There’s a distinct difference between the marketing speak of brokers who say they have “a passion for real estate” and brokers like Matthew Fernandes whose passion for real estate dates back to junior high school.
At the age of 26, the broker for Sutton Group already leads a team that bears his name. This is not because he’s some young, hotshot, real estate prodigy; it’s because his drive to be a realtor started in eighth grade and landed him a real estate licence by the age of 19.
And to further cement his ambition, Fernandes rents and develops properties of his own.
“I do have investment properties and I’ve done full renovations, so I am involved in it. I got my first investment property at 22, so I’m not just some guy who’s out there, but has no hands-on involvement in the business,” says Fernandes.
So, we decided to take you along his path, from his early childhood dream to becoming the face of his own team.
What initially got you into real estate?
Basically, I did co-op in high school in Grades 11 and 12. Both years I worked in real estate. First at RE/MAX for a year and then at Sutton Group the following year. Since Grade 8, I told myself I wanted to be a realtor. I became licensed at 19 and ended up working for Sutton Group — the last co-op I did. I started there and I’ve been working full-time ever since.
What was it about real estate that made you decide you wanted to do it in Grade 8 and never waiver?
At the time, my parents were looking to sell and buy. I was never a nine-to-five kind of guy. I knew that then. Just going around with the realtor, every day was different. During the day, we would go to the model home and look at different designs and at night we would negotiate some offers trying to get the deal done. I remember we’d be in the car until 11 or 12 o’ clock at night and it just fascinated me.
You’ve been at Sutton Group since you started at 19 and before that for high school co-op. You’re 26 now, so what is it like being with one shop for so long?
I’ve gotten lots of calls from other companies. You always explore your options and see what they’re all about, but I’ve grown every year. Every year has been better and better and better. So, in my opinion, I look at it as Sutton is working for me. I have the team. The experts helping me with the broker of record being really great from the beginning. The experience is there with her. And with the team behind me, they’ve provided everything I’ve needed.
You get the sales pitches from other companies stating you can do better. I don’t know if this is important to note, but the fees here at Sutton aren’t as extreme as some of the other companies. So, it allows me to put that money in the business so I can train, I can do different courses, I can hire professional photographers and marketers and stuff like that. I look at it from that perspective too, so I can better help my clients as well.
Why do you prefer to work with a team?
The team makes a big difference because as realtors we can’t possibly do everything. If we’re splitting up our time to do marketing and all the behind-the-scenes work, we’re not dedicated to the client. We’re not providing the human touch that they need when they’re buying their biggest asset. The team allows me to delegate those things I shouldn’t be doing in a sense.
Those times when I should be more focused on clients, one-on-one, dealing with the offer, being there for those conversations they need and providing all the help they need during the process. The team allows the business to run smoothly. So I can delegate a lot more and get a lot more done on the listing and marketing side, but still have someone dedicated to the client.
Speaking of marketing, you got quite the boost when you were #1 on Narcity.com’s list of ‘The 14 Hottest Male Real Estate Agents in Toronto’ in 2017. How did that feel? Did you get more calls?
There wasn’t a spike in calls, but there was a spike in Instagram likes and Facebook followers — which at the end of the day, any kind of exposure I can get is great. Ideally, it’s not the greatest exposure. It’s not based on my work ethic or what I bring to the table in terms of helping out my clients. But it was funny.
I was actually just at the office and someone just tagged me in that post and I started laughing. I had no idea. I guess any exposure is good in my opinion, but it’s definitely not the exposure I was looking for or is number 1 on the list.
Okay, let’s go back to your real expertise. What’s your best advice for buyers in the current Toronto market?
I don’t give one piece of specific advice to every buyer. My whole thing is about looking at their current situation because everyone has different circumstances and everyone thinks differently. I need to know their thought process and what they’re really trying to achieve, both short-term and long-term, to be able to give them proper advice.
Whether it’s an investor or a buyer, it’s always different sets of advice. But for buyers in this current market, I would say there are still good deals to be made. You just need patience. And, most importantly, you need to have everything ready to go, because the good deals will last one day. They don’t ever hold offers on these deals, so you have to be able to jump on them.
What does it take to see your name in front of the word “Team” on the door?
It’s about putting in the hours. Working really hard. And, at the end of the day, you want to make sure that the client is satisfied because if the client is satisfied, you’ll get your referrals. You want your name to be a good name. You don’t want anyone talking bad about your team. So you try to do everything you can to make sure our clients and our friends are pleased with every transaction.