Inman News Feature: Inside LeadingRE, an exclusive network of indie brokers

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The experiences, the connections, the education, the networking – but mostly, the referrals – fuel the bond between these real estate firms


Key Takeaways

• Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (LeadingRE) is a community for independent brokerages that seek national and international referrals, an annual conference and a bigger network.
• The organization has an almost 50 percent referral conversion rate compared to the industry standard of 25 percent.

Agents looking to hitch their wagon to the right brokerage might ask about culture, mentorship, educational resources and tech tools — all elements that many independent brokerages have found ways to offer at the same (or even greater) level than their franchise counterparts.

But what about the networking, the cross-country connections and — most importantly — the referrals? Franchises with branches across the nation are naturally equipped to refer leads to one another, a particular advantage when it comes to clients who are relocating.

That’s where Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (LeadingRE) comes in, an organization that describes itself as a selective global community of the highest quality independent real estate companies with over 572 network members worldwide and 130,000 sales associates across 65 countries.

Since it formed in 1997 as the result 50 large brokerages departing from a relocation organization and a merger with the Genesis network (then a referral network made up of indie brokerages), the organization has been filling in that benefit which franchises enjoy as a built-in perk: power in numbers.

There’s a catch, however, and it’s one that strengthens LeadingRE: Not just any indie brokerage can join. Members must rank among the top five independents in their market (and be in the top 10 overall) in either units or volume, and there is often more than one member company in the most populated markets.

How does this intricate web of companies operate, what’s next for this immense organization and who controls it? Here’s a look inside.

Brokers seeking to control their own destiny

The founding 50 brokerages of LeadingRE aimed to control their own destiny and create a network made up of “only the best” locally and regionally branded firms focused on raising the bar in real estate.

The Chicago-based organization is held by 33 shareholder companies today, including Allen Tate, Long & Foster, Howard Hanna, Alain Pinel, Edina Realty, John L. Scott, Michael Saunders, Shorewest and Real Estate One.

Of the 572 network members worldwide, 466 are in the U.S. and Canada, the total generating over 1.1 million transactions annually, with $368 billion in home sales.

LeadingRE connects members with opportunities and people around the globe, supporting them with an international referral network, professional development programs, networking events and connections to people and opportunities worldwide.

The organization’s referral program has an enviable 50 percent conversion rate, compared to the industry standard of closer to 25 percent.

LeadingRE president Pam O’Connor says 14 out of the top 25 Real Trends’ brokerages are LeadingRE members. Members range from companies as big as Howard Hanna, Windermere Real Estate and Edina Realty and as small as a one-office luxury brokerages such as Hilton & Highland in Beverly Hills, California.

Networking opportunities and collaboration happen in the flesh at the organization’s annual U.S. conference, which normally attracts around 2,000 attendees. There are also CEO forums, regional events and a big international get together for those outside the U.S.

Direct competitors willing to share intel

Membership costs come in tiers — expenses range from $3,000 to $4,000 a year for a small market up to the $70,000 to $80,000 range for firms with a number of markets and ZIP codes, as in the case of Long & Foster and Howard Hanna, for instance.

LeadingRE chair Joe Horning, president of Shorewest Realtors, a third generation independent brokerage based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, likes to describe LeadingRE as the “non-franchise for independents” and says it’s interesting to see former franchise companies he has acquired contrast their experience with LeadingRE at Shorewest.

“With my own firm, we have acquired several companies that were franchises and they all had sour opinions on the franchise model,” he said. “Once they’d become part of this company and experienced LeadingRE, they said it was like night and day. They see all the tools. LeadingRE acts like a real partner — an advocate — not someone just trying to get a commission.”

Horning gets asked all the time in his marketplace to join a franchise, but his thinking is: “You are not growing or expanding; why would I want to be telling your story?” Because they have skin in the game, LeadingRE members are very active participants, willing to share knowledge even if they are direct competitors, said Horning.

What comes with a LeadingRE membership?

Members can attend conferences where brokers passionate about tech tools meet, give guidance and share ideas about marketing and technology.

