Family Life, Living with Purpose, Investing in Creemore
Valerie Smith is not a stranger to wearing multiple hats in her daily life. From running a successful real estate career, to sitting on charity boards, to a full time mother to her beautiful 12 year old daughter, life can get pretty hectic at times. She has found happiness living in the outskirts of the city, on a tranquil property far away from the city bustle. Her move happened shortly before the pandemic, selling her townhouse in Toronto and headed North to a town called Dunedin outside of Creemore. She recalls the decision to move being one of the best ones she has made stating that “Living in Dunedin so close to so many amazing outdoor activities allows me to easily balance work and play. I always find time to sneak out and play a little.” Here is her journey to finding fulfilment and happiness.
Tell me about yourself ; education, background.
I wear three hats in life; I work as a Director at a national injury prevention charity called Parachute Canada; I am a realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada and I am a mom of a cool 12 year old daughter. My background previously was focused on working in international development and health—after doing a Masters Degree in International and Comparative Education at University of Toronto I spent a number of years working with NGOs active in Guyana, Costa Rica, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. After having my daughter I transitioned my work to focus in Canada working in public health and injury prevention with Parachute, a national charity. After my divorce, I wanted to supplement my income and find an additional professional interest—that’s wear real estate came in. 2 years ago pre COVID I realized I needed a big change—I sold my townhouse in Toronto and bought a lovely post and beam chalet style home on 5 acres in a town called Dundein outside of Creemore. While a number of friends and family thought I was crazy to make this move I generally had the support of most people.
Did you always know you would go into the real estate industry?
My mom was a realtor and a very successful one but I never thought I would follow in her foot steps. However, I understand now why she did it for 40 plus years—there is never a dull moment, every deal is different (none are easy) and you meet some really wonderful people while helping them transform their lives.
How has partnering with Katrina Elliston helped your business?
Soon after moving, I met another Sotheby’s International Realty Canada agent in the area, Katrina Ellison. Katrina and I hit it off so much that we decided to collaborate to bring clients the best local knowledge for their move to the country life. I live in Dunedin, and Katrina lives in Creemore so we both have local exposure, which is enhanced by Sotheby’s fantastic brand recognition and exceptional marketing. Katrina also has the experience of someone who has lived in Creemore for several years, while l bring a new perspective of someone who has transitioned from the city to the country.
Have you noticed a shift in how people are investing today? Where are they investing and why?
Based on my experience I feel people are investing in real estate for more than just financial return; they want to explore new lifestyles, many of my clients want to get out of the city, have land, and try their hand at a country lifestyle; many want to slow down and focus on their families. Fortunately buying most real estate now a days also means a financial return and solid investment.
Where do you think the residential real estate market (in Creemore and surrounding areas) is headed?
I think this area is only going to get more popular; as a realtor and a resident I hope we can manage its growth and development to preserve many of the attributes that make it so unique; the kind and supportive community; the amazing outdoor activities (hiking, skiing, swimming (lakes, ponds, rivers, and the gorgeous countryside)
What does success represent to you?
In real estate success represents happy clients—clients who wrap up a deal feeling like they had above and beyond service, full transparency and accountability. For buyers its especially important they understand what they are getting into—whether its purchasing a century home or a property on conservation. If I can’t get them the answers, I bring in someone who can.
How do you manage two professions and also define work life balance? How do you apply it in your day to day life?
I love my job at Parachute and my team there is very supportive. I have learned how to carefully manage my time so that I can wear both hats. I am not good at being idle which helps with working both jobs. I have a great ex-husband who also shares jointly in parenting which allows me to fill a lot of my non parenting time with my work and I love it!
As for work life balance, I board and ride my horse at a facility 15 minutes away. I hike and x country ski I my backyard. I swim in neighbours ponds and the river that runs behind my house. I downhill at Beaver Valley and Blue Moutain. Living in Dunedin so close to so many amazing recreational opportunities allows me to easily balance work and play. I am more active now than I have ever been and I have come to love spending time outdoors in all 4 seasons.
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