A famous writer once said, ‘To be successful in real estate, you must always and consistently put your clients’ best interests first. When you do, your personal needs will be realised beyond your greatest expectations.’ These words best describe multi-award-winning Canadian real estate agent Deborah Ojo, CEO of DeborahHomes.

Deborah started out as a class teacher before she established DeborahHomes, a company she built on the core values of honesty and integrity, with an uncompromising stand on professionalism. The amazing entrepreneur who is also known for strategic and focused approach is a real estate agent with RE/MAX, the largest real estate company in Canada. With over 10 years experience the sector, she has taught over 63 seminars and counting to minority communities on how to Own their own piece of real estate free of charge as a way to give back to those communities, and helping women who have passion for the business find their path and earn a living. She has built a solid foundation of clients in her community through her professionalism, attention to details, and commitment to always put her client’s needs first.

The Human Resources Management graduate shares her inspiring journey with ESTHER IJEWERE In this Interview.

Childhood Influence
My success was due to no small degree to the lessons of my childhood. Despite not having much, my parents worked hard to manage the finances of the home. We didn’t have much, but I watched my parents work hard. My mum was a primary school teacher and sells fabrics to her colleagues.

Our family finances were more stressed when my dad lost his job after 20 years service in the bank; we had lost our major source of income. I watched my parents stretch out every penny to make our finances work. You know what this experience taught me? My dad sat me down, he said, ‘Oluwatosin, the best advice I can offer you now in order to thrive in your future endeavours is to think DEPLOYMENT instead of EMPLOYMENT.’

Having seen how deplorable a worker is in the hand of their employers, not minding the sacrifices and how committed they are to their employer, this simple advice was stored up in my mind as a little child I was then and has guided me to shape who I am today.

Fast-forward, I decided I wasn’t going to dedicate my life to an employer who can let you go when you need them most. The foundations of my financial literacy, management of funds and business are all attributed to childhood; it taught me to keep going no matter the defeat into the stepping-stone of opportunities.

Why I Pitched My Tent In The Real Estate Sector
My inspiration was drawn out of my WHY? My WHYs range from having financial freedom, ability to travel the world without an employer giving a time limit, building a legacy for my children, helping the underserved communities and marginalised sectors. Spending quality time with my family, especially my husband. When I had the desire to own a multi chain of real estate, I had no way or resources to act on it.

As an immigrant in Canada, I see firsthand how hard it is for my parents to secure accommodation. I saw how people of minorities are underserved in securing rental units and owing their real estate portfolio. The systemic biases ran so deep that I took it upon myself to change the narratives and I decided to start educating people in my community on how they can become homeowners and not just helping their landlord to keep building wealth.

In my then 2-bedroom apartment, with a family of seven, my dream was born. I decided I was going to own a multi apartment building where I will give minority communities opportunities to rent/own safe and affordable apartments in Canada.

How Deborahomes Became One Of The Most Sought-After Real Estate Agencies In Canada
As a child, I was ambitious; I wanted to know how wealthy people became so successful. I threw myself into research and I discovered the answer was Real Estate, but I had nothing to start with. I quickly discovered Real Estate is a male dominated industry and my goal is to inspire other younger women to see that a woman can be a household name and make it to the top. I dared to be different; to me, you owe the world that much to be the best or nothing else.

Many women just like myself have so much to contribute to this universe, but somehow are subjected to believe it’s hard to achieve. I decided on strategic meetings, which had enlightened countless numbers of women in our society and helped them bring out the genius in them. Most of them are highly successful in Real Estate ventures.

Some of our greatest opportunities could be dressed in defeat. I had nothing going into this career than a desire to be great and affect lives. There was no mentor that looked like me and many of my colleagues will bully me in the years to come. I mean, I was young, a woman of colour with no sales background who dared to not be a regular 9-5.

When I started, because of my sharp change in career, a lot of people had thought there weren’t many minority women making it big time in Real Estate, but I blocked all the naysayers; I wasn’t afraid to change my circle of friends. You know what they say that if you want to know your true friends, start a business? Well, it happened, my friends couldn’t trust me with their businesses, but I quickly made new friends that are my best clients till today.

You know what else I did, I studied and learned all that was available to know in Real Estate that my colleagues started to respect my expert knowledge. That really helped me to climb really fast in my career.
I actually told myself that if I put my all into this and it didn’t work for 6 months, I would go back to my old job, but God so good, I closed a couple deals within the first couple of months; that validated me. I knew it would work and I have never looked back since.
I can never underestimate my husband’s sacrifices in building the brand DeboraHomes. Many people that know him know that there’s no DeboraHomes without him.

Thoughts On The Real Estate Market
It’s a moving train and this Current Real Estate market is not an exception. A Lot of people try to time the market, invest when its low and cash out when its high, but the market is a fast-moving train with many delicate intricacies; you cannot possibly time it, but you will do well to build your team of professionals like Real Estate Agents, Mortgage brokers etc to advise you of the right strategy depending on the market circle.

