By Connie Adair
When you are a parent and your child takes an interest in something, you indulge them. You chauffeur them to ballet class, the hockey rink or the karate dojo. Corbin Seligman’s mom drove him to open houses.
“I have always been interested in real estate, even as a kid. I like architecture, and that real estate is physical, not like the stock market,” says Seligman. His love of real estate, and lots of hard work, has paid off. After just 2 ½ years as a Realtor, the 27-year-old recently sold a house in Toronto’s Forest Hill neighbourhood for $13 million.
The 12,000-square-foot mansion, which has five bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, an elevator, staff quarters and six custom fireplaces, fetched one of the highest prices for a spec home in Toronto, he says.
Relatively new to the business, he proved his critics wrong, selling the house for more money and in less time than they thought. When he got the listing, some were happy for him. “Others were resentful because they didn’t think I could sell it,” he says. It took about two months to sell.
Although he knew the owner and got called in to do a listing presentation, “when he called, he didn’t expect me to get the listing,” Seligman says. “It was more like ‘let’s hear what the young guy has to say’.”
Five other agents made presentations. “They were old school, talking about who they know and what houses they have sold,” he says.
Seligman took a different approach, putting his business background and experience in construction to work. He prepared a business and marketing strategy and made a one-hour presentation.
The candidates were narrowed to two. However, the owner told Seligman that his “presentation blew him out of the water.” About a month later, Seligman got the listing and the real work began.
It took a month to create all of the custom marketing materials, from a For Sale sign with big black wood posts and a sign with a picture of the house in the background, to a special logo for the house to go on business and advertising cards. “I got a lot of calls from the sign,” he says.
No ordinary feature sheet would do. Seligman created a 60-page magazine. “Each room has a spread, with a high resolution photo and a description. The appendix at the back lists mechanical systems and includes floor plans. You walk into the house, it’s fabulous. Every single detail is high end. There’s crystal and gold….”
It’s a comprehensive package, he says. At the listing presentation, he told the owner he was willing to spend more than anyone else on advertising. “It costs a lot of money to market internationally,” he says.
Five years ago, he would have marketed to wealthy families in the city, but he says things have changed. “The international market has taken notice of Toronto. I’m not going to have an open house, do a feature sheet and call a few friends,” he says.
Instead, he reached out to agents in Beijing, Hong Kong, the Middle East and Europe. His brokerage, Harvey Kalles Real Estate, “has allegiances of brokerages and each network has its own relocation specialist,” Seligman says. Before the listing presentation, he researched the 2,100 brokerages around the world, taking note of their relocation specialists. When he went into the presentation, he told the owner, “Here’s a list of 50. I have 2,000 more.”
He started at the end and worked back, thinking about who would buy the house then figured out how to get it noticed. He exposed it to agents and high net-worth individuals.
“I like being creative and thinking outside the box. I’m nimble and can change if need be,” he says, adding it’s important to be flexible.
Prior to becoming a sales rep, he studied urban planning at McGill. He worked for property managers at a construction company. When that company folded, he made the leap into real estate.
He says he was never afraid of going after higher-priced properties, reasoning it would be easier to get a listing for a lower-priced property if he had sold higher priced ones. So far this year, he has done $30 million in business.
His also learned about the importance of networking from his father, an insurance broker. Networking has been an important part of Seligman’s success. His friends have also started to buy and sell homes of their own, and his parents’ friends are doing the same.
Asked for advice for new agents, he says, “I put lots of time into every single project and focus on the client. It’s a competitive business. Find a way to differentiate yourself.”
Seligman adds, “Go for it even if you think it’s a long shot, but do your research and be prepared.”