LeadingRE’s Marketing Technology Advisory Council (MTAC) reviews all programs, provides input for conference content and the vendor partner program, and raises topics for staff to address. The results and findings are shared with the membership at large. They look over vendors to help guide members, attempt to identify the best ones and promote the ones that seem to be the cream of the crop, said Horning.

Many members access the preferred providers promoted at conferences and through the “Solutions Group” vendor partner program, often with preferred pricing or other benefits not available if they ordered on their own.

Former LeadingRE member Liz Nunan has just joined the organization as executive vice president of member services, to be located in Chicago, where close to 100 staff members are based. She was vice president of global business development at New York firm Houlihan Lawrence, which was acquired by HomeServices of America in January this year.

As Houlihan Lawrence is retaining its brand name, it will be able to maintain its membership with LeadingRE as other HomeServices companies have done. Nunan is a big fan of the LeadingRE learning management platform, Institute, which gives members access to a number of educational and agent development opportunities.

All members get access to the online courses, which include continuing education, a library and webinars. About a third of the 300-plus proprietary LeadingRE-produced courses are free, and the others have iTunes-like pricing of $7.99 each.

For an extra fee, brokerages can opt for the annual enterprise subscription, which gives their agents access to all at no cost. In many cases, franchises — where relocation referrals flow more abundantly — are better equipped for relocation work than independents. LeadingRE sister company RELO Direct aims to level the playing field as a tool for independent brokerage members, said Nunan, who has a background in corporate relocation.

“At Houlihan Lawrence, if I had a lead with a corporate client that wanted home buyouts, for instance, I could partner with RELO Direct which would help win the business,” said Nunan.

The new EVP sees her role to push more referrals through the network, which has always been the driving force of the network’s foundations.

Next month, LeadingRE will run a referral and relocation forum in Chicago, where all the relocation directors and coordinators will come together to generate more referral business.

Building up international links

With LeadingRE’s U.S. market fairly saturated, building up the international members is a key focus for O’Connor, who is working with staff based in Europe and Asia to identify firms for potential membership and to bolster international referrals.

“Internationally, it is a lot more challenging,” she said. “We have a lot of data to look at in the U.S. to look at performance, whereas overseas it tends to be by recommendation and you have to do due diligence in every market.”

Some opportunities will still pop up in the U.S. for new members. LeadingRE has a year-long contract with each of its members. “Anybody can leave with 90 days’ notice,” said O’Connor.

“We have to perform; they have to perform. We don’t renew probably 15 to 20 companies every year,” she said. “It’s not that they are not good — but they are just not engaged, they don’t come to events, they don’t send referrals.”

Referrals are the bread and butter when it comes to member brokerage ROI, with 35,000 referrals generated a year through the network.

On her part, she says: “We want to continue to be relevant and to meet a need in the market over 20 years that is not being met by franchises. Brokerages want to be independent to be on top of tech, [to be able to face challenges] from Zillow to Opendoor and want to grow the global part of the business.”

The organization has done sessions on succession planning because it is such a big issue with members, she added.

“I think it’s a really good time for independents,” she said. “They have a lot more flexibility, they can take the dollars where they are needed, rather than going to the franchise company for permission.”

LeadingRE’s luxury division: For the $1M and over club

Luxury Portfolio International, LeadingRE’s luxury division, is another major cog in the machine. Set up in 2005 at the urging of its members, it’s headed by Paul Boomsma, Leading RE’s COO who previously managed marketing for a Sotheby’s affiliate. Half of LeadingRE’s members are also Luxury Portfolio members. Brokerages in this niche should be selling properties of $1 million and over, he said.

Luxury members, who already have a presence in the luxury real estate space, gain access to global markets through Luxury Portfolio’s website, advertising programs and global audience.

“Wherever they are looking to market, we have resources,” Boomsma said. “It’s not impossible to do on your own, but it’s incredibly costly.”

By pooling resources, Luxury Portfolio can secure good placements in print and online advertising. Boomsma knows that no one in the luxury field has to buy a home, so the promotion has to tell a story and have impact.

