Kosta: In this episode I’m speaking with Ricky Ristic. This was such an amazing chat. Ricky migrated to Canada in 1995 from Sarajevo during the war. After savings from working as a bellboy at a hotel and owning a restaurant, he saved enough money to purchase some properties. He’s now been a realtor for over 15 years. He’s a diamond award winning realtor with Royal Lepage and does over 40 transactions per year. What I love about Ricky is his importance on work life balance and living his life the way that makes him happy. I escaping war and literally spending his childhood just trying to survive. He’s learned not to take anything for granted. So here it is. I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did.
Kosta: Ricky, thank you so much for joining me on the Top Agent podcast. Really excited for you to be here.
Ricky: Thank you very much. I’m excited too.
Kosta: All right, so, you have over 15 years of experience in the Toronto real estate market. It looks at you primarily specialize in the Toronto pre-construction market as a VIP platinum broker, which we’ll get into. You’re also a Royal Lepage diamond award winner, so definitely a lot to dive into there. But if you just want to kick things off, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and how you got into real estate?
Ricky: When I first came to Canada I got the job at the Royal York Hotel, there is a number of years. I had a great time there, but I always felt I can do better, right, do more. I was always kind of looking for another, another, uh, opportunities. And a few years down the road I, um, I started my first restaurant. I switched, I left the Royal York and I, I, I opened my first restaurant I was doing, I was in the restaurant business for about six years and I really enjoyed it. Had a great time there. But um, after, after about five six, I started feeling a little bit overwhelmed, delay lifestyle. It was really, um, you know, seven days to a week and stopped. So I was kinda looking into do something better, something more. And uh, from there it was kind of natural transition into real estate. Um, I, uh, I was already like a landlord. I had my, I had a couple of investment properties I bought, I bought my own property, so it was really like a natural to go into real estate and I’ve been in real estate now the registered more than 10 years with a signature and I really every minute of it.
Kosta: That’s amazing. That’s incredible. So you, when did you come to Canada? What year?
Ricky: I came to Canada in 1995.
Kosta: Okay, perfect. Did you have, um, so you said you, you were already a landlord, so it was not just through savings while working through the restaurant and Royal York or.
Ricky: Exactly, just working in the restaurant has been. And also in the restaurant I had a, I had that class to actually um, through estate agents coming in, being my customers in the restaurant, so I learned a lot from them and I always, I always had that general interest in real estate and a couple of my friends were real estate agents and stuff, so I get a pretty good picture of how real estate works and what it is all about.
Kosta: That’s amazing. I love that story. Um, so being in the business now for 15 years, I’m sure you’ve seen several changes in the real estate market, what would you say are some of the biggest challenges that you currently face as a realtor and how do you overcome those challenges?
Ricky: Uh, for me up because I’m like, I’m a one man show, right? I, I don’t have a team. I work by myself. So for me the biggest challenge is like, you know, keeping organized, keeping it all together, managing different client needs. I’m attracting new clients, retaining the existing ones and stuff. So these are kind of big challenges for me. Also going to be no real estate is a really like a paper heavy industry, making sure that all the beer brooke is submitted or things are done. Um, right now I’m in the process of hiring a part time assistant so hopefully you’re not going to get a little bit easier and also, you know, and you’re not focused a lot on the latest technologies and stuff. I’m really not trying to stay on top of everything. The new stuff that’s coming up. And um, not as in, in the last, in the last couple of years I’ve been heavily involved with the preconstruction condos, with the preconstruction condo business.
Ricky: So for me, the big challenge to get the right projects with my clients, the right locations, the right builders would add sweet allocations because you know, as we know in Toronto, some good projects they’re celebrating that we didn’t like for one weekend man we sell for 500 suites store. It’s a, it’s a really like a challenge to get the right location and get the right stuff. And I got to a platinum broker status with number of builders throughout the city. So this is one of the things that definitely, definitely some challenges, but I, I’m really happy with that then.
