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."

Ken Wat­son

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