‘Major expansion’ eyed by @properties in latest move

by Meg White

Chicago-based @properties announced today that it has made an equity investment in Nest Realty, a real estate firm in Charlottesville, Virginia, with 15 offices in five states.

This does not mean that buyers and sellers in the South Atlantic region of the United States will start to see @properties branches popping up in place of Nest Realty; the latter will retain its identity in all of its markets, and any expansion in the region will take place under the current branding, whether company-owned or franchised. Nest founder Jonathan Kauffmann and his partners, Keith Davis and Jim Duncan, will retain an ownership stake in Nest and continue to oversee operations.

But the tech stack at Nest will change over. The proprietary suite of tools known as pl@tform will come over from @properties, including the company’s CRM, deal management system, communications app and marketing tools.

“Not only does this partnership move our tech development up three to five years, it also gives us opportunities to grow while maintaining the ‘Nester’ culture we’ve worked so hard to build,” Kauffmann said in a press release. “As we started to take a serious look at this opportunity, we asked ourselves: Could we bring more value to our agents, our clients, our franchisees and our staff through a partnership with @properties? On every account, the answer was unequivocally yes.”

There’s also a transaction portal for homebuyers in the works, according to @properties. And, in addition to pl@tform, @properties will bring its training and coaching programs, as well as group health benefits, to Nest agents. Later this year, Nest Realty will also have access to in-house mortgage services through Proper Rate, a new joint venture between @properties and Guaranteed Rate.

The joint release characterized the investment as “a move into franchising that is expected to drive major growth for the firm over the next five years” giving @properties a “foothold in a number of high-performing secondary markets.”

“This is the next chapter for @properties, and we have the perfect partner in Jonathan and his team at Nest Realty,” said @properties co-founder Mike Golden. “Over the past 12 years, they have shown they can grow a brand both organically and through effective delivery of franchise services. There’s also a great culture match between our firms.”

Nest Realty, which brings in nearly $1.4 billion in annual sales and counts around 350 licensed agents under its umbrella, is the second major partnership for @properties in just over a year. Last March, @properties purchased a stake in Ansley Atlanta Real Estate. That company’s transition to @properties’ pl@tform system should be complete by the end of the year, according to recent company estimates.

While many firms appear to be holding back on big changes due to the current coronavirus pandemic, that is not a tactic being championed by @properties, according to co-founder Thad Wong. “Now is the time to grow. Now is the time to focus on relationships and putting the best technology, training and resources into the hands of agents,” he said. “As we build from this moment, we feel very fortunate to be alongside like-minded leaders like Jonathan, Jim, Keith and Bonneau.”

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