Through surveys and white papers,the luxury division also offers education on what’s going on with today’s affluent buyers and sellers; their wants, needs and concerns, and networking and connections.

Boomsma and the management team recently ran a series of seven broker forums around the country.

“The idea was to bring brokers in to discuss their top concerns and how are they dealing with them, how can we assist. Everything from being recruited against, different technologies, the challenges of low inventory, where they should be focusing their dollars,” Boomsma said.

“Most of our companies — they have charismatic, smart leaders at the helm. It’s not easy times for any of them but they are resourceful.”

Boomsma welcomed the arrival of chief economist Marci Rossell to LeadingRE earlier this year. Rossell is the former chief economist for CNBC and is bringing an understanding of monetary policy and political climates to the organization and its members, and how they affect real estate markets.

Dispatch from Canada

With members all over Europe and in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, Ron Stader, owner of CIR Realty, based in Calgary, Canada, is chair of LeadingRE’s global advisory board and is also on the main board of LeadingRE.

According to Stader, CIR is the largest brokerage among independents and franchises in Alberta with a sales volume of CA$2.54 billion in 2016. It became a LeadingRE member nine years ago and is also a Luxury Portfolio member.

“Instead of 720 Realtors today, I would say if not for nine years with LeadingRE, we would be 520 realtors and that’s not an exaggeration,” said Stader.

“CIR was big before it became a part of LeadingRE, but when interviewing Realtors about joining us, their reservation was that we weren’t part of something else. What would we do with a referral to Vancouver; what conferences did we have for new ideas? “Those reservations all went away when we became part of LeadingRE. On the flip side, Realtors that used to leave us because they wanted to join a franchise don’t have to leave us anymore. They feel like they are not losing anything.”

Stader also believes the maverick spirit of independents makes their conferences — where you get “unique perspectives on the industry” — more interesting than other industry conferences.


Article image credited to AJ Canaria from PlanOmatic

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Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® Announces 26 New Members For 2017 Midyear

– Global real estate community continues to see strong network growth

CHICAGO (7/17/17) – For the first half of 2017, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) continued to see expansion with the addition of 26 market-leading real estate firms in nine countries, increasing the network’s coverage to more than 565 firms across six continents with a total of over 130,000 associates.

Top-performing firms were added in the Republic of Korea, Russia, Italy, Portugal, Canada, Central America and the United States.

These firms were selected for membership in LeadingRE’s invitation-only real estate community based on their market leadership and commitment to quality. As members of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, they have access to an international referral network that generates over 30,000 referrals annually, award-winning professional development programs, robust marketing programs, unique events and exposure to opportunities worldwide.

“Our network continues to expand as we bring on noteworthy firms representing the highest levels of knowledge, sales volume, and independent spirit that characterize members of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®,” said LeadingRE President and CEO Pam O’Connor. “We look forward to welcoming many of these members at our Global Symposium in Vienna September 24-26.”

Companies joining from the EMEA region of Europe/Middle East/Africa include: ADVECS Real Estate Corporation, St. Petersburg, Russia; Formicola Servizi Immobiliari, Napoli, Italy; Inmobiliaria ASTEN Tenerife, SL, Tenerife, Spain; Mallorca Gold, Palma de Mallorca, Spain; One Select Properties, Almancil, Portugal; and VOC International, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

In the Asia Pacific region, LeadingRE welcomed Korea Global Realty. Ltd, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Additions in the Latin and Central American region include Keys Bahamas realty Ltd, Freeport, Grand Bahamas and Costa Luxury Properties, Cancun, Mexico.

New U.S. firms include: Amherst Madison Legacy Real Estate, Boise, Idaho; Bluebird Real Estate, Crested Butte, Colo.; CBSHome, Omaha, Neb.; Home Advantage Realty, Columbia S.C.; Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates, Jackson, Wyo.; Kinlin Grover Real Estate, Osterville, Mass.; Ming Tree Realtors, Eureka, Calif.;  Pacific Union, San Francisco, Calif.; Page Taft Real Estate, Guilford, Conn.; Premier Homes & Properties, Kingsport, Tenn.; Ramus Realty, Pottsville, Penn.; Randall Realtors, Charlestown, R.I.; Southern Properties Agency, Fort Payne, Ala.; Strand Hill Properties, Manhattan Beach, Calif.; Weichert Realtors – First Tier, Columbia, Mo.; and Woods Bro Realty Inc./HOME Real Estate, Lincoln, Neb.

