The Ottawa Citizen
Marilyn Wilson reveals secrets of her
remarkable real estate career; she seldom
sleeps, talks fast and makes permanent
friends of her clients
Marilyn Wilson -- not just Royal
Lepage's queen of Ottawa real estate,
but also the company's top seller
for all of Eastern Ontario -- doesn't
need much sleep.
Drive by her Rockcliffe mansion on
any given night at 2:30 a.m. and you
might just see her in the window,
the glow of a computer on her face
as she sends e-mail to prospective
clients all over the world.
You might also catch her doing the
same at 6 a.m. But at that point she's
up and starting her day.
Meet her once and you'll be convinced
that when she does wake from those
rare moments of sleep, she is already
The fast-talking real estate agent
has plenty to say about what makes
her successful. But first her husband
Allan points to a telling fact: They
are personal friends with many of
her former clients.
"That says a lot," says
the calm, measured Royal Ottawa Hospital
doctor she calls "her rock."
"I make friends for life when
I sell people's houses," the
effervescent saleswoman adds. "I
am extremely down-to-earth. And that's
something you need when you're selling
Ask her if there are any for-sale
signs in Rockcliffe that don't bear
her name, and she giggles. "A
few," she says.
There's no question she's built her
base in Ottawa's ritziest enclave
but she insists she'll sell anything.
"Even a townhouse in Orleans?"
she's asked. "Why wouldn't I?
I sell lots of townhouses."
It's impossible to survive on Rockcliffe
sales alone, although they may have
helped to boost Ms. Wilson's dollar
amounts and keep her at the top of
the tree. She is her company's No.
1 real estate agent in Ottawa and
Eastern Ontario and ranked sixth of
its 12,000 real estate agents across
There is no doubt Ms. Wilson dominates
Rockcliffe and the luxury homes market
across the capital. She was the agent
listed for seven of 10 of Ottawa's
most expensive homes on the Ottawa
market last month. Four of her seven
listings were in Rockcliffe Park while
the others were at Crystal Bay, Rideau
Glen and Cedarhill. But she does more
than mansions, she insists. Last year,
she sold everything from a $30,000
lot in Dunrobin to a $7-million mansion
Ms. Wilson was born in Toronto, grew
up in California and moved back to
Canada via Winnipeg when she married
Allan Wilson. She studied design and
art history at university and the
two moved to Ottawa 20 years ago.
She began her career in real estate
three years later.
"When we moved to Ottawa, I
could not believe that this place
was so special, that there was a place
like this," she recalls, as she
sips cappuccino while sitting on a
love seat in her own perfect Rockcliffe
mansion, which the couple bought two
decades ago. "And that's part
of the reason I wanted to go into
The other driving factor was a longtime
passion instilled in her by her father
who was a commercial real estate investor.
"I got to see a bird's eye view
of real estate," she said. "I
got to see how deals were done. At
seven years old, my father would take
me and ask my opinion. He really engaged
One of her big secrets has been her
website, she says. The original site
was dreamproperties.com. She also
has rockcliffepark.com, which is linked
from the original.
"We started the website in 1996,"
she says, noting that it was a real
pioneer. At the time, other real estate
agents had home pages but not fully
interactive sites. Indeed she says
hers was one of the first real estate
websites in Canada.
"I have a network of clients
that are local, national and international.
And I love Ottawa so much that I'm
able to put it on the map because
I'm selling Ottawa to clients internationally.
We get e-mails from people around
the world who love the site. It has
been so successful. Dreamproperties.com
is a brand name that people just love."
The site gets between 14,000 and
16,000 hits per day, Ms. Wilson says.
It's an impressive marketing tool,
but that's not all it takes to make
it in this business.
"To be successful in real estate,
you have to develop relationships
with each client. I like to be able
to offer honest assessment in any
situation and to really meet their
Ms. Wilson notes that real estate
agents also have to be intuitive to
figure out what a client wants.
"I feel I have good intuition
and a lot of empathy, and I think
I'm able to match up my network of
clients and really make their dreams
come true and that's what Dream Properties
is all about."
Looking back, Ms. Wilson says the
most interesting sale she ever completed
was one she finalized last year. She
persuaded the U.S. embassy to do a
land exchange so that her client,
an unnamed "prominent Rockcliffe
resident" who had property adjacent
to the U.S. government-owned lot,
would have one more acre of land.
"My very favourite sale and
the one that was the most challenging
and interesting was that one. Everyone
came out thinking there was so much
Although she's keen to show her good
record on sales, Ms. Wilson insists
she never thinks of her job in terms
of number of sales and transactions.
"I never look at real estate
like that," she says. "I
think that's the key to my success.
I just go out and do what I enjoy
doing, and I think clients who know
me know what I do, and clients who
have been satisfied are telling their
stories to others."
The Ottawa Citizen
© The Ottawa Citizen