The next time you hire Matthew Smith of Bosley Real Estate to be your realtor, you might think he looks familiar. Chances are, he does.
Along with being a full-service real estate agent, he’s also an actor. Like Troy McClure from The Simpsons, you might remember him from such iconic movies and TV series as Dragon Ball Z, where he played Tien Shinhan in the Ocean Group dub of the series, or you might have seen him on Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda with Kevin Sorbo, where he played a friendly, stowaway robot named HG. More recently, you may have spotted him as a bomb technician in the pilot episode of the Kiefer Sutherland vehicle Designated Survivor.
Don’t get us wrong, he’s not just another pretty face with the hope of making it in Hollywood. He’s also a well-respected real estate agent and has great advice and impressions of the Toronto market.
How did you initially get into real estate?
Actually, it involves what I used to do and what I still do. I’m an actor as well. I don’t have large roles but I do roles on television, some commercials and some voice work for TV and commercials. I was in the first couple episodes of Designated Survivor with Kiefer Sutherland. I played a bomb squad guy in a suit. Really, I don’t do much of that anymore, although I have a voice audition tomorrow.
About seven years ago now, auditions weren’t doing all that great. I wasn’t getting as many as I had in the early 2000s or late 1990s, but I had done well as a real estate investor and landlord. It was actually one of my tenants who said, “You know, you’ve done well with real estate. After all, I’m one of your tenants. Why don’t you help other people get to where you’re at?” I was like, ‘wow, yeah, I could actually go take some courses’, and that’s what I did. Then I started out with Condos and Castles — a really nice little brokerage down on King Street.
I had a listing near Trinity Bellwoods about six years ago and I was kind of ahead of the curve on the whole technology bit, so I had this listing marketed very high-techie. I had everyone sign in to the showing on an iPad and this is when the iPad had just came out. The Bosley managers actually came by because we were close to their Queen West branch and said, “You need to be with Bosley.” I kind of got headhunted a little bit which was complimentary to me. Bosley is a great company.
What issues or innovations do you see changing real estate in the future?
There are brokerage setups that are emerging that are newer. They really are just about being online lead generators. Basically, they have a team of people that just looks after online leads. If they model themselves well enough in an online search engine, that kind of brokerage is a new model. It’s moving further away from when realtors door-knocked, when they passed out flyers. People are starting their search online. I think there’s still a balance that marries the old-school way with the technology. I think it’s that balance that will actually continue to be what’s important to the public.
It’s a little cold just being an algorithm in a search. Most people want something more personal and hands-on. I’m kind of going through that balance right now. I’ve actually reverted from being so techie. I used to bring my iPad to all the showings and everything was digital, but I found that people actually enjoy a little bit of paper. They kind of want to have that staple list of listings when we go to showings. I will do contracts online with DocuSign, but there are times when it’s much better to meet in person. You have to judge that a little bit as an agent, not all clients appreciate all the technology. You have to be ready to go either way.
What advice do you give buyers and sellers who want to act at this point in the Toronto market?
Right now you really have to teach sellers that the market has really adjusted from February and March. Expectations are a little out of whack with some sellers because they have to expect just a little lull. We are kind of off that major peak, but we’re still up from last year. It’s become a market where you really have to look at the very recent comparable sales and realistically price a house. You have to price it as close as you can to market value. There was a time when you could way under-price and get way over what the market value was, but those days are gone right now. Although, I don’t think they will be gone forever. Maybe even by next fall we will see another spike. I just think we’re in a semi-slump right now.
For buyers, summer is actually a really good time to buy a house because we’re in a slump. There’s more negotiation in the market and I think we will continue to see more choice. I’m able to negotiate more for my clients now, which is something we haven’t had here since I’ve been a realtor. But now it’s turning into more of a buyers’ market, which I don’t expect to last. Right now is a good time to be buying. It’s not the best time to sell. If something in life means you have to sell, it’s not absolutely terrible. It’s more balanced right now and in terms of negotiation, it’s a little bit more old school, which is a positive thing for both sides.
What do you think of the idea that Toronto will allow laneway housing?
I think laneway housing is a great idea. It can be tied into the main house’s utility, but it’s very specific to the property. I think there has to be heavy regulation on it, but if it can be tied into the house utility, because they can’t be digging utilities down alleyways, it will work best. I think it’s a great thing but I don’t think it will change the affordability or really bring that much stock into the market. However, it’s great for increasing density without changing the landscape in the downtown core.
This is a question only someone like you can answer — has anyone hired you to be their realtor because they heard or saw one of your acting roles?
Just because of people I know in the business, I’ve had clients come through that way, but never because somebody said, “I saw you on TV and I want you to be my agent.”
Has a casting agent ever seen your realtor ads and marketing and said I want that guy for a role?
I’ve had conversations with casting people in my auditions, because there’s a little small talk that goes on when you go into an audition, and they’ve gone into real estate talk. They always have a friend or somebody that’s buying and selling and they want to know my thoughts. I’m like, “I’m here to act, that’s my other job.”