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Love your job, says 35-year Realtor

Lillian Adamakis (Photos by Marko Shark)

Lillian Adamakis (Photos by Marko Shark)

By Connie Adair

“Look at that guy. He has already sold nine houses.”

It was not what the young agent wanted to hear when she had sold nothing in her first three months as a Realtor. She went home, got into bed, pulled the covers up over her head and cried. “Just watch. I’ll show you,” Lillian Adamakis vowed. That year, she was named rookie of the year.

For the next three years, she was consistently one of the top 10 producers in the office. In 1986, she was named the Toronto Real Estate Board’s salesperson of the year. She won Platinum and Hall of Fame awards each year from 1994 to 2003 and was one of the top five producers at her company from 1994 to 2010. In 2011, she was the number two top producer for Keller Williams in the individual category. Not bad for someone who got into the business by accident.

After graduating from bilingual secretarial college in Quebec City and working for a year as a secretary, she went to Europe, starting in Greece. She taught English. She spent two years travelling in Europe, working as a Girl Friday for the Committee on Space Research in Paris. Other stops included a kibbutz in Israel, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Nepal. Her trip also included Bangkok, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia.

When she returned to Canada 6 1/2 years later, she worked as a waitress. Three years later, the owner of Young & Biggin in Toronto told her that she would be a good real estate agent and gave her his card. But it wasn’t until a friend said she was taking a real estate course that Adamakis took action. “I thought ‘if she can do it, so can I’,” Adamakis says.

She started her real estate career in 1979, working mainly with first-time buyers, generating leads by door knocking and hosting open houses and it paid off. “At an open house, someone told me, ‘My real estate agent just fired me.’ But I took her on and found her a house. Thirty-five years later she is still with me.”

Many of her clients have been with her for years. “I may have one or two new clients a year but most are repeat or referral business,” she says.

It’s her impeccable service that keeps them coming back – she makes a long-term commitment to clients, getting to know them and their families. Years ago, Adamakis says she attended two training sessions. One trainer suggested agents do each deal and then move on. The other trainer, Joe Stumpf, suggested getting to know clients and their families and becoming their friend, she says. “I love people and enjoy seeing their kids grow up. I get close to clients. That’s what keeps me going. When listing, I tell my clients I want them to love me.”

To keep the business going and growing, she stays in touch with her clients.  “I don’t do a lot of social media,” says Adamakis, who prefers to email or pick up the phone. “The best way to generate business is to keep in touch with established clients.”

However, she says young clients will likely go to young agents, so it’s important for them to do social media.

You have to provide excellent service, do more than the agent next door, follow up and stay in touch, she says.

Door knocking works, she says. “People need to remember you, know you do a good job and know that you’re still in business.” It can be a tough road. In her early years, she went to one door and gave the homeowner her card. “The homeowner ripped it up and gave it back. It’s a tough business. You have to have a thick skin.”

But realize you’re human. “You may think you’re as tough as nails but sometimes there is a chink in your armour,” she says. Clients can say things that hurt your feelings.

A secret for longevity is to take a day a week off and to take lots of vacations. It doesn’t hurt to love the job, she says.

“I love my career. I meet fabulous people. It’s so fulfilling to help people buy and sell a home. It’s fulfilling for me. This industry has given me time to travel, and time to watch my nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews grow up. And I love the people I work with.”

She compares her Keller Williams office to a family business. “There is a culture attached. We’re here to help other people in the office,” she says, adding if someone needs educational materials or anything else she has, she’s more than willing to share. If someone in the office is suffering, the agents pull together to help, she says.

Adamakis started her career with Terry Martel Real Estate then moved to Darrell Kent Real Estate. She moved to Re/Max Hallmark Realty, where she worked for 16 years, after Family Trust bought out Darrell Kent. She has been with Keller Williams Advantage since 2010.

Keller Williams is education-based, Adamakis says. There was no training when she was a “baby agent” but urges new Realtors to take advantage of all of the training they can.

09 web insWhen not selling homes (for an average price of around $800,000 and many over $1-million) in Riverdale, East York, The Beach and Playter Estates in Toronto’s east end, Adamakis loves to travel. “I love red wine and travelling to wine country in different countries. I love different cultures and food. I was in Australia and New Zealand in 2012 and in Africa this year. I spent two weeks volunteering at an orphanage, did two safaris and tasted some great wines.”

She urges new Realtors to keep up their hobbies and interests. She also urges agents to give back. Adamakis has been involved for 30 years with The Hunger Project. The organization is committed to the sustainable end of world hunger. This year, $500 from each of her sales will go to the organization.

“I think giving back is essential. I also feed kids at an inner city school on Friday mornings, part of the Breakfast Program, and have been doing that for five years,” she says.

Future plans? “Retirement down the road some time, but who knows when?” she says. Right now, she’s too busy enjoying herself.

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