Kosta: That’s amazing. That’s awesome. Uh, so you said you’re a one man show, so I could imagine another challenge I see realtors face, and I’m sure you can relate, being a one man show, like you said, is time management. So as a realtor you don’t really have a fixed schedule on your day to day. Are there any daily rituals that you do that help plan your days a bit better and help you get started on the right foot that you’re able to share?
Ricky: Well, you know, what I noticed for me the first thing like I have to exercise first thing in the morning and when I, when I exercise in the morning and then when I do things, I got the end of June for the rest of the day feeling great. So that’s like exercise the first thing I do in the morning and then after that things are kind of, you know, depending on the day, depending on what’s happening that day and stuff, but um, you know, it’s uh, it’s a pretty much that’s, that’s, that’s how I start my day and from there I tackled the daily tasks as they come kind of thing.
Kosta: Yeah, that’s really good. I just, just habit and routine. So you’re saying no matter what in the morning you’re working out
Ricky: No matter what I am working out first thing in the morning.
Kosta: Amazing. Amazing. So let’s jump into the, your, your specialization in pre-construction sales, like you said, so you’re, you’re a VIP platinum broker. Uh, so first off, how did you get into that segment of the market?
Ricky: I get into that segment of the market a couple of years ago, uh, what happened? Uh, I, my office at shops at Don Mills and uh, and I don’t shop, sit down and there is a lot of, there is lots of new construction was coming up and still going on, right. So I had a, I had actually quite a few of my, of my clients asking me about the projects. I had a lots of clients in the neighborhood, so, and everybody was kind of interested in those projects. So it was Kinda, kinda natural transition. I started working with those builders and I was really, really successful in selling these properties. And from then it’s been like we just keep going. I just, uh, I just, I just was very, very successful in selling the pre construction projects and uh, and the beginning of the right units and it’s kind of all started in kind of, you know, when, when, when the development happened around my office, Syria and around my neighborhood.
Kosta: Got It. Got It. What are, what are some of the ways that you attract the right buyers for pre-construction as opposed to resale? Like for example, are you dealing mostly with investors or first time buyers are, or how do you attract the right buyers?
Ricky: My, uh, my customer because is a little bit different. I uh, I uh, I, I’m of face to face person so I, a majority of my clients, they come from my past relationship there. My past clients, repeat clients might referrals what but like my bus, restaurant customers, they became my real estate plans. So my, my 95 percent of my businesses is referrals. So most of these people, most of these people are either either, uh, investors and the first time buyers. So basically the majority of the stuff I do, I sell it through my own own network, like my own community events that I go to a face to face stuff. My friends, family associates and stuff. And the, and the recently I’ve been using a lot of social media as well because I think that’s where it’s, everything’s kind of moving so it’s much easier to keep in touch with everybody. And, uh, and these, uh, these, uh, these are the ways I, I get my clients most of the time.
Kosta: Yeah, that’s perfect. I’m sticking with marketing. Uh, what are, you know, you mentioned, you know, definitely a lot of your businesses referrals. You also mentioned that you’re involved in the online space with your website and social media in that way. What are some of your favorite and most effective marketing strategies that have given you the most ROI that you’re able to share?
Ricky: My definitely number one is, is just face to face with people like seeing my, my, my, my boss flags, uh, most of the time, having time for them, answering their questions and phone calls and, you know, many times they caught and many times they call me and not just regarding the sale of their current property. Many times they call me if they need any help with that they need that they need, they need a blind beggar. They need the electrician, they need a lawyer.
Ricky: They call me. Answering those questions, kind of keeping in touch with them, um, at all. And they send me lots of referrals. Majority of my business just for us and it’s kind of this mutual kind of respect and trust that I have with my, with my past customers, St Claire’s and there started being really, really working for it for me very well because, um, you know, I never used really conventional techniques like a door knocking and cold calling and stuff. They’re really never worked for me. I don’t think I’m that Kinda Guy Right. And a right and the leads leads like, as I said, social media just, you know, reaching so many people keeping in touch with everybody and these are definitely things that worked for me really well that I kind of didn’t need to use anything else but, but, but just this kind of strategy works really well for me.
