By Connie Adair
At 64, Gloria Valvasori said goodbye to her colleagues and walked out the door. Retirement? No way. Impressed by the award-winning agent’s track record, another brokerage had enticed her to join its team and Valvasori was, as always, up for the challenge.
The spunky and endless well of energy joined Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Signature Service in Mississauga, Ont. six years ago and has been surprising and inspiring company executives and colleagues since.
Valvasori has won sales awards every year that she has been a real estate agent and since joining Better Homes and Gardens can add computer geek to her list of accomplishments. The top producer has harnessed the power of social media to boost a career she has no intention of giving up any time soon.
St. Catharines-born Valvasori started in clerical work, changing jobs every couple of years when she became bored. Even then she needed a challenge. But the single parent of children five and nine years of age needed a regular income. Although sales appealed to her (she became interested in real estate after selling her marital home) a commission job was not realistic.
As luck would have it, she heard of a job at Mutual Life in St. Catharines and was hired in 1985 with a draw of $2,000 per month. “It was that draw that made me take a chance and step out of my comfort zone,” she says. “If I didn’t at least try, I would never know what I could accomplish.”
The training she received in sales, including how to cold call and turn leads into sales and how to close deals, was invaluable. In 1986 she won an award for sales achievement. Her time at Mutual Life was a stepping stone. “It was much easier to cross over into real estate with the valuable sales training I learned there for two years,” Valvasori says.
In 1987, she became an agent. She earned the $1-million Round Table Award in her first year and gold- or silver-level sales awards every year since. Her most cherished award is her Platinum Award, which she earned for ratings of 100 per cent for outstanding service to clients as voted by clients in confidential surveys.
She worked for a couple of independent brokers in St. Catharines. In the 1990s, still too new to the business to have enough clients to weather the effects of unemployment and inflation, she took two years off and worked as a receptionist to get back on her feet.
She moved to Oakville and re-entered real estate, working at Royal LePage Royal in Mississauga before being recruited by and joining Better Homes and Gardens. She had no intention to move, but was drawn by the forward-thinking and technologically savvy company.
Not long after she started with Better Homes and Gardens, Nelson Goulart, vice-president of network sales suggested she create a website. “I told him I was too old and too tired. Nelson said, ‘You can’t afford not to’,” she says.
Not one to back down from a challenge, she got to work, applying lessons learned at company training sessions. In six months she was on the front page of Google.
She is on Twitter, Facebook and networking site Active Rain.
When he first met her, Goulart says he could see fire in Valvasori’s eyes and knew she was special. He just didn’t know how special. As well as being a successful full-time agent, Valvasori single-handedly raised two children and is now raising three grandchildren on her own. “They were 2 ½, 3 ½ and 5 when they came to me,” she says.
Real estate offers her the flexibility to make Trent, 13, Corina, 12, and 10-year-old Ryland breakfast every morning and to get them to the bus stop on time. Her work day begins at 8 am, when she checks her home page, comments or posts, and goes on to her fan page. She has more than 7,300 fans.
She spends the rest of the day in the office and on appointments. She has the help of a part-time nanny, who makes dinner or watches the grandchildren when she has evening appointments.
“It’s a lot of work but I get a lot of joy in return. When I walk in the front door, I get big hugs. They ask me, ‘How was your day’ and say “We’re glad to see you. We know how hard you work, sit down.’ They’re the joy of my life.”
Valvasori runs a tight ship, teaching her grandchildren to fend for themselves and to know that nothing comes easy. “I’m teaching them to be productive citizens,” she says.
When the opportunity presents itself to rest, she does and every three or four months she takes four days to herself to recharge.
She visits the gym twice a week, weight-lifting with the help of a trainer to keep herself as physically strong as she is mentally. Valvasori, who has been on her own since she was 17, says, “Everyone has challenge in their life, some more than others.”
Real estate is a stress outlet. “I love it so much it’s not work. It gets rid of stress when I see happy clients,” she says.
She is an Accredited Senior Agent and was recently invited to become part of an elite group of hand-picked Master Accredited Senior Agents.
How does she do it? “I will be 70 in July,” says Valvasori, who has been a licensed real estate agent for 28 years. “It’s not about age but mindset.”
Many stories talk about shifting demographics and how older people are getting out of the business, but Goulart says that’s not the only story. The Millennials are coming, but those in their 50s, 60s and 70s should see themselves as an important part of the industry, he says.
“Gloria is a real character. She’s a doer,” Goulart says. “She’s an inspiration to the industry. If I could duplicate Gloria, I would.”
“It hasn’t been an easy journey. I’m grateful to be healthy and still able to support my grandchildren,” Valvasori says. She’s an inspiration to all, but modestly says, “If I can do it, anyone can.”