Top Realty Executives Brokerages Place in RISMedia’s 27th Annual Power Broker Report

Seven Realty Executives brokerages from around the U.S. garnered a spot in RISMedia’s 27th Annual Power Broker Report ranking the top 500 firms. The report ranks companies based on two sets of criteria: each brokerage’s total closed transaction sides and total sales volume over 2014.

Realty Executives Phoenix out of Scottsdale, Arizona, was the leader in Realty Executives brokerages, followed by several other offices around the U.S.

The other brokerages who won top honors were: Realty Executives Associates in Knoxville, Tennesee; Realty Executives of Santa Clarita in Santa Clarita, California; Realty Executives of Kansas City in Leawood, Kansas; Realty Executives Integrity in Brookfield, Wisconsin; Realty Executives Nevada in Las Vegas, Nevada; and a newcomer to the list from last year, Realty Executives Tucson Elite in Tucson, Arizona.

Realty Executives Place in RISMedia Power Broker Report - 2014
Cover of RISMedia’s 27th Annual Power Broker Report

 

RISMedia President & CEO John Featherston called the firms included in the list among “the nation’s most elite” stating in a release that “being ranked in the Power Broker Report validates your firm’s reputation as a trusted resource for today’s homebuyers and sellers.

The seven Realty Executives brokerages ranked overall comprise thousands of agents who within their offices closed more than $6.1 billion in real estate deals over the course of 26,211 transaction sides in 2014. Continue reading

Realty Executives’ Jim Stroo Named 2015 Hattiesburg REALTOR® of the Year

It’s been 15 years since the last time REALTOR® Jim Stroo, Broker/Owner of Realty Executives of Hattiesburg, won the designation of REALTOR® of the Year. In fact, it was just a year after he opened the Hattiesburg office. A lot has changed in that decade and a half, but one thing that hasn’t: Stroo’s love of real estate and his hometown of Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

We chatted with Stroo to learn more about the honor, the market in the Pine Belt and what makes Hattiesburg such a special place to be.

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Headshot courtesy of Jim Stroo

Realty Executives International: Congratulations on being selected 2015 Hattiesburg REALTOR® of the Year. Tell us, what makes Hattiesburg, Mississippi, such a special place to be?

Jim Stroo: I’ve lived here in Hattiesburg all my life. To me, the most wonderful thing is its size. It’s big enough to have shopping, fine medical facilities, two universities and things to do, but it’s small enough that when I walk around I see people I know. We’re small enough to enjoy not being a number in a 2-million-person city. As far as real estate in Hattiesburg, we have a fantastic purchasing power as far as what you can buy for your money. Plus, we’re a growing community but it’s not unsustainable or unplanned. And it’s because we have excellent schools, very low crime, available land at a reasonable cost, good builders that are building a quality product and when you put all of that together, you have conducive conditions for people to want to stay.

You’d been in the business six years by 1999. What drove you to co-found Realty Executives of Hattiesburg that year?

I actually didn’t have the desire to be a broker, although I’m glad I am now. I had been a REALTOR® for six years at other firms and I wanted to have some control over the work environment, some stability with the fees that agents were being charged, a place that was professional in its atmosphere, and that people could exercise their faith in their workplace without question. Long term, I felt like I needed to become an owner to ensure those things would be available. Now I love being a Broker/Owner because when I help an agent solve a problem and save a deal that I know might not have happened otherwise, it’s made them happy, it’s been good for the real estate community and it’s made a difference. Continue reading

At An Open House, Safety Is Everyone’s Job

Last year, agent Beverly Carter was murdered after showing a house to what she thought was a prospective cash buyer. Since then, September as REALTOR® Safety Month has held special significance for agents. It’s also become a rallying point to keep safety top-of-mind. Whether you’re buying a home, selling a home or showing the home, ensuring a safe real estate transaction is important.

Here are some ways each party can stay safe in both a common but possibly dangerous situation: the open house.

For the seller: Your first showing of your home happens online. Hide pictures of your children and loved ones. Tuck away identifiable information from the eyes of criminals. Know exactly when your information is going up on the MLS and be prepared to turn down unexpected visits from stop-in “buyers.” All those precautions you took for online listings? Do them ten-fold for in-person showings. Ensure calendars that display your family’s whereabouts get hidden from view. Lock up valuables like computers or jewelry. Hide any alcohol or prescription medications that might be in cabinets around your home. (Addicts often target open houses for places to pick up substances.)

