Chicago’s @properties announced its first franchise location Tuesday – the Detroit shop formerly known as Alexander Real Estate.
Alexander, now rebranded as @properties, is a four-year-old firm with 45 agents and $120 million in 2020 sales volume that has so far focused on downtown Detroit.
Snapping up Alexander is part of a “national expansion plan,” said Chris Lim, president of growth at @Properties, with the Windy City brokerage eying a “half-dozen” franchise announcements in the coming year.
Co-founded by Thad Wong and Michael Golden in 2000, @Properties is the biggest real estate brokerage in Chicago and 10th largest shop in the nation with $10.8 billion in 2019 sales, according to RealTrends.
For years, Wong and Golden strictly focused on the Chicagoland area. But in 2018, a private equity firm, Charlottesville, Virginia-based Quad-C Management, took a stake in the company.
Diversification is one approach brokerages can adopt to help ensure stability in unavoidable times of uncertainty, work to protect their revenue and – ultimately – financially weatherproof their business.
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Since then, @Properties bought an undisclosed stake in Charlottesville brokerage Nest Realty as well as Atlanta’s Ansley Real Estate, headed by Bonneau Ansley.
Wong and Golden announced in September that they were shopping for franchise partners, and that they would charge a $35,000 franchise fee, plus a monthly tech fee of $50 per agent, and collect 6 percent of the franchisee’s revenue.
In exchange, @Properties is offering its marketing department, their proprietary technology @platform, and potential financial assistance in a firm’s expansion.
Eric Walstrom, principal broker of the previously named Alexander, said that his brokerage is now positioned to expand into Detroit suburbs like Grosse Pointe, and eventually Ann Arbor.
Given today’s real estate market, Walstrom said, it was inevitable Alexander would join forces with a larger shop.
“With VC and outside money coming into the space, we started looking for opportunities for partnerships,” Walstrom said.
“I literally met with absolutely everybody,” Walstrom added, stating he found @properties’ marketing and technology superior.
Few real estate brokerages in 2021 say their technology is anything less than second to none. Walstrom said @properties sold him because they have a comprehensive in-house platform, which he believed made their technology more adaptable than brokerages that acquire a customer relationship management system.