In a time when the country — and world — is still in a global pandemic, leave it to the leaders of one of the country’s most innovative brokerages to use this time to take their business to the next level. And for @properties — the largest residential brokerage firm in Chicago and one whose growth has been on an upward trajectory since the day they started in 2000 — right now is the perfect time, and opportunity, to take their growth to the next level: with the launch of a national franchise program.
@properties co-founders and CEOs Thad Wong and Mike Golden, made the announcement Tuesday.
“There is a huge unmet need in our industry for a brand that not only delivers scalable, well-designed technology and marketing, but also works hand in hand with broker-owners and agents to help grow their businesses sustainably and profitably – a company that is focused on opportunity and relationships,” Wong said in a press release. “That is something we have done successfully for two decades, in good times and bad, against public and private firms, and in some of the most competitive markets in the country. We are excited to share what we know.”
Since its inception in 2000, @properties has grown from four to 3,000 agents, closing a whopping $10.7 billion in sales in 2019. Its huge success in the Chicagoland real estate area led to two recent developments that set the stage for the brokerage to expand nationally.
In 2019, the company purchased an equity stake in Ansley Atlanta Real Estate, an Atlanta-based brokerage firm that’s seen a huge growth trajectory and, in the last 12 months, closed $1.5 billion in sales. And in May of this year, @properties announced an investment in Nest Realty, a Virginia-based brokerage firm with 15 offices, including company-owned and franchise locations, in five Southeast states. Wong and Golden said they will continue to work with Nest Realty Founder Jonathan Kauffmann, who has vast expertise on the franchise operations side.
From the beginning, the company’s success has stemmed from its formula of five key value propositions and what Wong calls its “proof of concept”: technology, marketing, coaching and training, business consulting and culture. And it’s this proven formula that brokers and agents nationwide can leverage to accelerate sales – and what makes this time the exact right time for @properties to expand to a national level.
“We have proven our concept and the things we did the last few years helped us,” Wong explained to Chicago Agent. “The acquisition of Ansley gave us the opportunity to take our training, technology and culture into a new region and we tripled the size of that company. We have the team, proof of concept and the talent base. We always feel we are prepared as we enter every new year, and on top of that we’ve never felt more prepared to roll out this initiative, our most important yet.”
Another new member of the talent base within @properties is Chris Lim, who will serve as president, head of brand growth. Lim founded Climb Real Estate in 2010 and sold it in 2018 to Realogy Holdings, whose portfolio includes the Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and Sotheby’s International brands. He recently made the move from the West Coast to Chicago, citing his excitement to work with Wong and Golden.
“For being in the industry for 18 years, I’ve seen the rising growth of @properties — you can’t help but wonder what’s going on over there,” Lim told Chicago Agent. “The vision of Mike and Thad is clear to me, and that’s what attracted me to work with them. You can tell the culture the minute you walk through the door. This was something I believed in and we could do great things together. There’s a sense of admiration within @properties, not just for their agents but for the consumer experience as well.”
What excites Wong and Lim about launching a national franchise program is the opportunity to help independent offices expand their sales and drive profitable growth through agent-recruiting and retention programs, enhanced business operations and affiliated services like mortgage, title and development sales and marketing.
“One of the things we’re most excited about franchising is business consulting,” Wong said. “There are some independents that are great but need a capital boost – we will be able to be helpful with independents around the country who are needing to figure out their financials. We are really looking forward to helping them in that way.”
In addition to business consulting, Wong emphasized his excitement about @properties’ technology, something that gave him and Golden the confidence and security to take their company to a national scale. Named pl@tform, @properties’ proprietary technology is a fully integrated suite of applications that enable digital management of the entire client relationship and real estate transaction – built by their in-house tech team, which also sets them apart from competitors.
“When we roll out in new markets, it’s seamless because our technology has been proven over the last 16 years,” Wong said. “By the time we roll out a tool nationally, we’ve already been using it in the Chicagoland market. Our agents are at the forefront of tech and helping us perfect them to roll out nationally. You have to master the understanding of how the tech works in one spot before you can adopt it, otherwise you fail. We think that helps not only our local market here in Chicagoland continue to expand, but it’ll help nationally because we’ve been using the same tech for a long time.”
While the real estate business is about making the consumer happy, Wong emphasized that it’s the agent’s spirit, passion and know-how that drive this home –something @properties takes pride in.
“What we think our greatest strength here is we are not removed from the day-to-day,” Wong said. “And working with a variety of leaders, we feel like we can be successful anywhere, in any market. If there is a $2 billion company in another city and they can plug into our technology, they will get stronger and everything will be an improvement. The most successful company will be the company offering the greatest value proposition to the consumer. At the end of the day, the consumer always wins, but that experience has to be distributed by the agent.”