Joining the network from Canada is TrilliumWest Real Estate Brokerage in Guelph, Ontario.

To learn more about Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, visit



About Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®
Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® ( is a selective global community of the highest quality independent real estate companies, with over 565 companies and 130,000 sales associates in 65 countries. Network members generate over 1.1 million transactions annually, with $368 billion in home sales. LeadingRE exists to make its members better by connecting them to opportunities and people around the globe, supporting them with an international referral network, professional development programs, unique events and connections to people and opportunities worldwide.

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Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® Congratulates Top Producing Member Agents

– Associates named to annual REAL Trends ranking of most productive agents – 

CHICAGO – (7/14/17) – Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) is proud to acknowledge its high-achieving U.S. member agents named to the “The Thousand,” an annual ranking from REAL Trends Inc., issued in conjunction with The Wall Street Journal, that lists America’s top 1,000 real estate sales professionals and teams.

Out of the 250 individuals recognized for their prodigious sales volume, 47 (19%) are LeadingRE members and of the 250 teams ranked, 34 of them (14%) are also members. LeadingRE members also ranked highly for transaction sides. A total of 35 teams and 19 individuals were recognized, representing 15,126 transaction sides. The total sales volume for LeadingRE member agents placing in this elite group is over $13 billion.

“Demonstrating local expertise and market leadership is a hallmark of member associates who are part of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®,” said LeadingRE President and CEO Pam O’Connor. “We are pleased to see so many members rank so highly on this prestigious list, reaffirming our recent third-party research study indicating that today’s consumers prefer the personal service of real estate professionals with locally-branded, independent real estate brokerages.”

Rankings for the REAL Trends study are compiled based on surveys and represent virtually every nationally branded network, state and local associations of Realtors®, multiple listing services, and the largest brokerage firms in the United States. All entries require a third party verification in order to be considered.

Earlier this year, REAL Trends released the REAL Trends 500, a ranking of the top 500 residential firms in the U.S. Of that list, LeadingRE produced 25.7% of the total sales units, outselling any individual franchise network, and LeadingRE members represented 14 of the top 25 firms.

To learn more about Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, visit


About Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®
Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® ( is a selective global community of the highest quality independent real estate companies, with over 565 companies and 130,000 sales associates in 65 countries. Network members generate over 1.1 million transactions annually, with $368 billion in home sales. LeadingRE exists to make its members better by connecting them to opportunities and people around the globe, supporting them with an international referral network, professional development programs, unique events and connections to people and opportunities worldwide.

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LeadingRE Names Clareity a Preferred Technology Solution

CHICAGO – (6/21/17) – Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® has selected Clareity as a preferred provider through its Solutions Group program, which identifies business resources for its global community of 565 residential real estate firms.

Clareity is an industry leader in providing secure identity and access management, serving over 825,000 real estate agents daily. Clareity offers a variety of tools, including secure authentication, single sign-on (SSO), workflow automations, secure messaging and communication, content management and business intelligence.

“While many of our members utilize Clareity’s services through their MLSs, we are excited to introduce them to DASH™, their full-service platform for brokers,” said Robin LaSure, LeadingRE vice president, corporate marketing. “This platform gives our brokers a convenient way to support their agents through a secure mobile-friendly dashboard that centralizes applications and streamlines communications.”

Clareity President Amy Gorce adds, “We are extremely excited to form this relationship with the LeadingRE family. Having worked in this industry for over 20 years, I’ve had nothing but good experiences with the LeadingRE network. We’re confident that we can add value to for each and every one of its members!”

