RISMedia's Real Estate Magazine

AUG 2018

Real Estate magazine is the industry's leading source for real estate news and information since 1980. Published monthly by RISMedia, Real Estate magazine offers timely and relevant real estate news to the industry's top brokers and agents.

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RISMedia's REAL ESTATE August 2018 89 Maria Paerson: Red Oak Realty has a rich history. Tell us a bit about it. Vanessa Bergmark: The four found- ers started the company in 1976 in a garage in Albany, Calif.—just like Apple! Like a lot of companies in the '70s, we were formed by a group of dissatisfied agents who didn't feel they were getting the resources they needed, so they went out on their own and started Red Oak. The com- pany has had great retention ever since. Many of the people who were with the company back then are still here today or just recently retired. MP: When did you come on board? VB: I joined the firm at the begin- ning of the downturn in 2007, when REOs were the norm and technology had moved very quickly into the real estate space. I had been running a large franchise and had just adopted my first child. The guys at Red Oak tracked me down and I went from running an office of 200 people to 20 people. Everyone said I was tak- ing a step backwards, but to have the possibility to be home at 6:00 p.m. and not be on a plane all the time…I jumped at the opportunity. After a year and a half, I took over both the Oakland and Berkeley of- fices as the general manager, and in 2010, purchased the company from the original four owners. At the time, a lot of people thought I was nuts. This was during the worst downturn in economic history, and, at that point, I had a two year old and a six month old. MP: Interesting timing, given the start of the recession. How did you help the firm through it? VB: I learned about REOs and short sales, got our agents into coaching and training, and moved everyone toward technology. We got off desk- tops and onto laptops. We moved into paperless transactions and advertising digitally and upping the ante with photography. I changed the operations of the company from a more traditional approach to one that was a bit more tech savvy and strategic. MP: So, where does the firm stand today in terms of size and market- share? VB: We have two offices and 116 agents and staff combined. We were 12 th in marketshare when I bought the company, and now we're hugging second place. MP: How did you achieve such im- pressive growth without acquiring offices and agents? VB: We're not a huge brokerage and our trajectory is not that of most traditional brokerages. We did it not by recruiting a massive amount of agents—we're at just 100 agents. Rather than putting our efforts into recruiting a lot of agents, we focused on staffing. We hired a great market- ing director, beefed up our transac- tion department and brought on su- perior legal support. We hired smart agents and focused on their needs. We upped all of our resources so that we could provide more support to agents in order to improve the client experience. We grew our mar- keting team with people who under- stood digital marketing and social media and all the things you can do today to advertise a property. For every property we list, there's a pro- Red Oak Realty's Executive Team.

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