Merge Creates One of the Largest Real Estate Franchises in Northern America

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with New York Times Bestselling Author & International Speaker

Barely a year ago the real estate industry was stunned when Canadian-based Brookfield Residential Property Services (Brookfield RPS), a division of Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (Brookfield), and owner of Royal LePage, the largest Canadian residential real estate company, acquired GMAC Real Estate. With the departure of CEO John Bearden and a pending name change imminent, many labeled the GMAC franchise as yesterday’s news.

What a difference a year has made.

Announcing their second large acquisition today, Brookfield RPS has now also the owner of Real Living Network Services, a subsidiary of Real Living Inc. Combining the two companies creates one of America’s leading residential real estate franchises with more than $20 billion in annual home sales and an estimated 30,000 agents.

Although that in its own is huge news (and the largest real estate brokerage acquisition of the year) it is the merging of the two and the rebranding of the whole as Real Living that is electrifying. The reason is that Ohio-based Real Living is a national award-winning real estate brand known for its innovation, customer service and a culture of partnership and collaboration within its network. Last year I even named Real Living as the “Most Promising New National Brand” in my Swanepoel TRENDS Report while Entrepreneur Magazine listed them as one of the Top 50 New Franchises.

Exciting times for newly appointed President Harley E. Rouda, Jr.

What are your thoughts about this "new " move. Has yesterday’s news turned into tomorrow’s future?

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Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Shelly Fisher 11/12/2009 01:24 AM
  2. Christina Cavins 01/22/2010 05:49 AM
  3. Maureen McCabe 02/25/2010 09:56 PM
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Rainmaker
57,020
Stefan Swanepoel
New York Times Bestselling Author & International Speaker - Ladera Ranch, CA

@John, #132

There are actually numerous large acquistions that have taken place in recent times /years, but this is clearly one of the very noteworthy. I agree that, if you can, it is now a great time to pick up undervalued companies and properties.

Nov 17, 2009 07:52 AM #146
Anonymous
Annie Blatz

I am with Kinlin Grover GMAC and we were part of the GMAC company owned real estate offices.  I welcome the news of Real Living.  Thank you Stefan for getting the conversation going.  I am very surprised at how many respondees were not familiar with the Real Living brand.  Keep your eye on it now - with the union of Real Living and GMAC, the future is bright.

Nov 17, 2009 08:42 AM #147
Anonymous
Jennifer Drude

Stefan,

Thank you for all the information about Real Living.  I first learned about the company in your Trends Report 2008.  As a GMAC Franchise Owner, I am very excited about our new family.  I'm looking forward to seeing how our Premier Service merges with Real Living.  It seems like a perfect fit to me.  Thanks for posting a picture of the Real Living sign.  I think the color Red is a great color for real estate.  The KW agents in our area use their name on 90% of their signs so I don't think it is going to affect us.

Nov 17, 2009 01:34 PM #148
Anonymous
Jennifer Drude

Stefan,

Thank you for all the information about Real Living.  I first learned about the company in your Trends Report 2008.  As a GMAC Franchise Owner, I am very excited about our new family.  I'm looking forward to seeing how our Premier Service merges with Real Living.  It seems like a perfect fit to me.  Thanks for posting a picture of the Real Living sign.  I think the color Red is a great color for real estate.  The KW agents in our area use their name on 90% of their signs so I don't think it is going to affect us.

Nov 17, 2009 01:34 PM #149
Rainmaker
15,184
Kaira Sturdivant Rouda
Real Living - Malibu, CA

Wow! 145 Comments and I'm just now getting a chance to write. With NAR, and this exciting announcement, well, you can imagine. So yes, GMAC Real Estate + Real Living = an amazing, bigger Real Living and an incredibly bright future for all of us. To all of you who have been supportive of this great bit of news for our industry as a whole - thank you!

Stefan, thank you for starting this discussion and for doing an amazing job as a moderator on this discussion and for keeping it real.

And I agree with what many of you have said. In times of change, we should be sticking together and keeping an open mind. To those of you who are currently GMAC Real Estate brokers and agents, all I can ask is that you give us a chance. At Real Living, we are so excited about the future and anxious to share with you the brand that Stefan named the most promising new national brand. Oh, and I agree with many of you who write that business is local. It is. And small is the new big. Our job at Real Living is to provide the marketing technology tools, professional training and services to make your job easier and to bring you closer to your customer. To make it easier to be the best locally, because you have amazing support nationally.

As several of our Real Living agents and brokers wrote, much more eloquently than I can, we began as a brokerage in Columbus, Ohio in 1956. It's an American success story. My amazing father in law, Harley Rouda Sr. started the company in the basement of his first home. And now, we're a part of Brookfield - a global powerhouse making an amazing commitment to real estate across the globe and here, in the U.S.

