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Coldwell Banker Residential Buys Four Keller Williams Chicago Offices

by Chicago Agent

Coldwell Banker Residential has just purchased four Keller Williams offices in Chicago, according to reports.

A sale is expected to close today of four Keller Williams Chicago offices to New Jersey-based Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

The Keller Williams offices are located in Lincoln Square, Lincoln Park, the Gold Coast and the West Loop, and all were owned by William O’Kane. Though the roughly 200-300 agents of the four offices are part of the deal, no sale price has yet been publicly disclosed.

“I am very confident that Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage will be a wonderful new home for our agents as we collectively look to the future,” O’Kane said in a Coldwell press release. “Coldwell Banker’s commitment to providing agents with the most advanced tools, technology, training, and their strong national brand presence combined with our local expertise makes this team the best in the area.”

Specific details of the acquisition are still unclear, such as whether the Keller Williams offices will remain open or be folded into Coldwell Banker’s six Chicago offices. Crain’s did report, though, that all of the office’s assets, including pending sales, will go to Coldwell Banker in the sale.

“This is a great opportunity to expand our presence in Chicago — and what better way than by joining these talented and knowledgeable sales teams,” said Fran Broude, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, in the press release. “We are excited about adding this highly reputable group of real estate professionals to our company, expanding our city team and growing our already significant market share.”

Broude added that, “Our new agents will be able to immediately utilize our comprehensive marketing programs including our enhanced online branding strategy, strong local web site and single property web site program. All of these tools, and many more, help our agents grow their business and provide outstanding, professional service to their clients. Of course, all of our agents also benefit from Coldwell Banker’s national and international network and the additional exposure this brings to their business.”

Keller Williams, which has 80,000 agents nationally and roughly 690 offices, still has nine other offices in the Chicago area, according to Crain’s. Keller Williams ranked sixth in the city in sales volume last year, according to the latest data from Midwest Real Estate Data LLC, and had a 2.6 percent market share.

Steve Murray, the president and editor of Real Trends, told Crain’s that the Keller sale is just the latest in a nationwide trend of mergers and acquisitions.

“We’re seeing it all over the country,” Murray said, who attributes a great deal of recent consolidations to the 45 percent drop in brokerage commissions that has occurred the last six years.

In just the last two years, the Chicago area has seen three major examples of that trend. Last year, Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty purchased Prairie Shore Properties in Evanston; in 2009, Chicago-based Prudential Preferred Properties merged with Rubloff Residential, creating Prudential Rubloff Properties; and just last month, Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management acquired Prudential Real Estate and the Prudential Relocation Services for a reported $110 million, an transaction that did not affect the business of Prudential Rubloff.

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Comments

  • richard bininya says:

    and not one mention of burberry ties……

  • Surprising since the KW model is so different then CB’s. I bet some of those Keller agents migrate quickly to the non-traditional, more agent centric models versus “folding in” to Coldwell.

  • Bill Altier says:

    I did not know one broker had the legal authority to include “300 agents of the four offices are part of the deal” without the written approval of each individual agent and without the approval of the franchisor.
    For a well establised franchisor to leave this kind of window open in unlikely.

    There is much confusion at this time and not much communication.
    My licensed states Keller Williams and the MLS has me posted as Coldwell Banker.

    Bill Altier
    Keller Williams or Coldwell Banker

  • closeinfifteendays says:

    “Surprising since the KW model is so different then CB’s. I bet some of those Keller agents migrate quickly to the non-traditional, more agent centric models versus “folding in” to Coldwell.” -Nick Libert Exit Realty

    Non-traditional, more agent centic models? Is that what Exit Realty is, because no one really has even heard of Exit Realty or worked with any Exit Realty Agents. Do they do business in the city or the burbs?

    -Bill, I feel your pain as do a lot of other agents who suddenly had their brokerage closed. (Sudler) The big fish will just keep getting bigger but at the end of the day you have to keep your head up and keep on working. The good thing about Coldwell or a few of these other bigger brokerages is that you don’t have to worry about the doors being locked the next morning.

  • I am one of those agents too. And here are my two cents:

    “No sales price has been disclosed…”

    My reply: I hope that the pending contracts from Mr. O’Kanes franchise agents cover the costs of the Coldwell Banker acquisition. I personally don’t foresee much transitioning between the brands. In the end, while our individual agents work with other local Keller Williams Franchises to get our license transferred back to Keller Williams, CAR and MRED are working very hard to get all our licenses transferred to the offices of OUR CHOICE. In the end, it will be EXTREMELY interesting to compare the statistics. At this time, the lack of communication from Mr. O’Kanes team hasn’t provided me with enough information than what I can find through public records.

    “I am very confident that Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage will be a wonderful new home for our agents as we collectively look to the future,” O’Kane said”

    My reply: Mr. O’Kane may feel that he has selected a wonderful new home for our individual businesses. The term STEERING is a common term in the real estate industry. Our real estate clients are protected from being pushed, pursued and steered into buying property in a specific neighborhood because “we think its best for them”. I will not be steered into a competing brand. I welcome the opportunity to preview optional brands, but the acquisition was handled in such a way that it appears he felt he knew what was best for us.

    “Specific details of the acquisition are still unclear… Crain’s did report, though, that all of the office’s assets, including pending sales, will go to Coldwell Banker in the sale.”

