RISMedia's Real Estate Magazine

APR 2017

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 April 2017 93 by Maria Patterson Ma van Winkle Founder/CEO Attorney/Designated Real Estate Broker RE/MAX On the Lake/Northwest www.remaxotl.com Number of offices: 6 Number of agents: 250 Region served: Greater Seattle area Please describe your career path and how you came to start your firm. Ma van Winkle: I finished law school in 2008 and opened a hybrid law practice and real estate brokerage in 2009. I found I enjoyed brokerage work far more than traditional legal work, so in 2010, I opened an inde- pendent brokerage and focused on helping buyers and sellers navigate the complicated declining market. As I started doing a lot of transactions, I developed systems and technology to manage the process. Agents on the other end of my deals would ask questions about how I managed the clients and the process, as well as marketing strategies, so I decided to open a brokerage to train other agents in regard to my processes. I started shopping for a brand to align with and I chose RE/MAX because it was a well-known but a vastly under- represented brand in our market. I opened my first office with one agent in 2011, another in 2012, and a third in 2014. We grew to about 100 agents, and in January 2016, I ac- quired RE/MAX Northwest with three offices and 150 more agents. What are the biggest challenges and opportunities in the market right now, and how are you preparing your agents to succeed? MVW: The biggest change is the se- vere lack of inventory, especially in- ventory under $1 million in the Seat- tle area. We're training our agents to compete in multiple-offer situations and how to win when they're one of 25 offers. We spend a significant amount of time working together to develop strategies to stay ahead of the market. How would you describe your firm's culture? MVW: Our firm is open and collab- orative. There are no secrets; ev- eryone shares what works and what doesn't. We don't take new agents; we take agents with experience who are ready to turn their business into a true business. We teach them how to run their sales operation as a business, evaluating their P&L and ROI on every activity, and then how to systemize and scale their operation to grow. On average, our agents grow 45 percent each year they're with our firm as they continue to optimize their operations and processes. What's your approach to branding and marketing? MVW: We focus on targeted mar- keting that works for our individual agents' needs, style, and budget. Most of our business is referral- based, so we teach agents how to nurture referrals. We also focus on targeted farming, social media advertising, strategic partnerships and internet advertising to help our agents increase their production. What are you doing differently to set your firm apart from the competition? MVW: Our business classes are un- like anything else in the market. We offer over 45 courses a year and only a handful are sales skills-related. Our focus is to develop well-rounded brokers who are true small business owners. We focus on their bottom line, not their gross sales volume. We have proprietary software to manage the transaction and client experience, and utilize tools from outside the real estate industry. What are your plans for growth and your overall outlook on the market? MVW: We intend to continue growing our offices this year. Our hiring pro- cess is slow and diligent, so I expect we'll only bring on about 30 agents across the company in 2017. We do intend to expand our office base in the near future. RE Helping Agents Build a Business {Rising Stars}

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