I just thought I would take a moment and introduce myself and my little brokerage. I am Dana Snow, the owner of Punk Rock Realty. We are a LGBTQT2+ owned business – most of our team identifies as such, and all are allies. Most of us have been, or are, single mothers, and one is a surrogate mother for her gay best friends who had been trying to adopt for over 10 years with no luck. Most of us have worked or volunteered with vulnerable populations in mental health, addictions, and homeless programs. We truly believe in equal opportunity even though that is not a true industry or corporate norm and therefore refuse to participate in any form of heteronormativity, ableism, sexism, or ageism – our newest team member is 75 years old!
None of us have had anything in life just given or handed to us. Just the opposite – my dad died very suddenly when I was a teenager and that loss was completely overwhelming. Somehow though, thanks to music and friends and a few thousand Labatt’s Blues in his honour, I got through, and a few years later, in the midst of putting myself through 11 years of art school and university, sick of living in a tent in the dining room of the one-bedroom apartment that I shared with 3 other people in Vancouver, I returned to Hamilton and found creative ways of purchasing my first home (as a student, with three part-time jobs!) by leveraging my student loans and student line of credit.
After graduating I had to find a way to repay my massive student debt; however, as a genderqueer punk dyke with a mohawk and tattoos on my head and elsewhere it wasn’t easy to find a job – for some reason, degrees in art, contemporary studies and philosophy don’t seem to get you far these days. So along with my best friend, I opened a little shop, Culturshoc, at the corner of Queen and Dufferin in Toronto. We sold local art, music, books and punk/goth clothing, and hosted nightly events such as poetry nights, film screenings, art openings, etc. This was a dream come true and we poured our hearts and souls into it – until we were evicted so the building could be torn down for condos.
Once again forced to reassess and readapt in order to pay the bills, I decided to pursue my real estate license in the hopes of helping people find creative ways to purchase a comfortable home and some security in life, like I had been able to do several years before… I figured if I could do it, anybody could, and I wanted to help them do it. However, I simply do not fit in at the other brokerages out there. I do not feel comfortable acting the way they expect you to act or wearing the clothes that they expect you to wear – I have been a fan of punk as long as I can remember, being blessed with parents who owned Ramones and Clash and Sex Pistols records, and lucky enough to grow up through the 1990’s-2000’s punk scenes in Hamilton, Toronto, Vancouver and NYC, going to every show possible – Forgotten Rebels, Teenage Head, Dirty Bird, Random Killing, Bunchofuckinggoofs, Ripcordz, Dayglos… so much fun. So I just could not bring myself to give up such a huge part of my being.
After enduring 4 years at other brokerages while upgrading to the Broker’s license required in order to open my own brokerage, I decided to just put it all on the line and open Punk Rock Realty so I could just be myself and make my own rules. I knew I would catch grief from both the real estate world for being too punk, and the punk world for being too real estate. But honestly, I don’t care what anybody thinks. Because that is where I happen to exist – right at the intersection of those worlds. And these seemingly disparate worlds DO occupy some of the same space. The truth is, everyone needs somewhere to live. And everyone deserves to own their own home if they so choose, as it is undeniably better to own than it is to rent.
So that is why honesty and transparency is so important to us – we are brutally honest, both in terms of who we are, what we stand for, and the homes people are thinking of buying. We carry all the same tools as a home inspector and crawl up into attics and down into crawlspaces testing wiring, moisture, systems, etc. to ensure our clients know exactly what they are getting themselves into. We are knowledgable and resourceful and patient – no joke, we have shown clients over 100 properties in order to find the right one.
Thus you won’t find any suits or pantsuits or skirts or high heels or flashy cars here – personally I am a vegetarian, hybrid-driving, animal-rescuing punk with a DIY ethic that runs deep, working 10-16 hours a day, 7 days a week, doing not only the actual real estate work, but also all of the bookkeeping and creative work such as the website, graphic design, blogging, e-newsletter, photography, digital imaging, etc. Having no time to make my own art anymore, this is where I thankfully get to have a little fun and play around with my punk rock roots with little nods of respect to my favourite bands through references to them and their music and logos, as little winks to fellow fans out there. Kind of like playing a cover song.
Contrary to what people may think, being a realtor is a LOT of work – how many other jobs are you on call 24/7, putting in weeks, even months of work before being paid, and sometimes never getting paid at all, if the market changes or a client ends up either changing their mind or being a tire-kicker. And I admit, much of the struggle is self-inflicted, by being myself in a traditionally stuffy old-boys-club industry, by turning off potential clients by my looks or business name, and by being true to my beliefs by refusing to participate in or facilitate a transaction that might displace or harm someone. But I would rather struggle knowing that I have been true to myself and hurt no one than thrive knowing that I have harmed even one person.
That is why we specialize in: i) helping disadvantaged or marginalized people such as first-time homebuyers, single parents, extended/queer/poly families, LGBTQ2+, POC, self-employed, etc., feel comfortable among like-minded people while finding affordable housing; ii) helping musicians, artists, actors, small business owners etc. find spaces in which to practice their craft, and iii) in helping ethical investors who are looking for a way to invest their hard earned money in order to provide nice housing for others while making enough to allow themselves to pay the bills. We are also happy to help someone sell their home when their life is taking them in a different direction – preferably by retiring to a nice waterfront property as those are the most fun to help find. 😉
We contribute as much time and resources as we can to as many communities and organizations as we can – we donate to charities, attend fundraisers, sponsor Pride events and childrens’ sports teams, sit on the Boards of Pride committees, etc. And we treat our small team of agents as family, with the utmost degree of respect and compassion, giving them unlimited mentoring and offering accommodation for their children while they are in the office.
We make no grandiose claim to be taking down the system from the inside. Unfortunately that is impossible for a little independent brokerage such as ours. We do however try to make the world an easier, nicer place for as many people as we can.