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"Matchmakers. Problem Solvers. Community Builders"

Lina Risi rides along Toronto’s busy Danforth Avenue on her blue commuter bike. Her bike basket carries ingredients for that night’s dinner and the passionate foodie doesn’t get far from her local market before stopping to hug and greet friends and neighbours on her way home.

Lina has lived and worked in Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood for more than 30 years and her heartfelt commitment to the community is evident in her participation in the area’s events and gatherings.

It’s this hyper-local approach, in a fast paced market, that has built Lina Risi and her business partner, Ken Mazurek, a strong word-of-mouth business and a reputation for excellence.

Their passion for community, combined with an entrepreneurial, rollup-the-sleeves attitude, means that on any given day, Lina and Ken are taking on the role of salesperson, buyer’s advocate, analyst, business manager, consultant, negotiator, marketer, community advocate, neighbour and friend. All of these roles are necessary to run their client-centred real estate business.

The duo attributes their success to their focus on two objectives: doing what it takes to develop authentic relationships with their clients and identifying and understanding changes in rapidly growing city neighbourhoods that affect how, when and where families buy and sell their homes.

My Business Magazine caught up with Lina Risi and Ken Mazurek to talk about their unique partnership, the Postcardhomes brand, and how to build wealth with Real Estate.

Q: Your brand name is Postcardhomes. Is there a special meaning?

A: I (Lina) established the Postcardhomes brand in 1990. The word “Cartolina” means postcard in Italian. Even today, postcards represent excitement, adventure, and movement. Ken and I work very hard to ensure our clients’ buying or selling experience with us is a “postcard moment.” We are so lucky to do what we do and feel very blessed to connect with people in their quest to find or sell a home.

Q: I understand that Postcardhomes is affiliated with Johnston & Daniel a division of Royal Lepage Real Estate Ltd. How does this help clients?

A: We work for Johnston & Daniel, a boutique brokerage that specializes in the GTA, while enjoying the national reach and resources that come with being part of a global team known as Royal LePage. In 2017 Royal LePage Corporate Brokerages (which J&D is a part of) had combined sales of $8.3 billion dollars - 31% more than our next competitor. This association allows us to offer the attention to detail and personalized service of a boutique brokerage, coupled with the national and international reach and market presence of Royal Lepage. In other words, Ken and I offer white glove service with the marketing power of a boxing glove.

Q: You and Ken are from two different generations which is unusual in a partnership. Why does your partnership work?

A: The Real Estate business comes with many hard lessons. It takes time, education and patience to hone your skills. I have 30 years of experience and Ken represents youth and change. This makes him strong in the areas that I am weak. I think our partnership works because of this. And, because there are two of us, our clients get two sets of eyes, as well as two perspectives on everything. With a duo, there is always someone working on your behalf and there is always a second opinion available to provide clarity. Even the FBI conducts interviews in pairs – if it’s good enough for the FBI it’s good enough for us.

Q: What is your client-centred approach to buying and selling real estate?

A: Our goal is to ensure clients’ have success in Toronto’s fast paced Real Estate market. We achieve this by aligning our clients’ financial objectives and lifestyle choices and by educating them on the current market conditions. Clients need this information to have confidence in their buying and selling decisions. When a client calls and describes what they want, I already have a vision of what it is they are looking for and where they will find it, for the price that they are willing to pay. The client may not know what this looks like, but Ken and I do.

Q: You say you are in the family business. Since you aren’t related, what do you mean by this?

A: Our business is families! By getting to know our clients personally, we can find them the perfect house, in the perfect neighbourhood. Each family has unique needs and circumstances. For example, if our clients are expecting a new addition, we focus on schools, parks, walking score, transit etc. If our clients are a couple that is downsizing, we focus on locating the perfect bungalow or condo to address any present or future health and mobility concerns. Do our clients want a home gym? Then, we look for houses that have a basement with a high ceiling. Because we match families and people with communities, we like to think of ourselves as matchmakers, problem solvers and community builders.

Q: There are many realtors in the GTA that say they are the best. How is Postcardhomes different?

A: We are committed to never-ending improvement because that allows us to consistently perform at the very highest levels. We see part of our role as educators, as much as anything else. Ken and I are also interested in having long term relationships with our clients and their families. We both have an incredible network of professionals that can handle anything and everything that is needed. More importantly, we are always ready to help and to go the extra mile when necessary – snow shovelling, watering plants, walking pets, fixing gas leaks, etc.

Q: Why is a good realtor essential for building wealth?

A: If you want to build wealth, it is important to align yourself with a good realtor, a great wealth manager, a well-versed Real Estate lawyer, and a reliable contractor.

A good realtor understands leveraging, the merits (and detriments) of the different building types and communities, what’s hot and what’s not, renovations that have the most ROI, and the cultural, recreational and transportation opportunities. We are also “futurists” - an important part of our job is to project what the next five or ten years is likely to look like and then we relate this information to our clients’ immediate and future needs. We see ourselves as a critical part of the “brain trust” that helps our clients build wealth and achieve their dreams.

Q: Awards & achievements?

A: In the first year of our partnership, Ken and I received the prestigious Gairdner Award from our brokerage. And, while awards are always nice, that isn’t why we do what we do. Our goal is to do something that has a lasting, positive impact on the real people with real lives with whom we work. We know that if we can help even one person or one family, we have made a difference. Besides, dinner with happy clients or a heartfelt handshake or a hug is far more rewarding than an inanimate plaque on the wall.

Q: How does Postcardhomes give back?

A: I am a top 10% donor for all of Canada for Royal Lepage Women’s Shelter. In 2017, Ken and I sponsored a Furniture Drive with the Furniture Bank and successfully collected enough furniture to furnish seven houses for refugee families new to Canada. We also support CAMH, Movember, Sunnybrook Hospital, University of Toronto Varsity Blues Football, Riverdale Withrow Women’s Ball Hockey League and Emily House.

Q: Can you share some personal details?

A: Ken lives with his beautiful wife Laura, and their newborn son, Logan. He is a multi-sport athlete, and attended the University of Toronto on a football scholarship with the Varsity Blues. After graduating, he played two years professionally in Germany. When he returned to Canada, Ken attended teachers college at the University of Ottawa. Rather than heading straight to the classroom, he returned to his alma mater as a full-time coach, academic advisor, and international recruiting coordinator with the football team. Even with his busy real estate career and family life Ken still finds time to coach the St. Andrews College Saints varsity and junior varsity high school football teams. I arrived in Canada from Italy in 1963.

I have been married to Darlene, a retired special education teacher for 32 years. I have the travel bug and have visited over thirty countries - and I love to cook. Languages are also a passion – I’ve studied four but am only fluent in two of them. I live in Riverdale, attended Ryerson University and I graduated with a Marketing Degree. My family has always been involved in new subdivision construction, so you see, quite literally, Real Estate is, in my DNA.

Suzen Fromstein is the author of Suits and Ladders, Ten Proven Ways to Keep Your Job Safe - with a few jokes thrown in. Suits and Ladders was an Amazon Best Selling Book in the Career Guides Category

477 Mt Pleasant Rd Toronto, ON M4S 2L9

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