Tom Storey never wanted to be in sales.
“Growing up my mother was always in sales, so for my whole childhood, I would hear her on the phone selling. I thought I’d never get into sales because I didn’t like the idea of trying to sell somebody something,” says Storey.
“I like the idea that if you want to buy it, I can help you through it.”
That’s why he went into real estate. For him, real estate isn’t just about selling properties, it’s about building relationships.
“I thought I could be really good at that.”
And he is. After less than three years as a realtor, he had enough business to start his own team. And so he founded The Storey Team under Royal LePage Signature Realty.
It’s one of the youngest teams in Toronto. And he believes that’s a good thing.
So we wanted to find out why Storey’s approach may put him ahead of some agents with 20 to 30 years of experience … And of course, we had to get his take on the Toronto market.
What brought you to real estate in the first place?
When I graduated high school and told my parents that I was going to get my real estate licence, they said, “No way.” So I went to the University of Guelph and got my degree in sociology.
In my fourth year at Guelph, I started to get my real estate licence. When I graduated I went straight into the business. I started at 22 and I’ve been doing it for the last five years.
Where your parents against it because they wanted you to get a degree?
They weren’t against it, but the fact is they were right.
If I had started when I was 18, odds are I would have failed. I was too young. I didn’t have family in the business. I was too young and naive.
I’m happy that I grew up in university. I made friendships and learned how to learn. As I got out, I went straight into it with my eyes wide open and just did it. It has been history since then.
You mentioned that for you the real estate business is about relationships, are those relationships what keeps you in the business?
Almost 90 per cent of my business every year is repeat and referral.
I like working with like-minded people. I’ve got a group I’ve worked with every year over the last couple of years, which is where most of my business comes from.
For me, I’m not interested in the transaction. I want to build a relationship with you and do such a good job where you can’t help but refer me to your family and friends.
If you go out there and chase money, you’re not going to last very long. Just do the right thing and try to help people. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re doing: we’re ethically helping people get to decisions — the business just kind of starts coming.
Why did you found The Storey Team and how did you meet its members?
I started The Storey Team two-and-a-half years ago.
I was on my own and things were getting a little bit overwhelming. I couldn’t keep up with the demand of things coming in. Cam Woolfrey, my business partner, was working at CBRE in Kitchener-Waterloo doing commercial real estate.
We had actually met back in the University of Guelph days. We would meet for coffee every once in a while and talk about what each other were doing. After almost a year of me being like, “Hey man, come to Toronto let’s build something here,” I finally convinced him. So he came over about two-and-a-half years ago.
Morgan McIndless started about six months ago and we just hired an assistant.
Systems are a massive part of what we do. If you don’t have systems running your business, the falling apart will happen very quickly. So that’s been a big part of building the team … thinking not so much “me,” but “we.” And helping our clients that way.
As a new team, are there challenges you face that a more established team would not have to deal with?
You know what? I don’t think so.
At the very beginning, when I was fresh into the business, I thought being young was going to be a disadvantage.
I would get suited up every single day and I took my self very seriously. But what I realized pretty quickly is if you know what you’re talking about, you’re really good at your job and you’re confident in your abilities, people don’t really second-guess you.
That was probably in the back of my mind when I started a younger team. But having a fresh, young approach to things … And a good portion of the market are people who are first-time buyers within our age range … And I think they like working with people on the same wavelength. It’s about getting back to them quickly with video updates and replying to them quickly with emails.
Some of the agents that maybe have been in the business longer are not as in tune with the things that need to happen in today’s market.
What would you say is your approach to doing business?
The thing about this business is you have to stand out.
There are 30,000-plus agents in Toronto. So what are we going to do that makes us different from everybody else? Especially because I’ve only been in this business for five years.
The first stage is prepping the listing. We spend a lot of money on amazing photos and staging the house.
We wouldn’t put something up for sale without prepping it correctly. At the end of the day you’re building a brand and people have called me wanting to sell their house just because they’ve seen my previous listings and said, “These look so good! What did you do?”
Truthfully, we spend a lot of money prepping them before they go onto the market.
My whole philosophy comes down to this: No matter how good you are at what you do, if people don’t know you do it, they won’t call you. So how are you going to capture people’s attention?
This is why we’re so active on social media.
We put up YouTube videos all the time. We have something called The Storey Report, which is a two- to three-minute video and monthly market update. We’ve been doing those now for over two years, every month consistently.
I make it for my clients, but obviously, it goes on all the social platforms, so a bunch of other people see it. Even this morning, someone called me and I’m having lunch with them next week because they saw my videos on YouTube.
Attention is the new currency.
How are you going to get people’s attention?
I think something we do fairly well and above average compared to our competition is getting people’s attention. Nobody that knows me doesn’t know I’m in real estate, if that makes sense.
Speaking of The Storey Report, what are your impressions of the Toronto market right now?
To end off 2018, you’re going to see condos remain the hottest option, especially in the 416 in the $500,000 to $700,000 because they’re the most affordable option. When the stress test came in pushed people down from the housing category they were originally going to buy in. There has been a domino effect from that.
The one thing we should always keep our eye on is inventory levels. It’s the absolute best way to track the market.
Right now in the GTA, we’re still sitting below three months of inventory, which means its still a sellers’ market. When it comes to condos, there are only one-and-a-half months of inventory. So that’s a very hot sellers’ market.
To sum it up, expect condos to move at a rapid pace to end off this year. Once the price gap between condos and freehold properties becomes smaller then the home market is going to start picking up again because people are going to say, “Why am I buying a condo when I could buy a house?”
Early 2019, expect the freehold market to pick up again.