By Neil Sharma
If you have a dream, call Wasim.
That would be Century 21 Bravo Realty’s Wasim Elafech, the franchiser’s No. 1 worldwide salesperson in 2015, whose slogan couldn’t be any more appropriate. The Calgary-based sales rep beat out 100,000 other agents around the world to earn the mantle, with 270 transactions.
“I didn’t expect it. It’s a career changer,” says the 36-year-old married father of two, adding he initially received a phone call on his daughter’s birthday telling him he was the top national agent, before a subsequent call a week later revealed even better news.
“I was in shock. This is the highest peak you can get in the company. It took a while to sink in.”
While Elafech credits part of his success to the vast resources a major brokerage provides, he doggedly pursues each and every lead and he’s always working the phone to keep the pulse of the Calgary market.
“It’s important to meet with other Realtors and clients,” he says. “I’ll always be calling or taking them out for coffee. I go to everything to make sure my face is there. I don’t do a ton of social media but I do some of it. I got people who I went to high school with who are clients because of Facebook.”
Elafech praises his mentor, Graham Wilson, Century 21 Bravo Realty’s broker, whom he says is always available, day or night, to answer queries, whether professional or personal.
“You need a great broker,” says Elafech. “Graham is a really good guy, and Century 21 is a big support. They have great resources. It definitely helps to be with one of larger brokerages.”
Elafech advises young sales reps to find mentors, even if it means ceding part of their commissions, because the long-term benefit is invaluable.
“Follow around the top agents in your office and ask them what they’re doing, how they did it, and take them out for lunch and shadow them,” he says. “Sometimes you have to spend some money to make some money, so bring a senior agent on…give them a portion of your listing because they’ll show you certain things.”
An attribute Elafech prides himself on is honesty; he eschews sideways deals and is transparent with all pertinent information, whether it means advising clients to list lower, or it discomfits a successful transaction.
“There are lot of Realtors who want 50 to 100 listings and they’ll take any of them, but I don’t believe in that. I’d rather take 10 quality listings than 50 non-sellable ones,” says Elafech. “I tell clients, ‘I won’t list your home, I’ll sell your home.’ Some Realtors tell them to list higher. I’m honest and will tell them to list lower if they have to. Anybody can list the house, but you have to know what you’re doing to actually sell the house.”
Elafech was once told he wouldn’t survive in this business because he’s too honest.
After he was named the No. 1 agent, “The person in question just called to congratulate me and apologize for what he said.”
Alberta’s economy has been the subject of headlines lately for all the wrong reasons. With the oil industry hitting a nadir and the loonie performing poorly against the American dollar, Alberta is reportedly reeling.
That’s not entirely accurate, says Elafech. While he concedes the year started slowly, he says the situation in Alberta is far from doom and gloom as reported in the media. People are more conservative with their money than they were before the downturn, he says, but investors are still looking for new – even different – opportunities.
“It’s definitely a buyer’s market,” said Elafech. “Anything under $400,000 is going like hotcakes. We can’t keep them on the market.
“There are still investors out there because people held onto their money and now is the time to invest. I’m getting a lot of calls from investors asking me, ‘If oil is low, where and what should I invest in?’”
Elafech adds that the luxury home market took a major hit, but that most other forms of residential and commercial real estate haven’t much faltered – and won’t, provided people don’t try keeping up with the Joneses.
“The Alberta market isn’t as bad as it’s being made out to be, but, that said, it isn’t as hot. However, if my phone didn’t ring, I’d be worried,” he says. “I got another buyer who wants to open a restaurant. There’s always somebody looking for something.
“Be smarter with money and financing. Just because you’re making good money, don’t max yourself out. Don’t be mortgage poor. You need money left over at the end of the month for a rainy day.”
That said, Elafech predicts the market will rebound nicely this year. For starters, American investors, buoyed by a favourable currency exchange, have their sights set on Calgary. Additionally, many moneyed immigrants are still moving to Calgary in droves.
“Not all immigrants come with no money,” he says. “They come with money and want to open up businesses. From the middle of 2016 to the end of the year, the market is going to be strong.”
A culmination of Elafech’s hard work was being the sole agent responsible for selling all 500 merchant-owned commercial units at New Horizon Mall, located about 20 minutes out of downtown Calgary. His opinion is so sacrosanct that when he suggested that commodious underground parking be added to the project – given Calgary’s winter temperature can drop to -40 C – nobody bemoaned the suggestion.
“It took up a lot of time,” says Elafech. “I’d be at the office until 2 am some nights and back at the office a few hours later at 7:30. While my sleep got sacrificed, my family didn’t get sacrificed. I take my family on vacation every year, recharge, come back and hit it even harder.”