Agent Spotlight: Leslie Dennis

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Leslie Dennis has been a successful real estate agent in, Toronto, for over 20 years and has retained the drive to excel despite the challenges of balancing career and family because she truly loves what she does. Although often immersed in the world of real estate while growing up because it was the family business, Leslie wanted to fulfill her creative side and got a degree in visual arts at Parsons The New School of Design. Her plan to be a photojournalist was not to be however, so she found her way back to real estate; a profession that continues to bring great rewards despite its ups and downs over the years. Leslie is a fount of savvy expertise and has been consulted again and again, having been featured in Woman’s Post, The Globe and Mail, National Post, CFTO News and on the W Network.

Leslie talks to Zoocasa about her passion for the business and bequeaths some valuable real estate tips.

Do you feel that coming from a “real estate” family provided special insight or advantages that helped to build a successful career?

Yes, definitely! It was like being a fly on the wall. You can’t help but hear little bits and pieces over time. I remember going to various properties with my dad from time to time if he had to check something out. I even recall wearing a hardhat and thinking that was cool. My grandfather had farm property which is now surrounded by subdivision homes.

Are there any parallels you can draw from your background in visual arts and photojournalism to your success in real estate? For example, how does having a ‘creative eye’ help your clients?

Most definitely!! I love helping my clients [who] often need help preparing their homes for market. I can recommend a stager and fluffer for big jobs, but I’m really good at placing furniture and chachkas! I can offer advice on where there might be potential for a main floor powder room, how to find a spot for a nanny’s room if need be, and I have a great eye for paint colors and choosing tiles, fixtures, or fabrics, etc.!!! I really like to get involved in as many aspects of their home as needed. I provide a full service real estate business and have contacts and connections with several tradesmen and professionals.

You mention that you get to express your creativity by working with so many different people and handling different types of deals. Would you say that this is what drives your passion for working in the real estate business?

I answered that above I think! But what really makes this profession exciting and creative is meeting new clients all the time and marrying the right client with the perfect property. I love to find new, creative ways to market homes for sale and in the recent few years social media has dramatically changed our industry and I am able to write a blog, use Facebook and Twitter and email, newsletters and even old fashioned Canada Post to reach my client. It keeps me active and excited and my mind is a machine that never shuts off, keeping abreast of the market so I can provide the highest quality of service and professionalism to my buyers and sellers.

A few years ago, you had a stint on reality TV. What was that experience like and would you want to do it again?

It was absolutely fantastic!!! Maybe I have a hidden talent or [am] a budding show biz girl. (Laughing) It was so much fun. I was told that I was natural in front of the camera so I shared some real estate experiences – not all wonderful – and had 2 clients who agreed to be filmed, [and also] included my 2 kids, 3 dogs and colleagues. It was the real deal – telling the tale – [of] hurricane Dennis! Never a dull moment juggling single motherhood and a bustling real estate career and joking and smiling when the going gets tough…

You mention on your website that you assess each property first to determine if you would recommend it your clients; what advice would you give to someone who is conducting a home search? What are the key questions to ask?

Where do you live now? What is your timing (to find out their motivation)? How many kids (so I know if schools and parks are important)? Do you require subway access? Price range and have they been to see their financial planner?!! Then we can talk fluff, ie: a renovated home? 2-story? 3 or 4 bedroom? Pool? Etc.

How important is it for a first-time home buyer to think about resale value during the home search?

It is always important!!!!!! And I always discuss resale value because a home is your single most valuable investment in your lifetime!! As well as it is ‘home sweet home’, you mustn’t lose sight of the fact that you must protect your equity at least, and preferably hope to grow and increase your equity!!!

How long would you say a home can be on the market for before the seller needs to be concerned?

When I list a property, I prepare a CMA comparative market assessment and provide a complete marketing plan and timeline. It includes my opinion on how many days their property should be on the market, keeping in mind the market conditions at the time. Quite frankly I have a very strong record because I stress, at the time of listing the home, that PRICE and PRESENTATION are key elements, which means that if we price according to the comparables and the home is in its best showing condition, it should sell within 14 – 30 days (in my trading area, under strong market conditions). If the home is sitting, we have a meeting and discuss the next steps. I follow up after every showing with the agent who showed the property and report back to my Seller so there are no secrets or surprises.

What advice would you give to a seller who feels his/her home has been on the market for too long and isn’t getting a lot of showing requests?

Reduce the price!!! It is usually the last thing a seller wants to hear, but it is the only reason why a home does not sell! Buying a home is always about VALUE.

You’ve been in the industry for over 20 years – a very long time – and have recently re-branded. Do you find this brings new challenges? How important do you feel it is to have strong branding?

In any business, I think that a good professional has to stay on top of their game! Just as Federer has to hit the court each and very day to practice his serve and tweak his swing, I am reaching my clients and meeting new people every day. As well, I take courses, attend seminars, coaching sessions and hear motivational speakers, learning current marketing trends, social media and current market and overall economic conditions, locally and internationally.

Re/Max Hallmark has opened my eyes and broadened my knowledge. I feel as though I am taking my MBA in real estate, sharpening my tools while continuing to build a successful real estate career!

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