DeboraHomes provides consultation to its clients on how to strategically grow their portfolio to maximise returns, and by the way, it’s a great time right now to buy Canadian Real Estate, due to interest rate hike. The market is down about 20 per cent in the Greater Toronto area, so if you buy now, you would have position yourself for huge profit in the future

What It Takes To Own A Home In Canada
1.Good Credit – a good credit is 680 points and above. If you plan on buying a house, work on building and checking in on your credit score. Think about it this way, your credit rating is the only thing on paper that a lender can consider to evaluate whether you are trustworthy enough to lend to.
2. Income – A lender will use your income to calculate your affordability. The more you earn, the more loans you can potentially qualify for.
3. Down payment – As a residence, you can put as low as 5 per cent down of the purchase price if you qualify. As a non-residence, in most cases, you will need 20-35 per cent down to buy a home.

How I Am Using Platform Create Room For Women In The Community
I use my platform to teach new immigrants and underserved communities about the importance of Real Estate ownership. Held free training/webinars; I have taught over ten thousand people the power of real estate. I also help women understand the power of their voice and how to use it.

In dealing with families, I have discovered many women had no clue to their family finances or the courage to think they too can be a decision maker and their opinion matters. I would ask women what they wanted in a home and they would simply say whatever my husband wanted. I wasn’t raised like that and since I married, my husband and I believed in tabling all our opinions to help us make the best decisions. Two is better than one and if women simply keep quiet, then they are cheating their homes, their generation to contribute the ideas.

I use my platform to encourage women to speak up in family decisions and even in their career. I have also mentored other female agents to become successful in their real estate careers

One Thing I Wish To Change In The Real Estate Sector
Oh, I would totally go paperless; there will be no longer paper contracts to save the planet. I’m all for reduce, reuse, recycle. I would reduce the red tape around the new development approval process. This will help speed up new home construction and make more housing affordable, especially for minority communities who have been severely underserved.

Three Women Who Inspire Me And Why
These people have different levels of success in different expertise, business, and lived in different parts of the world, but what is common among them is they all had dreams, followed by lessons learned and then success. It proves that success leaves clues, I believe to be success, follow who knows the road, we don’t always have to reinvent the wheel, sometimes, copy the model.

My mum is my greatest inspiration. As a child, she didn’t have shoes to wear; she hawked, slept on the streets, but yet did not make excuses for herself. Her success is not by chance or luck; she had a burning desire for success and she converted all the opportunities she had into success. She has a remarkable mindset to never give up; she recognises no defeats.

Oprah is another person that inspires me. As a visible minority, she was born into poverty and now one of the richest African – American of the 20th century and the greatest philanthropist in U.S History. Oprah overcame many obstacles in one of the worst era in the United States where blacks were discriminated against, but she overcame those obstacles through prayer and hard work. Oprah’s wealth and fame is certainly no accident, as she believes that luck is simply ‘preparation meeting opportunity.’

Sheryl Sandberg, an immigrant who moved with her parents to the United states in search of greener pasture and with focus, rose to the position of COO at Facebook, becoming the company’s second-highest ranking official. This woman has exceptional leadership skills. During her time at Google, she grew the ad and sales team from four people to 4,000.

Other Projects And Activities
We were Real Estate investors before I became an agent. When I say we, I mean my husband and I. Personally, we focus on flipping houses, long term buy and hold, private lending and land development. There are lots on the horizon that I do not have authority to announce yet, but let’s just say we plan to buy multiple doors before the year runs out.

My Work-Life Balance Routine As A Mum, Wife, Business Owner And Mentor
I have an amazing support system, my amazing partner who lets me fly as high as I want. I couldn’t have been here without him. When I’m home, I’m a mother and a wife. When I’m at the office, I am not burdened with my home, because I know he is home, and I have learned to give up on lots of things that don’t add value to me or my goals.

I learned quickly to spend QUALITY time with family. I have also mastered the act of delegating roles to trusted team members; I don’t do everything because I’m not good at everything. I focus on my core competencies alone and I consistently revalue our business to find ways to improve efficiencies.

Being A Woman Of Rubies
I have met many people that have told me how inspired they are by me. Sometimes when we are doing something, you do not know who is watching, but people are mostly inspired by how I juggle my big family and my business. I say it’s knowing who are in Christ; I am Deborah to my generation and my husband, and I am conscious about our callings to our generation.

Real Estate is my platform to preach the gospel. The gospel of ‘come and see how I became a millionaire’ and you can be a millionaire too. We are called to abundance! I believe my talents are not for me alone, so I pray hard and work like I don’t pray. Clear communication has been the key to having a successful marriage and a successful career.