Realty ONE Group Elite is part of the Bay Area Realty ONE Group with offices throughout the Bay Area and Sacramento. Realty ONE Group, Inc. has 60 offices nationwide.
The East County real estate scene is in a state of transition, but change always creates energy. The challenge, therefore, is for us to learn how to harness the power of evolving conditions for our own purposes. I’ve been in the business since 2004 and wanted to enhance my boutique customerservice-based company. I didn’t want to build a large detached e-brokerage type company, but to expand on the customer service value that was so important to me.
I’m no stranger to market fluctuations. Four years ago we began a transaction-fee based real estate program that is adjusting the practice of real estate transactions to market trends in order to create a better experience for everyone and especially to maximize income for real estate agents.
We are Antioch’s largest Real Estate office and the second largest in East Contra Costa County. Four years ago we began with six agents. The number has grown to nearly 70. Realty ONE Group Elite is achieving this remarkable success by creating an agent culture that inspires, trains, and equips our sales force for carrying out effective financially rewarding property transactions. Our agents provide first-class service to our customers because we are providing first-class service to the agents.
We have a 2,000 sq.ft. ONE University Training Center that provides full training for each of our people — from the most novice sales person to the most highly experienced. Our trainings and course offerings cover the whole gamut of instructional material from basic to most highly advanced, depending upon the individual agent’s need. We equip our agents with the latest technology and with the training to make best use of the sales tools we provide for them. We give them a Home Search app, a Home Tour app, and a Web-based marketing and transaction coordinating portal. As a result, our agents are providing first-class buying and selling experiences for our customers by such things as communicating clearly with them throughout each transaction, providing services in a timely manner, and commitment to superior customer satisfaction.
My Realty ONE Group is solving a problem that I began to encounter five years ago when I realized that the changing real estate industry was creating conditions that were working against the agents’ interests. One of the problems was that commission splits were becoming manifestly unfair. New technologies, processes, and social media were enabling agents to do more of the actual work than was possible in the past. Even though brokerages were being pushed to the sideline, they were still reaping fat commissions. The industry attempted to respond by creating e-brokerage style firms that reduced or even eliminated human interaction, attempting to buy and sell properties following the model of Internetbased online stock trading sites. However, eliminating human contact works much better when buying 1,000 shares of Apple stock, for example, than when purchasing a $475,000 property in Discovery Bay.
I realized that the system was ripe for change and the way the change could be most effective would be to redesign agent/ brokerage relationships in order to rationally reflect industry changes. It turned out that office space, training, and collegial harmony are the essential services a brokerage could provide for its agents, so we are creating physical, social, and professional infrastructures for them. Realty ONE Group Elite is making a revolutionary impact in the East County real estate market by creating a transaction-fee-based brokerage with training, tools, and appropriate interactions with peers and support staff. We are supporting our agents in the face-to-face interactions that are still an essential part of most real estate transactions.
My Realty ONE Group Elite has carved out a unique niche by providing exactly the support that agents require while reducing their cost-of-doing-business with us to a fraction of what they were paying under traditional split-commission arrangements. Our success is based upon creating an environment that promotes agent success. We support our agents in their contact with their clients but also maintain an office culture in which they find mutual support through connecting with each other. We create a spirit of unity and cooperation that I refer to as the “Power of One” — powerful synergisms through teamwork and sense that “we are all in this together.”
Our agents come to understand that each of us succeeds in reaching our individual goals especially as we work together to make the group as a whole successful. We are extending the Golden Rule in a sensible direction because we are doing for each other what the group is then doing for each of us as individuals. We are engaged in raising a tide that is lifting each of us to heights none of us could have gained on our own.
Agents join Realty ONE Group with minimum buy-in. The only income that the Realty ONE Group receives is a $100 monthly tech fee and a flat rate of $375 per transaction up to $250,000. It is an amazing opportunity for a real estate agent. The traditional split arrangement on that Discovery Bay home we spoke of earlier, at three percent commission would have been $14,250, of which the brokerage would have received $2,850 and the agent $11,400. One of our Realty ONE Group agents would receive $13,675. The extra $2,275 going into the agent’s pocket will obviously be a source of happiness for the agent and his family, but even more than that, such a dramatic increase in earning potential is the most powerful incentive possible for motivating agents to “get out there” and do it again.
One thing we resist through our reduced brokerage charges is the temptation to discount commissions. Agents work hard for their money and we believe that they deserve every penny. After all, the more income they are able to bring home to their families, the happier they will be. Happy agents enjoy making clients happy. Everyone moves forward. This extends beyond the actual transaction because our brokers have the experience, knowledge, and training necessary to protect homebuyers against legal problems that might arise in our litigious industry.
Introducing our enormously attractive business plan into the East County real estate market proved to be a challenge. We had to prove ourselves and demonstrate that the transaction-fee model actually works. It was difficult helping agents to visualize the power of the plan that I had come to see so clearly. It has been wonderful throughout the course of the business, however, to watch agents experience what I call “aha moments” — often when a sale is completed and the realization suddenly dawns about our system’s actual earnings potential.
Part of the difficulty might have been a too-good-to-be-true quality about our business plan. People typically wonder how we are able to actually make money while being so generous with our agents. The answer is volume. We started the business with six agents. In two years we greatly increased that number. Our resulting income stream is satisfying — and will be more satisfying when we reach 100 agents.
The incentive for joining us is obviously huge, but we are focused upon preserving the culture. As a result, we search for agents with specific qualities and core values including a willingness to learn, an ability to get along well with others, and sufficient wisdom to play a role on a team while at the same time exercising independent initiative.
Life is good! I’m a woman of faith. I always imagine that I’m involved in something larger than myself and feel that a Heavenly Guide is directing me step-bystep through life. Once we’ve done what we know we are supposed to do, we can let go of any responsibility for the outcomes. I incorporated a Field of Dreams-type “Build it and they will come” expectation in my personal philosophy.
So I “built it” and sure enough, they are coming.