REAL(TOR) TALK: Sitting Down with Sarah Kwan

Courtesy of Instagram @SarahKwan

We were so excited to sit down with Sarah Kwan, greater Vancouver Realtor®, devoted mother of two, and all around firecracker. Sarah came into real estate naturally: her parents were in the business for most of her life. Now, 9 years into her own real estate career, she is on top of the world: only 9 months into the year, she has already surpassed her goal for the entire year and has made the list for the top 10% of agents within her board and team in the first 2 quarters. Sarah chatted all things industry, what she wishes she would have known, and how she’s set herself up and framed her future.

Tell us a little about yourself, Sarah.

Currently, I am the co-lead of a team (The Vancouver Collective Group) and we are brokered with eXp Realty. I’ve been with the brokerage over a year-and-a-half now and absolutely love the business model as well as the mindset of so many of the amazing people I get to collaborate with. I am also the mother of two amazing little toddlers and they keep me motivated and grateful every day. I often get asked how I juggle two kids at home while working full time and to be honest it is not easy! I am fortunate to have an amazing and supportive husband, who is also an entrepreneur and so we try and work around each other’s schedules.

That is busy! On that note, though, how did you get into the industry? You know—when did you know you wanted to be a real estate agent?

I actually grew up in real estate and my parents were both entrepreneurs. I got to see a lot of the real estate industry from behind the scenes, but surprisingly it wasn’t my first choice as a career—graphic design was. I initially got into real estate to get my mom to stop nagging me and as soon as I got my feet wet, so to speak, I was hooked! 9 years later I’m still a student and always evolving.

And there are so many elements and skills you can pull in, right? So, 9 years in... It can be stressful. What has kept you here? What's your favourite thing about being an agent?  

Curtesy of Instagram @SarahKwan

I have two. I love the rush you get from being busy, but productive, and when business is go-go-go! I’m also competitive so love receiving multiple offers and being in multiple offers because I rarely lose—sorry, not sorry!

More recently I’ve been really passionate about the marketing aspect! That’s one thing that sets me apart from my competition; what I put into my marketing and my desire to do more for my clients in terms of marketing. Part of my creative outlet is creating an entire marketing plan for each listing. From photos, to brochure, to staging, to video production… I love it all! Mind you, I don’t do it all, I hire professionals because I’m not a “Jill” of all trades. But, I do have a set vision with my marketing and, for example, my videos. I direct everything because I know and understand that I am selling more than just a home. I am selling a dream, a goal, a lifestyle. And that needs to be portrayed appropriately in order to get that message across to the ideal buyer. My understanding and attention to detail helps my clients’ homes stand apart and above their competition, ultimately selling them for more money.

Wow! So, you're juggling motherhood, you're a lifelong learner, and you're directing your clients' videos and the marketing side of things? That is amazing! But, it's a lot, of course. The world of real estate, as you know, is not all rainbows, puppies, and closing deals. Tell us: What is something that you've had to overcome as an agent? Is there something about being in real estate that is more of a challenge than others perceive?

Exactly. Understanding that being a realtor, being self employed, being an entrepreneur isn’t as spectacular as most people assume it to be. It is so much more than looking at homes and selling them. There is an entire process to it and many nights I am up after I put my kids to sleep, working. So if you’re looking for a 9 to 5, real estate is not for you.However, if you have a great work ethic and you can work hard and smart and have that entrepreneurial type of mindset, then real estate is a great opportunity.

If you're looking for a 9 to 5, real estate is not for you. However, if you have a great work ethic and you can work hard and smart and have that entrepreneurial type of mindset, then real estate is a great opportunity.

That's exactly it. It's a lot of work, but boy, can it be worth it! To that point, what's a career highlight or achievement you're most proud of to-date?

That would have to be the present. I have already surpassed the goal that I set for myself in the beginning of the year, and we’ve just started September.  On top of that, the first two quarters of the year, I have made the list for the top 10% of agents within my board and so has my team. A tremendous feat I didn’t think would be possible just a year after having my second child and while still being able to spend quality time with my family.

Good job, Sarah! That has got to feel good! Tell us how you felt when you made your first sale.

Oh, it felt amazing, of course! It was also a little frightening because I wanted to ensure I was doing everything right. It was one of the largest homes I have sold… Still to this day. And I remember a few friends calling me off of my sign as they had driven by it and saw the sold sticker!

So exciting. And what does your dream house look like? Where is it located?

My dream home is a two storey modern farmhouse on a large plot of land. I currently live in the Tri Cities and love it out here, so I’d have to say it would be located here, too.

Okay, rapid fire... If you could give your best advice to a new agent, what would you tell them about... Closing their first deal?

Have someone mentor you or at least have someone you can go to for advice and guidance.

Not having a sale/listing go as planned?

A lot in real estate doesn’t go as planned, so get used to it! But reminding yourself to brush yourself off and get back up. Don’t let the beating let you stay knocked down.

Marketing themself?

In the present day, it is so important to market yourself. People want to know who you are and why they should do business with you. But be true to who you are, or who you aspire to be. I’ve learned along the way that you won’t do business with everyone and at this point in my life I am perfectly fine with that.

Budgeting/finances as a new agent?

Have some money saved and set aside for when you first get licensed because there are a lot of upfront costs and if no money is coming in it is easy to accumulate debt. At the same time, don’t cheap out on things because it will end up costing you more in the long run.

All great advice! How has 2020 affected you as an agent? What have you done to keep moving forward?

Courtesy of Instagram @SarahKwan

Having two kids at home while working more than full time has not been easy. Thankfully, the majority of my business was already paperless, tech-savvy and cloud based pre-Covid. So when a lot of agents weren’t able to adapt, it allowed me to shine. And because of this adaptability, I am having my best year in the business.

If you scroll to the bottom of my Instagram page I wrote the quote “change for time” and it is something that has resonated with me for the last 2.5 years. If we wait for the “time to change” we’re already too late.

Ah, love that. Okay, and now you're here where you are today. What do you do to Frame Your Future?

Think, plan, do, repeat.
Think: My business partners know that I always have a million ideas firing off throughout the day. In between appointments, I’m always on the phone with them running ideas back and forth.
Plan: Setting goals and setting deadlines but also keeping these plans on top of mind. Just don’t plan to do 10 things at once or you’ll overwhelm yourself.
Do: Carrying out the plan and not overthinking things. I used to overthink things to the point where I wouldn’t get tasks done because they needed to be absolutely perfect, but I have gotten over this. A plan without action is just a dream. 
Repeat: Once you know what works, keep doing it.

You're on fire, Sarah! Wish we could chat all day! Closing words? Anything else you'd like to mention?

Go for it. If you’ve read this far, hopefully I was able to provide you with something of value. Whether you are new to the business, a parent struggling in real estate, or a veteran looking for fresh ideas, do not let your own fears hold you back. Reach out to meet and let’s connect! I hope to hear from you!

Thanks, Sarah!

A bit more about Sarah: A second-generation Realtor, Sarah has a vast understanding of real estate and has seen it change over the years. Paired with an extensive background in sales, she has strong negotiating skills and knows how to close a deal. Her hard work and transparent work ethic have helped her build trust amongst her clients and providing them with invaluable knowledge has kept them returning as well as referring her services.


Instagram: @SarahKwan