By Susan Doran
With his term as Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) president finishing up at the end of June, Tim Syrianos is looking forward to more sleep and less information in his life.
As TREB’s 2017/2018 president, Syrianos, owner and broker of record of Re/Max Ultimate, a large brokerage in central Toronto, has found himself dealing with truly staggering amounts of data and all the other minutia that go along with the job.
He recalls being in his car and getting a call telling him that he needed to pull over right away to do an interview with a local newspaper about the average age of housing in Toronto – not exactly information that anyone could be expected to know off the top of their head. Somehow, he managed to figure out what was needed in record time.
“People underestimate the information overload of the position – so many emails!” he says, adding that it was sometimes a challenge juggling the TREB presidency with his regular job and his family life.
“We all want more time in the day,” he says. Fortunately, his colleagues at Re/Max Ultimate leapt into the breach and “cultivated more leaders” within his brokerage, he adds. “When you trust others who care, they will rise to the challenge.”
There is no question that the times being what they are, especially with increasing levels of government involvement in real estate, Syrianos’ term was a busy one filled with change.
“A lot of different things were thrown at us this year,” he says. “I think we accomplished a lot and worked to represent our industry properly, passionately and professionally.”
Among accomplishments during his presidency, he cites “lobbying at all levels of government including pushback on a possible vacancy tax in Toronto; putting the brakes on mandatory home energy audits; serving on housing supply government working groups; and regulation of home inspectors and Condominium Act regulations.”
Regarding TREB’s long-standing dispute with the Competition Bureau over online access to housing market data, Syrianos says, “It is in the hands of the courts,” and that he has no comment.
He continues to promote the value of volunteering at TREB and in organized real estate.
“The goal of volunteering is to move the needle in a positive direction, to be the voice so no one else takes away your voice.”
Syrianos’ term has left him optimistic that TREB can provide “great insight” that can help the government enact smart policy.
“Having the opportunity to be shoulder to shoulder with members collectively while meeting with different levels of government on a variety of issues was special,” he says. “The future is bright for our industry.”
Of Greek heritage, Syrianos was born and raised in Toronto by parents who came to Canada “for a better life” and were pro-active about making sure that happened. He initially went into real estate at the age of 19 at his father’s prompting and now has 29 years in the business under his belt. He never once considered any other career.
“I was in with two feet, two arms, head first.”
He survived a recession and claims to still get night sweats thinking about it.
In 1997 – a banner year – Syrianos joined Re/Max Ultimate and met his future wife, Mary. They now have three children, all girls, so his is a household of women. (“I might get a male dog though,” he says, laughing.)
A consistent top producer and the recipient of numerous achievement awards, he bought the brokerage in 2006, despite the existing broker’s exclamations of, “Why? You’re a successful agent.”
Since becoming broker/owner, Syrianos has grown Re/Max Ultimate from 70 agents to more than 250 and from one location to three. (He owns all three buildings, feeling it sets a good example to his agents and the community.)
Describing what sets his brokerage apart, he cites a reputation for embracing change and technology and “always looking to the horizon.”
He states: “The purpose of the brokerage of the future is to drive business to the agents and help them achieve the type of career they envision…. Ultimately, we’re business partners.
“Broker/owners need to have an investment strategy and marketing program to have agents front and centre…Too many brokerages advertise their brand, their office. Our focus is on enhancing ways to put more eyeballs on our agents through marketing efforts, technology and social media. We are heavily invested into online marketing. We have social media/marketing staff and a community manager who is constantly creating content so agents can leverage their platforms without having to research and create.”
Asked what he looks for in sales reps, Syrianos lists such traits as open mindedness, ethics, willingness to learn, an entrepreneurial spirit and adaptability.
As for the Toronto market, he believes it “was on the right track” and “moderating itself” before various government initiatives caused what he refers to as “a psychological shift.”
He is confident that, “People want to live in Toronto and that is not going to change…activity downtown will always continue to grow.”
In his opinion, in six months we will likely see activity improve week by week.
There are many changes on the horizon in the industry, technological and in areas such as governance of organized real estate. Syrianos believes that change is good, but also that similarities in the industry will always persist, while adding different layers.
“The human nature of the industry will never change…The three levels of organized real estate haven’t changed,” he says. “At the end of the day what people remember is how you made them feel.”
Speaking of change, once his time as TREB president winds down, Syrianos is considering doing a little something to mark the occasion besides catching up on his sleep.
“Maybe shaving my beard,” he says.