At BuzzBuzzHome News, we regularly turned to Myers, the Executive Vice President of Urbanation, for his informative numbers and keen insights into the GTA condo market. Earlier this week, we reported that Myers will be taking his market research savvy to Fortress Real Developments where he’ll take on the Senior Vice President role.
Naturally, we wanted more details about the move so we spoke with Myers about his exciting new career change:
BuzzBuzzHome: What do you like about Fortress Real Developments? And why was the position so appealing to you?
Ben Myers: I’ve been obviously doing market research for more than a decade now and seeing the development go through the process, but I kind of want to be involved in the whole part of it: from sales and marketing to acquisition of the site to the completion.
That was a desire of mine – to contribute a little bit more to the development process and to be able to say, ‘Yeah I was a partner in one of these completed developments.’ And Fortress, being a partner and being involved in a number of different markets and types of developments, was quite appealing.
BBH: Is this a new role that’s been created at Fortress for you?
BM: Yes, I’ll essentially be heading the new research team. So evaluating new deals that come in, putting out research reports for the individual investors, assisting in the projects that are for sale,the pricing, the sales and marketing process, and in unit selection and types. A lot of the stuff that I was doing at Urbanation, in terms of market studies, I’ll be contributing to the projects that they have in house here.
BBH: How do you see your expertise fitting in to help them fulfill their mission?
BM: They sell an investment product, right? So when someone’s investing in Fortress, they’re investing essentially in the covenant of the developer. Being a lot of my previous clients, I know a number of developers in the city so I can bring that expertise to developers I think: the ones that I think are very worthwhile investing in and other ones that may be you might want to shy away from.
So I can certainly bring that level of expertise and statistical background. My analysis is key and I can also take the numbers that are being put out there by research companies and put my spin on it to provide that level of analysis to clients, investors and developers out there. I have my hands in a lot of different cookie jars here ,which was obviously appealing.
BBH: At Urbanation you focused on the Toronto market mostly, will you need to readjust your focus to consider the Canadian market more broadly and also other individual markets across the country?
BM: Yeah, Fortress is in about nine major markets and 34 different projects. When I was working with Urbanation it was mostly the Toronto CMA – occasionally getting out and seeing things outside of the GTA and a couple projects out of province. For the most part, we were very Toronto-centric.
That was something that I found appealing – getting to review new markets, to understand new markets and apply the Toronto-centric development process and mindset to other new areas. And again even possibly take what’s happening in those other markets and apply them to the Toronto market. It’s going to be very interesting going into new markets and having to think outside the box and the process that’s typically done here in Toronto.
BBH: Will there be more traveling across the country with this new position?
BM: I’ll probably be doing some more traveling for sure. That’s exciting and hopefully I’ll fit into the seats. [Laughs] It’s a little tough to travel at 6’6.
BBH: Why should Canadian investors be paying attention to the services and opportunities that Fortress is providing?
BM: When I was at Urbanation, I saw in 2011 there were 28,000 new condominiums sold and somewhere in the neighbourhood 17,000 of those units were likely purchased by investors. They’re putting a significant amount of money in to purchase these condominiums. An individual investor might not want to deal with buying a condominium and putting out that much money, plus the transaction costs of lawyers fees and the general nervousness that comes with potential fluctuations in the market and finding a tenant if you plan on holding the unit long-term.
This allows you to invest in individual condominium projects for as little as $25,000. It’s something that I think a lot of people wanted to tap into, but Fortress was really the first one to come in and do syndicate mortgages on a wide-scale basis and link back to the development realm. There’s been tremendous growth within the company in the last two years and that was something I definitely wanted to be a part of.
BBH: I know Fortress has presence across the country, but do they have more than one office? Are they mostly centred in Mississauga?
BM: The head office is in Richmond Hill. It opened an experience centre in Mississauga and are opening up a downtown office, which I will be working out of half the time. That’s another thing that’s exciting: getting to be downtown as well, splitting time between Richmond Hill and downtown. The ultimate plan would be to expand into other markets. I think that’s all on the go and in the long term visioning for the company.
BBH: That’s all the questions that I had prepared. Did you want to add anything?
BM: It’s not only in what Fortress does but the vision and the passion that the CEO Jawad Rathore and the COO Vince Petrozza of Fortress have. The tremendous intelligence of both of the guys working here was something that drew me in. So these are guys I respect very much and that I wanted to do business with. And their vision is just grand – they don’t stop.
Like I said, they just don’t want to stop with a couple of offices in Ontario, they want to expand across Canada and eventually the United States. That’s certainly something that was very appealing.
Thanks for chatting with us Ben!