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Going Beyond High Quality - to Extraordinary
An interview with Ismahan Omer on her love affair with real estate, and rise to the extraordinary
Ismahan, you’ve said before that “Most of Calgary’s top realtors offer very much, the same suite of services.” What’s the most important thing that do you do differently for your clients?
That’s easy. I’m able to take things further for my clients because of a deep and earnest love for serving my community. This means my business model is based on ultimate service, over the maximum number of transactions. This way I can provide the highest possible quality of professional real estate support, which in my mind is the caliber of service that people really need and deserve.
These days, it can often seem like more and more people are now saying they love their job. Excuse me for saying so, but really? How does a professed love for being of service, somehow ended up expressing itself through helping people buy and sell property? And first, can you help us understand when and how you first got the idea to be a realtor?
My real estate dreams began around the age of 20 and continued to grow throughout early adulthood, until finally becoming a reality a short time after my arrival to Calgary in 2004.
I was raised in Italy, before we moved to Canada when I was a young girl. Because of this experience, along with having family that lives in Europe, the USA, and Africa, as well as having travelled as a young woman - I’m proud to say clients have said I bring a rather worldly, fun, and confident energy, while delivering a devoted and strong set of practiced skills for them. I believe some broad life experiences got me curious about the elements of real estate and its ‘moving parts’ [...and with a big smile and small laugh she continued...] and thankfully have allowed me to bring a unique depth and understanding to the challenges of relocating and real estate ownership.
As a young woman this curiosity and fascination steadily grew stronger through extensive personal experiences, both buying and selling numerous homes for myself and family, first in Toronto and then Calgary, in addition to building our own home. Eventually, a true, full-on passion for real estate was born.
Getting the chance and lending a hand helping with the staging process to bolster the salability of these homes, gave birth to another very specific, special interest and skill-set, which has always been a favorite element of my services and has proven to be rewarding, both personally and especially financially for my clients.
After years of friends, family, and previous agents alike, all telling me to get into real estate because I really knew my stuff, the desire to serve my community through real estate instead of the medical field I began in, was nearly decided.
Moving to Calgary brought the final set of inspiration and experience when helping my family by taking a lead role alongside their realtors to sell a couple family homes back in Toronto and more importantly, as a new buyer in one of the toughest real estate markets in Canada. I completely understand how all the new people and families moving to Calgary every year feel. For people who are new to the city and sometimes even buying from abroad, my personal experiences relocating have also been significant assets.
After the realtor who helped us purchase my family’s first home in Calgary ended up being a terrible service provider, who neglected to do much of anything and then poorly represented us during the negotiations - needless to say - that last experience in a client’s shoes was instrumental in fueling the fire and my ultimate decision to become an agent. I knew I could provide the honest, high-level service I felt everyone deserves.
Shortly afterward, a friend told me about a position with one of Calgary’s largest home builders and everything suddenly came together. I’d finally begun my real estate career, selling new homes.
Over the last 10 years in Alberta, I’ve always taken the lead helping family and friends with their realtors and property needs. I’ve done so in a professional sense now for nearly 7 years now, first in new home sales and then as an official realtor. Providing suberb professional services and helping all kinds of people in the community to buy and sell their properties has been my enormous pleasure.
My husband and I got married in Calgary and we have two amazing children. Our large and close-knit family currently live in Airdrie, where we have a total of 8 properties in the Kings Heights neighborhood.
You mentioned staging is one of you favorite and best skills. How big a difference does staging really make for someone who is trying to sell their home?
There are lots of huge opportunities to earn significant returns on any investment people make in staging their home. Even the most basic staging elements are a big deal and can mean selling for thousands more and quite a bit faster too. Cleaning, decluttering, perhaps changing a few light fixtures and one or two small things such as a new pedestal sink in a small bathroom, can cost as little as $75 and (according to a study done by HomeGain in 2013) offer an ROI of between 525% - 4,597%. Using solid professional advice, home staging has become the number one way to identify and capitalize on loads of hidden opportunities to sell your home for more, and sell it faster too.
I can’t stress enough how much staging has changed the marketplace in recent years, and how critical it is to get a seasoned pro in your corner who can help you properly position your home for buyers and in turn, optimize the terms, the speed of sale, and the sale price of your largest asset.
What do you love the most about being a realtor and the services you provide?
I love a lot of things about it. Becoming a successful realtor and helping to make people’s dreams come true is simply amazing. Who doesn’t love seeing first-time homeowner’s cry? Or sharing the joy so many people feel during these monumental changes? Although, I think those things are universally loved by all realtors, because as human beings, we love to see other people happy.
For many people who truly love to be of service, we realize that the world needs all kinds of people to help with every aspect of life. From the parking attendant who’s always smiling, to that person in your neighborhood restaurant who always makes you feel welcome and appreciated. As Bob Dylan once sang “You’re going to have to serve somebody”. I feel honoured to be able to help people with some of life’s especially pivotal and challenging experiences. I honestly do love helping people navigate the real estate market - using a combination of all-out support with every aspect of a complex scenario, and solid professional guidance.
Two more things I love with a special sense, are helping young families with children because I totally get it. And then, guiding investors who are looking for a sound and important way to diversify and expand their portfolio.
What is it about working with young families and kids that you find so fun and rewarding? And do you have any closing words for the investors out there?
Children can make any experience a little more difficult at times and being a mother of two, like I said I can relate, so providing the level of patience only a parent can, comes naturally and I’m happy to help. This is an area where realtors without their own kids and especially some male realtors I know can often struggle with the level of patience and insight needed to not only serve the family patiently, but also understand their needs effectively. Over the years there have been many parents who’ve thanked me for uncommon patience and understanding. I’ve had kids throw up on me while sitting in my lap and climbing all over me during meetings is fairly regular. I really don’t mind because to me, it’s just life and these people need my help.
Helping people at every stage of life from newlyweds and younger people looking for their first starter home, to empty nesters and retirees who are downgrading. Yes, I like to think I’m great with children and really enjoy working with younger families, but the truth is I love helping all kinds of people.
In fact, the investors you asked about have always made up a sizable portion of my clientele and I believe this is as an indicator for being able to provide a professionalism that goes beyond what the average family and individual needs.
Investors demand an expert knowledge of the market and specialized advice that helps them bank bigger returns on their properties from day one. For example, different factors apply to renovations, maintenance, and the logistics that come with location for example.
With nearly 7 years officially in real estate sales, alongside all those previous personal experiences, I’m now able to confidently guide both seasoned investors and first-time landlords to find the right property, secure better terms, as well as providing advice on the best practices when managing your assets. All that, in addition to my trademark: a relentless focus on service.
No matter what people’s reasons are for buying or selling, my pledge is to help them get the most out of their transaction, a speedy sale at a great price, the right home to fit their lifestyle and goals, and meticulous attention to every detail from big to small. Lastly of course is the ever present and genuine promise of a stoic devotion to the meaning of the word “service”.