Recently, our Marketing and PR Coordinator of Parkaze Shuja Uddin had an insightful conversation with Will Rawlings, co-founder of The Will Rawlings Company. Will has worked as a realtor in Boston and is currently based in Atlanta. Rawlings spoke at length about the current real estate industry and how a collaboration with a service like Parkaze can add significant value to the real estate market.
Will, you worked as a real estate advisor at Leading Edge. Can you tell us what you did there exactly?
Leading Edge is where I first started in real estate. I got my real estate license and then started doing rentals in Boston. You can make pretty good money doing rentals. It’s not like sales because it’s very high volume and less pay, but it’s a good way to get your foot in the door. I’ve transitioned out of that now, and I’ve started a company, The Rawlings Company, with three other guys that used to work at Leading Edge. We’re focusing on investment real estate now.
So how did you get started in real estate? What about real estate really fascinated you?
Real estate, by nature, is still a very entrepreneurial business. There are some jobs in real estate, I guess, like an analyst, where you can get paid nine to five. When you’re really doing real estate, it’s on your terms, you’re making your own money, and you’re being creative. Another great thing about it is that it’s a very interpersonal field, it still hasn’t been very digitized. It still hasn’t gotten a lot of technology behind it. Zillow is doing some of that, Parkaze doing some of that, but for the most part, it’s still very interpersonal, and that’s something that I like too.
So what we’re doing at Parkaze is creating economical solutions towards parking in the Boston area. How do you think Parkaze can help the real estate industry? How could there be a collaboration there?
I really like Parkaze. I’ve actually looked quite a bit into it, and I think that that’s more of what we need. We need more technology in real estate to make very old rudimentary processes more streamlined. When you go to find a parking place, there are some places you can go, but they’re not great. Agents use the MLS, the multiple listing service. People who aren’t agents use Zillow quite a bit of time, but neither of those sites really have a consolidated database exclusively for parking. I think it’s great that Parkaze is working on building an exclusive like MLS parking if you will. I had a personal experience where I found a parking space on the MLS. And I was like, “$125 a month in Boston right beside BU!”, I snatched it up. Terrible mistake, because they presented just space, so I assumed there weren’t any issues, but turned out it was not actually what was advertised.
So I think the way that Parkaze can really help the real estate industry the most would be providing a level of transparency and accessibility that Zillow does for homeowners, but into parking. Especially because parking is still the Wild West. Parking listings don’t have that consolidated platform.
We want to make the process transparent and accessible because we believe we can maximize profits for people while offering services for drivers who want to park their cars. You mentioned digitizing real estate. What do we need to achieve in terms of digitizing for the real estate industry?
Well, it’s you’re specifically talking about parking, there just needs to be more simplicity, you know. In so many places, especially in Boston, there’s an opportunity to make money for agents on parking because it’s so expensive. So taking the agent out of it, and I’m saying this as an agent, I think, is really important because that’s an extra cost to the consumer. That’s also a cost that the seller doesn’t benefit from either because the renter is paying for it. So, cutting out the middleman. Then, I think creating more transparency like you were talking about, and how good or bad really is the spot, like maybe giving a rating out of five stars, I would love to see that. Also, showing on a map exactly where the parking spot is and what it looks like. But all of those things, obviously, are digital. Just a more user interface for parking, more user interface for real estate in general, is what we need.
What do you think is the future of real estate with COVID-19? Where’s the industry at right now?
I think the data will show that real estate is not really going anywhere. Nothing’s happening. People aren’t really buying less. Some people are selling less, but there’s still a lot of demand. I think that’s also because the economy hasn’t gone down yet. Real estate is a very cyclical business, five-year waves usually, people like to say. As long as the economy is up, the real estate industry will be up. In terms of parking spaces specifically, I don’t think things are going anywhere, especially in Boston, where there’s super high demand. Parking is always going to be a top priority because people have cars, and there are not many places to park. And it’s not a huge hit to people’s expenses. Buying a house is one thing, even renting a new apartment is one thing. You have to move and move all your belongings, but people are always going to need parking. And people are always going to be able to afford to park, even in tough times. So I think in terms of real estate, that asset class is explicitly more of a recession-proof asset.
What’s your next goal? What are you hoping to achieve now?
My next big goal is real estate syndication and apartment syndication. So that’s getting a 60+ unit property. My goal is to bring together a lot of investor money and purchase a big apartment complex. Probably in Atlanta, because in Boston it’s way more expensive. It’s going pretty well, but it’s still in the early stages.
I’m your average upper middle class guy from Karachi, Pakistan who has witnessed shootouts outside his school, attended his best friend’s funeral and gorged on delicious Pakistani food at his secret crush’s wedding. Nothing to see here, folks. So to make sense of the crazy life around me, I graduated with an MFA in Screenwriting from Boston University and I can be found writing for films/TV, practicing my standup routine, fine tuning a copy or just trying to tell stories because stories connects all of us.
Transportation Now and Then : An Interview With Bernie Wagenblast