From top realtor to humanitarian: Faisal Susiwala’s journey of giving back

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There have been two pivotal moments for realtor Faisal Susiwala that have really set the stage for his journey in life — one as a top realtor and the other as a person dedicated to providing housing for those less fortunate in the world.

The first pivotal moment took place when he was still a teen. He met some South African people who launched his real estate career at this young age by purchasing $2 million in property through him.

The second was on September 11, 2001, when he and his pregnant wife miraculously survived the World Trade Center terrorist attack by a twist of fate.

 

His background

 

Susiwala has sold the highest number of houses in Canada since 2017. Plus, he has ranked as Top Selling Agent in Canada and #2 in the world in the Re/Max network while being an Amazon best-selling author with his book The Real Deal.

Susiwala was born in England. His family moved to Cambridge, Ontario in 1973 because his father was a weaver working in the textile industry, and at that time Cambridge was a big textile town. He’s still based there today, with Re/Max Twin City. 

 

A spirited entrepreneur from a young age

 

“I’ve been very fortunate and blessed,” Susiwala says. 

“I was 17 when I got interested in the real estate business. I was watching late-night television one night and saw an infomercial of this Asian gentleman by the name of Tom Vu. He was an entrepreneur who came from Vietnam, sitting on the back of a yacht with beautiful ladies and I thought, I want to be like this guy. He talked about how he made all his fortune buying and selling real estate.”

Susiwala was an entrepreneur by spirit at an early age. He wanted to learn more, but Vu’s course was so expensive that the teenager just couldn’t afford it. So in 1987, he checked the local colleges.

Conestoga College had a course on real estate. At the time, he didn’t realize the course would lead to licensing — he just thought he would learn how to invest in real estate. All of his fellow students were in their 40s and 50s, and he was just a young kid taking a six-week course during the summer.

 

First deals landed from paper route

 

Initially, Susiwala hooked up with his father’s friend, Reid Menary, who’d helped his father with his first apartment when the family moved to Cambridge. The 73-year-old independent real estate professional became Susiwala’s broker, mentor and friend.

The first few listings and business he did were essentially from his paper route.

In November 1988, Susiwala received an invitation to a fundraising dinner in Toronto. At his table were some South African people. Susiwala gave one of them his card as they were thinking of buying real estate in Canada. 

“In the next six weeks that followed before Christmas of that year, I sold over $2 million worth of real estate to them. I sold a block of townhomes, I sold a commercial building and I sold some development land to them. My commission at that time was $60,000 on those sales and the average household income at that time was about $38,000,” he recalls.

“At that point, I went back to mom and dad, who are South Asians from India, and told them I’m not going to go to university. I’m going to do this for a living. They, of course, got very upset with me.” 

 

A brush with death

 

The second pivotal moment in Susiwala’s life was his brush with death on 9/11. In September 2001, he and his wife, with a son to be born in January 2002, were originally staying at the World Trade Center’s hotel on their first night in New York City but then moved the next day to another nearby hotel.

They were in their hotel room on September 11 when they heard a big bang. 

“What was interesting about it is we were reserved for September 11 on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center at the Windows of the World restaurant for breakfast at 8:30 a.m.,” explains Susiwala. “And we didn’t go. That was the turning point of our lives. What stopped us from going? We were out the night before. It was a late night. My wife was tired in the morning. We decided we would go for lunch instead of breakfast.”

At about 8:45 a.m., a plane crashed into the World Trade Center.

 

Finding a greater purpose

 

“I think back. I talk about it a bit in my book on how that was a turning point in my life where you look at where your purpose is, and that has a lot to do with my mindset of giving back … Each day is a blessing,” he says. “It gives you a higher purpose in life than just getting by. When you look at the blessings you have in your life, how do you give back, pay it forward, do some good, leave some legacy in this world before you check out.”

Susiwala is giving back and fulfilling his purpose as an ambassador with the World Housing organization. Its mission is to provide homes to families, giving them the chance for a better life. The organization was introduced to him over a year ago through a developer he worked with. 

“They have a group of philanthropists that fund it so that 100 per cent of the money that they take in goes toward the need and the costs. Building homes in the Philippines. Building homes in Zambia. Building homes throughout the world where there is poverty and just basic housing isn’t available,” explains Susiwala.

“A group of individuals have gotten together to fund all of this and what we’ve committed to do — developers, builders, agents — is that for every home we sell on one project, we (give) $250 per home to World Housing.” He notes that between $5,000 and $7,000 helps facilitate the building of one house in the Philippines, Zambia and parts of Pakistan.

“I was doing this independently for years before World Housing came into my life — I was building homes for widows in Multan, Pakistan. We build small villages, and between $5,000 to $6,000 gets them a house and food for a year. That was the project I’ve been doing for many, many years now and I thought World Housing complements it.”

Susiwala says he became an ambassador for World Housing so he could help move things along through an organization, as opposed to himself independently, through resources in those countries.

“My life has been enhanced and changed as a result of being in the industry. Housing has done so much for me. It’s just a way of paying it forward for me.”

 

– Faisal Susiwala

 

Current efforts

 

Right now, Susiwala is working on a project with the Zehr Group and Cook Homes to build 76 townhomes in Waterloo, Ontario. Zehr has committed $250 per home as a developer and Susiwala has also committed $250. The hope is to raise $40,000 to $50,000 from that project to donate to World Housing.

He also recently donated $25,000 to give the project a jump start because these countries need help now.

From World Housing via Faisal Susiwala

 

“I’m creating housing locally and I’m helping people find homes locally. By doing so, I’ve been very blessed. I’ve earned a fantastic living,” Susiwala expresses.

“It gives me a lot of pride in helping people less fortunate get into homes and actually create a life for themselves, because if they didn’t have a home they wouldn’t have security, their kids may have to go out into the workforce at a very young age and widowed women would have to do businesses that are not acceptable in our society.”

He sums up what this actually means at the end of the day: “If you give somebody a home, you’re actually giving them security and you’re changing their life.”

 

Photo source: Homeshack.com

 

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