For the buyer: Luckily for the real estate market and the economy, foreclosures are down from their peaks of the last decade. Lessons learned from this tumultuous time in real estate, however, are still key to safety. Research the neighborhood’s safety stats before you visit. (You’ll want this information anyway before you buy, so it’s great to get a head start.) Keep an eye out for anything strange while walking around a home once you have arrived. Have your agent check for hazards in the home from loose floorboards to surprise squatters.

For the agent: If you can, view properties—hopefully with a colleague—before you show them to a client. This helps ensure there are no unwanted visitors in say, a foreclosed or abandoned home. But it also allows a chance for you to map a safety and exit plan in case of an emergency situation in the home. Alert others when you are viewing homes if you must go alone. Establishing a predetermined “safety phrase” with your office manager or broker is also helpful. You can even dip your toe into the high-tech market with wearable technology. These new devices can help save you in a high-pressure situation.

For everyone: Here’s the takeaway—Think about safety before it becomes an emergency. Creating a game plan ahead of time is a great way to keep everyone safe while on the way to finding their dream home.

For more ways to stay safe, check out REALTOR® Magazine’s Field Guide to Safety.

EXECUTIVE SPOTLIGHT: Lauren Ellington, Realty Executives Phoenix

Each year, Realty Executives International recognizes the leading Executives across our network through our annual awards program. As we celebrate 50 years of real estate excellence in 2015, we’re highlighting the achievements of some of our most successful agents (we call them Executives) sharing important keys to their incredible productivity in real estate, and honoring the many ways they make a difference in the lives of their clients.

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Real Estate Agent Lauren Ellington of Realty Executives Phoenix made the switch from a corporate career to real estate more than a decade ago when she made the leap from her home state of Texas to Phoenix, Arizona. Now, Lauren is sharing a little bit about how she’s learning life/work balance, why her broker answers her calls on his motorcycle and why NBA players love her style.

Areas served:
Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Fountain Hills, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa

How many years have you been in the real estate industry?  How many years with Realty Executives?
12 years in real estate and 12 years with Realty Executives

Did you have an “aha” moment in life – an experience that made it clear to you that real estate was the right career path for you?
Right out of college I worked in the corporate world. I wanted a career that didn’t have a cap on how much you could earn. I love people, houses, design and business so real estate was the perfect fit! Continue reading

Realty Executives Comes to Flagler Beach, Florida

Donna Tofal and her team have joined Realty Executives, opening Realty Executives Oceanside located at 2561 Moody Boulevard in Flagler Beach, Florida.

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“We are very pleased that Donna and her office have accepted our invitation to join the Realty Executives International network,” said Bruce Vinnick, Realty Executives Regional Developer. “Donna Tofal’s alignment with Realty Executives compliments and strengthens the growing presence of Realty Executives in the northeastern Florida area.” Continue reading

Christine Wilczek Gives HGTV’s Frank Fontana Her Expert Advice

Managing Broker Christine Wilczek of Realty Executives Elite has one takeaway for sellers: to attract buyers, make sure your current house feels like their future home. The real estate expert based out of Lemont, Illinois, had honest guidance for radio callers and for Frank Fontana, who hosts WGN’s “The Frank Fontana Show” and designs on HGTV’s Chicago version of “Design On A Dime.”

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Photo courtesy of Christine Wilczek

For those looking to sell their home, Wilczek had some key pieces of advice:

Staging your home isn’t optional, it’s necessary. Wilczek says staging is one of the most important parts of marketing a modern home because of what she called “the HGTV effect.” “Today’s buyer watches a lot of TV shows, including HGTV shows,” she said. “Today’s buyer wants to walk into staged perfection. They don’t truly have a vision of what a house can become. They want to walk into and already see the vision of what a house is. That’s how our market has changed.”

De-personalize your home. “If there are any personal pictures up, take them down,” Wilczek said. “It’s a distraction to a potential home buyer.” She also advised sellers that taking out references to pets in a home is critical as it’s a major buyer turn off. Then, neutralize wall color and remove other personal objects to ensure the home is ready for a buyer to view, Wilczek said. Continue reading

Realty Executives Gulf Coast’s Clarissa Rambo featured on HGTV show ‘Beach Flip’

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Gulf Coast aerial view courtesy of Clarissa Rambo.

