When Newmarket real estate broker Diane Priest was approached by the co-op teacher at Sacred Heart Catholic High School, she saw it as an opportunity to teach young people what the life of a realtor is really like.
“All these HGTV and other glam shows that are fun to watch, and sometimes you learn stuff, but it’s not the reality of day to day being a real estate agent,” she said.
Priest has been working with sales representative Carlo DeNuzzo for seven years. Both have 15 years experience selling real estate in York Region. They joined Main Street Realty in 2018 and at the same time moved into a corner unit on Main Street as the Dream Building Team.
“We live local, we work local, most of our client base is local,” DeNuzzo said.
In February 2020, they were joined by Grade 12 student Jonathan Xu, who was doing a four-month-long co-operative education program. He said he wanted to do a co-op in a real estate environment because he was interested in interiors. However, once he started, he learned there is a lot more to it.
“Once I was here, I was kind of introduced to the realistic realtor lifestyle like what it takes to become a realtor. It’s not just the glitz and glamour of what you see on the TV shows,” Xu said.
During his semester there he did a lot of work on the team’s website, developed a database of clients, and did work with social media. While the pandemic restricted what they were able to do, it was a valuable experience on both sides.
His tech savvy and design skills were “a huge win for everybody,” Priest said. She said her and DeNuzzo learned a lot about online presence from Xu, so much so that they decided to hire him after the co-op was over.
Now he works as client marketing manager with the agency. He continues maintaining the website, working on Facebook ads, regular social media posts, and in the past few months helping oversee the recent two co-op students from Sacred Heart.
“He knew exactly what they needed and it helped him develop his supervisory skills,” Priest said.
She said their program teaches not just real estate but other skills relevant to other careers and industries, including business, accounting, marketing, client communications, and managing budgets, which DeNuzzo said is “all good lifelong skills that we need.”
For Xu, he said while it wasn’t all fun, it was all a really good experience.
“Even sometimes doing things that we don’t necessarily want to do as well, it’s a good learning experience for sure. It teaches you the real world,” he said.
One of his least favourite tasks was door knocking. While it was nerve wracking, he said it was still a good experience.
Xu isn’t able to work full time with the Dream Building Team year round as he is a student at Toronto Metropolitan University, formerly Ryerson. He will be going into his third year of interior design in September.
“It pairs really well with real estate because I want to do residential design in the future,” he said.
During the school year, Xu works limited hours with the real estate agency, but then when his break begins in April, he is able to spend more time there. Priest said they are excited when he is able to come more and while she hopes Xu will choose to get his real estate licence and keep working with them after school, she said he will have to see where his path takes him.
Priest and DeNuzzo have worked with a total of three co-op students now and said they will definitely take on more in the future.
“They’re going to be a part of our business going on, every year to grab a student or two,” DeNuzzo said. “If they are really interested in real estate, down the road they can get their licence, we would help them with that, they could join our team and we could mentor them, help them along.”