Learn more about Clareity’s broker tools at Learn more about Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® at


About Clareity
Clareity is the leading provider of authentication, identity management, single sign-on services and consulting for the real estate industry and currently serves over 850,000 real estate professionals in North America. Clareity is dedicated to innovating real estate technology solutions and creating the most convenient, secure and reliable products available. Their product suite offers multiple solutions including DASH for brokers, SAFEMLS PLUS, Single Sign-On Dashboards, Clareity Direct Connections™, the vendor network Discover, and more. The company has received the National Association of REALTOR®’s approval and endorsement, multiple Inman Innovator Awards, and numerous industry recognitions.

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LeadingRE Announces New Executive Vice President


CHICAGO – (6/14/17) Chicago-based Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) has named Elizabeth D. Nunan, SCRP, SGMS, Executive Vice President, Member Services. In this position, Nunan will manage membership services for the global network of 565 independent real estate firms.

Nunan will play a key role in company strategy, working closely with other members of the senior management team to identify opportunities for growth, establish performance metrics and address member needs. She will direct the network’s core broker referral program, which generates over 30,000 member-to-member referrals annually. Additionally, she will oversee service delivery to members and account management to ensure engagement, performance and results.

She comes to the position with over 25 years of industry experience, having begun her career in corporate relocation and title services before joining prominent LeadingRE member Houlihan Lawrence in 1997. As vice president, Global Business Development, she achieved a dramatic increase in referral sales volume, earning numerous company awards for referral production. Her expertise extends to training, social media and marketing.

Nunan was presented Worldwide ERC’s prestigious Distinguished Service Award in 2016 and holds the Senior Certified Relocation Professional and Senior Global Mobility Specialist designations, as well as being a licensed real estate broker.

“Liz has been such a vital part of the LeadingRE community for so many years,” said LeadingRE President/CEO Pam O’Connor. “Her ability to build relationships, set and achieve goals and motivate people makes her a natural choice for this important position, and we are delighted to have her on our leadership team!”

Nunan is based in LeadingRE’s Chicago headquarters and can be reached at +1 312-424-0400.


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Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and Luxury Portfolio International® Partner with HGTV For Ultimate House Hunt

– Annual contest curates the world’s most stunning real estate listings. –     

CHICAGO – June 13, 2017 – Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and Luxury Portfolio International® are proud to announce the start of the 2017 HGTV Ultimate House Hunt, a month-long online promotion held on each year. HGTV has joined forces with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and Luxury Portfolio International® as the exclusive real estate partners for the contest, which runs from June 13 through July 18.

The contest highlights exceptional homes from across the globe in eight categories, including two new categories this year, Kitchen & Dining and Modern Masterpieces. Other categories are Curb Appeal, Outdoor Retreats, Living Large in Small Spaces, Great Estates, Waterfront Homes, and International Homes. All featured homes are represented by members of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and Luxury Portfolio International®. Consumers can choose their favorite, and a winner is chosen at the end, including the highly coveted overall fan favorite award.

“The Ultimate House Hunt is very popular with our audience,” said Rich Lacy, vice president, Digital Brand Creative & for Scripps Networks. “Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and Luxury Portfolio International® represent the most beautiful homes throughout the world, and it is always exciting to see which properties resonate most with our voters.”

Last year’s contest saw over one million votes cast, illustrating the ongoing fascination with homes all around the world. This year’s finalists include listings in 14 countries from 48 companies. In addition to bragging rights, the winning homes will receive additional editorial exposure on

“Each year we look forward to joining with HGTV and working with them to source the world’s best listings from our members to share. With two new categories, this year, we are excited to discover which of our members’ desirable properties will capture the hearts and minds of the HGTV audience,” said Paul Boomsma, president of Luxury Portfolio International®.

Visit to cast your vote for this year’s finalists:

Curb Appeal

  • @properties, Harbert, Mich.
  • Barfoot & Thompson Ltd., Auckland, New Zealand
  • Florida Executive Realty, Odessa, Fla.
  • Houlihan Lawrence, Bronxille, N.Y.
  • Keefe Real Estate, Inc., Lake Geneva, Wis.
  • Pinnacle Estate Properties, Inc., Encino, Calif.
  • Sea Island Properties, Sea Island, Ga.
  • William Raveis Real Estate, Bedford Corners, N.Y. 

