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28 Jan 2020

How Odeen Eccleston Turned Her Love For Real Estate Into A Thriving Business Featured

As a child, Odeen Eccleston enjoyed reading the New in Homes pages of the Toronto Star, which she admits was her favourite section. She would read the newspaper with her mom every weekend and became fascinated with the featured properties. Additionally, her parents would take her to see the model homes at open houses in their neighbourhood at every opportunity.

But Eccleston didn’t think she would grow up to become a real estate mogul. She obtained degrees in English and Psychology at the University of Toronto and was an aspiring actress who wanted to move to Los Angeles. But after visiting the city and going on several auditions, she decided quickly that Hollywood life might not be for her after all.

Eccleston chose instead to launch her acting career in Toronto, and decided to get her real estate license at the same time so she would have something to fall back on. But it wasn't before long she was missing auditions to show properties and do home inspections.

Today, Eccleston is not only a real estate agent but a real estate developer as well. Shortly after obtaining her license, she met her business partner, and they joined forces to start purchasing, renovating and flipping properties. After a while, they hit a bump and couldn’t find any more suitable properties to flip, so they decided to build one from the ground up.

It seemed like an insurmountable endeavour, but Eccleston and her business partner tackled it with zeal and tenacity. Their first project was a bungalow, which they demolished and rebuilt in 2015. They were surprised at how quickly the house was sold and the encouraging feedback they received, so they decided to formally open their real estate development business and build more homes. The business has grown to include individual homes and small subdivisions.

Eccleston’s business operates on the mantra “We dream it, we build it. You dream it, we build it.” That means the customer has the option of providing their own design or having the company do the designing and building for them. Eccleston and her team go wherever their customers are, in or outside of the GTA. She hopes to one day do some development outside of Canada, "hopefully somewhere warm and sunny with a lot of beaches," she says.

Building real estate success from the ground up

One of the main challenges of being an agent is the different personality types that Eccleston meets and serves. Her background in psychology gives her an advantage in these situations, but she admits that her family values may play an even bigger role in knowing how to navigate different temperaments.

“I’m the oldest child in my family. Growing up with four brothers and sisters and a large extended family trained me well to deal with people in general. I’m a people person and in my family alone I deal with a wide spectrum of personalities that have prepared me to work with any personality I come across,” Eccleston said.

“Another challenge was discerning who was a serious customer versus a time-waster. But as I grew and became more experienced in the role, I also became more adept at quickly identifying who’s who,” she added.

On the real estate development side, Eccleston shares that many of the activities are out of her control and under the jurisdiction of the city or the governing bodies of the neighborhood where she's building.

“We may have an idea to get really creative with our project, but unless our design adheres to the established zoning of the area or subdivision, nothing is getting done. So your hands are tied in this regard,” Eccleston explained.

As much as she would like to create really unique homes as a developer, Eccleston has to temper her creativity because the homes have to have mass appeal. But she’s found clever workarounds.

“[We] sneak in fun features that you won’t find in the average home. For example, the house design that we won the [2019 Kodi] Award for had a door that looked like a bookshelf. Only when you opened it you were stepping into a three-piece washroom. So we try to jazz things up a little that way.”

In addition to the Kodi Award, Eccleston’s company also received the Harry Jerome Award from the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA), an experience that, in some ways, brought her full circle.

“In my early twenties, I volunteered with the BBPA to hand out the awards to recipients at the awards ceremony, and I would interview people on the red carpet. So fast forward to 2018 where I’m receiving an award from the BBPA alongside my business partner. It was so surreal,” Eccleston said.

The real estate guru attributes her company’s success to the “incredible team of top industry professionals and tradesmen'' who they amalgamated over the years. But on those days when things feel overwhelming, Eccleston draws on her own self-motivation techniques to move forward.

“I am a firm believer in turning negatives into positives. I always look for the glimmer of hope, that thread of positivity. Even if it becomes overly challenging I choose to stay focused, keep my eye on the prize and keep moving. There’s no time to feel sorry for myself.”

Award-winning real estate agent and developer, Odeen Eccleston, built her career from the ground up. 

