Above: From L to R: Executive Vice President of Global Operations Chris Dietz, Executive Vice President of Member Services Kate Reisinger and President & CEO Paul Boomsma. Photo by AJ Canaria, MoxiWorks.
Why Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® members enjoy the best of both worlds
When Justin Comeau, president of M IMMOBILIER in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, needs a sounding board, he knows he can reach out to fellow broker Alan Mason at TrilliumWest Real Estate Brokerage in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Comeau notes that Mason has been helpful to him since first joining Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE). “We feel that TrilliumWest is very similar to M in many ways, but is also quite complementary in others. Alan’s insight has, in some cases, been helpful in pushing us to explore opportunities tied to our existing strengths, and in others, has pushed us to take a deeper look into areas worth developing. For example, TrilliumWest’s new-agent training initiatives have been helpful while we continue to shape our own,” he says.
Both companies are independent firms—and both are members of LeadingRE, along with 550 other companies in 70 countries around the world who are “independent, together.”
As new business models come and go, and new brands emerge, the independent model remains a dominant player in the industry.
The benefits of being independent are clear. Independence offers agility, the ability to respond to local market conditions, the power of building your own brand and the freedom to set your own agenda—but it can also be isolating and limiting when it comes to building your own resources.
By collaborating with LeadingRE, a growing number of quality-focused independents augment their inherent strength in the local market through membership in this invitation-only global community.
In fact, last year, 35 firms joined the network from 16 different countries, from Dubai to Tokyo. The network is on track to exceed those numbers this year, with 10 firms already joining the ranks of LeadingRE so far in 2022.
“We are a community for real estate companies, by real estate companies. We are broker-owned and broker-led, and our sole focus is to up-level independent brokerages,” says LeadingRE President & CEO Paul Boomsma. “No other network or organization provides the combination of resources that we do, within such a flexible membership framework.”
Why Independent? Why LeadingRE?
For many brokers, being independent is the only way to go, and when paired with the resources and relationships of LeadingRE, they enjoy the best of both worlds.
Ashton Gustafson, broker/owner of AG Real Estate & Associates in the greater Waco, Texas, area, puts it this way: “The value of being independent is control—of one’s brand, one’s decisions and how you market. We have our thumb on the marketplace for the benefit of our customers and our agents. But we also see the value of masterminding with other people in the game who are battling the same battles each day, and that is why we did everything we could to be a part of the LeadingRE family,” he says.
This sentiment is shared by members worldwide: “Our independence means that we can still use our uniqueness and specific approach to the real estate business in Montenegro, while LeadingRE membership gives us the opportunity to acquire new skills and knowledge and connect with colleagues from all around the world,” says Jelena Damjanovic, broker/owner, Golden Group Ltd.
The preference to be free of corporate restraints is another common theme among independents. “Being independent means there is no Big Brother to ask permission to open new offices or expand into new markets,” says Tom Reed, broker, Charter One Realty in Hilton Head, South Carolina. “There are no unnecessary fees for our agents. Our vision is just that—ours—so we can focus on what is most important: our clients. And through LeadingRE, we are connected to companies that are just like us; they are the best in the business in their market.”
LeadingRE is intentional in fostering collaboration between its members. Network events, from its flagship Conference Week to its more intimate Global Symposium, focus on networking and idea-sharing. CEO Exchange groups provide peer-to-peer consulting, and regional webinars have provided opportunities to connect at a time when face-to-face meetings have been limited. With these relationships in place, LeadingRE members naturally turn to one another.
For instance, when Kathy Schmidt, broker/owner of Schmidt Realty Group Inc. in Edmonton, Canada, was working on her company’s FINTRAC (Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada) report, she needed guidance. She reached out to her friends at LeadingRE member CIR Realty in Calgary, who promptly shared their FINTRAC policy.
“In my mind, this went above and beyond what I would expect one brokerage to do for another, with nothing asked in return,” says Schmidt. “The sharing of information and ideas and support for one another as brokers and owners during the height of the pandemic have been nothing short of amazing. To have trusted colleagues in similar roles across the country and around the world who are willing to collaborate and share procedures and policies so we can all keep our businesses running smoothly is so helpful.”
