Sell your house, support the food bank?
Alexandra Cote is looking for a home in Parkdale that she can sell.
This shouldn’t be surprising – Alexandra Cote is a realtor, and selling homes is her whole deal – but here’s the twist: Cote wants to sell that Parkdale home specifically so she can donate her commission to the Parkdale Community Food Bank.
“Ideally it’s a house in Parkdale – the nicer and bigger the better, because the more commission that I would typically earn, the bigger the donation.” (Cote figures that would be somewhere between $25,000 and $35,000, depending on the final price.)
And it doesn’t have to be smack in the middle of Parkdale; Cote is open to High Park or Roncesvalles or Little Portugal. It’s a pretty simple proposition, really: “I’m looking for someone who wants to sell their house and likes the idea of their agent’s money going to the food bank.”
It’s Cote’s way of giving back to the community she loves so much. A licensed realtor since 2014 – and chosen by NOW readers as their favourite realtor since 2016 – Cote sees her career as an extension of her original training as a professional life coach. She’s out to change people’s lives for the better, ideally by helping them find their ideal living space.
“I got into real estate by accident,” she laughs. “I’m a certified professional life coach, and I moved to Toronto to pursue that education and training. I was working part time in a real estate office while I was doing the schoolwork, and my mentor was like, ‘If you really want to impact people, change their lives and support them, this is really the biggest decision most people are making in their lives, short of getting married or having kids.’
“So I was really attracted to this idea of supporting people through significant transitions, and just approaching real estate from that point of view,” she says. “Instead of ‘look at how many houses I’ve sold and look at all my awards,’ I’m like, ‘look at how I’m going to help you and support you.’ I’m well-educated and well-trained and involved in what’s happening in the community; I’m going to provide you with the best information to make the decision and support you as a human along the way. Because sometimes people are like, ‘Oh, I need this,’ and we have to be, ‘No, you don’t! You don’t have to sell your house! That’s a terrible idea!’”
Which brings us back to the food bank thing. Cote’s been on the board of directors at the Parkdale Community Food Bank since 2018, and she’s watched demand spike over this particularly ruinous year.
“We’re operating out of a basement right now that is cramped; we don’t have enough room to store the food for the number of members that we’re now serving, which has gone up significantly since COVID. We don’t have ideal heating and ventilation. We’re not super-accessible; people have to use the elevator. Our clients are lining up outside in all weather.
“And so I came up with this idea of, once a year, selling a house and then having the money from the sale go to the food bank – and specifically, towards helping us get a better space, and make it safer and healthier, and improve our services.”
Cote’s invested in improving Toronto’s overall livability, as well; she advocates for affordable housing as a volunteer with the city’s regional real estate board, participating in housing discussions at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. She also founded a subcommittee on climate risk as it relates to the real-estate market, which is something she thinks will be more and more of a factor going forward.