Toronto Under Construction – Episode 65 with Ben Smith President of Avesdo

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Our guest for episode 65 of the Toronto Under Construction podcast is Ben Smith, President of Avesdo, where he spearheads the development and implementation of the company’s vision and strategy. Ben previously founded Kinsman Marketing Partners, a renowned strategic advisory firm catering to real estate developers. His innovative approach to digital marketing saw him oversee Canada’s first fully online new home transaction in June 2020, marking a milestone in the industry’s evolution. With over a decade of experience in executive roles and agency environments, Ben brings invaluable insights to Avesdo and its clients, leveraging his extensive expertise in sales, marketing, and business development to drive success.

Kicking off episode 65, guest Ben talks about his career, sharing details about his journey of moving from Ontario to British Columbia working in advertising, then moving into real estate, working in many different asset classes, before moving back to the agency side where he had the opportunity to work with developers across the country. Ben mentions that he’s always had an interest in technology and how things can be done better. He discusses the natural transition of working at Avesdo where he has the opportunity to use technology to solve the same pain points for his clients that he used to have.

The guys talk about their love for the industry and host Ben says his biggest issue with the industry is the pricing and worksheet process. Tune in at 10:22 for guest Ben’s thoughts on the broker sales process and how he leverages technology to price a building.

As the discussion continues, host Ben asks guest Ben how his client’s feel about Avesdo using their data to help the industry. Tune in at 20:11 where guest Ben says, “our data is exact, so we don’t get to sell it.” Instead, he shares how Avesdo helps developers get themselves ready for launch by using the tools to have an effective launch. “We use technology to help our clients have a better launch, help them sell faster, for more money and less risk.” The guys discuss the opportunity to aggregate the data, but guest Ben says “real estate is so specific to neighbourhood, and Canadian real estate has so few launches in the same neighbourhood, that we actually can’t. Where we can aggregate is when we look at all of Toronto, or all of Mississauga or all of Canada”. Host Ben digs deeper and says there is a lot of valuable information you can extract at a regional level, and asks general questions like, what is a floor worth? What is a balcony worth? What is a green roof or a LEED building worth? Guest Ben responds that his primary role is to enable clients to use their own data, as well as how to build their tech stack to actually use the data more efficiently. While guest Ben says he can’t share the data, he does get to see trends and gets a clean picture of what is actually going on. “I want to use this data, respecting our clients information; but it helps all of us if we can lead parents to where the trends are and lead them away from the potholes.” Guest Ben shares a few aggregate insights about what he is seeing so far in 2024.

Moving along, host Ben asks guest Ben what he thinks of the companies that track the market, and whether there is opportunity for Avesdo to work with them, or not? Tune in at 35:42 for the answer and to hear the guys geek out on data with a discussion on supply and demand in the current market. The guys continue to discuss housing analysis on a macro level in Canada and host Ben says the information we have, just isn’t cutting it. He asks guest Ben if he has any smart solutions to this problem? Tune in at 51:58 for his thoughts.

If you have any interest in Assignment sales, or want some numbers on foreign buyers, tune in at 53:46 for some insights!

As the guys discuss potential solutions to the housing crisis, like any good data analysts, the conversation continues to come back to basic economics: supply and demand, and the need for more supply and investment to bring pricing down. The conversation evolves to a discussion on “greedy developers” and the guys unpack the narrative talking about the amount of risk involved in being a real estate developer. “The golden era might be over” says host Ben at 1:03:26. While guest Ben doesn’t believe condo is going anywhere, he suggests that Toronto looks to Vancouver where single family builders have essentially gone away and have moved to multi-family product. Tune in at 1:05:45 as the guys discuss the need for a mix of product in the suburbs, as well as the cost to build with a comparison across the country.

The conversation gets political and the guys question why politicians never listen to or consult the experts. “The building industry is so complex and there are so many different experts to consult, yet the government continues to ignore the experts, and only listen to the people who yell the loudest.” Tune in at 1:17:11.

Moving a little off topic, host Ben asks guest Ben for his thoughts on speaking at industry events and whether they are still worth the ROI. Tune in at 1:23:56. “If you’re young and in the industry, go! Go to as much as you can,” says guest Ben.

As the episode begins to wrap up, Ben asks Ben to share any forecasts he might have for the GTA new housing market. Tune in at 1:28:12 for guest Ben’s insights.
Ending with the famous Rapid Fire question and answer, Ben asks questions like:
“On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being sweating buckets, how worried are your clients about closing risk, and is that number different in Vancouver than Toronto?”, “Suburban condo markets were very strong in the post-pandemic period, is downtown real estate overvalued in the new age of working from home?”, “Are developers doing enough in the design of their projects to address the housing needs of diverse demographic groups, or should they just offer very small suites for investors?”, “Should tenant advocacy groups come out and condemn the actions of bad tenants that don’t pay and destroy units or just keep up with their “landlords are worse” narrative?” and more! Tune in now to episode 65 of Toronto Under Construction!

Tune in now to episode 65 of Toronto Under Construction!

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