Scoring a high return on investment is bound to cross the minds of homeowners as they embark on significant renovations or repairs. For contestants on HGTV’s new Beach Flip series, it’s the name of the game. When it comes to real estate in Gulf Shores, Alabama (the show’s focal point) Executive Clarissa Rambo of Realty Executives Gulf Coast knows the bottom line. Beach Flip’s challenge? Each 2-person team on the show was tasked with turning around a rundown, two bedroom, two bathroom beachfront home in eight weeks while staying within a $40,000 budget. Rambo was selected to appear on the show (airing Sundays on HGTV, 8:00pm CST through August 22) to evaluate each team’s renovation work. You’ll have to catch the show’s final episode to see which team will walk away with the $50,000 prize. However, you don’t have to wait for an inside scoop on the Gulf Shores market, plus insight on which home repairs make the most sense to the pros!

Clarissa Rambo was a natural choice for the producers of Beach Flip. She was asked to evaluate the weekly home improvements made by each team, along with a handful of other local real estate professionals featured on the show. Rambo grew up in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and has local expertise of the Alabama Gulf Coast market.  A multi-million dollar producer, she has more than seven years of experience as a real estate agent along with two years of experience in the title industry.  We recently chatted with Rambo, who shared insider info in the following interview:

Is there a strong market for waterfront fixer-uppers in the Gulf Shores, Alabama area?
While there are a plethora of dated beach homes and duplexes along the Gulf Coast, our inventory at the moment is low. I expect inventory to start catching back up in the fall and through the winter, when the units are not booked with back-to-back vacation rentals.

Is it reasonable for everyday buyers to take on these types of renovation projects? Or is it best left up to the pros?
It is completely possible for everyday buyers to take on these types of projects as long as they are willing to put in a lot of sweat equity. However, most of the “flippers” tend to be investors who have done several of these types of renovations, but everyone has to start somewhere!

As you evaluated home improvements made on the show, what aspects of the home were you most focused on? What in particular were you looking for?
We have been tasked with evaluating the homes before, during and after the renovation process. Mainly, we focus on return on investment by considering what buyers are going to look for when searching for a beach house, which boils down to:
• Function
• Durability
• Aesthetics
• Convenience

In your professional opinion, which types of home renovation bring the most return on investment for sellers?
In my opinion, the largest return on investment in home renovations center around kitchens and bathrooms. This trend remains strong in many regions, but in a beachfront home, relaxation and entertainment are important factors. It’s very obvious to buyers if upgrades to kitchens and baths have not been maintained through the years, causing homes to appear dated when these areas are overlooked, even when basic home maintenance has remained consistent.

What are the top 3 reasons home buyers would want to relocate to the Gulf Shores area?
Alabama’s Gulf Coast is a hidden gem (though maybe not for long)!
1. We have beautiful white sand beaches and gorgeous Gulf waters.
2. Our cost of living is very affordable.
3. We remain a family beach with plenty of activities, restaurants and shopping for the entire family. Gulf Shore’s motto is “small town, big beach” and I believe that description fits us perfectly.

Watch the latest episode of Beach Flip this Sunday, at 8:00pm CST on HGTV.  You may just catch the home renovation bug yourself!

 

EXECUTIVE SPOTLIGHT: Renee Revson, Realty Executives Williams-Sykes Realty

Each year, Realty Executives International recognizes the leading Executives across our network through our annual awards program. As we celebrate 50 years of real estate excellence in 2015, we’re highlighting the achievements of some of our most successful agents, (we call them Executives) sharing important keys to their incredible productivity in real estate, and honoring the many ways they make a difference in the lives of their clients.

REVSON_Renee-72dpiLicensed Associate Real Estate Broker Renee Revson of Realty Executives Williams-Sykes Realty in Poughkeepsie, New York has a host of specialties to her credit, having worked extensively with both buyers and sellers for over sixteen years (nine with Realty Executives). With a keen understanding of the ebb and flow of the real estate cycle and market, Renee shares with us how the Realty Executives business model coupled with full-time brokerage support and shifting market conditions helped shape another meteoric year in her real estate career.

