Vitals: Watson Realty Corp.
Years in Business: 52
Size: 52 offices, 1,500 agents
Regions Served: Jacksonville to Greater Orlando to Port Charlotte
2017 Sales Volume: $ 3.445 billion
2017 Transactions: 15,912
No. 43 in sales volume in RISMedia’s 2018 Power Broker Report
Before entering the real estate business in 1972, Ed Forman served on Senator Herman Talmadge’s staff in Savannah, Ga., and for the U.S. Senate in D.C. for eight years. While he “bumped” into real estate, Forman has been a leader in the industry for 45 years, and now serves as REALTOR® Emeritus and president of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Watson Realty Corp.
How would you describe the Jacksonville market so far in 2018?
Ed Forman: The market is strong, but the challenge is listing inventory. In fact, we have some areas where there’s 30-days inventory. In some markets, the inventory is impacting our productivity.
What are some of the biggest opportunities out there for the firm?
EF: One of the things we’ve been working on—and this is our opportunity—is trying to capture a larger share of the pie. The pie has shrunk, and we’re looking at how we can differentiate ourselves, meet the needs of our buyers and sellers and bring greater value to the transaction. Some sellers are afraid to put their home on the market because they’re worried that they won’t be able to find a home, so we recently introduced a guaranteed sales program to alleviate some of those fears. The program allows sellers to list a property, and, if buying a property from us, we’ll guarantee the sale of their existing property so that they can purchase as a cash buyer and not worry about losing the home they want to buy. This gives us a competitive advantage.
Can you talk about your firm’s recent growth and your plans for the rest of 2018?
EF: We’re coming off a very successful merger/acquisition last year, which included an insurance company, five offices, association management and a school. We bought a site in Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville in Ormond Beach, and we’re going to build a freestanding office there. We also bought a site in Lake Nona where we plan to build a new office.
What’s your competitive differentiation?
EF: It all starts with the people. We have an extremely qualified leadership and salesforce. We work hard to find extraordinary people and compensate them well. We have a trusted name with 52 years in the business, and our founder still works every day. Our reputation is pristine.
I’m sure all of that plays into agents wanting to be part of the firm. What else attracts them to the company?
EF: We have a great track record of helping people become very successful. We have a large training department, a large marketing department and a great support team, and we feel that we’re a stakeholder of our agents’ success. There’s a large level of commitment to anyone who joins our team.
You mentioned training earlier. What are some of the things you offer to your team?
EF: We have two weeks of training for people starting their career with us, in addition to advanced training classes for experienced people, which is a huge advantage that we offer. We recently launched a new CRM, and we offer two training sessions a day so that 100 percent of our people are trained on it and can utilize it as best they can.
What do agents enjoy most about working for your firm?
EF: It’s a pretty cool place to work. Everyone is treated well and respected, and we’re a solutions-based company. If there are issues, we look for the best solution. It’s a very collaborative and cooperative environment. It makes it really nice to be part of the team.
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