Stepping into a leadership role at any time is an adjustment and doing so on the heels of a changing real estate landscape offers its own set of complications.
But Amy Layton, who took over as president of the Niagara Association of Realtors in December, understood what she was facing.
The region’s real estate market is still finding its footing, following a series of ups and downs. Last year, Niagara saw its overall home value fall 12 per cent year-over-year, after an increase of 25.4 per cent from 2020 to 2021. But that market, with its sky-high prices, quick transactions and multiple bids was “completely unsustainable,” said Layton.
This year is a different year, and her role as president is a motivating return-to-normal. It’s time for realtors, herself included, to “sharpen it up.”
“This is back to reminding everybody (to) sharpen their skills and brush up on everything if they haven’t done it already,” said Layton. “We’re always going to be needed as a realtor but now you actually have to use your skills again, which I’m really excited about. We get to do our whole job again.”
It’s also about getting back to basics, and a reminder of why she became a real estate agent in the first place — helping people.
Before stepping into the real estate world 10 years ago, Layton worked as a personal support worker. Coming out of school, she wanted to work in the medical field, and thought being a PSW would be a great fit. But after 14 years, she was exhausted.
“It starts to really hurt your soul and your body so it’s time for a change,” said Layton. “I wanted to stay in something that still has to do with people because real estate is a people’s business … you’re putting yourself out to people to guide them through this crazy process. It gives me a chance to be more creative and it’s just different every day.”
Still relatively green in the industry, it took a while before Layton felt comfortable submitting her application to NAR’s board of directors. But when the pandemic hit, she saw an opening to be part of something new — regardless of her background of experience-level — to learn more about the industry, develop new skills and put her own skills to use.
With only three seats available, Layton admitted he didn’t think he had a shot but thought, “How do you know what you can do, and what you can’t, unless you try?”
She was elected to the board, and the following year was encouraged to put her name on the president’s board. But before making a final decision, Layton did what she always did first — research. Just like she did with the initial board seat, she learned about the position, educated herself about what the job entailed and spoke to people who held the position before her.
Then she trusted her gut — it felt right.
“I’ll jump in with both feet to an opportunity that is going to help me learn more and I can learn from other people. I look for that every day,” she said. “(It) turned out that I was the one that was ready to do it at that time and I felt completely supported by the board. I feel completely supported by my colleagues, by my friends, by my family.
“I’m loving this experience.”
The role is a three-year commitment — one year as president-elect, one year as president and one year as past-president. In addition to representing Niagara, Layton said those elected also went through a series of leadership training through the Ontario Real Estate Association. But in her eyes, the role is to represent Niagara’s realtors as best she can.
“I’m just glad to be part of the conversation. No one’s here to have their own agenda,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of silly dumb ideas come out of my mouth but that’s all part of brainstorming and working together with a group of people. I want to leave the association even if it’s just left a little bit better for the next person.”
And part of that role is helping realtors adjust, but she can. Expectations are that come spring or early summer, the market will level-off, but Layton said it’s her job is to remind members to attend training and information sessions, stay sharp and skilled “because this year you’re going to need it, big time.”