PowerAgent: Selling the life
or night to the wealthiest and worldliest,
Marilyn Wilson buys and sells half the
houses in Rockcliffe Park. "I don't
take lunch," she says, "and
I don't take holidays"
By any measure, in any market, Marilyn
Wilson is a phenomenally successful
real estate agent. Of the 49 residential
sales worth more than $1 million in
Rockcliffe Park since 2005, she's
been the agent on 42. And she's on
track to bag half the affluent neighbourhood's
home sales this year.
The deal of which she is most proud
is a complex land swap between the
U.S. government and local high-tech
entrepreneur Michael Potter that took
almost a year of daily negotiations.
"Real estate is in my genes.
My father was in the business as a
developer and investor and I went
everywhere with him when I was a child,"
she says. "I always knew I'd
be in real estate when I grew up."
That said, she still attributes her
record-setting sales more to intuition
and empathy than to DNA.
"I was always good at fixing
people up on blind dates and it's
the same sort of thing with my job,"
claims Wilson, who met her husband
on a blind date in Los Angeles.
Fixing up romantically inclined friends,
however, is a far cry from matching
the perfect house with powerful, time-strapped
buyers, most of whom are spending
well over $2 million.
"I'm selling more than homes,
I'm selling an amazing lifestyle in
a neighbourhood that is, literally,
a park," she says.
During her 18-year career, she adds,
Rockcliffe Park has evolved from a
stodgy WASP enclave of older residents
into a family-oriented international
Given that world-class lifestyles
don't just happen, Wilson is a generous
supporter of private schools, in part
because Elmwood and Ashbury are big
selling points with her clients.
She's also on a mission to improve
the commercial district along Beechwood
Avenue - the southern border of Rockcliffe
Park - with an eye to making it a
more attractive shopping area.
"I've already called up the
people at Whole Foods and asked them
to consider coming to Ottawa. They'd
make a killing here," she says.
"You've got to sell the whole
In selling that vision, she concedes,
there are relentless demands. Because
her client roster is increasingly
international - something she has
cultivated through word of mouth in
the diplomatic community and by early
and aggressive use of a website -
she must be available every hour of
"If I hear a ding at 3 in the
morning, I'm right there," she
says. "I don't take lunch and
I don't take holidays."
Wilson says her real gift is hearing
beyond what clients say they want
and divining what they actually need.
"You have to be able to zero
in quickly on what matters to people.
And they don't always know themselves,"
That process can be complicated,
however, by the fact that an increasing
number of her clients travel with
an entourage of architects, decorators
- and even translators - when looking
at prospective homes. "These
are people who want to customize everything
right away and have it exactly the
way they want it before they move
in," she says.
The most prized features are state-of-the-art
security systems, kitchens with built-in
top-of-the-line appliances, home theatres,
spa-standard pools and hot tubs and
"spectacular" master bedrooms
with "amazing" ensuite bathrooms
that feature steam showers, soaking
tubs and heated marble floors.
But in the carriage trade, she notes,
there is a distinct absence of emotion
when transactions are made.
"It makes it easier to deal
with them because if they don't get
what they want on their terms, they're
on to the next thing right away,"
"They know what money can buy."
© The Ottawa Citizen