Conquering the Toronto real estate market

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« Engel & Völkers does more business in the province than the other five luxury real estate agencies in Quebec combined: it’s a sign that we’re ready for for Toronto,” says company owner Patrice Groleau. In just eight years, Engel & Völkers Montreal has become one of the top 1,000 real estate boutiques of this global luxury giant, founded in Germany in 1977. Here’s how it’s preparing to enter one of the country’s most competitive markets.

A recipe for success in luxury real estate

When the opportunity arose to open the first Engel & Völkers boutique in Quebec, Patrice Groleau and his partner, Debby Doktorczyk, stood out from the 17 other groups in the running. The duo quickly built a tailor-made business model for the luxury real estate niche: concierge service; cutting-edge technological tools; collaboration with Swiss banks; an ecosystem of legal, tax and complementary expertise; a “private practice” approach for professional athletes, business leaders and European royalty…

Every year, we invest an average of $33,000 per broker to make sure they have the infrastructure they need to perform. Because success depends not just on the broker or the agency, but on the synergy between the two.

Patrice Groleau, Owner, Engel & Völkers Montreal / Quebec / Toronto


Patrice Groleau and Debby Doktorczyk entered the real estate field some twenty years ago when they founded McGill immobilier. This agency specialized in the sale and marketing of new real estate, and offered a model unheard of in Quebec until then: pairing a professional in good standing with the Organisme d’autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec (OACIQ) with each condo, rather than using an in-house sales force.

This approach has become so popular that it has set the new standard. “Today, we account for 73% of real estate projects handled by real estate agencies in the Montreal region,” says Patrice Groleau.


Toronto: a fierce market

Is it enough to carve out a place for yourself in Canada’s largest metropolis? Where more real estate transactions take place than anywhere else, but where there are even more brokers? A city where, last April, there were 238 construction cranes in operation, more than in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, New York, Boston and Washington combined ?

If you work hard in Montreal, you’ll succeed, but in Toronto, you only have a chance. The competitive spirit over there is absolutely mind-boggling.

Patrice Groleau, Owner, Engel & Völkers Montreal / Quebec / Toronto

That’s why, true to form, the business couple have pulled out all the stops. The Engel & Völkers Toronto City boutique occupies the first floor of a new, modern building in the heart of the city’s financial district, whose historic façades on the lower floors have been skilfully preserved and restored. The building is also the new Canadian headquarters of the world’s largest search engine.

Just a few months ago, the Managing Director of Engel & Völkers Toronto City was working for the main rival agency. Twenty or so interviews are held every week to carefully recruit the first brokers – those who will form the heart of this new adventure.

Recognizing excellence in others

Honesty, credibility and magnetism: these are the essential qualities that Patrice Groleau looks for in candidates. This skilled talent hunter explains that it usually only takes him about 30 seconds to assess whether a person has what it takes to be part of the team.

After an hour’s interview, my idea remains the same 95% of the time. It’s an intuition, a feeling that the person gives off that makes it a pleasure to work together. You can’t teach that, and you can’t reproduce it.

Patrice Groleau, Owner, Engel & Völkers Montreal / Quebec / Toronto


The future of the profession: advice and specialization

In the same way that McGill Immobilier has raised the bar for the sale of new condos, Engel & Völkers aspires to transform the brokerage profession into that of real estate consultant.

Rather than approaching each transaction in isolation, this innovative vision draws on financial planning to value long-term relationships, family wealth and a complete portfolio of properties. That’s why the real estate agency is now integrating the purchase and sale of commercial buildings into its offering, to better serve its business clientele.

Traditional hierarchies with legions of subordinates are set to disappear. At the heart of every luxury real estate transaction, there will always be a human to recognize the value and advice of the best specialists.

Patrice Groleau, Owner, Engel & Völkers Montreal / Quebec / Toronto

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