Monika Schnarre has plotted her path to success from child athlete to supermodel to actor and is now turning her competitive edge to a career in real estate.
Schnarre, the youngest person to win the Ford Models Supermodel of the World contest, has joined Engel & Völkers Toronto Central Collingwood. She knows what she wants and goes out and gets it. Everyone told the 5’11” 13-year-old that she should be a model, but she says her mother said no. So she made some calls, then told her mother she had eight appointments at an open call. “My mother grudgingly took me,” says Toronto-born Schnarre. She signed with modelling agent Judy Welch on the spot and in 1986 won the supermodels contest, chosen from among participants from 26 countries.
“Three months later,” she says, “I was on the cover of Vogue.” She was also featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue at 15, the youngest to do so. At 19, she decided she wanted to become an actor, a change not well received by her agents. But she moved to Los Angeles and has racked up 50 acting credits over her career, never first having had to wait tables to be discovered. Her acting credits include The King of Queens, Beastmaster, The Bold and the Beautiful, Total Recall 2070, Charmed, Andromeda and Mutant X.
When she was 33, she enrolled in a broadcast journalism course as a mature student at the University of California and later worked as a correspondent with Etalk and ET Canada.
Then the pandemic came along, and the 51-year-old says it was time to “take things into my own hands. I was ready, and the timing was right.” She had been approached by Max Hahne, a broker at Engel & Völkers Collingwood Muskoka, who asked if she had considered a career in real estate. She had invested in real estate for 25 years, buying her first house when she was a teenager with money she made modelling. During her acting career, she flipped houses to make ends meet. She had been an ambassador for Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build campaign. So real estate seemed a natural fit.
The profession would give her control over her own fate and schedule, something important to the single mother of a now nine-year-old son.
In May 2022, she got her real estate licence. A week later, she had her first listing and hasn’t looked back. She very recently retired from acting. She says, “I leave businesses before they leave me.”
The real estate experience has been “amazing,” she says. “They welcomed me right away. Robert Turgeon, managing broker at Engel & Völkers Central in Toronto, said I had the quickest listing– within a week of starting.”
She says the company has an “incredible online training system,” but the technology can be intense. Turgeon has been supportive, helping her from the start.
Thanks to her social media marketing and the media coverage she has received, she says her phone hasn’t stopped ringing. She credits the connections made while modelling for her speedy start. “They are ready to buy their second and third homes.”
Schnarre says she entered the business at an interesting time — after 14 years of prices being on an upward trajectory, they have levelled off, and it has been a challenge. “People are sitting and waiting. Interest rate increases have been challenging, as has managing sellers’ expectations… It’s a challenging time, but I love it. A lot of people are still looking to buy.”
Lessons learned and experiences she gained from her past careers have been put to good use. At her first listing appointments, she played the part of a confident real estate agent. “Now I’m comfortable and confident,” she says. “My instincts are correct.” She says she’s always been competitive, which is coming in handy now because of the competitive nature of real estate.
Schnarre says the new career is not without challenges – a busy schedule and lots of nighttime and weekend work – make it difficult for her as a single mother. However, a relative is coming to help look after her son, who would sometimes have to tag along on showings. “He’s very patient,” Schnarre says, telling him the incentive to selling a house is that they can go on trips. And “it’s good for children to see their parents hustle and work hard” to get what they want.
Schnarre works out of the Collingwood office, which includes Blue Mountains, Creemore, Collingwood, Meaford and Thornbury. Her goal as a Realtor? “Bring excellence to each and every client.”
Connie Adair is a contributing writer for REM.