Referral Network in Action
The collaboration among members is, perhaps, best seen through LeadingRE’s referral network, which facilitates over 30,000 referrals each year. Referrals are carefully nurtured and managed, and the results are impressive, with a 73% conversion on member-to-member referrals.
As Riezl Baker, broker of Luxury Lake Oconee Real Estate Group in Greensboro, Georgia, says: “Being a part of LeadingRE is like being a member of a large family where we share business back and forth, and when we do, we are confident they care for our clients like we would.”
Referrals come in all price-points, but one recent referral closing reflects the potential of these opportunities. JBGoodwin, REALTORS® in Austin, Texas, sent a listing referral to Premier Estate Properties in Boca Raton, Florida, that closed for $34,700,000—one of nearly 900 $1 million-plus referrals that closed through the network in the past year.
George Mouskides, broker/owner of FOX Smart Estate Agency in Cyprus, shares another perspective on why LeadingRE referrals are crucial to his business. “Referrals are a very important aspect, as one needs to close deals. Cross-border deals are usually easier and, in our case, larger in value than local transactions,” he says.
Lisa Halter, broker/owner, Halter Associates Realty in Woodstock, New York, adds: “In these challenging times with low inventory, the referrals we receive and send out through LeadingRE are even more important.”
LeadingRE supports the success of referrals by prioritizing education and ensuring all members have dedicated relocation staff. For cross-border referrals, LeadingRE has specialized staff who provide additional assistance and guidance, addressing differences in cultural expectations and business practices. The results say it all. Last year, LeadingRE made introductions in over 100 countries. Properties range from a boutique hotel in Thailand to a ski chalet in Switzerland—just another example of how LeadingRE’s independent members extend their local capabilities on a global scale.
The appeal of the independent model backed by the resources and relationships of LeadingRE is not for brokers alone. Agents are attracted to the personalized approach of local independent brokers.
Vanguard Properties (San Francisco, California) agent Selina Zhao explains why she chose to align with an independent brokerage. “Prior to joining Vanguard, I was an agent in a corporate brokerage. I came here because Vanguard is an independent firm that has been in San Francisco-area real estate for 40 years. I love the culture and the fact that I have access to our management team, in addition to an amazing in-house team that others cannot match. Because it’s easy to get to everything I need as an agent, I can serve my clients better,” Zhao says.
Often, agents with LeadingRE companies who relocate choose to align with another LeadingRE member in their new market. Arizona Best Real Estate (Scottsdale, Arizona) has six agents who joined the firm from other member companies. O’Neal Real Estate (Fort Smith, Arkansas) has three agents who came from other member firms—and these are not isolated examples.
Agents affiliated with LeadingRE companies experience the value of being with a local independent brokerage, with the bonus of global presence and a strong network, as well as additional tools for marketing, technology and education designed to support their success. Among the most popular resources are Luxury Portfolio International®, a comprehensive program for affluent properties; RELO Direct® for corporate relocation; Testimonial Tree for consumer reviews; and LeadingRE Institute, an award-winning online learning platform that offers concise modules focused on skills, productivity and professional satisfaction.
“Our member brokers prioritize the success of their agents, and our goal is to support them in making their agents’ lives a little easier and, ultimately, generating more sales by providing market-responsive tools, ongoing support and industry knowledge at the national and international level,” Boomsma says. “All of this translates to happier consumers and better business.”
While having easy access to quality resources and referrals is vital, it all comes back to the people, and this focus begins at the brokerage level and the leadership within the independent firms that comprise LeadingRE.
Merit McIntyre, broker of Advisors Living in Boston, Massachusetts, who previously presided over a 4,000-agent franchise company, finds it incredibly refreshing to operate as an independent. “We don’t recruit unless someone would enhance the culture of our firm. I’m only going to hire excellent people, and when you do, every call you return is a joy. We’re hand-picking people to run our branches, and our administrators are talented, excellent human beings. When you put people first, the rest follows,” McIntyre says.
LeadingRE mirrors this people-first approach, cultivating personal relationships across the world. Boomsma says, “The world of real estate is ever-evolving—and we help our members stay on top by fostering a community of like-minded individuals and encouraging the flow of skills, ideas and knowledge. These relationships take our strong, local independent member leaders to the next level, creating a value proposition that is uniquely LeadingRE.”