Areas Served:
All of Dutchess County, New York including East Fishkill, Fishkill, Wappinger Falls, Hopewell Junction, Lagrange, Millbrook, Pawling, Pleasant Valley, Poughquag, Rhinebeck, Stormville, Poughkeepsie, Beacon, and Hyde Park

Specialties and designations:
Accredited Buyer Representative including First Time Home Buyers, Luxury Move Up Buyers, Downsizers, and New Construction.  Sellers Agency including expert negotiator, premier marketing, technology expert.

Which factors most attributed to your success in 2014?
1) The Realty Executives Business Model
2) The 24/7 support of my Broker/Owner Matt Williams
3) An extremely favorable interest rate environment
4) An improving job market
5) A continued shift in demographics

Did you have an “aha” moment in life – an experience that made it clear to you that real estate was the right career path for you?
I knew real estate was my calling when the vast majority of my clients told me they had purchased or sold homes before, but never had the service or results that they experienced with me. When one person tells you that, you just don’t know their previous experience. When everyone tells you that, you know you picked the right career path.

What led you to join Realty Executives?
After six successful years in the business, the next logical step was to start my own business. Through online research, I learned about the Realty Executives business model, and quickly realized that instead of opening a brand new unknown business name, I would go with Realty Executives, employ their branding, and reap the benefits without having to start a business from the ground up. And I was exactly correct. The best career move I ever made was in June of 2006, when I called Matt Williams of Realty Executives Williams-Sykes Realty.   The results I experienced in my first year exceeded my expectations, and I have grown my business significantly every year since.

How has your brokerage supported your success in 2014?
Real estate is one of those businesses that you can’t just do from 9-5, Monday through Friday. If your support is limited to that, you are not doing all you can do to close deals. My broker is literally available 24/7. We find solutions outside of office hours and by morning we are executing them. Continue reading

EXECUTIVE SPOTLIGHT: WMW Homes, Realty Executives Saskatoon

Each year, Realty Executives International recognizes the leading Executives across our network through our annual awards program. As we celebrate 50 years of real estate excellence in 2015, we’re highlighting the achievements of some of our most successful agents, (we call them Executives) sharing important keys to their incredible productivity in real estate.

WMW_Homes-72dpiThe WMW Homes team consists of three REALTOR® teammates, Kris Miazga and brothers, Morgan Wotherspoon & Blaine Wotherspoon of Realty Executives Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, Canada. Working together since 2010, the trio has scored a host of commission-based achievements and attributes their success to keeping customer service as their top priority.  In the following interview, they tell us why Realty Executives Saskatoon was the perfect match for their entrepreneurial team culture… and share about how clients, (even as young as four years old!) continue to refer friends and family to WMW Homes.

Areas and cities served:
Saskatoon, Warman, Martensville and surrounding areas

What are your specialties and designations?
We specialize in residential real estate. Resale homes, new builds and acreage developments are our main focus.

How many years have you been in the real estate industry? How many years with Realty Executives?
The three of us have a combined 18 years of experience, with 6 years each. We have been operating as the WMW Homes team for almost 5 years with Realty Executives. Morgan Wotherspoon started with Realty Executives from the beginning of his career and his friend, Kris Miazga and brother, Blaine Wotherspoon later joined a year into their real estate careers.

Which factors most attributed to your success in 2014?
We see our real estate practice more like a relational business, as opposed to a one-time transaction based sale. We’ve developed a business plan and system for our success. Over the years we have changed the original plan, adding to it, and taking elements out as needed — all the while, maintaining growth and keeping up with the latest technology trends. Our main focus, which we rely on hugely, is customer service. We have learned from our clients that customer service is the one attribute they value the most.

Did you have an “aha” moment in life – an experience that made it clear to you that real estate was the right career path for you?
We each left our steady mainstream Monday-Friday careers, and realized that an “entrepreneurial spirit” lied within each one of us. For me (Morgan Wotherspoon) being able to work with your best friend and brother and be successful makes every single day rewarding. I (Morgan Wotherspoon) was told by a mentor of mine, “find something you enjoy and that you’re good at, and then find a way to make money doing it.” We just sincerely love what we do and are appreciative of this.

