John Lusink, Toronto Real Estate Professional, Speaks to Leadership and Disruption in Real Estate

John Lusink is a Toronto-based real estate professional and president and broker of record at Right at Home Realty, Inc. With more than three decades of experience in the real estate industry, John’s background includes an exceptional commercial real estate sales career, success in managing the corporate offices for one of Canada’s most notable real estate brands, as well as the ownership of a successful residential real estate franchise.

In addition to his work in residential real estate, John  is an active member of the organizational real estate industry. For six years, he served as director of the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), an organization with over 50,000 members, where he acted as chairman of the Government Relations Committee and chair of the Finance Committee. Most recently, John was the commercial director for the 2018 Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).

Before beginning his real estate career, John Lusink earned his BA from Kingston’s Queen’s University. He then went on to receive an MBA from the University of Fredericton in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

John also holds a number of professional certifications, including being a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM), a designee of the Council of Real Broker Managers (CRB) and a Fellow of the Real Institute (FRI). In addition, he participates as a trainer and coach in a number of programs through the Real Estate Business Institute (REBI).

Between certifications, coaching, and serving on a range of boards, you take a very active, leadership-oriented role in the real estate industry. Why do you think this is important and where do you suggest young real estate professionals start if they are interested in advancing into more leadership roles?

John Lusink: I think this is extremely important for a couple of reasons. First, there is a tremendous educational value in serving on committees.  The experience alone of participating in professionally run meetings where high-level discussions are had around major issues affecting the industry is of immense value.  Second, one learns to become much more of a “critical thinker” by participating in these forums.  You quickly find out there is so much more to the issues at hand and that you really have to investigate and debate and challenge the status quo.

Throughout your career you have proven to be an inspiring leader. What qualities would you say are essential to strong leadership, regardless of the industry one is in?

John Lusink: For myself, some of the best qualities that are required are (in no particular order) 1) humility and 2) absence of ego.  Leadership for me is all about helping your co-workers and colleagues truly achieve their highest calling and in so doing, success – achieving their goals.  What they don’t want or need to hear is how their leader thinks he/she is the only one who can do something, the best at it, stories about their achievements, what they often need to hear is how their leader overcame great challenges with the help of their team, family, and what the lessons were that they are applying today. 

The teams you manage have proven skills and success. What is your secret to putting together a high-performing team?

John Lusink: A lot of it has to do with the qualities mentioned above.  If someone is only looking for the spotlight, then they won’t be a fit.  The second major point is that the team are involved in the selection process.  This might include staff of many different areas, levels.  That together with a personality profile and several personal meetings all forms a part of how we try to ensure the candidate is a fit.  In fact, what the goal is for us is to have the candidate reach a confident conlcusion that they do or don’t want to join.

Real estate is a rapidly-changing industry. What is your advice for keeping up with its rapid change and what, from your experience, will inspire the next disruptive change in the industry?

John Lusink: It is a very fast-paced industry and at times seems almost impossible to keep up with.  Having said that, getting involved with ORE (Organized Real Estate) is critical.  That means joining committees, running for Director on your local real estate board, or the Ontario Real estate Association or even the Canadian Real Estate Association.  In addition, you could also run to be a Director on the Real Estate Council of Ontario.  The second opportunity to attend one or two conferences a year such as the Inman or National Association of Realtors annual conference.  There are others so it helps to explore the options.  For the past ten + years, the disruptors have often been “technology” slanted. Often it has been a combination of some new technological play along with a pricing option directed at the consumer.  In my view, the next true disruptive change will involve a couple of areas of organized real estate.  First, the local real estate boards have long held on to old, now outdated, by-laws and rules and structures that are limiting growth.  What I mean by that is growth in the sense of business models and services that truly can serve the consumer better.  While record numbers of people are becoming Realtors, truly successful/profitable new disruptive brokerage models are not emerging.  Certainly not in Canada.  There does seem to be a push on to create more effective MLS systems for Realtors by collaborating and/or merging and utilizing the same technologies.  Those that don’t, no matter how large their membership, will find themselves on the outside.  Second, the major brands are being pressured by independent brokerage models who have understood that the Realtor cares less about the logo on their business card and more about the business services that are being offered.  As these independents create better leading edge back office systems, apps and manage to keep their fees low, they

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