How To Navigate Real-Estate Entrepreneurship In An Unprecedented Market

Small Business Canada

Keisha Telfer, Broker of Record Transitions Realty Inc.

While growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, Keisha came to appreciate homes and design when her grandmother completed a home renovation and her mother bought land and built a beautiful family home. After graduating from the University of Greenwich in London, United Kingdom, with a master’s degree in Construction Project Management, Keisha managed a portfolio of social housing developments. In 2012, Keisha immigrated to Canada, where she attained Canadian credentials in Construction Project Management and a Real Estate Broker license.

Keisha has served many clients including first-time buyers, people looking to upsize to a bigger home, and those wanting to downsize. While she loves working with all types of clients, she’s especially drawn to downsizers seeking to reinvent themselves with a lifestyle change. Keisha understands the benefits of downsizing through personal experience. She knows first-hand how good it feels to sell a home and put its equity toward serving a new goal. Keisha maintains active relationships with a vast network of developers, construction professionals, retirement coaches, mortgage specialists, financial advisors, home inspectors, professional organizers, movers, and more.

When Keisha is not helping you transform your life, you might find her cycling, hiking, or getting her hands dirty on a do-it-yourself project. She also loves traveling because it helps her learn about different cultures, try new delicacies and make new friends.


How is Transitions Realty aiming to help baby boomers navigate the downsizing experience by redefining the entire experience?

The traditional model for real estate is based on a transactional approach. Boomers have redefined every phase of life, and downsizing is no different. In our experience, the traditional transactional approach does not work for them. There is more to downsizing than just selling a family home and moving to a new, perhaps smaller home. This is a major life transition. We find many boomers do not take the time to figure out what this next stage of their life will look like nor how to get there. That’s why, we have designed our process to not only help boomers navigate their downsizing journey, but we educate and empower them to make decisions that are right for them now and in the future. We also work closely with a network of advisors, coaches, and designers, with who we can pair our clients when needed.

At Transitions, we deliver the transitional experience that boomers are seeking, because this is an emotional journey with many moving parts and we believe being fully prepared is the first step of a successful life transition.

Our motto is, “You’re not a transaction, you are going through a transition.”


How to navigate real-estate entrepreneurship in an unprecedented market?

As we were on the verge of launching our business model, the pandemic hit and the economy was shut down. We considered pivoting, but after reflection, we realized if we did pivot, the transactional cycle would continue. So, we decided to team up with other professionals who our clients will need for their downsizing journey and start educational webinars.

We also implemented a public relations campaign to let boomers know they have options. For example, we are in a hot real estate market and it might be tempting to jump onboard and sell now. But we advise that before taking this step to sell their family home, they prepare themselves for this major transition.

We have seen and heard stories of too many people regretting their choice to downsize because they’ve made the wrong decision and have to go through the process of moving again. So, if done right you should only have to do this once.


With over five years of real estate experience, please share your advice on your own
small-business entrepreneurship journey?

The first year of being self-employed was a steep learning curve because being an employee is different from being the boss. Luckily for me, from a young age, I set goals and consistently worked towards achieving them. So, my discipline and drive paid off.

The most important piece of advice I can share with you today is to build systems and ensure your business can survive without you.

This gives your partners, your employees, and clients confidence in you and your brand. Having worked for small businesses in both construction and event management, I have experienced first-hand the positive impact efficient systems can have on a business.


How to start and launch a business that’s the first of its kind in Canada in the middle of a
pandemic?

It’s amazing how passion, drive, and sacrifices can inspire one to take a step into the unknown in the middle of a pandemic. Having seen first-hand how the traditional, more transactional model was failing, we thought hard about our business model. To do this, we interviewed boomers, empty nesters, and people who had already downsized to assess their needs and learn from their experiences. We got tremendous feedback on what worked and what did not work. In addition, we spoke to other experts within real estate, and in complementary industries such as financial advisors, professional organizers, retirement coaches, etc. We got solid advice from all our peers. The result was a solid framework of how we wanted to serve our clients. At the same time, we were getting all our operational systems in order, from branding to websites, to accounting systems, and more. Finally, we moved to get the word out, so we embarked on partnerships, public relations, and educational webinars.

So, in summary, plan your approach, talk to friends, family, peers, and most importantly, potential customers. Gather all the feedback, then commit time and energy to execute your plan. Don’t try to be a jack of all trades. For example, we are experts in helping business owners and families through major life transitions and we have a team of internal and external partners that we work closely with to ensure we serve our clients the way they deserve.


On a final note, what advice would you give to women entrepreneurs to survive these challenging times and bounce back from the uncertainty?

Everyone will have different ways of inspiring themselves and keeping their dream alive. Here’s what inspires me and the advice I would give to others:

Firstly, know that the service you offer has a positive impact on so many lives. Secondly, keep focused on things you can control and not on things you have little control over.

I know, when I let my focus start to shift, I let others down. Finally, surround yourself with positive people, and don’t be afraid to ask for a helping hand, you will be surprised to learn how much others want you to succeed.

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