Many of us resist taking on new challenges in this bizarre COVID-19 year. But not Lisa Patel, the president of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).
Patel chooses to find it “interesting” that her role as 2020/2021 president has come about in these unprecedented times. “But I miss direct contact, seeing other Realtors and going across the country.”
It’s an adjustment, she acknowledges, explaining that the board is continually posting COVID-19 updates and offering training webinars, helping members “to cope” and to stay healthy and informed, while shifting focus increasingly to working online.
Patel says that although there has been notable transition and change in the past 15 years, she is only the 10th female president in TRREB’s 100-year history, and the sixth minority president (she is of Indian descent). Back when she first became a director of TRREB, she was its youngest board member ever, she says.
So dealing with the unprecedented is definitely in her wheelhouse.
A top producer with Royal LePage Signature Realty for the past decade, with a wealth of experience in both organized real estate and community service, she’s pleased to be where she is today, especially when reflecting back to when she was a less seasoned agent aspiring to get onto one of the real estate board’s task forces.
“I was rejected!” she says. “I wasn’t happy about it. I wrote the then-board president to complain. I told him I’d never been rejected for anything … that people all over were asking for my involvement in things.”
The president eventually reconsidered, and Patel’s work in organized real estate took off. But the real estate world wasn’t through rejecting her. Later she tried running for board president. And lost.
“It was devastating,” Patel says. “It was a hard run and I put my soul into it. I did not know if I wanted to come back and try again.”
But try again she did.
A big believer in creating morale and following her intuition, she’s now looking forward to finding ways to better serve and represent the various demographics that make up TRREB, the largest real estate board in Canada.
“I’m excited about this year and looking forward to honouring 100 years of TRREB members building communities,” Patel says, adding that she’s helping to launch several new task forces around diversity, inclusion, equality and empowering women in real estate.
Other initiatives include continuing the board’s work on enhancing the MLS system (“We are making great strides”); expanding virtual learning and professional development; gearing up (fingers crossed) for the 2021 Realtor Quest conference and trade show; and supporting members as they learn the ins and outs of personal real estate corporations (PRECs), which just became a reality in Ontario thanks to new legislation.
As for the market throughout the Toronto area, it’s currently holding its own and then some, with sales and prices very strong, Patel says.
“The market has shown resilience and pent-up demand, after a slight slowdown initially due to COVID-19. Housing supply was an issue before and still is. The true telling will be this fall, as some red lights are coming up again with a second wave. Hard to predict what will happen.”
Coming from a long line of entrepreneurs and risk takers, Patel grew up in Ontario and was involved, via her parents, in a wide variety of businesses, including department and convenience stores. Her parents were “crazy driven. That’s where I get it from,” she says. Patel recalls recognizing “the entrepreneur gene” in herself even as a child, when she would sell gift wrap and bubble gum to her school friends.
Before, during and after getting a post-secondary education, which included PR, project management and everything in between, Patel honed her wide-ranging skill set by establishing herself in event planning, politics, the mortgage industry and television hosting.
She seems to have held more jobs than even Kirk from the Gilmore Girls. Yet a career in real estate never occurred to her until a business partner suggested it.
The success of her real estate brand (formerly the Property Princess, now the Lisa Patel Team) led to her inclusion in a how-to guide by branding expert Andris Pone, as well as an educational textbook published by McGraw Hill.
All along the way, there’s been extensive community service – so much so that Patel was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal for her work mentoring young entrepreneurs.
“I’ve been involved in community work since I was a kid. It’s my heart and soul, part of who I am” she says.
Asked about her secrets to success, Patel says, “This business is really about what you put into it.” She says that she believes in “soul searching” and in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (which include being proactive and envisioning what you want so you can work and plan towards it).
Patel is also a big proponent of Reiki and other forms of energy healing. “It’s interesting how people are drawn to me in that way,” she says, citing the example of a stranger experiencing anxiety in a mall who walked up to Patel for comfort and support.
“We are all teachers to one another,” she concludes. “Everything is a lesson and an opportunity to learn and serve.”