Forty years ago, the husband and wife team of Dave and Gail Liniger established the RE/MAX® brand in a single office in Denver, CO. Today, the brand has grown into a global real estate network of franchisee-owned and operated offices with more than 63,000 offices and 92,000 sales associates.
Last Monday, RE/MAX filed initial paperwork with the SEC for a $100 million initial public offering (IPO). The residential real estate brokerage said it intends to trade on the New York Stock Exchange as RMAX.
Noting that the company is predominantly a US housing company – 74% of its revenue in 2012 came from the US – the company says it is uniquely poised to take advantage of the continuing US housing recovery.
Realogy, another leader in real estate franchising with company-owned real estate brokerage operations doing business under its franchise systems as well as relocation and title services, has seen its share gain nearly 60 percent since their IPO last October.
Brands operating under the Realogy umbrella include:
• The oldest national real estate brand in the US, Coldwell Banker Real Estate has a network of more than 3,100 offices and 83,000 agents working in 51 countries and territories.
• Founded in 1971, Century 21 Real Estate is comprised of approximately 7,100 franchised broker offices with 102,000 brokers and sales associates working in 74 countries and territories worldwide.
• With 40 years of experience, the ERA Real Estate network includes approximately 2,300 offices with 30,000 brokers and sales associates throughout the US and 33 other countries and territories.
• Sotheby’s International Realty came on board in 2004 and the network now has more than 13,000 sales associates with 670 offices in 49 countries and territories.
• Realogy’s newest brand is Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, an international residential real estate franchise company launched in July 2008 that has grown to approximately 250 offices with 8,300 sales associates serving homebuyers and sellers in Canada and 26 states.
While this list includes a handful of the more popular brands in residential real estate, there are countless other national, regional and even local franchises, plus independent offices for consumers to choose from when embarking on a real estate transaction.
According to the 2012 National Association of REALTORS® Member Profile, 59 percent of all Realtors are affiliated with an independent, non-franchised company. The decision of who to work with - a franchise or an independent office - can be confusing.
Business moves such as the recent IPOs shine a spotlight on the residential real estate industry, which many consider to be sales driven while others argue it’s all about service.
The general rule is that it’s the agent, not the office that’s most important. Agents choose to work with franchise or independent offices for many different reasons. But, ultimately, you’ll find that the strongest offices in a particular market have excellent agents driving their business. That’s because in most cases you’re dealing with a local office, even if it’s a national brand.
The bottom line is that the person you choose needs to be qualified. It’s a person’s individual track record in the local market that will ultimately yield results, and finding the right Realtor is the most important factor for a successful real estate transaction.
Getting back to sales vs. service, consider the following top-rated tasks consumers turn to a Realtor for and decide for yourself:
• Determining what comparable homes are selling for – Both sides of the equation need solid numbers to help them make the best possible decisions from setting a listing price to weighing the pros and cons of various options
• Identifying a price range and financing – mortgage pre-approvals are now step one in the real estate process, they show both buying power and the ability to close a deal
• Finding the right home/buyer – an inside track to current listing resources as well as the market knowledge gleaned from working in the industry every day
• Negotiations – whether writing or reviewing offers, buyers and sellers alike seek guidance when it comes to getting an offer to contract
• Paperwork – closing files are measured in inches and all that paperwork needs to be generated somewhere
• Resources – again, that knowledge of working in the industry every day comes into play when it comes to everything from staging a home to sell, scheduling showings (someone needs to open all those lock boxes), providing a historical perspective and following up with lenders, appraisers, inspectors and title companies.