Broker Finds New Niche in ‘Old’ Newport
By Gina Dostler
Marcel Ford relies on old-school cues bundled with his own brand of humor and modern technology to sell real estate in Newport Beach. Take his virtual home tour videos, for instance, where Ford plays himself and markets homes with self-deprecating humor and goofy antics. They are funny enough to forward to friends, which is Ford’s point. After both successes and disappointments in several ventures, Ford has settled on selling homes by invoking the Newport of yore through his Old Newport Realty.
Q: Have you’ve been selling real estate for a long time?
A: Actually after graduating from college I got my California real estate license in 1992 and immediately put it to good use by purchasing several bank owned properties for resale and investment. But being the entrepreneur I am, constantly looking at things in a different way, the following year I channeled my ideas into creating a product and put all my energies into building that business. Real estate took a back seat.
Q: To what?
A: Simply Silk. That’s the name of the product. You see, I look for niches, something nobody is doing. Silk plants were the rage in the ‘90s and so I followed it with a silk plant cleaner. From there I expanded to over 85 other products into all major retailers such as Costco, Target, and Home Depot. But it got time-consuming to run and took me away from my family so I sold it, re-entered the real estate market and by 2003 I was rehabbing homes again. But the bottom fell out and literally in 2006 it all stopped at once for me and I lost everything.
Q: But here you are now back in business.
A: Yep. I am. I picked myself up, dusted myself off and started again. Back in the 1990s, I had moved from Newport Beach out to the desert and after the crash, my family and I had packed it up and moved back to Newport. Coming back after many years showed me a new and changing Newport.
Q: Changing in what way?
A: Newport is shifting to a more cosmopolitan air with the look and feel of the Riviera. Very Gucci. Now that’s all fine and good, but I’m a Newporter from way back and not into glitz and glamour. But it told me something and got my brain ticking….
Q: Ah, the entrepreneur tick, yes?
A: Yes. I did some market research and learned how the majority of realtors do business here and basically they do all the same things. I decided to carve a different niche and target a smaller percentage of the population, the “old-school” Newport people; the ones that have lived in their home for 30, 40, 50 years. So I’m not focusing on being the biggest or boldest because the old-school Newport people are the population who don’t need to be impressed.
Q: What does the “old” Newport want?
A: Old fashioned values and tradition. Their flair is no flair at all, just keeping things casual and down to earth. They have memories of Newport that go way back. I’ll take my clients out, jump on my Duffy, scoot about the harbor and share bits and pieces of strange historical facts before talking shop. I’ll be in flip-flops and a pair of shorts because they’re in flip-flops and a pair of shorts. If I need to dress up, it’s khakis, a Tommy Bahama shirt with our logo on the pocket and topsiders. That’s my dress-up.
Q: How do you reflect this in your office?
A: I want to work for a company that keeps that casual, old-beach style, old-school feel to it. So there are no computers on the desk. There are no phones. I pushed everything into “cloud” technology. When you walk in, there are mid-century couches, 1940’s bicycles. The feel is so relaxing, like a clubhouse. The strategy is simple: they come in and stay long and we end up with a nice relationship. Old Newporters don’t just want to know what you know, they want to know that you care.
Q: Is this Marcel the marketer talking?
A: No. This is Marcel the true old Newport guy who not only understands the market but has that old fashioned value of integrity, friendliness and hard work. And I employ a team that pulls the same weight, knows the market and all the communities within the area. We all work together to turn over every stone in order to sell a home. We knock on doors and write letters to find and locate a home to sell. I’m serious. The last three homes I closed were properties that were never even listed. We do a lot more than the average agent. We do a full five-star concierge real estate service and have fun doing it.
Q: Your videos are entertaining. What motivates you?
A: Ok, I’m a quirky guy. But I love what I do and I totally believe in being who you are because it is a type of honesty you can’t beat. I tell my employees when they make a virtual tour of a home, be themselves. If they are the quiet type, be that. It’ll attract that type of person who likes quiet. I myself have a weird sense of humor but I keep it professional with just a wry bit of fun to keep it going. There’s no script; we just wing it. I track my videos and I get about 5,000 hits from them a week with 40 percent being forwarded. But to answer your question, I do like to have fun, yet it is people that motivate me. People are fascinating. There is something to learn from everyone.
Marcel Ford, Broker / Owner
Old Newport Realty
607 East Balboa Blvd.
Newport Beach, CA 92661 | USA
o. 949-298-4888 * 100