Canaday: “thankful for what I’ve been given”

Canaday: “thankful for what I’ve been given”

Lee Ann Canaday demonstrated her sales savvy while accepting her award at the Business Journal’s 18th annual Women in Business Awards luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Irvine.

The real estate professional is co-chair for the Girl Scouts of Orange County’s annual fundraising gala this fall, and she took the opportunity to let the crowd of nearly 1,000 know she’s looking for donors and sponsors.

“I thought that was just terrific,” said Nancy Nygren, chief executive of Irvine-based Girl Scouts of Orange County.

Nygren also was honored at the Women in Business event on June 5 (see related stories, pages 1, 6, 8, 9).

Girl Scouts is about developing girls into future leaders, Nygren said.

“Lee Ann’s a real advocate of that,” she said.

Nygren met Canaday at the Girl Scouts’ fundraiser a few years ago.

“I introduced myself to her and asked if she was a girl scout,” the organization chief recalled. “She said, ‘Absolutely,’ and then she proceeded to sing to me the Brownie Smile song. She knew every word of it.”

That’s Canaday: enthusiastic and passionate.

She works seven days a week between her real estate business, the Canaday Group, and her philanthropic efforts, but she tries to squeeze in tennis once a week.

“I wear a lot of hats, and if I don’t work seven days a week, I can’t get everything done,” she said. “To me, if you don’t work hard it’s not really moral.”

Math Teacher

Canaday made her way to real estate through teaching. She was an algebra teacher looking for a way to earn extra money.

“I couldn’t make enough money teaching, so I got into real estate to supplement that void,” Canaday said.

She started selling homes on the side in 1979. Then she started buying homes as rental properties.

Canaday originally planned on buying an apartment building, but she wound up buying houses instead.

She made four times her teaching salary in her first year selling real estate. She still rents her homes these days, and she’s opening real estate offices.

Canaday licenses the Re/Max brand and recently leased a property on the water in Huntington Harbor for a new Re/Max Fine Homes. That’s in addition to the Re/Max Fine Homes stores she has along Coast Highway in Laguna Beach and Newport Beach.

Canaday said she chose Re/Max because of its global presence with a presence in 90 different countries.

International buyers account for about $82 billion in U.S. home sales.