There's a new kid selling real estate on the block and the agents of say you'll know the name soon enough, if you don't already. The franchised real estate office celebrated its on Saturday, with hundreds of guests and a ribbon cutting with top village officials.
Keller Williams opened six months ago in a temporary space before moving into the second floor of the Sealfons building site. Ninety-one agents are stationed in the office and will work throughout the county.
The Keller Williams office is touting innovations in agent compensation models, an emphasis on training and a community focus.
"We have 91 agents and they all represent the fabric of the local community," said Team Leader Marlissa Zebaida at the catered party. "Every one of them brings in something special. Part of the fabric of who we are is to give back to the community."
Zebaida said the staff donate their time and money every May 12, known as "Red Day." Members also give back to their colleagues, added Operating Principal Al Donohue, who left his namesake's firm to run Keller Williams earlier in the year.
With a voluntary program called "KW Cares", agents are encouraged to voluntarily pool money for colleagues in need. "Say somebody's home is flooded from Irene, we would take that pot of money [and donate]," Donohue said.
Donohue said the reason Keller Williams has been able to attract some of the top agents in the area began as financially-driven, but morphed into something else.
"Agents always comment they became interested in the money but they actually came because of the culture and the way people interact," he said, adding that training is also done on a daily basis, a big draw and a rarity in the real estate industry.
Of course, the money is also a factor. Donohue said what makes Keller Williams – the fastest-growing real estate company in the nation and now the second largest – is a new compensation model that cuts out a lot of middle management.
"A typical agent, once they get to $37,000 that they've paid to the company, they go to a 100 percent split," the franchise owner said of the commision system. "For a typical agent, that's at $4.9 million. So basically they keep 100 percent of their commission after that. So if you're an agent who's say selling $20 million a year, that might be an extra $100,000 or $120,000 you're making with us versus a competing company."
For the agents who operate under the $4.9 million, another company would provide a 50-50 split on commissions, Donohue said. "It's 70-30 here."
Zebaida said she hopes the community will embrace the new firm.
"We've invited over 300 people here today so we're hoping that people come and connect with us and allow us to contribute more and more as the time goes on."