More often than not, when Ryan Malcolm pulls up for a showing, people look at him funny. But he’s not offended – in fact when people recognize him as the first Canadian Idol winner it helps break the ice. “I tell them I do real estate as well.”
If they don’t know him from Idol, they may recognize the singer/songwriter from his platinum award-wining album Home, which was nominated for Juno pop album of the year in 2005, from his alternative rock band Low Level Flight, which produced two albums and toured Asia and Europe, or from his starring role in the Kingston, Ont. theatre production the Buddy Holly Story. He has also toured with Elton John, Victoria Beckham and Kelly Clarkson, and he also acts.
Malcolm, who was born in 1979, says he has been involved with music from the time he was eight, playing in a band (A Bit of Nostalgia) with his father John Malcolm and brother Reagan Smith. He was with the band until he won Idol when he was 23.
Malcolm moved to Toronto for the filming of the show and never moved home. He lived in Toronto for 12 years then he and his wife Rebecca vacationed in Costa Rica. “I fell in love with the jungle and the relaxed way of life,” he says. During this semi-retirement from the music business, he and Rebecca ran a restaurant, Tres Cabras, for several years. (Ryan’s father owned and operated many restaurants and Ryan had worked as waiter.) During his time in Costa Rica, he also studied for his real estate licence.
In 2016 the couple moved to London, Ont. and Malcolm got his real estate license. “It made sense. I love people, I love houses and I love architecture. Plus it’s a job where I can work for myself and make my own hours.”
Malcolm joined Royal LePage Heartland Realty in Goderich, Ont.
He says broker of record Rick Lobb has a wealth of knowledge and has helped him transition from living in Costa Rica to Canada and from urban living in Toronto to the country. He also helped him get acquainted with real estate in the Goderich area.
Lobb “started as my mentor and is now my best friend,” says Malcolm, who describes his trading area as southeastern Ontario. “I’m relatively new and hungry. I don’t mind travelling…to see that a deal gets done and done properly. I love to drive.”
Despite his continued work as a singer/songwriter, working in his home studio, Malcolm works full time in real estate. “I don’t know how to do anything part time. I love the job. I’m motivated to succeed and am competitive with myself.”
In the past two years, real estate has kept him busy and music has taken a back seat. But he ensures there’s enough time to perform for fundraisers. In 2019, he and Lobb put together a band and performed in London to raise funds for the Marjorie Wheeler-Leff Foundation.
“It was attended by Royal LePage CEO Phil Soper, which was very exciting,” Malcolm says. “The event was in support of worthy causes in the London area, including Anova: A Future Without Violence and the Children’s Health Foundation.”
He also did a virtual concert this spring in support of Huron County’s Rural Response for Healthy Children, in partnership with Royal LePage Heartland Realty.
His music background benefits his real estate career in many ways. “When I meet new clients, I can be professional and open. I treat clients like friends,” he says.
When he was in music full time, he says he lived and breathed music. He brought that work ethic to real estate and has seen the fruits of his labour.
In real estate, as in music, hard work pays off, he says. Malcolm won the President’s Gold award in 2019 and will receive the Director’s Platinum Award this year.
There are more opportunities for future clients to see his face. His producer/friends offered him a “small role” in the feature film, Trigger Point, starring Colm Feore and Barry Pepper. It began filming in October.