A woman of many talents

A woman of many talents, Eccelston enjoys creative writing. She used this skill to write for online magazines many years ago. While writing an article for her advice column one day, she got the inspiration to incorporate the contents of the column into a book.

She wrote and published a book titled Be More Than Just A Dime: A Guide for Beautiful Women & Girls to Live a Beautiful Life & World. The book encourages women to harness their inner strength and outer beauty to become the best version of themselves so that they can realize their dreams.

“At that time, I thought I knew everything. If I were to write that book now, it would be quite different because I’m older and have learned so much more,” Eccleston said about her book.

Eccleston hopes to write more books in the future and already has ideas in mind, one of those being a book on real estate for teenagers.

“My next book will be centred on real estate, and what I have in mind is a book on real estate for kids. This is to introduce them to the world of real estate in a simple way. It’s a concept that I’m really excited about.”

While children may not have the money to purchase properties yet, Eccleston hopes that the book will teach them basic real estate and ownership principles at a young age, and even some rudimentary financial management skills in the process.

Eccleston will also be coming to a TV screen near you with the debut of HGTV reality show, Hot Market, on February 3rd.

“I got a call one day from the production company inviting me to be a part of the show. I met with them and realized it was a match and the rest is history. I’m truly excited about the show and working with the other agents who are so terrific in their own right.”

It seems things have come full circle for the real estate queen. Even though Eccleston gave up her acting career to pursue her passion for real estate, she now has the opportunity to be in front of the camera again in this new series. The universe, she points out, has a funny way of rewarding us for our diligence.

“Only God could orchestrate it so that I’m combining the two things that I love in a way that’s meaningful and rewarding to me.”

Real estate for all

Though the new show Hot Market may feature a plethora of luxury real estate, Eccleston shares that that’s not really her focus.

“In my career I’ve sold houses across the gamut. I sold properties in the range of $150,000 to in the millions. So I’ve sold at varying price points. Over the years my career has just evolved that way. I sold one luxury property and through word of mouth others started coming my way. But it wasn’t really my focus from the beginning. Even Hot Market, although we do showcase luxury homes in our promo, we do feature homes at other price points as well. I’m happy to serve everyone,” Eccleston noted.

Eccleston’s years of experience have also taught her how to move with the market, and she’s not worried about current predictions which indicate that house prices are set to decline by 15% in the next two to three years.

“I read all these statistics and articles and in my opinion, I choose to take things month by month or year by year because you just never know. Nobody can actually predict which way the market will swing in the future, so I choose to take things day by day. I work with my customers to get them the best deals that I can and we go from there. This is a part of my work that I take very seriously.”

Eccleston also added that a decline of 10-15% would not negatively impact the market, especially in the GTA where sales are so strong.

“When I got my license in 2007 there was a downturn in the market and ironically that year I was named Rookie of the Year. Within any industry, there are ups and downs but if you are providing quality service to your customers, it shouldn’t affect your business in any major way.”

For those inspired by her story and experience with real estate, Eccleston warns that it isn’t the kind of work you can do halfway. She is a firm believer in following your passion and would not encourage someone who is not passionate or informed about construction, renovating and real estate to step into the world of real estate development.

“Whatever you’re passionate about, I consider that a signal from God to go in that direction. It is an extremely time-, capital- and labor-intensive industry. There are so many moving parts and things to think about logistically. Development is definitely not for the faint of heart. But if you are ready to dive into those waters then you should go for it. But know that there’s a lot on the line.”

You can see a preview here of Hot Market, which premieres Monday, Feb 3.

Know a Black Canadian story we should cover? Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Karlene Millwood is an award-winning author, screenwriter, playwright, and speaker. She is a twice published author with two independent books, has collaborated on another two and has created several courses focused on Writing, Storytelling and Mindset Transformation. As an independent playwright and filmmaker, she wrote, directed and produced her first play, Forgiven, in 2014 and completed writing her second play, Diamond Life, in 2018. Stepping out of her comfort zone she co-produced her first short film, Princess Lamp, in Vancouver in 2016, and her second, When Destiny Calls, in Toronto in 2017.

Read 688 times Last modified on Wednesday, 29 January 2020 17:01
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