Buy low and sell high. When it comes to stocks and real estate, how hard can that be? Well, ask anyone who’s tried — and failed. “Everybody thinks it’s an easy game. You walk in, you make money and you’re out. But you have to work hard. And that’s what we do,” said real estate broker Marc Ezerzer, Vice President of Revenue Properties — Commercial & Residential at Vantage Realty Group, a full service mortgage and real estate agency in Montreal.
Vantage grew out the merger of a mortgage brokerage firm founded by Zvi Marmor and Sid Levy in 2004, and the realty side headed by Ezerzer and his partner Hagay Brener.
“Now it’s a one stop shop,” said Ezerzer. “We handle the real estate, the mortgage, the private finance, some construction, we have a notary… You come in here and you’ve got everything you want. We may be a small company but in the area of NDG [Notre-Dame-de-Grâce], Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead and Town of Mount Royal, our signs are all over the place.”
Those signs stand in front of everything from residential and commercial buildings to multi-unit investment properties. One of their strengths on the realty side has been finding good deals for clients who eventually flip them for a profit. “We are known for that. We get the product, they renovate it and we sell it again.” he explained.
The young Ezerzer spent his early years in Côte-des-Neiges but his formative years in Côte Saint-Luc where he attended Hebrew Academy and Wagar High School before moving on to Dawson College and Concordia University. “Straight out of that I went into the schmatte business.”
It was the early 2000s and the twentysomething blue jeans entrepreneur, with an office on Chabanel Street in the heart of the garment district, manufactured his product in Argentina and grew his local retail outlets from one to eight in a matter of years.
“My success was good,” said Ezerzer. “Then the economy went down. The Argentinian market went down. I got out at the right time. I sold and got into real estate.”
Ezerzer’s brother, who was already in the business, made the suggestion. “Since I knew so many people from Chabanel and that whole area, success came a little faster.”
Today, Ezerzer said he’s probably number one when it comes to revenue properties in the NDG-CDN area with a team of four people working for him on a full-time basis. Interest rates are low, condos are hot and prices are rising. And because of volatility in the stock market, business is good — especially in multi-unit revenue properties. “Everybody is into real estate. Everybody wants revenue. Anybody who bought in the last two years has seen the value go up 30 per cent since. It’s crazy. The market is amazing right now. They’re not putting their money in stocks. They’re investing in brick.”
And because many out-of-town property investors are getting priced out of high-value markets — think Vancouver and Toronto — business is better than good.
“I have a lot of Toronto clients coming here to buy because things are cheaper,” Ezerzer explained. “The rents are lower, and when they come they might see a property that’s $2 million that would be 4 or $5 million in Toronto.”
Ezerzer said success comes not only from hard work, but by giving the client his complete attention.
“In real estate you’re really selling yourself,” he explained. “It’s the service you give. You’ve got to go from A to Z, meaning you’re with them from when you get the listing, all the way to the notary. It’s not about money all the time.”
Now he’s taking his formula to Florida, his wife’s home state, having recently opened an office in Aventura called Prestige Realty of South Florida Inc.
“A lot of people from New York, because of taxes, are moving to Florida,” said Ezerzer, adding that the size of the potential market is nothing to sneeze at. “There are over 22 million people in Florida. In Canada we’re 37 million. So there’s the population, and everybody is going west. That’s why we went to Fort Myers, which is more on the west side. It’s cheaper and the opportunities are a little bit better.”
Here at home, the father of two is a devoted, active and highly appreciated member of his community. Among other things, Ezerzer, Brener and their Vantage label are tittle sponsors of the annual Côte Saint-Luc Golf Classic.
“Marc puts his money where his mouth is,” said Côte Saint-Luc councillor Mike Cohen, who serves as chair of the event. “He not only volunteers in our community for different programs, when our Golf Classic needed a sponsor and we approached him, he and his partner, Hagay Brener, stepped up immediately. While some sponsors just write a cheque, Marc gets involved in the event before, during and after. That’s why we appreciate him so much. The city recognizes his value and he will be recognized publicly for that in the coming weeks.”
Towards the end of the interview in his Decarie Blvd. office, out came the question that I just had to ask. When is a good time to buy?
“When is a good time? Right now,” said Ezerzer, with a hearty laugh. “Either here or in Florida it’s right now. You should buy now just to invest for the future. They say invest in brick. So invest in brick.”