Ken’s passion for real estate is stronger than ever
At the age of 18 Ken Watson, who had been working in the Post Office Savings Bank for three years, decided he wanted to run his own business. At that time he had no idea what it would be.
It was frustration at the bank’s conservative approach to change that eventually saw Ken leave the world of finance and enter real estate.
‘‘The Post Office Savings Bank was never entrepreneurial and after working there for 20 years I was becoming frustrated as that it was always the last of the banks to introduce anything new. For 20 years I started work at 8am and finished at 4.35pm.
‘‘I reached a point where I thought there has got to be something else in my working life that could energise me. I felt as though I was getting stale. I needed a change of role.’’
A colleague took a Readers’ Digest article describing the role of a real estate agent into work for Ken to read.
‘‘It said a real estate agent needed to be a caring, helpful sort of person who is able to communicate with people. I thought the article was like reading a biography of my personality type.’’
Ken says 24 hours later he was in front of a real estate salesperson hearing at first hand about the job.
‘‘He said it was a great industry but it was a tough job, but that certainly didn’t put me off.’’
McKenzie Real Estate had advertised for a salesperson.
‘‘I rang Ken McKenzie and arranged to pop in and chat to him. He told me he had 12 applicants for the job. He invited me to lunch and offered me the job. I went home and said to my wife I was thinking about taking a job selling real estate. She asked me how do you get paid. I said on commission. She said ‘there is absolutely no possible way you should do that. A month later Ken left the bank. ‘‘On my first day I was told ‘there’s your desk, your phone and there’s our listings, see you later’.’’
And so Ken’s new career was launched.
‘‘When I left the bank I was a senior staff member so I was on a good income but in my first year of selling real estate I had doubled my income. My wife said to me ‘I think you might have found the right vocation’."
Things started well for Ken in his new career.
"In the first six weeks I sold four or five houses and I was doing a job I loved. Money was never the issue, it just happened that you could earn good money, but most of the time working was like one long social event. It didn’t seem like work to me.’’
Ken reflects on just how much the industry has changed over the years.
One of the main differences was the way houses were listed.
"Every real estate company received every listing. It actually made it easier for agents and if nothing else you gained some very loyal clients. Every agency when it listed a house, took it to a central bureau. From there every salesperson in town had the opportunity to sell that property.
"The interesting thing back then was you literally had every house for sale in town on your books, so for buyers it wasn’t worth going to anyone else. You got a lot of loyalty from them."
Another difference was that there was very little advertising.
"Clients would look at the photos in the window of properties and would come in off the street."
Ken says one of the big positives today is the level of communication.
"We are in constant communication with our clients. It’s a complete reversal. We’ve gone from literally no communication to now having as much as you possibly can."
Ken has been happy to hand over the day-to-day running of the business to his wife Tanya as it has meant he can return to working face to face with vendors.
Even after 33 years working in the industry Ken still enjoys what he does.
‘‘I am still passionate about the job and I still get a huge amount of satisfaction from helping people. Manawatu is a great place to work in and with a branch office in Feilding it gives me the ability to work with a great cross section of people. Real estate is a wonderful profession to be involved in and I feel privileged to be a part of.
"Even though people say I should be retired, I enjoy what I do too much to even consider it."