There is nothing to be skeptical about with Real Living. We are who we are. We are red, round and real. And, as Stefan promised to post #102, we have so much to offer. We will be posting more specifics on my blog and Chris Svec's, to answer more questions and keep the dialog flowing. My favorite answer is launching the real estate industry's first consumer driven web 2.0 portal, MyRealLiving. But that's just part of the story.

We all are an important part of the future of real estate. If you are directly affected by the merger - please give us a chance to showcase the Real Living brand to you. We, too, believe in Premier Service, and many other common foundations of our two brands. If you aren't a part of either of our companies, thank you for the good wishes. The feeling is mutual. Skeptics, well, I'll take the high ground here.   

And Stefan: wow! Thank you for this chance to talk and share. Social media and open communication is the way of the world today - in business and life. In fact, this merger came about through Twitter. More on that later, too! Thank you for reading this post - and keep talking!

All the best,

Kaira Rouda

Real Living

 

Nov 17, 2009 03:41 PM #150
Rainmaker
57,020
Stefan Swanepoel
New York Times Bestselling Author & International Speaker - Ladera Ranch, CA

@Kaira,

Thanks for your comprehensive contribution. Yes this has been a most interesting discussion and a lively one at that. This transaction clearly illustrates us many things including: Confusion, criticism, frustration, illiteracy, disinformation, lack of information, antipathy, admiration and above all hope.

What a wonderful industry we have.

Nov 18, 2009 11:01 AM #151
Anonymous
Jeff Ragan

Has anyone found a Real Living agent anywhere that doesn't have a templated Real Living website? I haven't found one. Does that mean we will all have to ditch our own websites and replace them with templeted Real Living sites?

And...I just pretended that I was looking for a Real Living agent in Texas, and found 48 agents. However, all of their sites looked almost identical, with almost identical content. The links were different, but all the stuff about the agent was almost exactly the same. And I thought, "I have no way, other than gender or race or age or look of the photo, to base a decision on which agent I choose." This is scary... So I'm begging one of you guys, check my research and tell me I'm wrong. Especially some of you Real Living higher-ups listening in, please, tell me I'm wrong.

Nov 19, 2009 04:54 PM #152
Rainer
56,837
Lissa Uder
RE/MAX Next Generation, LLC - Lebanon, MO
Your Lebanon MO Real Estate Agent

Jeff (#154) I noticed the same thing. I'm hoping it's a similar set up to what my office currently uses in that the website is template but each agent can customize with whatever content, headers, and verbage they want. Alot of the sites from my office look identical because the agent hasn't taken the time to update and personalize.

 

Nov 19, 2009 10:32 PM #153
Rainer
3,413
Tammy Marquardt
Real Living HER - Hilliard, OH

It all depends on the effort the agent puts into customizing their site.  There are many tools and workshops available from Real Living that help even the most technologically challenged agent create a unique website.  But, as all other successes, it has to start with the individual agent.

Nov 19, 2009 11:30 PM #154
Rainmaker
178,722
Ann-Marie Clements
Dubai International School, UAE - Saint John, NB
M.S. Ed., Innovative Proactive Principal

Hi Stefan,

I work for Royal LePage Atlantic and they are a Great company to work for...  Hopefully, this merger will be beneficial for all included.  Nice Blog.  THANKS!!!  

              ;>))

Nov 21, 2009 11:03 AM #155
Rainer
30,998
Julie Beall
Irongate Realtors - Springboro, OH
CRS

interesting times indeed..hats off to Harley Rouda Jr., a man who has invested time and money in being a highly educated business man. He sets a great example for all Real Estate professionals to follow. He raises the standards within the  Real state business model and we should too.

Nov 23, 2009 04:53 PM #156
Ambassador
1,536,930
William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - La Jolla, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Hi Stefan, It was great seeing you this past week. Real estate is continually re-inventing itself and I expect that it will continue to look somewhat different in the next decade. Transformation, remade older business models and whole new approcahes to the industry can and should be expected. There are many new issues arising and these issues  have yet to fully manifest themselves . What we once thought was impossible is now reality and I suspect what we think won't happen in the future will be the new trend. GMAC and Real Living may be just the begining of what's to come.

Nov 24, 2009 05:16 PM #157
Rainmaker
1,474,902
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

#154 Jeff Ragan wrote:

"Has anyone found a Real Living agent anywhere that doesn't have a templated Real Living website? I haven't found one"

Let me help you with that, a few of the Real Living agents in my market  who have a different site or a site in addition to the template site include  Sandy Raines, Jill Rudler, Karen Gorski, Elaine Reese.

