Finding the perfect luxury vacation villa, raw land for development, or commercial interest is difficult, especially for savvy buyers looking for a return on investments in the Caribbean. However, it can be a straightforward process if you utilize the expansive network and diverse service offerings of Ian Hurdle, who has profound knowledge of the area’s foremost resort developments.
Ian specializes in “Caribbean curb appeal” and the luxury vacation villa rental market. His extensive background in home, landscape, and pool design and construction has equipped him with the rare ability to assess every aspect of a property from an expert’s perspective. With a reputation for his excellent communication, stellar negotiating skills, and superior, white-glove service, real estate isn’t simply a job for Ian; it’s a passion.
Ian is the Founder and Director at The Agency Turks and Caicos, a full-service, luxury real estate brokerage and lifestyle company representing clients worldwide in a broad spectrum of classes, including residential, new development, resort real estate, and residential leasing and luxury vacation rentals. The Agency has redefined the real estate business, modernizing and advancing the industry by fostering a culture of partnership. All clients and listings are represented in a collaborative environment by all of its agents. Ian envisions The Agency as a lifestyle company committed to informing and connecting global communities and a creative agency offering design, marketing, and sales solutions for buyers, sellers, developers, and investors across the globe.
The Setup to his Real Estate Empire
Ian left the south of England in 1993, at 18 years of age, to help his parents fulfill their dream of building a home in Grand Cayman. His family built two spec homes in the country that sold at a profit over five years. That was his first foray into understanding how real estate worked.
During his time in Cayman, he heard about Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands being the next big golden nugget of opportunity from a real estate investment and development perspective. So, as a family, they moved there in 1998. Ian built a significant home in the luxury development of Leeward before he formed his own landscaping company and focused his energies on design and installation, managing a workforce of over 150 employees at its peak.
Ian’s major setback was a recession that killed the business and forced him to diversify into property management. Ian said, “It was in the early weeks of being a property manager that I would find myself referring our rental guests to local realtors. Those same guests would come back to me after a tour and say that they had a very disappointing experience and wished I was their realtor. Given my Belonger status by virtue of marriage to my wife Tracey, a native of the Islands, I was able to take my License with the Turks and Caicos Real Estate Association and serve my apprenticeship under Regency, an affiliate of Christies International Real Estate.” He spent five years learning not just the trade but identifying where he could carve out a niche in the marketplace for when the time came to run his brokerage. The story of how he secured The Agency Franchise is long-winded, but effectively he was running with the brand in TCI as of October 1st, 2016.
Overcoming Challenges to Build a Niche
Ian’s biggest challenge was the passing of his eldest daughter in the December of 2016. It was just two short months after launching the Franchise. It was the most painful experience of Ian’s life, and it took an incredible toll on him and his family. The pressure of carrying and building one of the most sought-after brands in real estate while trying to be strong for a grieving family is indescribable for Ian. An additional problem for him was the catastrophic impact on the Island and real estate market concerning the damages caused by Hurricane Irma and Marie in September of 2017. Ian’s first two years of operating The Agency were a monumental test of willpower and perseverance.
Overcoming all the challenges, Ian has brought a fresh and exciting alternative option to the established hierarchy that had historically enjoyed success with a traditional approach to the marketing and sale of real estate. He embraced social and digital media and introduced an ‘in your face attitude, culture, and brand to a print-heavy and respectfully staid local industry.
A People’s Industry
Ian and his team embrace the core identity and culture of the brand. The Agency was always going to be a good fit for The Islands because the Islands are small, tight-knit communities that support each other in all things, and The Agency engenders the same. The brand presents itself as a boutique brokerage with a global reach. Quality over quantity and the people that the brand works with must embrace the familial culture and the willingness to be an open book and share knowledge and success to fit the family they have created. Ian’s biggest strength in guiding a small team of five after nearly 6 years of trading is the ability to do more with less. The teams’ belief system is that they can outwork anyone in front of them. As a result, they have cemented themselves as a top 5 brokerage against the historical titans of the local industry, some of whom have teams 4x their size and have been in business for over twenty years. In short order, they have outproduced global brands such as RE/MAX, Century 21, Keller Williams, Savills, and ERA, to name just a few.
Technology is essential for business efficiency, but in Ian’s opinion, real estate will always be a people industry. He says, “We do have an incredible tool kit at The Agency, and this technology definitely helps set us apart from the local competition with respect to marketing and CRM, but in terms of day to day sales, the process is still all about communication and specifically listening to your customer’s needs and providing the concierge service that is expected to not only Close the transaction but have that same HNW, and in some cases, UHNW individuals stay loyal to you moving forward.”
Ian’s Secrets to Stay on Top
In Ian’s view, a significant change is already happening in real estate with cryptocurrency, blockchain, and NFTs. The world is dealing with tokenization for selling a few of the most extensive listings, which requires education and training and a willingness to work with experts. He explains, “In my case, it means being honest and saying I don’t understand. Please explain that again? Like all new things, you need to embrace the change, not fight against it or, worse, ignore it, because guaranteed your competition will be looking at any competitive edge in the marketplace, and you run the risk of being left behind. Fortunately, I had always found the subject fascinating and was working towards it years before it became as relevant today in our industry.”
When signing with The Agency, Ian’s goal was to paint the Caribbean Red. The pandemic slowed progress in that regard, but franchise offices opening in the Cayman Islands and The Bahamas before this year is out and with willing partners looking to collaborate in Antigua, Anguilla, and the Dominican Republic.
Ian has set a personal goal of seeing 21 established offices in 21 different countries waving the Agency flag before he retires. It is something he wholeheartedly believes he can help bring to fruition. On the home soil, the team always strives to do more than they did the year before. Even with the adversity they have faced, they have done that each year so on that basis, Top 5 will become Top 3, and the team’s long-term goal is to surpass Sotheby’s, who rightfully have sat atop the Turks and Caicos landscape for many years. Many already consider The Agency the biggest competition to Sotheby’s, which is a huge compliment given the company’s size and relative time as a business.
Take Your Time, Never Give Up
Ian advises the young generation never to give up. He considers real estate a rollercoaster of an industry with unbelievable highs and gut-wrenching lows. He continues, “I have seen so much talent walk away from this profession because they couldn’t persevere past one failure. You must stay consistent in everything even when it feels like you are going nowhere fast and deal after deal is collapsing. Posting, follow-ups, beliefs, positivity, goals. You let one slip for any reason, undermining everything you have worked towards to that point. I learned a long time ago not to get too high with the highs or too low with the lows. It’s all a percentage game where the failures are just as, if not more important than, the wins. You really do have to be in it to win it, and the more time you spend in the game, the greater the reward.”