March 15, 2012
Agent Spotlight: Ian Watt
Ian Watt is recognized internationally as a leader in real estate marketing, known for innovative thinking and the ability to recognize trends in marketing, branding and consumer trends within real estate. If you follow social media and real estate, you already recognize Ian Watt from his video blogs, where he dispenses facts, advice and raw opinion. His latest series, “The Business of Being Ian Watt” (which debuts next month), speaks of the power shift within the real estate business, from industry professionals to the consumer. Realtors, he argues, need to adapt and offer various services to all demographics of clients.
Watt speaks from experience. His company moved completely online in 2007—a strategic and environmentally conscious move that was ahead of its time. In recent years, perceiving the rapidly changing need in the market place for a la carte real estate services, Watt divided his real estate practice into two different levels of service. IanWatt.ca offers his traditional service, a premium product that, in addition to open houses and showings, includes a full-scope digital marketing plan, including: professional photography, custom videos, and social media tools.
As of 2011, Ian Watt started, CondoGo.com, a unique model that offers a discounted level of service, passing the savings on to the seller. How does CondoGo.com work? Unlike traditional real estate models that are centred around a realtor or a personality, CondoGo.com is all about online systems. Even the CMA is done online without seeing the property (which can be done with generic condos and but not houses).
The process begins with a prospective seller filling out an online form in order to get a selling price estimate for his or her property. The client is then assigned a “Client Concierge” (a licensed sales representative) who facilitates the selling process: ascertaining the property features, arranging for professional photography and conducting the showings. When an offer comes in, a senior realtor takes over the account and negotiates the contract. The time-saving tactics of the CondoGo.com system enable Watt to charge a lower fee, which saves the seller on average, $5000. (For more information, view the CondoGo.com Made Simple video).
Today Zoocasa talks with Ian Watt, gleaning the unique perspective of a real estate maverick.
1. Why did you go completely online back in 2007, when the rest of us were saying, “Hey have you heard about this Facebook thing?”
Most of my clients are from the tech industry and seeing how they run their businesses with amazing models – [they actually projected findings] that went against what we know to be true in business.
2. You have made thousands of video blogs about real estate. What inspires your ideas for these topics and what are some of the topics you love talking about the most?
My topics come from my clients asking me questions, or viewer emails. I believe that if one person has this question, a hundred other people might have the same question, so ultimately I try to be the answer to their Google search question. I don’t have a favorite topic, but what I never do is talk about is a specific condo or ever try and sell anything. Condos come and go but great information never goes out of style.
3. On your site CondoGo.com, there is a page that lists “The Top 10 Mistakes Made When Hiring a Realtor To Sell Your Vancouver Condo“. Why is it a “mistake” to hire a realtor who is not a “condo specialist”?
Ever since the invention of Google the role of the generalist started dying. Google is the biggest niche finder in the world and if you aren’t the best in the world at one thing, whatever that is, then you wont be able to survive in the future. Condos are different from houses, and why wouldn’t you want the specialist? Would you take your Porsche to the Chevy dealership because your cousin works there? Probably not.
4. What other advantages does your discount brokerage, CondoGo.com, offer?
One thing that many realtors have struggled with in terms of discount real estate services is doing their clients a disservice by discounting marketing and realtor incentives. However, unlike many discounted services, CondoGo.com still has a full marketing package. More importantly, it doesn’t discount the buyer’s commission–both IanWatt.ca and CondoGo.com offer the same buyer’s commission. At CondoGo we’re all about making fast nickels, and IanWatt.ca is all about making slow dimes. Together they are a nice complement to each other.
4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Five years from now is a long time but what I dream of, is running a business that is not dependent on my day-to-day involvement. A business that runs like a business, because as realtors, we don’t own businesses, we own jobs. When you die, your business dies but it doesn’t have to be that way.
5. Where do you see the real estate market in five years?
I think the role of realtors will be a lot different. There will always be realtors involved in a transaction because it’s such an emotional business, but I believe that we will be facilitators of transactions and interpreters of information and marketers of properties PERIOD.