"This Man Is Pioneering A New Urban Spirit In Toronto"
That's the opening line of a new TorontoStoreys.com feature about myself and my team at Urbaneer.com. I was surprised and flattered to receive this email:
I’m Dahlia, the editor at TorontoStoreys.com – and we’d love to do a profile on you for our popular “Meet the Agent” feature. Toronto Storeys is the home for stories that shape Toronto. Real estate is our setting, but it’s the people who drive our content. We open the doors to our city, take you into our real estate market at the ground level, introduce you to the people who grow our city, and share stories that build our city. We’ve recently sat down with the premier, the mayor, other notable figures, and realtors of course. Now we’d like to include you in that company.
Here are my my answers to their interview questions, which ranged from my past work in the Innovative Space marketplace, to my predictions for where Toronto real estate is heading in 2018. I also talk a bit about my past home renovations. Take a look:
Q. You've built your career in the shelter industry renovating, designing, developing and marketing unique urban spaces in the City of Toronto. Tell us about your favourite project that you’ve done.
A. I have enormous affection for The Button Factory at 200 Clinton Street, which was my first project back in 1993, and where I lived for many years. The developers were really receptive to selling the spaces as 'shells' so it could be affordable to artists, while adding a custom-design component for the creative and white collar professionals seeking to put their own stamp on a loft. I also have great affection for The Movie House on Euclid at College Street, which I owned for 18 years. If you love design transformations, you can read about my design/build journeys on my blog at urbaneer.com, including an 1880s manse in Charlottetown, PEI and my latest project, a 1960s duplex in Riverdale!
Q. Urbaneer is renowned for having pioneered innovative spaces ... How did the idea for Urbaneer come about?
A. Ever since I was a child I've been obsessed with housing and home. I spent hours designing dwellings, reading construction manuals, and had my father take me to Weekend Real Estate Open Houses. This continued with my university education at the graduate and post-graduate level in various facets of housing and design. My multi-disciplinary education – along with my passion for home renovation and design – served as the foundation for Urbaneer.com, which I launched in 1995. My sales and marketing brand - and my training to a housing conceptualist – served developers seeking to tap into the growing creative class of pro-urbanites seeking unique spaces. Since then, the amazing Urbaneer team and I continue to serve city dwellers in all price points, for all types of housing, as seen in my Testimonials.
Q. What’s been your greatest challenge as a pioneer – and how have you overcome it?
A. My challenge was cultivating a market which was in its infancy, and unknown by most. Realtors have historically focused on specific geographies when building their business, operating on the 'location, location, location' mantra. In the 90s, I was one of the early adopters who targeted not location, or property type, but the 'creative lifestyle market'. However, finding unusual architect-designed dwellings, adaptive reuse conversions and lofty properties weren't easy to locate. The challenge was not only classifying the stock of existing and potential 'Innovative Spaces', but educating all the players (including appraisers) on the intangible value of 'lifestyle architecture', while promoting it with wordplay. When this niche market went mainstream in the 90s, I was sufficiently established to transition with this evolving marketplace.
Q. You have a comprehensive understanding of Toronto’s 42 central neighbourhoods. Can you let us in on your favourite hidden gem?
Each of them have their own unique personalities, which is what I love about Toronto – the City of Neighbourhoods. My list of hidden gems is long, but what always captures my intrigue and favour are those where shops and cafes are run by entrepreneurs committed to their craft. Every neighbourhood has its own life cycle. I adore those that offer a mix of old and new, which serve a mix of locals. Lately we've been blogging about several neighbourhoods across the city, including amenities, city statistics and flavour videos in Urbaneer's Neighbourhood Pages.
Q. You take homebuyers beyond the typical questions ... For instance, your blog post on the difficulty in choosing a couch, is as long as many posts on the difficulty in choosing a home. How do think connecting with potential home buyers on this level affects your brand?
A. As a realtor celebrating 25 years as a top-producer, I can attest navigating the purchase or sale of a property can be complex, challenging and stressful. Owning a home extends far beyond the physical space, so I employ a a holistic approach to where and how we live. My blog attempts to explore all the facets of shelter, including the cultural amenities of Toronto, our personal relationship to space and place, plus the importance of health and well-being in our home. My readers and clients recognize the added-value benefits of this multi-faceted perspective, as it enables me to guide them effectively on how to elevate a property to garner top dollar, whether we're preparing it to sell using my Free Style Enhancement Service, or they're exploring ways to increase their return on their next purchase. Incidentally, “Choosing A Couch” is from my Dear Urbaneer Series, which is a Monthly Advice Column where I answer questions from the public! It's as popular as my Tales From The Real Estate Trenches Series which shares my day-to-day experiences navigating the Toronto Real Estate market.
Q. You were in the business before social media showcased it. How has your social media strategy evolved?
Along with my blog on Urbaneer, which was recently listed as one of the 'Top 50 Blogs in Toronto', Zolo.ca recently ranked my twitter account as one of the 'Top 25 Realtors To Follow In Toronto'. With my background in the history of architecture, the psychology of home, urban design, urban planning, construction and finance, tapping into the zeigeist of social media has elevated my own engagement and expanded my awareness of Canadian Real Estate. In fact, five years ago I launched a second site Houseporn.ca, which focuses on architecture, design, landscape and products in Canada. It's a vehicle for me to mentor university students across Canada in the fields of housing while curating Canadian content on shelter.
Q. What’s the biggest lesson you've learned through your career?
I've learned when we operate with patience, clear intention and trust, the universe will guide us to the right 'Home'. In the Toronto real estate market where bidding wars are common, it's not unusual for Buyers to become emotionally defeated and weary after losing multiple times. When my Buyers ultimately do secure a property, they often acknowledge it's more perfect than all the previous dwellings they lost in competition. That's the ultimate affirmation for a job well done! My objective is to tap into my client's wishes, wants and needs, which we develop together through my custom housing matrix, so they trust me to "dissuade them from buying the wrong property until the right one comes along".
Q. If you could rejuvenate one neighbourhood right now – which would it be?
My challenge with this question is that when a neighbourhood rejuvenates, it changes the existing fabric of the community and we risk losing the very qualities and colour that make it special. The success of a city includes its capacity to accommodate all walks of life. Today, Spadina's Chinatown, and the Little India and Chinatown on Gerrard East are at risk of being displaced by new businesses and residents who have no cultural affiliation. I recognize the irony that this is coming from someone who spearheaded a market where places of industry were converted to contemporary housing. While this is considered part of 'progress' - and an inevitable by-product of an expanding post-industrial global economy in urban centres - it does come at a historical cost, including the eradication of neighbourhood character. One of my blogs exploring this is Why Toronto’s East Side Real Estate Has Historically Been Cheaper, which shares some of the forces influencing neighbourhood rejuvenation.
Q. Where do you see Toronto real estate going this year?
I'm confident the Toronto real estate market will weather the interventions we've seen by all three layers of government and, barring any calamity, real estate in the original City of Toronto will continue to be an excellent investment even as the suburbs may experience price declines. I've long subscribed to the 'buy and hold' mentality. After all, people only lose money if they have to sell, or choose to sell. I recently explored this in significant detail in my Winter Forecasts on Urbaneer.com - Part One and Part Two - which explores the multiple dynamics of our market.
You can see their full article here. Thank you for the feature, Toronto Storeys!
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage - (416) 322-8000
- we're here to earn your trust, then your business -
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*Love Canadian Housing? Check out Steve's Student Mentorship site called Houseporn.ca which focuses on architecture, landscape, design, product and real estate in Canada!