Many industries have been changed irreversibly by the world’s move to digital. The media, auctions and booksellers have all felt the winds of change, and have either acted accordingly or suffered the consequences. But one industry that has kept its feet planted firmly in the past is real estate. Vancouver blogger, vlogger and realtor Ian Watt aims to change all that, one vlog at a time.
“Two years ago, I changed my business to 100 per cent paperless. No flyers, no magazine ads. I wanted to go totally Web 2.0. But as far as I know, I’m the only person doing that. It’s an amazing opportunity, as clients get it, and realtors really don’t” Watt said.
And his efforts, from daily vlogs, appear to be paying off. Watt said that even in a down market, he’s had his best January and February ever. As someone who covers the downtown Vancouver market, he said, new social media tools have opened up a new customer base.
“Basically, the tech community found me. But I doubt I’d get the same response in Kerrisdale as I do downtown,” he said.
Watt said he was inspired after talking to Gary Vaynerchuk, the web video pioneer who upended the normally stodgy world of wine with Wine Library TV, his enormously popular show that features a hyperactive and incredibly knowledgeable Vaynerchuk rating and berating wines in a very transparent fashion. And just like Vaynerchuk, Watt wants to keep everything he does transparent.
“People want honesty, and they’ll be more loyal because of it,” he said.
He also pointed to the low production values of his vlogs as a positive. “I’m not Brad Pitt, I’m a realtor. And I’m not the star, the property is the star,” he added.
Watt started his video blogs after Ubertor fame sent out Flip cameras to a smattering of local realtors.
“It really started by accident, but now I’m up to my 250th video post,” he said.
And he said the vlogs have enabled him to connect not only with local clients but with customers south of the border.
“Americans divested themselves of investment properties in Vancouver after the economic downturn, but now because of the exchange rate some of them are coming back, and they find me through my videos,” he said.
But despite his enthusiasm for Web 2.0 tools, it’s all about interpersonal connections and having a good product, Watt said.
“I still use open houses and get in front of people. All these things are just tools, but it’s about touching the right people with the right message In the end, the property will sell itself,” he said.