Q&A with Leah Millar, Real Estate Agent

Are you from this area?
Yes, I live in Saddle Hills County. I work all around the Peace Country, but my Century 21 Office is in Grande Prairie.

We seem to be seeing more of your signs pop up in the area. How have things been going for you since you started your real estate career?
Amazing! I have been out and involved in the community and that interaction has given my real estate career many leads. My career has really taken off. I am extremely busy and you will see more of my signs going up.

What made you decide to go into real estate?
I have always loved the uniqueness of different communities, locations and homes. I knew I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and real estate provided that. My background is in Contract Law. I have a BA from the University of Calgary in Law and Society. There’s lots of negotiation, paperwork and contracts with real rstate. It is not all fun and showing houses.

I had started to take my real estate courses and exams a couple of years ago. Then, in December 2017 I had brain surgery. After coming through that, I knew that there was nothing else in the world I would rather be doing than real estate. So, I jumped in, finished all my exams, and haven’t looked back. When you go through a traumatic experience I think it really solidifies the wants and needs in your life.

Are there challenges in real estate that we would not necessarily think of?
Technology! I work in a largely rural environment in the Peace Country, selling agricultural land, acreages and residential properties. Sometimes, there is no cell service when I am visiting a client or showing a property. Sometimes, the app on my phone for unlocking homes does not work (I have a back up). Sometimes, I have intermittent Internet and have to coordinate getting signatures from clients in person and through Docusign, an electronic signature format.

Often, lots of extra travel and driving time in an already tight schedule. It may not all work all seamlessly for me, but I make sure that everything works seamlessly for my clients for the deadlines that have been set. Technology is really helpful when it works.

You do not have set hours in real estate, how do you deal with that?
I love the fact that I can manipulate my hours to work around the schedule that I need. I get up in the morning and have my coffee, with no commute time, I can dive right in with the laptop at my fingertips. I work around what suits my clients. They may be on shift work from a rig, or work nights at a plant. We just have to work around the lawyers and banks schedules. It can be tricky, but we get it done.

What separates you from your competition?
Hard work and passion. I work hard. All the time. Because I love it. When I take a listing on, I know that is only half the job. The other half is to have that place sold. So, I put in many hours and money into getting the place sold. Sales experience is important too. I have that. I do not sit and wait for buyers to come to me. I have to go out and find them. They are out there. They may not even know they are looking for a place yet, but when they see what you have to offer, things change. I also work with Black Swan Helicopters to tour clients around when they are looking for land or property in the Peace Country. It is a neat feature to be able to physically go up and look down on the land, compared to aerial or drone photos.

What should I look for in a real estate agent?
Honesty and trust. You are hiring a professional agent, but if there is no honesty and trust with the person, why have you put your heart and money on the line. Real estate is often a huge investment for people. Often it is the largest purchase they will ever make. As a professional, you have to go through people’s homes and ask them to strip out all of the personal memorabilia, so buyers will come in and imagine themselves there. Delivering professional critical advice, to prepare and educate the clients can be difficult. It is a skill. Find out exactly what this professional will do for you. I would interview the top three agents, whether you are buying or selling, to find out what they offer. Make sure you know your options, know the person and then make a choice.

What is the most important question a real estate agent should ask potential buyers and sellers?
Do you have a current real property report for a seller and how important is that to you for a buyer.

Finally, do you get ideas of how you want to decorate your own place from walking through your clients’ houses?
All the time! I am constantly in the creative process, whether I am looking for ideas for other clients or myself. I have a passion for the prairies and the rivers, and love properties that incorporate these two things.