RISMedia's Real Estate Magazine

MAR 2019

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 March 2019 85 put people before profits," says Milam. "It's not so much about the numbers, but about focusing on our agents." In this exclusive interview, Rabon, president and CEO, Coldwell Banker Advantage – Triangle Region; Huff, president and CEO, Coldwell Banker Advantage – Sandhills Region; Milam, president and CEO, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage; and Rick Gregory, COO, Coldwell Banker Advantage, explain how inverting the pyramid and putting agents and consumers on top has shaped the firm's massive growth over the past five years. Maria Paerson: Please begin by telling us about the current size and scope of the organization. Tim Milam: Our company has five re- gions: Raleigh, Fayetteville, South- ern Pines and Wilmington, N.C., and Myrtle Beach, S.C. We have about 1,400 agents and 44 offic - es. At the time of this interview, our projected sales volume for 2018 is around $3.7 billion in volume with a little over 16,000 transactions. We have three different names we market: Coldwell Banker Advan - tage; Coldwell Banker Chicora Ad- vantage; and Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage. MP: Those are impressive numbers. How does that compare to where the company was five years ago? TM: Five years ago, we had about 700 agents, and sales were approx - imately $2.3 billion. Transactions were around 9,000. Ralph Huff: We're among the Top 3 Coldwell Banker franchises in the nation, and we're No. 1 in North Carolina. MP: So, what would you most ari- bute your growth to? TM: Organic growth has been a big part of it. We've made some acqui - sitions, but I would attribute a lot of our growth to our focus on our agents' success, which has led to other agents seeking to join our company. Rick Gregory: The majority of our growth has been done with pur - pose. All of our acquisitions have in- volved filling in gaps that are part of a larger strategy. We look to where we believe we can serve agents in a way that helps them serve more clients. Gary Rabon: In addition to our real estate company growth, all regions are now in the mortgage and title business to offer specific services and products that serve the custom - ers of our agents. RH: Agents embrace who we are as a firm. We go to market with peo - ple in mind and build around those people. MP: You are in very competitive markets with a lot of new entrants into the area. What do you do to set yourselves apart? TM: We put people before profits. It's not so much about the numbers. We work for the agents—they don't work for us. We're focused on help - ing agents and their clients succeed. GR: We have some unwritten rules: Do the right thing; do whatever is best for the client; treat others like you want to be treated. We really push our agents to get involved in the community and help others. TM: Our culture includes giving back. We had 34 agents and three employ - ees from the Wilmington office dis- placed from their homes after Hur- ricane Florence. All regions came together to send trucks of supplies down and raise cash donations. This big Advantage family helps out no matter what region is affected. RG: What we've seen is that new en- trants in our markets tend to focus on price, but being cheaper is not a compelling differentiator. When you're focused on service, it causes you to think about all service experi - ences a customer may have, no mat- ter what they're shopping for. Tim, Ralph and Gary really focus on the service component and make sure our agents absolutely know they're behind them. MP: How do you ensure your level of service stands apart from other real estate firms? RG: When consumers are buying or selling a home, they're not compar - ing that experience against another home they bought or sold; they're Putting agents and consumers on top has fueled Coldwell Banker Advantage/ Sea Coast Advantage/Chicora Advantage's massive growth.

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