What’s your Realty Executives story? What led you to Realty Executives?
Leaving the profession of teaching, it was important for me (Morgan Wotherspoon) to choose a brokerage that cared about its people, that cared about its future and its brand. Most importantly, we looked for a brokerage that offered training, education, and coaching to build a solid foundation for a successful real estate agent. After interviewing almost all of the local brokers in the city, it became apparent, that our Broker, Wayne Zuk of Realty Executives Saskatoon, offered everything we were looking for and more. It was an easy decision.

How has your brokerage supported your success in 2014?
The team that Wayne Zuk has built at Realty Executives Saskatoon is like no other. He is one of the few brokers in the city – perhaps the only –- who isn’t a Broker/Realtor but instead, Wayne’s pure focus is about being a broker and offering education, training, coaching, and most importantly, retention. Our brokerage offers weekly sales meetings, which include up-to-date market stats and trends, the latest news, and other unique information only found at our office. Apart from this, there are weekly and monthly training sessions available to us all. Additionally, there is a huge support staff that assists in marketing and development and conveyancing that is like no other — it is a fail proof system. All of this absolutely contributed to the success of our team. Continue reading

EXECUTIVE SPOTLIGHT: Raelenna Ferguson, Realty Executives of Cape County

Each year, Realty Executives International recognizes the leading Executives across our network through our annual awards program. As we celebrate 50 years of real estate excellence in 2015, we’re highlighting the achievements of some of our most successful agents, (we call them Executives) sharing important keys to their incredible productivity in real estate, honoring the ways they make a difference in the communities they serve and revealing what differentiates them from the competition.FERGUSON-Raelenna_72dpi

Broker Associate Raelenna Ferguson of Realty Executives of Cape County in Cape Girardeau, Missouri has been a licensed Realtor® for 11 years and we are thrilled she has spent 10 of those years with Realty Executives. She was recently honored for her 2014 productivity and ranks amongst our top 50 Executives based on commissions, out of thousands of Executives in hundreds of offices throughout our global network. In the following interview, Ferguson shares how being with the Realty Executives brand has impacted her business, how social media boosts her productivity, and the truly incredible ways she has given back to her community, exemplifying the motto, “to those that are given much, much is expected.”

Areas and cities served:
Cape Girardeau County — specializing in Cape Girardeau and Jackson, Missouri

Which factors most attributed to your success in 2014?
My business has evolved over the years and I am now at a point where almost 100% of my new business is generated by referrals from past clients or acquaintances.

What led you to Realty Executives?
I love Realty Executives and I love my Broker/Owners, Bill and Susan Cole. They exhibit the same core values that my husband and I live by. One of the most important factors for me is to work for someone who has a high level of integrity and humility. It’s also important for me to know my Broker has my back. And I feel like Bill and Susan Cole embody all those characteristics. There is no other brokerage I would work for.

How has your brokerage supported your success in 2014?
My company and co-workers are my biggest cheerleaders. When my Realty Executives colleagues businesses are thriving, I am happy and excited for them — and I feel that they have all done the same for me over the last year.

As an award-winning real estate professional, you’ve obviously had to work hard to achieve success. What keeps you coming back to your work in real estate, day after day and year after year?
I sort of live and breathe real estate. It is almost like an addiction to me. I always tell people, I love this job and if I didn’t there would be no way I would be doing it. It can be a tough business with long hours, but for me I love the challenge of it. I love meeting new people and helping them achieve their goals and I love achieving the goals I have set for myself.

What differentiates you from your competition?
I consider myself a listing specialist. Listings are what I enjoy most and are an area of strength for me. The key to my success with listings is to be patient and thoughtful from the beginning. My goal isn’t to just stick a sign in the yard during the first meeting. My goal is to sell the client’s home with their best interests in mind, and that takes more than one appointment. I like to talk with and meet with my clients several times. I want to find out more about them, why they are selling and what their expectations are. Also, I spend a lot of time staging the house and preparing it for the market. I am a self-proclaimed perfectionist when it comes to my listings, from the exterior to the interior to the photos online. I work hard with my sellers to present their home in the best possible way we can.

What do you think keeps your repeat and referral customers coming back?
I think that my hard work and commitment speaks for itself. I try to treat every transaction equally, each person the same. Whether it’s the most expensive deal I have going on or the least. Every client I have is important to me and I feel like that is portrayed. You know the old saying, “actions speak louder than words.” I feel like that is one of the keys to my strong referral base. Continue reading

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