Here are some non RL template sites, if I may add these to the conversation for Jeff: 

http://www.allaboutcolumbusohio.com/

http://www.elainereese.com/

http://www.karengorski.com/

http://www.therainesgroup.com/

I am sure Sam Cooper has a non template site...

http://www.columbus-ohio-realty.com/


Julie Morgan in Upper Arlington has a killer website. 

http://www.columbus-home-search.com/

Both are ActiveRain members and I was able to find their non template sites easy squezy, righ here on ActiveRain.  Sam's got his RL template site as his main site on AR though, not the link here. He may have other sites too.

I am guessing Jeff is Jeff Ragan with Ming GMAC who has the website: http://www.realtorjeff.net/

Me...I just use the company template site...  and a Real Living E-Team site....

 

 

 

Dec 03, 2009 02:52 AM #158
Anonymous
Jeff Ragan

Thanks, Maureen, for the links!  It is I, Jeff Ragan, from Ming Tree GMAC Real Estate and www.RealtorJeff.net.  I was getting nervous, as it seemed that perhaps Real Living limited an agent's use of personally prepared websites.  I am relieved that is not their company policy, as the examples you site show.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Dec 03, 2009 03:09 AM #159
Rainmaker
1,474,902
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

There is a Real Living group here on ActiveRain and of course all the GMAC agents are welcome, in fact we've got the Welcome Mat out for you. 

Kaira wrote: "We will be posting more specifics on my blog and Chris Svec's, to answer more questions and keep the dialog flowing."  I know ActiveRain is not Kaira's only blog but I am hoping she means she'll be posting that content here on ActiveRain.

 

Dec 03, 2009 07:12 AM #160
Rainmaker
174,878
Randy Landis
Retired in Samar - Tupelo, MS
Overseas Retirement Consultant

WOW. The comments and opinion offered here are as far and wide as the Grand Canyon. I also don't see how this move qualifies this company as being one of the 'largest real estate franchises in North America'. This was simply a rescue mission and when it is all said and done, the future of this 'new' brand will rest in soley in the hands of its leaders and top agents. Mergers are not anything new nor is this virgin territory for a company wanting to be bigger than they really are.  Want to get big, just raise the cash and buy another fledgling company. Along with any merger comes cost and absorbing that cost is the key to any growth success today. Company branding of course takes on it's own local responsibilities and costs, which I don't believe will be on the corporate expense sheet, unless Mr. Buffett (I believe that someone mentioned his name as a player) decides to dish it out for a national ad campaign. He may have to buy up a cable company and an advertising company first to be effective. I think the bottom line here is: The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Dec 08, 2009 03:30 AM #161
Rainer
56,837
Lissa Uder
RE/MAX Next Generation, LLC - Lebanon, MO
Your Lebanon MO Real Estate Agent

I"m sorry, I don't understand the reason behind the cynicism so I have to ask...The assumption that this was a "rescue mission" for a "fledgling company" comes from where? And why the pessimism regarding the future of the company? GMAC Home Services wasn't exactly bought out by a no-name company. Brookfield is a highly respected name with great success in Canada. They are simply taking two companies with valuable ideals & strategies and combining them to create even better customer service (GMAC currently has a 95% customer satisfaction rating nationwide).

In my humble opinion...the bottom line here is: Change creates opportunity for great improvement.

Dec 08, 2009 05:17 AM #162
Rainer
53,313
Karol Yeager
REALTY FIVE of Defiance - Defiance, OH
"We choose to give"

I got tired of waiting and waiting and waiting, once a GMAC Agent but no more!

I was told how wonderful the future was going to be, no details of how, what, when and where...just how wonderful is was going to be all the while office franchise fees was coming out of my pocket/check/commissions and going where? going to whom?

Happy to be a independent agent working with a great team and taking quality care of our clients and giving back to our community! Karol

Realty Five of Defiance

"We choose to give"

 

Jan 31, 2010 12:44 PM #163
Rainer
212,769
Tony Anderson
Century 21 Community Realty - Habersham, GA
Realtor - Serving Habersham Banks, White & Hall Co

No Real Living franchise in our area yet.  I will keep an eye on them to see how they do.

Sep 01, 2010 04:40 AM #164
Rainer
212,769
Tony Anderson
Century 21 Community Realty - Habersham, GA
Realtor - Serving Habersham Banks, White & Hall Co

No Real Living franchise in our area yet.  I will keep an eye on them to see how they do.

Sep 01, 2010 04:40 AM #165
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