“THERE’S SOMETHING REALLY special going on here; there’s nothing really like it. Our agency culture is what I’m most proud of.” Meet Ash Marton, a veritable ball of energy and enthusiasm. And he’s got much to be proud of, what with a growing independent agency, Ash Marton Realty, and a freshly-launched industry-leading website to boot. Interview by Iolanthe Gabrie.
STARTING HIS REAL estate career at 18 in Melbourne’s Bayside suburbs, the future was hazy for Ash Marton. “I almost got fired in the first eight months for lack of performance, by being focused on getting the business rather than the sale. I turned it around though, winning Rookie of the Year for my franchise group.” One gets the feeling that extraordinary efforts and outstanding results are somewhat of a normal occurrence for Ash and his business partner Lilly Iuculano, whose business by-line is The Agent of Today.
The pair decided to forge ahead with their own brand after attending a Tony Robbins conference. “We were having lunch outside and contemplating whether to stay in the industry, when I picked up some grass and in my hand I found a four-leafed clover. We took that as a sign and everything happened from there, growing organically. Initially we did everything from trust accounting to marketing and sales between us, but now we’re a team of 16. We’ve been consistently growing and we’re now in our fourth year – this year’s goal is to secure a building to bring our property management and sales teams into the same space.”
One of the factors that sets Ash Marton Realty apart is their approach to technology and marketing. “When we began, we had to stick to a budget. Our first website was a $99 per month template. Although not perfect, it was a means to an end.”
As Ash Marton Realty grew, the time soon came to invest in a bespoke website. “So many business owners in the real estate industry just keep using the tools they began with. There’s no focus on improvement. When I looked at what was available for real estate brands in web design, I found few offered much functionality and innovation: innovation is our vision. I wanted a website that offered a point of difference for our agents and for clients using the page.”
Visit Ash’s new website and you’ll see a snapshot of the young, contemporary team front and centre, and a livescreen of Google Reviews (40 positive reviews and counting!). “You can’t hide bad service any more. Google Reviews are great to have: we wanted potential clients to see the benefits of listing with our company without having to scroll through the website for an hour.”
Of course, the rewards of a bespoke website with unique functionality are hard won. “This website has taken over a year to develop: it’s been the toughest thing I’ve ever done, harder than opening a business. Dealing with developers and trying to get them on the same page was a challenge.”
The effort to innovate is immediately obvious, with Ash Marton Realty allowing clients to download Section 32s directly from their website. “This means buyers don’t have to chase up agents for documents, which is incredibly freeing for both parties. We can see who has downloaded these documents against our open records; the local community is cottoning on to this difference quickly, and our agents see our website increasingly as a business tool.”
Clients can also make offers on property immediately through the site, which is probably an industry first. “Traditional agent models put so many time barriers between a buyer and an offer, making them call to make an offer, asking them to email it in before transferring the information onto a contract; 24 hours could easily pass, and that’s a long time in real estate. With our online offer form, all relevant details must be provided before submitting. It is then delivered to us and formalised on VicForms. The intention isn’t to take a legally binding offer: it’s to streamline the offer process and engage with buyers when they are most motivated.”
A fast-growing business that’s doing real estate its own way, Ash Marton Realty has lots to share. When asked if there’s more about the website to mention, Ash quips excitedly, “A million things! You can request to hire the company marquee or book a charity board or road signage for your event online. There’s unique timelined agent profiles, and detailed suburb profiles that go back as far as the 1930s. Tenants can lodge maintenance requests, apply for lease breaks and apply for properties, and owners can request appraisals or transfer of management through the site.”
Now might be a good time to consider an audit of your own website!