I know what it means when someone tells you they’re going to call you at 10:01 a.m. and then does it, on the dot.
“You’re a bit OCD,” I suggest to Ontario Realtor Sam Cuda, who had a record year in 2020, pandemic notwithstanding.
“I am totally OCD,” he responds, laughing. “I think most successful people are. I’m a perfectionist and I recognize it.”
The testimonials on his website from clients are also a tip off. Says one: “How many agents remain available to you for what seems like 24 hours a day? …From start to finish, Sam was at my elbow, explaining the process before I even asked…In some ways, Sam is like an over-protective parent…His clients can only marvel at how simple the process is made for them.”
Cuda says, citing one of his innumerable personal maxims, “I speak fluent real estate.”
He has 25 years in the business behind him and a recent congratulatory letter from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board to prove it, and has spent most of that time as a top performer with the Thornhill office of Royal LePage Your Community Realty in the Greater Toronto Area. In 2006 his wife Nancy, previously in customer service with IBM, got her real estate license and joined him. As half of a husband and wife team within a supportive brokerage, Cuda now has the help he needs to indulge his exacting nature while keeping up with everything going on his life.
This has been crucial, he explains, because until a couple of years ago he was tearing along on two different career tracks – besides real estate, he had a long-standing job as a high school teacher and sports coach.
“I was a part-time Realtor making full-time numbers,” says Cuda. At one point, selling real estate, teaching, coaching basketball and working towards his master’s degree in education were all in the mix at once.
“When I think about that I get tired,” says Cuda.
“When I first got into real estate I was thinking I would sell maybe one house a year. But I got four deals in the first six months. Within three years I was among the top five agents in the office…Initially another agent had said that I wouldn’t last a year as a part-timer. That motivated me to prove him wrong and to equip myself with the skill set I needed to succeed.”
It was a similar story when he was a coach, he recalls. People would tell him his team would never make it to the finals. “Two years later we were city champions.”
Asked his position regarding the controversial topic of part-timers in the industry, Cuda replies, “I love to see part-timers, but I tell them it’s not going to be easy. But if they want it, they can do it.”
Cuda says the reality is that at least at the beginning of their career, almost every agent is a part-timer, since getting that first deal can take a long time.
Cuda says the skills from his teaching career – being a good listener; negotiating; problem solving – help him in real estate. He was a teacher for 31 years, until his retirement in 2018, after which his real estate career quickly morphed to full-time.
He and his wife have built a business driven by repeat and referral clientele. “I don’t chase deals. I’ve never knocked on a door,” Cuda says. “We are about relationships, not transactions.”
With open houses nixed due to COVID-19, they have some new tricks.
“We have the house emptied, then painted and the flooring re-done, and a photographer does virtual staging. It’s amazing. Later I go in and turn off the lights, and that’s it.”
Developing his professional training as a Realtor is a major focus for Cuda. To that end he’s earned a host of accreditations, from his broker’s license and FRI to certifications as a negotiator and seniors real estate specialist.
“I am hungry for knowledge,” he says. “People will ask me, ‘Why did you get that mortgage agent license? You won’t be selling mortgages.’ But I do it so I’m equipped to guide our clients.”
There’s no question that being aware of your options is important in the new world shaping up. “The people who work hard and continue to learn are the ones who will prosper,” Cuda says.
He emphasizes that he always told his students, “You have to be on top of your game and know how to seek out information.”
That’s another standard Cuda adage. After all, this is a man who is forever asking his clients’ lawyers if there are any additional clauses they can come up with to include in contracts. (They often respond by telling Cuda that he’s the only one who’s ever asked that, he admits.)
“It’s to protect the clients. I want to do things right,” Cuda says. “Teachers make the best Realtors,” he adds.
“Do you know any other Realtors who were teachers?” I ask.
“No,” he laughs. “But I love it, and they go hand in hand.”