Ian Cockburn has come a long way from being a young boy growing up in London, England. He has ended up in the great city of New Orleans as a real estate guru and November’s Man of the Month. With over twenty-two years of experience in the real estate game, Cockburn gave us some inside advice and information about the new reality of real estate in NOLA and who’s buying into it. He also told us who we can trust when venturing into any real estate transaction and let us in on a personal project he has in the works.
So what exactly does he do? He gave a great answer: “I’m primarily a real estate broker, but also a landlord, property owner, real estate developer, and I do the same for my clients. Take an old building, renovate it - already knowing specifically how we are going to use it for a specific clientele we know are going to rent or buy the place. Essentially, I deal with design-build type projects.”
Clients come to him to have an architect, engineer, and realtor all in one. He designs, helps you choose a designer, figures out the cost to build, knows how much rent to charge or what the resale value is, and will even tell them what the property is going to be worth today and tomorrow after renovations. “I do all upgrades no one else will do, consistently,” Cockburn said.
NOLA’s own charm, people, music and culture sell this city. He explained how the entire dynamic of New Orleans and its real estate business has changed. “We’re seeing a demographic very different from the past,” says Cockburn. “To say a certain neighborhood is selling more than another is hard to pin point. It’s harder to discern what people want unless you know their value system and skill set.” One word that kept coming up throughout the interview was community. "When buying a house in NOLA years ago, people looked at the neighborhood first. Today, they are looking at the community first. The neighborhood and house come in at a close second in the list of priorities."
You can no longer tell by the way a customer is dressed if they are going to want to live in or near the Bywater or Uptown. Often, even they don’t know the answer until they see it themselves. This makes things interesting for Cockburn and others in real estate right now in New Orleans.;
Cockburn has experienced all areas of real estate business. One gets the impression there isn’t anything he hasn’t already seen in this industry: good, bad, or ugly. Perhaps that’s why he stressed the importance of always working with licensed professional people when buying a property. “Get someone you can sue,” he said, only half-joking. “If they don’t have a license, then they are not really serious.”
The licensed individuals he is referring to are the inspectors, including plumbing, electrical, a licensed termite inspector, and a structural engineer. When someone has their name on a license, you know they are honest and have a vested interest. One of the most important things when buying a house is to have a real estate agent and inspectors that will do their job correctly.
According to Cockburn, they should “beat the crap out of it, as if it were their own house. Whomever you work with, should cosider it a profession.” Times have changed in NOLA and the times of using deceitful ways are over. If they end up being dishonest, and the house soon collapses from termite damage, legal action is available to you. Although this subject is certainly not funny, we laughed about it a lot during the interview.
Cockburn is driven to give back to the New Orleans community. Before I could ask about positive changes in the city, he lit up and began to speak about an out of the box plan he has in the works with two of his close friends. The three friends all agreed that NOLA was in need of a real trade school. Cockburn was inspired by Vancouver Film School (VFS) and Otis College of Art and Design in California. The mottos of both schools have service at their core.
Cockburn explains, “These schools have been modeled and are being re-created all over the globe; in Singapore, Hong Kong, and some in China…and we want to do it here in NOLA. This is a radical approach to the new trade school and the curriculum will be very specific. We will also be shifting the focus from the service industry to technology.
The goal is to not to teach someone how to get a job, but how to create businesses like they do in the rest of the world.”
I learned a lot in this interview with Cockburn. He’s the real deal as far as experts go. He values knowledge and learns more every day and then applies it to how he does business. I think he has the recipe for success. The new dynamic in the world and the way we need to think can be summed up in the mantra Ian gives his son: “You’re not competing against the kid sitting next to you. You’re competing against the kid on the other side of the globe. "You better shut-up and do your homework or someone’s going to take your job away from you!” He’s right.
Ian Cockburn is a managing broker with John Anthony Realty, LLC. Ian handles real estate dealings all over the metropolitan area. His wife, Maureen Missavage, is a teacher at St. George's Episcopal School in Uptown New Orleans. John Cockburn, Ian’s son, is a junior in Media Arts at Otis College of Design in Los Angeles. You might want to check out John on LinkedIn. He’s one to watch as well!
If you’d like more expert advice, a video about what’s important to know when buying a property and to read his very interesting and inspiring bio, visit www.iansellsnola.com.