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A Discussion with AJ Hazzi on Living Your Life With Zero Regrets

Adrian Hazzi, known by his friends as A.J., was born in Vancouver, BC and moved to Kelowna with his immediate family in 1989. He completed both elementary and high school in West Kelowna, then spent 18 months travelling through Australia. After living in the coastal city of Byron Bay for just over a year, he […]

Adrian Hazzi
Adrian Hazzi

Adrian Hazzi, known by his friends as A.J., was born in Vancouver, BC and moved to Kelowna with his immediate family in 1989. He completed both elementary and high school in West Kelowna, then spent 18 months travelling through Australia. After living in the coastal city of Byron Bay for just over a year, he returned to Kelowna at age 19 to buy his first home.  In the same year, he attended the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of business, then became a licensed realtor with Re/max.

5 years later in 2008, A.J. founded Vantage West Realty Inc. – just as the global financial crisis struck the Canadian economy. This initially painful experience served as a blessing in disguise as it forced his young real estate firm to pivot and adapt to the new market conditions.  Throughout this recovery period, Vantage West Realty carved out a niche as investment agents for those who were brave enough to buy homes during the recession. Hazzi’s team implemented creative strategies like home trades, lease options, and seller financing to keep business moving when the banks just weren’t playing ball.

In 2012 through the help of his current partners Michael Plowman and his brother Nick Hazzi, they completely revolutionized the real estate brokerage model.  By 2015, Vantage West Realty outgrew their location and expanded into a new office 3 times larger than their previous space.  In the same year he was awarded Young Entrepreneur of the year for business excellence, and were touted in several real estate industry publications as “The Real Estate Office of the Future.”

Hazzi’s team has since grown to over 50 individuals strong and is vertically integrated through all aspects of real estate.  Vantage West Realty has separate divisions for sales, property management, development, construction, and as of 2019, a Limited Partnership for real estate investors.  

Their expanding team is once finding a new headquarters, and they are now constructing a state-of-the-art office building just a few blocks from their Kelowna location on Manhattan Drive.

Entering into a new era of real estate, Vantage West Realty finds themselves on the bleeding edge of a new wave of technology that will shape the future of the industry.  

Some of Vantage West’s new initiatives include 3D printing homes, investing in companies like New Story that work to end homelessness, crowdfunding via online platforms like Front Fundr, and developing their own I-Buyer program that will compete with American companies like Open Door and Offer Pad.  

What do you love most about the industry you are in? 

As a realtor, you get to guide your clients through one of the most stressful life events. At the same time, you have a unique ability to positively impact their finances, their lifestyles, and their family life.  

All in all real estate is very rewarding work; every day is different, and you make some amazing friendships along the way.

What does a typical day consist of for you? 

I get up before the sun, then start my morning routine of Reading, Meditating, Exercising, planning my day on paper, then writing content for my real estate blogs.  My late morning usually consists of connecting over the phone or video conference with my clients and partners.  

Around noon I’ll check the hot sheets to find new opportunities for my clients.  Afternoons are always reserved for one-on-one client meetings.  

The evenings often find me negotiating an offer for a client, some long awaited time with my beautiful wife Mandi and new Daughter Olivia, then finishing the day with whatever Netflix series my wife and I are into.

What keeps you motivated?

The fact that we only get one life – and a short one at that.  When I’m 80 years old, I’d like to look back and have zero regrets.  I stay motivated by my potential to make a positive impact on the lives of others.  And along the way, I’m doing my best to create multi-generational wealth for my loved ones, and their loved ones 

Where do you get your inspiration from? – 

Reading every day. I’m so grateful for the fact that in a mere 8-10 hours you can digest an entire volume of expertise that took some author decades of trial and error to figure out themselves.  

By reading books for just 30 minutes a day, you can truly stand on the shoulders of giants. 

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

I see it as work life counter balance.  I don’t know if Balance is really a thing.  I go really hard for a few months, then down goes the phone, and we’ll take off somewhere to decompress and reconnect.  

I travel somewhere 4-5 times a year to create a much-needed counter balance with my hectic work life.  Also I make time for friendships and hobbies whenever possible – I love boxing, tennis, golf, snowboarding and wake surfing in the summer – although there never seems to be enough days in the week for everything.

What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader? 

I embrace change, I take risks, and I can quickly make decisions. 

More importantly, I’m ok with being wrong.  I have confidence in myself to know we will succeed as a firm, but enough humility to know that I might not understand exactly how at a given point in time.

I’ve learned that to be a great leader, you need to lead from the bottom up. If you help people achieve their goals, then the rest will take care of itself.

What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry? 

Be humble. Co-operate with your fellow agents – I messed this one up at the beginning of my career, but quickly learned to see the big picture.

Master your fundamentals first, then create your own niche.  Find some way to add value to the market by becoming an area expert.  

Create genuinely useful content. Keep in contact with your clients regularly, and make sure they’re happy.  Hold off on the big image branding and advertising, and work on

What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome? 

In 2007 I made a paperwork mistake during a home transaction that cost me my position at Re/max. I had 30 days to create my own brokerage from nothing including finding a space, creating a brand, hiring a licensed managing broker, opening trust accounts, furnishing the new office, and creating websites and marketing materials.  

Then to really test me, just as we opened our doors we were hit by the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. Through this tough experience, I realized our team could weather any storm.

Where do you see you and your company in 5 years? 

In five years’ time we will be occupying our new facility, and the Vantage West team will have nearly doubled in size – yet again. 

We’ll be selling over 1000 homes per year, and our charitable foundation will be making a six-figure contribution annually to local causes. We will be 3D printing homes for families in need in developing countries.  

More than half of our business will be conducted digitally, from online meetings, VR home showings, to smart contracts.  AI will guide many of our future decisions, and I expect my car will drive me to work – not the other way around.

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