Matt Johnson – Rider/Realtor Enjoys the Marriage of His Two Passions

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Meet Matt Johnson, DressageDaily's first advertiser in our newly launched Real Estate Section. Matt has several premier properties listed with us and more can be found on his website, Matt has a new horse, a fabulous KWPN mare by Amsterdam, and he is back in the show ring. He also offers his insights on real estate trends in the equestrian world and South Florida. It’s been years since rider/Realtor Matt Johnson came down centerline to compete, but his fabulous new mare Orisette has drawn him back to the show ring in 2009 and inspired him to aim for the FEI levels next year. “I haven’t competed since I was in college actually,” Matt says.

“We’re schooling Prix St. Georges at home, so next season, I hope to bring her out in the small tour.” During the 2009 Florida show circuit, Matt and his 12-year-old Dutch import gained mileage at Fourth Level at the Wellington Classic Spring Challenge and the Palm Beach Dressage Derby. Matt plans to finish out the season competing at Fourth Level in upcoming shows. Photo credit: Jane Brown

Matt noted that ‘Ori’ may be a little behind in her training because she was a brood mare early in life and produced three lovely foals. “But I’m happy that she wasn’t pushed too hard as a youngster before she was fully developed because she has legs like those of a two year old!” Matt beams.

Matt found Orisette three years ago through Corné Voskens in Holland who emailed a video of the mare to him.  “My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw her move,” Matt recalls. Matt sent the video to his trainer Kelly Weiss who also fell in love with the flashy 16.2-hand bay mare by Amsterdam with the big white blaze, four white socks, and extraordinary gaits.

Matt already had his gelding Moonlight Cocktail and wasn’t sure that he wanted the financial and time commitment of a second horse, but found he couldn’t stop talking and dreaming about Orisette.  Finally Kelly convinced Matt to go see the mare. “So off I went to Holland by myself and needless to say the rest is history,” Matt says. “I owe a lot to Kelly for his support, encouragement and development of my riding throughout the years.” Photo Credit: David Erdek - Matt Johnson nose to nose with Midnight Cocktail

Currently, Matt works with Orisette on his own every day, but gets help on the ground from Kelly a few times a week. “I’m very passionate about this horse,” Matt enthused. “The most exciting part for me has been developing that relationship and I’m so excited to see what the future holds.”

Though Matt is just now emerging from behind the scenes, he has been riding for most of his life and has been a familiar face on the circuit.  Matt arrived in Wellington in 1992 after graduating from college and for the next six years worked for Robert Dover and some of his clients full-time which allowed him to ride and study under Robert’s tutelage.   Matt became involved in real estate 11 years ago when he decided that he’d rather own his own mounts rather than struggle until enough success came to find owners or sponsors.  He took a hiatus from riding from 1998 to 2003 while he established his real estate career.

“I purposely decided to skin the cat a different way.  Being around a lot of top riders, I saw how they would lose a horse they’d been training for years,  lose their sponsorships or even their passion – letting horses become merely a job, so I decided to earn my own money and buy my own horses,  I didn’t want to be dependent on anyone,” Matt explained.  He purchased Moonlight Cocktail by Jazz in 2004 and has been back in the saddle ever since.

Asked whether he considers himself a rider first and then a Realtor, or vice versa, Matt answers, “I don’t picture myself as one over the other. They’re both part of my identity. On certain days my business has to take priority, but the beauty of what I do is that I have the flexibility in my schedule. For the most part I can get my riding done early in the morning and then schedule my appointments for later.”

Naturally, Matt’s real estate business is focused on equestrian properties. “It’s great for me because I have horses automatically in common with my clients,” Matt points out. ”That makes it easier to develop trust because we have something we can talk about.  Also, horse people want to work with someone who is knowledgeable about horses, whether it’s footing or turnout, or how the layout of the farm works.” Photo credit: Kelly Weiss

That combination of rider/Realtor has created a unique Florida lifestyle for Matt. “It’s great because it’s a marriage of the two things that I’m passionate about in my life – the horses and the real estate business,” Matt affirms. “I’ve always enjoyed houses and architecture and I’m very independent, so it gives me the independence that I like and freedom to plan my day. I don’t like a set routine and every day is different in real estate, which keeps me stimulated. It’s the marriage between the two that makes it unique – I can combine my passion with my work and that makes it fun, plus I’m meeting people that have common interests.”

Recently, declining real estate values and foreclosures are in the news almost daily, and Matt commented on the good and bad aspects of the real estate industry in the U.S. today, saying, “It’s sad because I’m seeing a lot of people losing their homes or in financial trouble – not so much in the equestrian market but definitely in the single family residential area. People are struggling to make ends meet. The market got so over-inflated that now it’s correcting itself. In a way it will be a good thing because eventually housing will be more affordable again.”

In his bailiwick of Florida, Matt stated that the property values had dropped and will continue to fall for the next 12 to 18 months. “Within a year to a year and a half, you’ll start to see the prices level off, but we’re just starting now to see the beginning of the foreclosures and the short sales. You’re going to see more of that go on for a while,” Matt said.  “Of course, it’s all dependent on the government – how their programs pan out and work. It’s going to get a little bit worse before it gets better. But the number of sales this year is going to increase over last year just because prices are coming down to the point where people are feeling more comfortable about buying. I don’t think you’ll see prices go up, but you will see a higher volume of sales.”

Matt is enthusiastic about the listings he currently has to offer, noting that his inventory contains something for everyone, from a villa or a townhouse to small farms on two acres up to larger farms on 10, 15, and 20 acres. “My inventory runs the whole gamut, which makes it fun and there are a lot of good deals out there for people now,” Matt says. “Now and within the next year is the time to buy.”

DressageDaily Real Estate Section