Realty One Group, an established U.S. real estate brand, is aiming to expand aggressively across Western Canada.
Shami Sandhu, formerly broker at Re/Max River City in Edmonton, has secured the rights to Realty One Group of Western Canada and plans to expand the brand to as many markets as possible in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
“We’re willing to look at every market out there. As well as the larger markets, I’ve recently been contacted from markets like Wetaskiwin and Leduc (in Alberta). I’ve had people contact me from Nanaimo, Fort McMurray and Brandon, Man.,” says Sandhu.
He says in the major markets, “my intent is to have about one office for roughly every thousand agents that are registered with the local real estate board. So for example, Edmonton’s got roughly 3,800 registered real estate agents so we’re going to have close to four offices in the Edmonton area.”
He says interest in the brokerage is very strong from two main groups – independent brokerages that see the value of affiliating with Realty One Group to grow their business, and real estate teams, who are now looking at taking their business to the next level by starting up a brokerage.
Sandhu has over 15 years of industry experience and was previously awarded Broker/Owner of the Year by Re/Max of Western Canada.
“The success of a franchise system is having the right concept and the right partner,” says Vinnie Tracey, president of Realty One Group Affiliates in Irvine, Calif. “I have known Shami Sandhu personally for 10 years. He has the pedigree, knowledge, work ethic and respect of the real estate community to make Realty One Group a major player in Western Canada.”
Sandhu says no one has disrupted the Canadian real estate market in 35 years but it’s time for a new disruptor.
“I believe Realty One Group will be very well received just like they have proven to be in the U.S. I want to show the Canadian real estate industry what we need and to remind them that it’s our agents that truly drive this business and the focus needs to be on them,” he says.
“While most of the industry is focusing on promoting themselves and shareholder value, Realty One Group maintains its focus on technology, corporate culture and a you-first focus to serving their associates.”
Sandhu says what differentiates Realty One is that it’s a 100 per cent company, meaning that its agents don’t pay a commission split. They pay a flat fee monthly or a flat fee per transaction.
“Where we’re different from the other companies in Canada, especially, is two main areas. One is corporate culture. Our organization is all about everyone having a voice. Everyone’s an equal participant in our organization. The agents are finding out what’s happening with the company the same time the broker owners are. They’re encouraged to provide feedback to the company,” says Sandhu. “We’ve been described as being very Silicon Valley, Google-esque in a way in our approach.
“A big foundation of ours is supporting collaboration and it’s all about working together. It’s not about competing against one another…there’s a lot of business out there to be had. That translates to our office design. A key element in many of our offices is the One Cafe. So instead of having an office full of 20 private offices, for example, most of our offices have fewer private offices and more of a cafe-style space – more of a collaborative space where agents get to work together and learn from one another.”
Another key point about the brand, says Sandhu, is the level of support it provides agents through tools and resources.
Realty One Group was founded in 2005 in the U.S. by owner and CEO Kuba Jewgieniew, a former stockbroker.