CHICAGO (MO.Properties) – @properties, which was founded in 2000 and quickly grew into the largest residential brokerage firm in Chicago and its surrounding areas, announced today that it is launching a national franchise brand to offer broker-owners and agents access to the technology, marketing, training and business-development systems that have made it one of the top 10 brokerage firms in the country as an independent. @properties co-founders and co-CEOs, Thad Wong and Mike Golden made the announcement.
The move comes at a time when the real estate industry not only is adapting to the new challenges and opportunities of the COVID-19 pandemic, but is also being disrupted by a number of other forces including VC- and public-markets-driven consolidation, iBuyer services, and the evolving role of dominant search portals such as Zillow and Trulia.
@properties, which grew from four agents to over 3,000, and last year closed $10.7 billion in transactions, will offer a fresh, full-service alternative to independent broker-owners, owners with expiring franchise agreements, and top-producing agent teams. Co-founder Thad Wong says its target audience is unmoved by the offerings of the “old guard” franchise networks and is struggling to compete against the aggressive tactics of some of the industry’s new, deep-pocketed players.
“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. 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,” says Wong.
To help lead its national rollout, @properties has hired Chris Lim as President, Head of Brand Growth. Lim, an 18-year industry veteran, founded Climb Real Estate in San Francisco in 2010, and sold the brokerage firm in 2018 to Realogy Holdings, the nation’s largest real estate franchise operator, whose portfolio includes the Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and Sotheby’s International brands.
@properties has built its franchise offering around five key value propositions:
Technology: @properties’ proprietary technology, called pl@tform™, is a fully integrated suite of applications enabling digital management of the entire client relationship and real estate transaction. Built by @properties’ in-house programming team, pl@tform™ includes a deal management system, CRM, marketing tools, and an internal communications app.
Marketing: The firm’s marketing engine offers what Wong describes as the highest-quality listing presentation in the industry, and a full catalog of print, digital and social-media resources, as well as access to preferred advertising partnerships.
Coaching and Training: @properties’ agent coaching and training programs feature a variety of original content and exclusive partnerships. Agents can take advantage of a full curriculum of on-demand and in-person courses including continuing ed, business planning, and tech classes.
Business Consulting: In an industry beset by shrinking margins, @properties will focus on helping its franchisees drive profitable growth through agent-recruiting and retention programs, enhanced business operations, and affiliated services such as mortgage, title, and development sales and marketing (@properties is Chicago’s No. 1 seller of new construction).
Culture: With love as its guiding principle, @properties is known for its fun, positive culture that fosters agent satisfaction and ultimately leads to a better client experience. Programming recognizes outstanding performance, and promotes agent collaboration, work-life balance, and charitable engagement.
“What has always set @properties apart is our personal approach and our commitment to our team members’ success,” says Golden. “When you put that alongside the tools we have developed, the outcomes can be very compelling.”
Golden cites the recent growth trajectory of Ansley Atlanta Real Estate, an Atlanta-based brokerage firm that @properties purchased an equity stake in, in March 2019. The previous year, Ansley closed $598 million with 134 agents. As of August 2020, the firm has grown to 250 agents and last 12 months’ closed sales volume of $1.5 billion.
In May of 2020, @properties announced an investment in Nest Realty, a Charlottesville, Virginia-based brokerage firm with 15 company- and franchise-owned locations in 5 Southeast states. Golden says the Nest brand will allow @properties to offer another franchise platform targeting smaller firms.
“I know what it takes to run a successful brokerage, and the @properties platform gives today’s real estate companies everything they need to come out on top,” says Chris Lim. “I wouldn’t have moved halfway across the country during a pandemic for anyone else. The firm’s programs are world-class, and Thad and Mike are visionary leaders with the best track record in the brokerage industry.”
@properties is partly owned by Charlottesville, Virginia-based private equity firm Quad-C Management, Inc.
Established in 2000, @properties ranks 10th on the REALTrends 500 list of the largest residential brokerage firms in the U.S. by sales volume. During the past decade, @properties has developed a proprietary suite of integrated technology applications called pl@tform™, which includes marketing, transaction-management and client-relationship management systems, and recently launched a nationwide franchise. @properties and its affiliated companies, Ansley Atlanta Real Estate and Nest Realty, have over 3,000 agents and 50 offices in nine states. @properties is also an owner of Proper Title, a title insurance firm, and Proper Mortgage, an independent mortgage lender.