    My Reply: Dear home sellers and home buyers; while you may feel that your specific transaction has been saddled with ciaos as you prepare your closing details, know that your Keller Williams Agent has YOUR BEST INTEREST AT HEART. Pay no attention to where your commission check ultimately is paid and focus on the person who sold your property in the first place. This little hiccup in our business has absolutely no impact on the level of service we PROMISE TO ALWAYS PROVIDE YOU. We will be legally compensated as per our agreements.

    “Fran Broude, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, [said] in the press release, “We are excited about adding this highly reputable group of real estate professionals to our company, expanding our city team and growing our already significant market share.”

    My Reply: I have had no other contact with Mrs. Broude other than through a brief marketing presentation today. She appears to be a very reputable and an influential person in the industry, and was very pleasant with me this afternoon. I appreciate that her team managed to facilitate preprinting THOUSANDS of Coldwell Banker business cards for my Keller Williams Teammates and I. I do however wonder where the Coldwell Banker Brand felt it was OK to preprint huge stacks of business cards with OUR CONTACT information and adding a Coldwell Banker Logo PRIOR TO asking each corresponding agent for a consultation meeting to see if there was a fit. (YES, thats right! They pre-printed business cards for EVERY KELLER WILLIAMS AGENT on the roster! and I left mine right where they are until I have made my final decision.)

    Best wishes to all and know that the relationship you create with your real estate agent and broker of choice is one of the strongest professional relationships you can create. It will be very interesting to see which of the two brands images will be tarnished through this acquisition.

    Robert Jarvis

    NOTE: The benefits to our current Keller Williams active listings and the neighboring Keller Williams franchises will be tremendous given the extra added presence and exposure in the market place. If you look at this from the bright side, our listings are going to get twice as much exposure heading into a very difficult real estate market. I see many more real estate closings for the Keller Williams Brand in the very near future!

  • John says:

    The agents are missing the point. The reason brokerages are acquired in this market is because they cannot afford to keep their doors open. Are you more worried about the name on the sign or knowing the company will be there tomorrow with the lights on. Many agents biggest problems are they are short sighted. Look at the bigger picture and in the end it will benefit you. Companies are bought and sold all the time. There is a reason. This industry is not immune to it. Think like a business person.

  • Jason not surprised says:

    Despite what KW preaches for their own benefit, brand does matter to the consumer! These agents will all see a jump in production as result of this change. The only thing is that CB is less likely to keep all of the non producers and part timers now. That company will change and get stronger no doubt. Congratulations to that firm and those agents!

  • Bob says:

    I think Mr. O’Kane backed himself into a corner with high expenses (leases, etc.) which lead to a death spiral.

    I expect many of the KW agents will either form a new office(s) or stay virtual while working for a nearby KW office or @Properties

    I’d be surprised if CB keeps even 20 of the KW agents.

  • Ron Wexler says:

    Well now that a few days have passed its very interesting that 70% of the top KW agents who were “traded” to cb have returned to KW and are working to lead the relaunch. Bill Okane is a strong and Maverick business person who liked to do things his way not sure that ever works in a Franchise system! Most of his best agents were a great fit for KW. Bill was ready to move on and sold his Genesis Group Offices to the highest bidder he could find.

    KW is alive and well the entire region will continue its growth. Smart agents know they are the Brand not the franchise they associate with. We choose our company based on its ability to meet our needs. Everyone thinks their company is the best or they shouldn’t be there. I spent 20 fantastic years at Re/Max surrounded by great agents and supported by awesome leadership. When I was open to change I interviewed leaders at ERA,Century 21, Coldwell and Baird Warner…they all were viable companies and made me great offers. I chose KW because I believed there was a better opportunity for me and the future growth and leadership I wanted to be a part of.

    I can’t imagine how it would feel to have someone force me to make a move. I sure didn’t get into Real Estate as an Independent Contractor whose income is 100% connected to my personal daily efforts, to suddenly be traded without my consent. In the end its our individual activities and efforts that get us to our goals! Stay focused on the outcome you desire, only you can make it a reality! I say welcome back to the agents who stayed with Keller Williams and best of luck to those who left to join other companies.

  • John says:

    Are agents acting on emotions or looking at this practically? Obviously the offices where not financially viable to keep the doors open or KW corporately would have stepped in and figured out how to keep the doors open. Will the offices these agents are running to just retain the Keller Williams name be facing the same thing?

  • Joseph says:

    I am a Broker from New York City, as others have commented Brokerages are acquired all the time it is part of the business. This is just evidence that the “profit sharing” KW model doesn’t work. The preception that your broker is keeping profits and living the high life while your working your tail off is ridiculous. It takes a certain amount of money to keep a business running and the KW model failed in this instance. I understand that as independent contractors you feel like you were not able to make a choice and that’s a tough pill to swallow. I like to think that at every brokerage an agent operates their own business under the umbrella of a brokerage. In this case the umbrella collapsed. Just reevaluate your business and ask yourself three questions. Why did my company fail? Why didn’t KW corporate fund this transaction and put KW associates in a position to keep this company operational? What does CB have to offer my business? If agents committed their focus to “SALES” and not the ancillary marginal income you may earn from “profit sharing or recruiting associates” you would be far better off. There is a reason why CB is #1 in Sales Volume nationwide, simply a commitment to sales.

    Regards,
    A Company who transitioned from RE/MAX to Coldwell Banker we all produced more sales volume and never looked back.

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