.
Are there any life lessons you’ve learnt in your experience that you would like to share?
I have many, but I think this quote from Maxime Legac’e offers a nice summation of my approach to life and work:
” Difficult and meaningful will always bring more satisfaction than easy and meaningless”.
Do you have any advice for young professionals that may want to enter the real estate world, or people that may not be sure of what they want to do in the future?
I would say go with confidence towards your dream, be passionate and smile, work hard and be persistent, and perhaps most importantly, make sure that you try to help people in all that you do, and pay it forward. The more rewarded you feel, the more passionate you will grow, and the harder and indeed happier you will work to achieve your goals. Do this, and the rest will come.
How has the industry grown and improved since you first started working as an agent?
I remember looking at MLS “books” every day to see what new listings have been added, and feeling frustrated with all the paperwork cluttering my car! A lot has changed with the speed that technology has developed in the past two decades, but at least in my line of work, it has only been for the better. Not only are we faster, but we are much more available to our clients, which I’ve noticed is something that makes everyone feel more at ease with the process of buying and selling real estate. The one thing that hasn’t changed is my belief that nothing replaces face to face conversation and in person connection, especially between agents and their clients.
What’s your favourite part about being an agent?
I have many favourite things about what I do – really, those elements of my career are what get me excited to keep developing it and working to improve myself even after all these years, day in and day out, 365 days a year. If I must choose one, I would say I helping my clients achieve one of the things they’ve always dreamt of. That path that I create towards that dream allows us to work from the first few steps to the end of the road together, enjoying the journey as much as the destination. Nothing beats that feeling when a client smiles at you and appreciates all your hard work in making their vision become reality.
What’s your favourite area of the city?
I love High Park and Roncesvalles. So much so that I created, BlogRoncy.com – a go-to guide for all things Roncy has to offer, vouched for by me personally. Check it out and join the Roncy lovers among us!
Have you faced any major challenges in work or life in general that have shaped who you are today?
We all face many challenges, daily. No matter what we do or who we are. The real question, I believe, is how do you deal with challenges, for it is how you approach an obstacle that shapes who you will become once you have surpassed it. I have the philosophy that nothing is too challenging for me to try my best to achieve: even if we’re not perfect by the end of it, what matters is that we got up back into the boxing ring after we were beaten down, and kept trying and smiling. To always get back in “the ring”, get up over and over again, and do it with a big smile. One of the greatest challenges I faced was re-creating my business here in Toronto after moving from Phoenix, AZ when the market crashed in ‘07. Starting from the ground up, after over a decade of developing a wonderful base of clients and a reputation in the industry brought a number of challenges; perhaps the largest of which was psychological. The self-doubt and fear made me hesitate before facing the obstacles head on, but I always faced them, and yes, with a smile. The Afarin today is just as hard working as she was a decade ago, but much more resilient and persistent in trusting myself to overcome any difficulty.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I am sorry, I don’t understand the question. “Not working”? Some might say I have a work-life balance issue (my millennial daughter recently observed that I spend more time on my phone than she does, and that’s saying something) but I enjoy my work so much that I truly don’t feel I need a break from it. When I do remember to practice some purposeful self-care, I love to read and spend time in High Park with my dogs. The artist in me still needs nurturing, so my favourite thing to do on a day off is go to the AGO to see a new exhibit and just be around the art. I always find myself coming back with a new marketing plan or a new strategy on a land assembly after these days which I’m excited to share with my clients, so it’s really a blend of work and play – the fluid relationship between the two in my life is something I am lucky to cherish.
Where would you see yourself working if it weren’t for real estate?
I would likely have remained in the art world, running galleries and creating film, photography and visual art (you can see some of my projects on my website, www.Afarin.ca). It did foreshadow my work as an agent, though, since I was always interacting with visitors and buyers and, well, selling them something that puts a smile on their face. Helping people in any way I can has always been something I seek in my professional life.
If you could travel to any place on earth, where would it be and why?
My parents were firm believers that travelling and learning about different cultures, is what makes us all better humans and whole, and it is very necessary. I have tried to follow the tradition and take my daughter to different countries every year for the past 25 years of her life, and our next trip – Cuba – is coming up soon. If I could visit anywhere, though, I’d say it would be India, and take all the time to travel around the country. I love the beautiful colours of life reflected in everything from Indian Sari’s and spices, it would be a dream to photograph. Also, who doesn’t want to ride an elephant? After conquering camels in Cairo, I feel emboldened enough to go up a few tons.
Is there anything you’d like to tell us that might surprise us about you? Any special skills or hobbies?
I have been told I am very funny, Usually my clients say I should do stand up comedy. My response is: I do, all day, with you guys. Life is too short not to laugh at yourself. I have also had dogs all my life, so many people ask me how I train them, because they’re very well trained. Not sure if that’s a hobby or a passion. Dogs are life. As for surprising? I spend a few minutes, or hours, if I’m lucky, working on a book I hope to publish about some lessons I’ve learnt over the course of my career in real estate and motherhood – I’ve tried to make a discipline out of writing, it organizes my thoughts and clears my vision for the future. Look out for my name on the NYT best seller list: that would be the real surprise!
You’re happiest when…?
I make other people happy and smile.