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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 7 years ago

Realtor doubles up on business

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Ian Harding, a rare Realtor licensed to sell both homes and businesses, has created a niche that could make economic development officials jealous.

Ian Harding, a rare Realtor licensed to sell both homes and businesses, has created a niche that could make economic development officials jealous.

A native of Nottingham, England, Harding, now based in east Manatee County, pitches his unique dual services strategy back in his homeland to Brits. First he targets people who want to come to the United States through an E-2 Investor Visa, which allows foreign nationals to enter the country by buying a business. Then, after Harding finds a client a business match, he attempts to sell the client a home.

The ultimate result, Harding hopes, will be an influx of English entrepreneurs who will stimulate the local economy through business expansion, hiring people and buying real estate. The same mission economic development organizations pursue. “I want to create my own brand,” Harding tells Coffee Talk. “They need the business for the visa and they will need somewhere to live as well.”

Harding is currently working with about a dozen Great Britain citizens on various business and residential opportunities, and he also has several U.S.-based clients. He sells the businesses through his firm My Biz on the Gulf, while the homes are listed through a separate entity, My Home on the Gulf. Both are affiliated with Keller Williams. Harding has sold homes locally for about two years, since he moved to the region from England with his family. He officially launched the business brokerage in June.

Harding himself came to America through an E-2 Visa. He was previously a senior vice president with a British energy company that Berkshire Hathaway owned. But Harding sought to exit the corporate world and immigrate to the United States. He did that by buying a pediatric therapy clinic in Sarasota.

Harding still owns the clinic, though he spends most of his time on the real estate and business brokerages. His current business listings for sale include a Planet Fitness location, a printing supplies business and a retail store. Harding says finding top-shelf local businesses with owners ready to sell is one of his biggest challenges. Says Harding: “People don't shout from the rooftops that their business is for sale.”

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