Business Q/A: Torrey Smith

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By Steve Doyle

For the past 12 years, Torrey Smith has been involved in the real-estate business, operating Torrey Smith Realty Co., in Shelbyville, the second generation of a business trail blazed by his father, W. A. Smith. Last week, Smith announced he was expanding his business to Middletown.

The Sentinel-News asked Smith for his thoughts about his industry, his role leading Habitat For Humanity and his home county.


The Sentinel-News: How do you see 2010 unfolding for the real estate industry?

Torrey Smith: Compared to 2009’s home sales data in Shelby County, I believe residential home sales will continue to average out around the $150,000 price range. In 2009, we experienced a little over 400 home sales with the average sales price of $157,000 and the average days on market equaling 100 days (information gathered from the GLARmls).  With the deadline of April 30 for the $8,000 & $6,500 home buyer’s tax credit, the first and second quarter of 2010 should be fairly active. The third quarter is generally the most active in home sales due to the summer, and the fourth quarter should be calm towards the end of the year.   

S-N: Is there something that government leaders could do that in your opinion would re-energize business?

Smith: A good portion of consumers are unaware of the tax credits available for home buying. The government has created a great concept and incentive package for home buyers; however, the marketing of these incentives has been lacking. I would like to see the government invest some time and energy into marketing the incentives to the public as a whole.

S-N: Do you find as many new Realtors coming into your field as you once did?

Smith: There aren’t as many people getting their licenses as there were when the market was strong. In fact, some Realtors have decided to put their licenses in escrow due to the change in the real estate market.  

S-N: You followed in your father’s footsteps. What significant piece of advice did he give to you that has guided your growth?

Smith: His No. 1 advice has always been to surround yourself with good and trustworthy people. The real estate business is a “team” game, and if you surround yourself with good agents and managers, the entire team will be successful. My father has been extra supportive during the turn of the real estate market, and he has emphasized that you always have to be refocusing your business and marketing plan. It’s in the difficult times that your business can grow and make the necessary changes to respond to the market. With this in mind, I made the decision before the end of last year to expand our service area to Middletown in 2010 with the purpose of capturing more home buyers for the Shelby County market. Since we’re in a “buyer’s market,” our company’s Web site is currently undertaking a reformation and will be geared towards the home buyer.  

S-N: You just announced you were opening an office in Middletown. Does physical presence in a market still mean as much as it used to in real estate?

Smith: The answer is “yes” and “no.” Let me explain. Is a typical real estate office that includes a large facility with cubicles, conference rooms, work stations, office managers and secretaries necessary in today’s market? My answer is no.  However, nothing can replace the personal face-to-face meeting with a home buyer when entering into the client-agent relationship. Home buyers are very careful in their decision-making and rightfully so. With that in mind, we’re introducing a new office concept known as the Home Buyer Lounge located at 12906 Shelbyville Road, Suite 220, Middletown. The Home Buyer Lounge will provide an atmosphere where home buyers can learn about the entire home-buying process before beginning the journey to homeownership. We’ve broken down the home-buying process into eight simple steps that will help educate buyers in purchasing the home of their dreams. The ultimate goal is make home buyers feel well informed about the buying process so they can feel like they've made a sound decision for their future.  

S-N: You have been the chairman of Habitat For Humanity, and you’ve seen difficulties in finding worthwhile families for the homes that are constructed. Why do you think that is?  

Smith: The difficulty isn’t necessarily finding worthwhile families, it’s more in finding families that qualify under Habitat International standards. Under these standards, there are certain restrictions on the minimum and maximum income for applicants (depending on the total number of family members). We also have to make sure that the family has a fair history of financial spending, meet certain criteria in the criminal background check and be ready and able for homeownership. As a non-profit organization, we depend heavily on our community businesses and churches to refer strong applicants for the program. There are plenty of deserving families in need of affordable housing in the community of Shelbyville. We just need assistance in finding these applicants through our community.

S-N: Other than one you currently are trying to sell, what is your favorite piece of property in Shelby County?  

Smith: There’s 15 acres of land located where I grew up in the Peytona area that has mature trees, a pond and an old tobacco barn. I can’t tell of its location because it’s my fortress of solitude.” It’s the place I go when I need to reflect and spend time with God. I grew up on a farm, and there’s something about the smell, scenery, and the seclusion that makes me love the open farm land. We’re blessed to have good farmland in Shelby County, which has been desirable to folks relocating to our area.  I truly love Shelby County.