Award winner hits 25 years as top earner in real estate

Award winner hits 25 years as top earner in real estate


Title: Real estate broker and sales person
Company: Royal LePage
Sales philosophy: Be consistent and treat everyone the same
Awards: No. 1 salesperson in Kanata. Top one per cent nationally for 26 consecutive years

This is third in a continuing series profiling Hot Sellers in significant local industries.



by Derek Mellon
Ottawa Business Journal


That’s how most people identify Joan Smith, salesperson for Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.

In fact, Smith and her hat have become so linked to one another that not only does she never go to work without it, but people often call Royal LePage asking to speak with the lady with the hat.

But among her peers, Smith’s hat is far less important than her record of selling houses.
Smith is Royal LePage’s top salesperson in Kanata, a title she has held for the past 25 years. She has also garnered the award as Royal LePage’s top salesperson in Ottawa-Carleton. More impressive, she is among Royal’s top 10 sales people in Canada – not an easy task considering the company has close to 8,000 sales people nationwide.
The secret to her success – understanding human nature.

“Houses are houses, but it’s the people relationship that is important,” says Smith.
She admits that it’s not always easy dealing with people who are letting go of what is often their biggest possession.

“Some people handle it better than others,” says Smith.

Smith credits her father as the reason she’s in sales today.

Married with two young daughters, Smith was looking to enter the workforce in the mid-1960s. Her father, who was fascinated with the real estate market, suggested that she should try finding a job in the sales field.

Despite trying to crack a sector dominated by men, Smith landed her first job working for a small real estate office in downtown Ottawa.

Her first sale was a small house in Centretown – after nine counter-offers and a number of worried looks from her boss, Smith finally closed the deal, selling the house for $20,000.



Shortly thereafter, Smith found a job at Royal Trust, which later became Royal LePage.

Smith recalls being one of only two women working in the office. “Being a young woman in the industry was a bit of a hurdle,” says Smith, who had few role models in the business to look up to.

During her first five years, Smith also attended university, earning a number of real estate qualifications. Along with being a real estate broker, Smith is certified in real estate marketing and is a registered residential appraiser.

During that period, Smith also helped start the Kanata bridge club and became one of the city’s first Girl Guide leaders. Oddly enough, during her 27 years as a real estate salesperson in Kanata, Smith has never moved from her original home, though she has seen just about every house in the city.
“I guess I don’t like change,” says Smith, who also has the same job she started with a quarter century ago.

That’s not to say there haven’t been changes in the real estate business over the years.
The biggest change to the business, says Smith, has been the emergence of the salesperson as independent contractor.
Until recently, sales people worked for a company and relied on it for advertising and listings. Now, real estate companies have placed the onus on sales people to find and advertise their own listings. While agents now have more control over their own business, they also must work harder to stay afloat.
“If we don’t sell, we don’t make it,” says Smith, who has adapted to the new changes.

Smith, who lists mainly west of Bronson, has her own website and logo (a silhouette of her and her hat) and lists or sells an average of 120 houses a year.

She sells everything from $75,000 homes to, as Smith likes to say, “the big stuff.” Her most recent sale closed at $558,000.

Smith says she’s fortunate to have made the plunge into the sales market. “I’m very lucky that I found something I like and something I’m good at.”