Kosta: Yeah, very good. I mean, you know, that’s one of the easiest forms of marketing to tap into your existing network, I guess. Right,
Ricky: Exactly, exactly that, that worked for me really well. And, and, and I was very successful in that.
Kosta: Perfect. So you’re also a royal lepage diamond award winner, which essentially correct me if I’m wrong, but the top three percent of all residential sales earners in the company, is that correct? Congratulations on that. That’s quite the accomplishment. First of all, thank you very much. How many transactions did it take you to get to that level of last year?
Ricky: Last year. Took about about believe like 35 transactions, something like that.
Kosta: Amazing. Wow. And Are you on pace to match or beat that? This year?
Ricky: I, I’m going to be there this year. It’s a, it was going to be more successful here than the last one and a business is slowly improving, getting better. So I’m going to, I’m going to be dead number this year. Definitely.
Kosta: That’s amazing. Big Time numbers for sure. Um, so switching gears a little bit tricky. Um, as you know, technology is definitely changing quickly in the real estate market or how do you think technology will help change or how do you think technology will change real estate business in the next say five to 10 years?
Ricky: I think technology is changing everything right now, a real estate to thinks I’m moving just just faster. You people have now access to the Sol data in Ontario and Canada too and um, the implementation of new signatures and the ramones signing arps now all of us to work with, uh, with uh, people with people remotely. They don’t even need to be here. They need to be and they can be at the end of the different parts of the road and we can still put the deals together. So I think things are just moving much, much, much, much faster. And I think people now, the clients, they have more information now like that. The mapping services is much easier. It’s getting really great. They can access all the school that a neighborhood in for like all the stuff they need for, for, for a certain area and property they cannot have access to it very easy.
Ricky: Also with a, with a bit of social media, things are changing. People, people follow stuff on, on Instagram, youtube, facebook and stuff. So they really, they really have are lots of information about, about current real estate. A market, but also at the end of the day, I still believe a real estate is a people’s business. I think, um, you know, real estate is an emotional purchase and uh, you know, there’s the biggest purchase people make. So it’s, it’s, uh, lots of emotion in world then you’re not. The technology can, can, can tell people how, like, how much do they want to put in an offer? Let’s see. Are they going to buy if they liked the house, there is no, like I still do good. The agent needs to be there and uh, and the, and the help them out in, in that sense. And also technology can tell them that, uh, you know, uh, when you, when you, when the resolve her presentation, I had a situation there that are like 10 offers, register it. And then when I show up at the property there is, there is only two people there, two people made it so and, and you know, just meeting. I’m meeting a seller and then meeting the listing broker and filling, filling them out a little bit of getting the sense of their motivation and stuff. I am, I don’t think machines and computers can do that and agents and people are here to stay. They’re friendly is going to be a people’s business.
Kosta: Definitely agree with a lot of where you said there one thing you mentioned, obviously buyers and sellers have or have access to way more information now, like you said, especially with the Sol data. Um, I’ve heard a lot of realtors sorta worried because of that. What are your thoughts on the Sol data?
Ricky: Well, I think, um, I think it’s been, it’s been going on in the US for, for a number of years. I think over 10 years right now and they haven’t noticed any changes and I, I still believe I’m not worried at all about that. I think I think know if you’re doing your job right and if you are, if everything is in line, I don’t see any, any worries about that. People always will need a good real estate advice. As I said, this is the biggest purchase able to make. So they only the right agents for that.
Kosta: I agree. I mean, at the end of the day, even if you have a bunch of information, I think you still need a good professional that’s able to dissect and analyze that information properly. Exactly. I’m sorry, ricky, what’s the one piece of advice that you would give to either a new realtor entering the business or even an existing realtor who just wants to level up in their existing business?
