By Melanie Epp
Right at Home Realty’s new president, Don Kottick, has spent his entire career in the real estate industry. Along the way, he has acquired an impressive set of skills – a unique blend of technology, marketing and real estate expertise – making him the perfect choice for a growing company with a groundbreaking business model.
Kottick says, “When I learned about (Right at Home), I was very, very impressed. It’s one of the best kept secrets in the market right now.”
The founders, Arthur Bartram, Howard Drukarsh and Ron Peddicord, created Right at Home Realty seven years ago and the company has grown to include more than 2,000 sales reps. Bartram, the former president, will remain actively involved in the company as a member of the Board of Directors and strategic advisor.
“This year alone, they’re slated to transact close to 10,000 transactions, which is really unheard of – not only at the Toronto Real Estate Board, but also in Canada – for an independently owned company,” says Kottick. “They’ve grown to be the largest independently owned brokerage in Canada.”
Kottick attributes their success to their business model – a model that empowers agents by allowing them to control their own commissions.
“The agents get 100 per cent of the commissions,” says Kottick. “The company takes a monthly fee and a transaction fee, but the agents have the ability to control their business, so it’s really an empowerment model.”
Kottick says, “I feel Right at Home Realty is positioned to impact the industry similarly to what Re/Max did in the ‘90s.”
Kottick says that there are a number of things that position the company well. The Board of Directors, who Kottick calls “an impressive group,” guides the company. It is also well funded; successful business executives sit on the board and invest in the company. “They’re very leading-edge,” says Kottick. “Very future-minded in terms of where they want the company to go.” It has a great training program, which is constantly being updated and enhanced, and is well positioned in terms of technology and social media, he says.
Kottick began his real estate career with Johnston and Daniel Real Estate in Toronto before Royal LePage acquired the company. After seeing some of the things he was working on, he was invited to be director of new products and services at Royal LePage’s head office. During his time there, Kottick developed many of the key strategic partnerships and ran the team that launched the company’s first Internet and intranet sites. Kottick also did a one-year stint with the Toronto Real Estate Board as president of technology and business development. This was at a time when the board was thinking about changing from a non-profit model to a profit model, he says. For a number of reasons, the board changed its direction and remained non-profit.
In 2000, Kottick became general manager for a company called Commercial Real Estate Exchange (CREX), a joint venture between Royal LePage Commercial, CB Richard Ellis, J.J. Barnicke Limited and Colliers International. Together, their goal was to create a national MLS for commercial properties. The joint venture didn’t last, as the four competitors could not see eye-to-eye.
Kottick returned to Royal LePage, did a little consulting and then went to work for the Trader classified, the largest classified publisher in the world. Later he went to work for an HR consulting firm that sold real estate related products out of Florida for three years.
In 2008, Kottick returned to Royal LePage to manage a brokerage for the Royal LePage Johnston and Daniel Division.
Kottick has thought about leaving the industry a couple of times, just for a change of pace, but something has always happened to make him stay. In the 1990s, for example, the Internet was born and that influenced Kottick’s decision to remain where he was. “I saw the opportunity that the Internet and real estate presented – where the future would go – and I just got totally hooked in it and that became my passion, so I didn’t leave.”
For now, he has no plans to work in any other field. “I love this industry. It’s a great field. It’s a fascinating field. It’s continually evolving, it’s always fluid and it’s always changing. It’s not something that ever gets boring. So I’ll probably do this for the rest of my life.”