From board to brokerage: My journey to becoming a REALTOR®

I’ve always been interested in real estate, but I already had a career.

I knew I wanted to be active in my community, but I didn’t know how to get there.

My biggest fear? Jumping from a sure thing to something not so sure.

If you’ve ever met me, you’d probably be surprised to learn as a child I was painfully shy. I had a fear of speaking, especially in public, and worked hard to overcome it. I knew my fears were not worth as much as my dreams, so I learned to turn those fears into courage.

What does fear have to do with a career in real estate? There’s a lot of risk in pursuing a new career, especially leaving a permanent job. On top of it, the question loomed over my head: what about my education? How could I apply it?

I found the perfect middle-ground and an opportunity to connect the dots. I landed a job as Communications and Public Affairs Specialist at the Durham Region Association of REALTORS® (DRAR), which ultimately lead me to see the bigger picture.

The first few months were tough. I thought I knew what was happening in real estate, but I was soon immersed in the culture of how it really worked.

Instead of reading articles, I wrote them. I had to understand the market enough to communicate it to the public, media and our members. I studied archived statistics, received hands-on mentorship and continued my education. My fears began to dissipate as I gained confidence to share my voice.

I think the facet of my job that truly pushed me further was creating monthly housing reports that shared insight into local statistics. These reports were delivered to DRAR’s 1,100+ REALTOR® members and I was able to answer real-time questions as they came into our office. As the market drastically evolved, I learned to navigate the changes using tools like TREB MLS® System.

However, there was an itch to dive deeper. I had mitigated the risk of completely changing careers and worked in the real estate industry, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to become a CREA member (i.e. become a REALTOR®) and salesperson, and help people make the biggest investment of their lives. I wanted to provide sound advice catering to their needs, wants and dreams.

I had built long-lasting relationships at DRAR and felt comfortable making the move. As other REALTORS® may agree, when you have the drive to be an entrepreneur, there’s no stopping you.

But it wasn’t just a drive to become an entrepreneur that led me to real estate, it was my childhood dream to serve my community. I grew up in a family of innovators and dreamers.

My whole life I’ve been surrounded by farmers, politicians and business owners—each one carving out their own aspirations. As a family, we would spend time together discussing our futures and thinking of what we could create. Ultimately, it was a mixture between seeing my father build a successful chiropractic clinic, and watching my grandmother inspire and advocate as a politician in Oshawa, Ontario.

As a young adult and millennial, I have a lot of dreams of my own. As I navigate my own career, I aspire to never stop learning how politics and economics affect our local market.

Whether people realize it or not, politics is one of the most important factors influencing real estate and the economy. They can often be linked to employment and consumer confidence—and my ultimate goal is to be able to help shape the future in Durham Region.

I like to think I’m becoming more and more of a mixture between my father and my grandmother. They taught me to recognize what fuels me and to go after it—no matter how scary it may seem. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by strong and inspiring people to help lift me up. One day, I hope to inspire my future children the way my family has inspired me. Because what is life without dreams?

Now that I’m in the industry, I get up every morning and I can’t believe that this is what I get to do. I’m grateful I get to help people find the homes of their dreams, but also plan for their future. It’s not just about the house, it’s not just about the street, it’s about the feeling of putting down roots and immersing yourself in a community.

Editor’s Note: We love hearing how about new REALTORS®. Do you have a unique journey to real estate? Let us know in the Comments section below!

Alex Down is a REALTOR® with RE/MAX Jazz Inc., Brokerage in Oshawa, Ontario. Alex is bilingual in French and English, and has worked in the corporate, non-profit and government sectors. She studied Political Science and French at the University of Ottawa, and Public Relations at Durham College, which is where she kicked-off her career at companies like General Motors of Canada, gaining valuable experience in media relations, social media, marketing, advertising and program execution. She joined the Durham Region Association of REALTORS® in 2016 as Communications and Public Affairs Specialist and now helps people in Durham Region find the homes of their dreams.

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