Launching a business comes with many hurdles, and finding the right location from which to operate can be just as important a foundation as planning financials, marketing and sales strategies. For entrepreneurs, finding a property that meets their location, budget and purpose can be a daunting task, and a little guidance can go a long way.
The Real Estate Refreshed team, led by Josh Lumsden and Carley Stenson, who have a combined 18 years of experience in buying and selling real estate (and one of Spark Centre’s Elite Partners), helps entrepreneurs to navigate these decisions and choose the space that will fit all of their business needs. We sat down with this dynamic duo to learn more about Real Estate Refreshed and how they help entrepreneurs and businesses find their way ‘home’.
You have a combined 18 years of experience in buying and selling real estate. What inspired you to get involved in real estate?
CARLEY: Family history and entrepreneurship are the two pillars that inspired us to enter the real estate industry. Growing up, both Josh and I were surrounded by real estate and the industries that tied into it. My grandfather had his own Brokerage in Peterborough, Stenson Realty, for many years and was at one point the president of the Peterborough and Kawartha Association of Realtors. My grandfather and my dad bought and sold many properties and large pieces of land in Peterborough and the surrounding area, eventually buying farmland for themselves, allowing them to retire from real estate and get into local farming.
As for Josh, besides moving 13 times throughout the years, Josh’s dad was home inspector for 20 years, and his mom very much focused on interior design … so needless to say, Josh grew to love learning about houses, the structure and mechanics of houses, and called various locations ‘Home’, including Pickering, Whitby, Bowmanville, and Peterborough.
Both Josh and I have an entrepreneurial spirit deep within us, so the thought of building, growing, and running a real estate team together to serve our various locations of knowledge was an easy decision. Today, we’ve been married five years and run a very successful business that serves Durham Region, Northumberland County, Peterborough and The Kawartha Lakes. We’re one of the top 50 teams from Re/Max Hallmark, which is the largest Re/Max brokerage in the world, and we have an incredible referral network spanning from Pickering to Cornwall and everywhere in between.
You both were born and raised in Durham Region and Eastern Ontario. Why do you feel that this region is the ideal place for entrepreneurs to set up shop?
JOSH: Durham Region makes up the eastern portion of the GTA. Known as a leader in energy innovation, investors can take advantage of the diverse business sectors and benefit greatly from booming commercial activity. Many experts and economists feel there will be even more opportunities in the years to come.
Location is key! Durham is the largest “region” within Ontario, made up of eight cities and townships The majority of Durham Region is less than an hour away from the heart of downtown Toronto and also easily accessible from the Eastern and North Eastern towns such as Peterborough, Lindsay, Port Hope and Cobourg, allowing you to draw from those towns the best talent for your business.
In terms of the booming population in Canada and specifically Toronto, Durham Region’s numbers show that it’s the best opportunity for investment in the GTA regarding price for homes and industrial/commercial space. The population is expected to increase from today’s 700,000 residents to 1.3 Million by 2051!
If growth is a priority for your business, Durham Region is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country and will take your business to the next level.
What are some of the biggest challenges you see startups and entrepreneurs face regarding real estate or finding commercial space?
CARLEY: Great question! Durham Region and Eastern Ontario have so much to offer tech-preneurs … however, that doesn’t come without its caveats. Because of our proximity to the GTA, our area gets lots of commercial and industrial investors. Many commercial spaces are sold quickly, even before getting listed on MLS, therefore creating a low inventory, high-demand marketplace.
Since the beginning of 2022, interest rates have risen by three to four percent, and tighter restrictions on lending have been implemented.
And, of course, the pandemic has created a new set of new challenges for anyone looking to buy real estate. The biggest challenge is finding qualified and reliable workers if you need to make some renovations to the property to suit the specific needs of the business. Finding good, qualified, and available tradespeople can be quite challenging. As well, labour and material costs have increased due to rising inflation across the country.
How do you help these startups and entrepreneurs?
JOSH: Our team helps you with the buying process from start to finish. The first step is to discuss representation and the importance of having a qualified and dedicated real estate agent working alongside you during this endeavour.
Next, we take a deep dive into determining the client’s needs. This includes the type of property you might be looking for, the purpose for what it’s being used for, the required size, zoning, and where your target market is. Then, we determine the best location that would suit the specific needs of the client and their business. The location needs to fit the requirements for the business, it must fit the financial budget, and it must also meet the personal needs of the business owner, especially if one plans to move their family as well.
Simultaneously, we connect the client with one of our preferred lenders who can help them get the proper lending requirements and a mortgage pre-approval. This is an extremely important part of the process and should be started right away as sometimes it can be more challenging to secure commercial loans, so we like for our clients to stay ahead of the game.
Once we have honed in on the best location and we know the budget…it’s time to start shopping! Click Here to view our entire property buyers checklist. Shopping is just the beginning….
What are your top three tips for startups and entrepreneurs looking for office space or for commercial space for their tech/innovation development?
CARLEY: One, get your financing in place. Two, once you have secured a property, get in touch with your tradespeople as soon as possible as the wait can take anywhere from three months up to a year if you require any major renovations to suit your business needs. And three, leave some room for future expansion — financially and location-wise!
What are your top three tips for international startups and entrepreneurs who are looking to move their operations to Durham Region?
JOSH: Be sure to partner with a knowledgeable and well-connected real estate team to assist with your commercial or residential purchasing or leasing needs. Also, lean on your support systems. Ontario offers a variety of different grants specific to the tech world. Be sure to do your research and submit your applications — Remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take! Lastly, consider English language classes if English is not your first language. Communication is key when it comes to business and managing your employees.
To learn more about Real Estate Refreshed visit https://www.realestaterefreshed.com/