By Sarah Trefethen
A real estate franchise company with decades of experience supporting agents who sell country homes, luxury ranches and ski chalets, is branching into the urban market, and they have their eyes on New York City.
“We’ve been in the real estate franchising business for a lot of years, and not having an incumbent platform in the major urban markets, we’ve had a chance to get it right,” said Dan Duffy, CEO of United Real Estate.
Getting it right, to Duffy, means offering extensive technology, training and marketing platforms with a transparent price structure and a hands-off approach to agents’ commissions.
“There’s been 100 percent models around for a while… the difference here is we have no royalties for the broker or the agent,” Duffy said.
United Realty franchises charge each agent a monthly flat fee of $65, of which $30 goes to the company and $35 stays with the franchisee, and $295 per transaction, with $60 going to the company, Duffy said.
After seven years of development, the project has now launched with five joint venture offices in Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Houston. By the end of the year, Duffy said, they expect to have between 12 and 15 franchises open. Within a year from now, he expects that number to go up to between 40 and 50.
In New York, United is looking to sign a master franchise agreement with an investor who knows the local market, according to the CEO.
“New York requires a New Yorker that really understands the nuances of it,” Duffy said. That agreement should be in place within a year, he added.
United Country Real Estate, the parent company behind United Real Estate, is more than 80 years old and claims to work with more than 4,000 agents and approximately 700 rural and small-town offices.
The ability to share the cost of technology and platform development across all those offices has allowed the new company to offer franchisees sophisticated technology at a reasonable price, Duffy said. And 80 years of experience selling vacation homes might come in handy as well.
“The techniques to sell lifestyle real estate are very transferable to the urban market,” Duffy said.