Steve Ozonian is a man on the move, so in a way it’s no surprise that the former home-ownership executive of Bank of America has made another move – and, all the more appropriately, to a firm that deals with moving.
The new CEO of relocation firm Global Mobility Solutions has big ideas for his new company, including an upcoming Web site, MyRelocation.com, that will include such disparate elements as relocation calculators and a real estate transaction management platform. The site will serve both individuals and corporations, Ozonian said.
Not only is Ozonian the chairman and CEO, he has acquired a controlling interest in Global Mobility. After a number of high-level positions including senior executive at RE/MAX and president of Realtor.com, what moved Ozonian to jump into an entrepreneurial position?
“I’ve learned enough about the home-ownership business that I feel confident about what the future state of the business looks like and about the components needed to deliver the highest quality, low-cost experience for anyone who is moving,” Ozonian said. “I believe this company is a good platform to create that future space.”
Ozonian started his activities in the corporate mobility space more than 25 years ago. He was a senior officer at Coldwell Banker Relocation, has served as chairman and CEO of Prudential Relocation and has been involved with the Employee Relocation Council for the last few years, he said.
One reason Global Mobility, which has been around for 15 years, looked good to Ozonian was that it pioneered a number of online tools and services, he said.
“The company was the original designer of Homefair.com, which had an entire suite of user-friendly tools and services that allowed consumers and transferees to feel more at ease and empowered by having more information at their fingertips,” Ozonian said.
Global Mobility is privately held and owns established brands that include FAS Relocation Network, The Moving Coach, The Move Advocate, Van Line Express and MyRelocation.com.
At present, the FAS Relocation Network is one of Global Mobility’s major offerings. The network provides various forms of global relocation assistance and has more than 350 corporate client relationships, claiming more than 10,000 customers.
The network provides its corporate clients with services such as certified relocation agents who work with transferred employees to help them find new homes.
The network also offers a calculator that estimates the cost of moving an employee’s household goods, factoring in such elements as the number of bedrooms and the number of miles in the move.
The CEO intends to put some of these tools into MyRelocation.com, a site currently under development with a variety of offerings that include different parts of the real estate process.
“The site will allow each person who is moving to create their own space and have their own place where they can put together their own mosaic related to the moving process,” Ozonian said.
“Professionals, such as appraisers, will be able to send information to this space and get responses,” he said. The site will serve as a document management platform – “you can put your closing documents into your personal space here,” Ozonian said. Home buyers will be able to plug in homes they find online, as well as school-related data in new neighborhoods.
“In my mind, what’s taking shape in this industry is the vertical integration of the products and services along the home-ownership continuum. The vertical integration is going to allow those companies that capitalize on using technology and strategy to make the process more friendly and powerful in the mind of the user. Those will be the successful companies of the future,” Ozonian said.
The real estate heavyweight expects big things for the corporate mobility market in the coming years.
“Corporate mobility is increasing and we see that market expanding,” he said. “We see it growing very nicely over the next few years as companies continue to invest in growth initiativesand, in some cases, consolidation initiatives. We see the mobility market as very stable and growing.”
The industry veteran acknowledged that real estate inventory is growing nationally and predicted inventory growth and a slight softening in the market over the next 12 months. Overall, though, he said, “price appreciation looks good for the next 12 months.”
Ozonian predicted that the Internet side of real estate will continue to evolve, with jockeying for position on the search engines. How you use search to get to consumers first will be the major challenge, Ozonian said.
“You have to make your bets on the major portals, like Yahoo, AOL and Google, you have to make bets on your own Web site, on the search criteria locally, and you have to make your bets on the offline world as to how much you will spend on TV, print, and radio,” Ozonian said. “The complexity of how you reach people has increased and the Internet is playing a key role in challenging people to be much more strategic.”
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