Ricky: I just tell, tell, tell you know, like a new agent and ODA, Oda or a Sam. The entering the business is just like I’d start definitely working from, from your, from your base, from the people you know, from your contacts, from your, with your family members and staff. I think this is the best way to kick off the business and from there things will will grow and Kinda naturally you will find your way. You know what works the best for you. I believe everybody’s different, right? Everybody can do different things, so something’s route for some people. Some things don’t, so yeah, they’ll find their way, but I believe the best way to do it will be started with your, with your network and work from there.
Kosta: Yeah. That’s very good advice. Absolutely. A rookie. I do want to be mindful of your time. Uh, I do. And uh, each chat with what I call the top three. Are you ready? Sure. Okay. Uh, number one, your favorite business or real estate book?
Ricky: My favorite is probably wouldn’t be like put the pen down or a or a even a real estate sales people be whereby by a well known Toronto real estate lawyer, Mark Weiss Leather, and this is a book really great local insight and knowledge kind of from the legal, like a lawyer prospect. Like if anything was happening in the, in the property, some unusual stuff like somebody died or some like it was a former grew up or something like that. He gets a really detailed to you about all the details and how to handle and protect your clients.
Kosta: That sounds interesting. And the first one you said was put the pen down or depend on. That’s never heard of that one. I’ll check that out. It’s an interesting book. Definitely. Nice. A number two. Your favorite vacation spot.
Ricky: I had actually thought. Well actually I got the one from spring and summer and I got one like a winter Caribbean stuff. First one is a for spring and summer we’ll be definitely New York City. I love New York City. I love the energy dear. I love people add texture. Um, you know, I’m a big walker so I just let lover just walking to the beautiful city, exploring the brand central Park Times Square and, you know, every time I’m a little stressed I find few days to go there and come back fully refreshed. Um, and uh, the, the second one there, the winter one definitely is the Mexico. It’s a play at del Carmen. I really loved that, that, that small town there. It’s got that little European flair. So it’s lots of shops, lots of stores, Nice beach because, you know, I’m not really all inclusive guy. I can’t, can stay on the beach all day, man. I, I just thought now I go there. I rent a condo downtown and I explored the stuff on it, my old business, and in the same time check somebody, let’s stay there because they got that big, either lots of stuff in the real estate, new construction going on and I’m very curious what’s happening and enjoy visiting those sites.
Kosta: Great choices. I actually love both of those cities as well. Um, and ricky, how old are you? I’m 45 now. 40th five. So if you can go back 25 years, what do you wish your 20 year old self knew?
Ricky: Uh, care. Um, you know, as I said earlier, I was born in Sarajevo. Yeah, when I was about about 20 years old we had that had terrible war over there. So my, my, my life then what wasn’t like really partying and conventional style and enjoying with my friends. I was just trying to survive and, and Kinda stay, stay, stay alive. That kind of taught me early on that we can take things for granted and you know, nothing is guaranteed in life. So that experience back then really kind of shaped me who I am today. You know, I learned to appreciate things differently and, and, and, and you know, everything can change very fast, so I, I, or early toto importance of doing what makes me really happy, you know, it’s really big, big, big, big, big focus on, on a, on a, on a balanced lifestyle because to me beauty is just in a day, you know, every night when I, when I get back home and when I look back I asked myself how my day went and what did I do and if it just, you know, 15, 16 hours of putting these deals together, that’s really, um, no know.
Ricky: I don’t really necessarily consider it really great and successful day, but my favorite is like working eight, nine hours today and then in the afternoon going see the tfc game and after the game, stopping for some drinks with my friends. This is to me is a, is a beautiful and successful day.
Kosta: Amazing. Couldn’t agree more with that. Very inspiring. Amazing way to end this off. Ricky. Thank you so much. It was a pleasure speaking with you again and I hope we can do it again. Thank you very much. Alright, talk to you soon guys. Thank you so much for listening to the Top Agent podcast by Web4Realty. By the way, we’re providing exclusive promos to our listeners, visit web4realty.com/topagent and get your first month on us and that’s web4realty.com/topagent to get your first month of service completely free. Until next time. Over and out. Peace.