Four former Coldwell Banker agents saw greater opportunity for their futures at RE/MAX, so they seized it
By Deborah Ball Kearns
People who join RE/MAX from other national competitors have various reasons for making the switch. For some, it could be more brand-name recognition. For some, it’s a higher compensation model. For others, it’s the support, education and tools.
But one thing that resonates with everyone who joins RE/MAX is the instant credibility they receive by aligning with real estate’s No. 1 brand. We talked to four agents who left Coldwell Banker for RE/MAX in the past 18 months –and are glad they made the switch.
NEW STANDARD FOR SUCCESS
Mary Beth Buckles was a top producer at her former Beachside Coldwell Banker office in Orange County, Calif., closing $15 million in sales volume annually in recent years. Despite her success in luxury sales, Buckles felt like she had reached her peak potential there. So she started exploring her options.
It wasn’t long before she set her sights on RE/MAX Signature Services in Dana Point, where she found exactly what she was missing at Coldwell Banker: a global brand name, unparalleled brokerage support, national advertising, a sophisticated luxury properties program in The RE/MAX Collection and much more.
“The prime location of the office in Dana Point and the brand-name credibility sold me on RE/MAX,” says Buckles, who simply walked in one day to discuss her future with RE/MAX Signature Services Co-Owner Mike Jesse. “Mike flew me to RE/MAX World Headquarters in Denver, where I met with Dave Liniger and the regional staff. That was really impressive; no one has ever gone to such lengths to recruit me in the 20 years I’ve been in real estate.”
Little did she know, Buckles began a trend; several other agents from her former Coldwell Banker office have since moved to Jesse’s brokerage.
One of those agents was Natalie Vizir, who made the switch in April. Vizir, who also specializes in luxury homes and closed $25 million in sales in the past year, says she, too, felt limited at Coldwell Banker. The RE/MAX model and brand fit Vizir’s business much better.
“I feel that the RE/MAX model is geared toward professionals who are more experienced and are serious about their business,” says Vizir, who adds that she’s seen a 20-percent increase in production in 2013.
Both Vizir and Buckles say that RE/MAX puts them in prime position for tackling the resurgence they’re seeing in their market. Prices are up dramatically, inventory is low and bidding wars are back in Southern California.
“I’m happy I made the change, and I know I’m in an environment where my Broker/Owners care about my success and I have their support,” Vizir says. “RE/MAX is going to help me provide a higher level of service for my clients.”
Buckles couldn’t agree more, and adds that now is the time for agents to position themselves for the future. There’s no better place to do that, she says, than at RE/MAX.
“If you’re a seasoned agent working for a brokerage on a lower split and you think you’re getting more support for it, you’re wrong; I know I was.”
HAPPIER THAN EVER
Nancy Benard had always been impressed with the RE/MAX agents she dealt with at the closing table over the years. She started her career in real estate with Coldwell Banker in 2007. At first, she was happy.
But as she closed more and more transactions, Benard says she lost more independence to run her business her way.
“Every decision I made – whether it was my marketing, setting my fees or raising my commission – needed my broker’s approval,” Benard says. “My hands were tied.”
Benard was approached several times by Kathy Dames, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Ultimate Professionals in Shorewood, Ill., and finally agreed to meet with her last fall. After crunching the numbers and realizing she would earn more at RE/MAX, Benard made the switch to RE/MAX in September 2012.
“I’ve been smiling ever since,” Benard says with a chuckle. “At my new office, there’s such a strong sense of camaraderie; everyone wants you to succeed. It’s a much more positive environment.”
The brokerage-level support has pleasantly surprised Benard, who before had to pay extra fees for services like marketing, IT and web design. Now it’s all provided by an in-house staff, which gives Benard more flexibility to spend time with her clients.
“This year has been incredibly busy, but there’s always someone asking, ‘What can I help you with?’” she says. “I share a part-time assistant with the top-producing agent in my office, and it’s been a life-saver!”
Since moving to RE/MAX, Benard has seen her business increase by a dramatic 40 percent. She and another agent in her office beat out five other real estate companies for an exclusive agreement to market and sell new construction in a nearby community. As of Sept. 1, some 87 percent of the lots had been sold.
With plenty of business in the pipeline, Benard is on track to finish the year strong.
“It’s so rewarding to work hard for my clients – all with the backing of the RE/MAX brand.”
FOLLOWING THE SIGNS
Shad Azar couldn’t take it anymore. He was simply tired of seeing all the RE/MAX yard signs and RE/MAX advertisements at sporting events and home shows around Toronto, where RE/MAX enjoys unbeatable market share.
As an agent with Coldwell Banker, Azar didn’t have the brand-name credibility and clout his RE/MAX counterparts did. In fact, he says, he spent a lot of time explaining what Coldwell Banker was to clients, who mostly assumed he worked for a bank.
“I figured if you can’t beat them, join them,” says Azar, who joined RE/MAX Hallmark Realty in Toronto in June 2012.
A big reason he made the switch was because he had hit a production plateau. When Azar looked at the REAL Trends Canadian 250 to compare his old brokerage’s productivity to that of RE/MAX Hallmark Realty, he started wondering what RE/MAX agents were doing to outproduce their competitors in such an overwhelming way.
When he joined RE/MAX, he finally understood.
“RE/MAX agents take real estate seriously,” Azar says. “They have a passion and confidence that’s contagious. Our Broker/Owners, Debra Bain and Ken McLachlan, lead by example and personally invest themselves in our success. The brokerage’s support is second to none.”
Toronto’s market is as hot as ever, and Azar is working hard to keep up. In fact, his production is up by 50 percent in the past year and shows no signs of slowing.
“The phone rings on its own now that I’m with RE/MAX,” Azar says. “I’m still out there pounding the streets and working hard, but having the advantage that comes with the RE/MAX Balloon is awesome. If you want to be the best, you have to surround yourself with the best; I’m with the No. 1 brand in the world.”