Great Estates

  • @properties, Glencoe, Ill.
  • Beacham & Company, REALTORS, Atlanta, Ga.
  • Chas Everitt International Property Group, Colesburg, South Africa
  • Harry Norman, REALTORS, Atlanta, Ga.
  • Houlihan Lawrence, Greenwich, Conn.
  • John Daugherty, Realtors, Houston, Texas
  • Willis Allen Real Estate, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
  • Windermere Real Estate Midtown, Blaine, Wash.

International Homes

  • Chas Everitt International Property Group, Kenton on Sea, South Africa
  • Grupo Actua Properties, Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic
  • Jawitz Properties Ltd., Ballito, South Africa
  • JK Property & Yachting, Mykonos, Greece
  • LX Costa Rica, Santa Ana, Costa Rica
  • Rahim & Co International, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • WETAG Consulting, Ruvigliana, Switzerland
  • The Whistler Real Estate Co., Whistler, BC, Canada

Kitchen & Dining

  • Arizona Best Real Estate, Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Brown Harris Stevens of the Hamptons, LLC, Sagaponack, N.Y.
  • First Team Real Estate, Newport Coast, Calif.
  • Gibson International Inc., Los Angeles, Calif.
  • John Daugherty, Realtors, Houston, Texas
  • ReeceNichols Real Estate, Overland Park, Kan.
  • Weichert REALTORS Coastal Properties, Bluffton, S.C.
  • Windermere Real Estate, Portland, Ore.

Living Large in Small Spaces

  • Alain Pinel Realtors (2 finalists), Carmel, Calf.
  • Lost Tree Realty, North Palm Beach, Fla.
  • McEnearney Associates, Alexandria, Va.
  • McGuire Real Estate (2 finalists), Oakland, Calf. and Bolinas, Calif.
  • Windermere Real Estate (2 finalists), Seattle, Wash.

Modern Masterpieces

  • Allie Beth Allman & Associates, University Park, Texas
  • Bennion Deville Homes, Rancho Mirage, Calif.
  • Brown Harris Stevens of The Hamptons, Amagansett, N.Y.
  • EWM Realty International, Miami, Fla.
  • First Team Real Estate, Dana Point, Calif.
  • Paragon Real Estate, San Francisco, Calf.
  • Sibarth Real Estate, Corossol, Saint Barthelemy
  • Windermere Real Estate, Clyde Hill, Wash.

Outdoor Retreats

  • Chas Everitt International Property Group, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Dale Sorensen Real Estate, Inc., Vero Beach, Fla.
  • Ebby Halliday Realtors, Westlake, Texas
  • Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers, Holualoa, Hawaii
  • John Daugherty, Realtors, Houston, Texas
  • John R Wood Properties, Naples, Fla.
  • Premier Estate Properties, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla.
  • Sunshine Properties, Terres Basses, St. Maarten 

Waterfront Homes

  • Bailey Properties, La Selva Beach, Calf.
  • Chase International, South Lake Tahoe, Calf.
  • Houlihan Lawrence, Riverside, Conn.
  • Immobilsarda, Porto Rotondo, Sardinia, Italy
  • Michael Saunders & Company, Longboat Key, Fla.
  • Sea Island Properties, St. Simons Island, Fla.
  • Smiths Gore Limited, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
  • Turks & Caicos Property, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands

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LeadingRE Names IXACT Contact as Preferred CRM and Email Marketing Solution

IXACT Contact


CHICAGO (6/12/17) – Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® announced today that IXACT Contact® Inc. has been named a preferred provider through its Solutions Group program, a collection of select business tools presented to its global network of 565 residential real estate firms.

IXACT Contact® is an integrated real estate CRM (customer relationship management), email marketing, and website solution that helps sales associates and teams manage communications, listings and active buyers, as well as their online presence.

“IXACT Contact helps real estate professionals save time and be better organized with a single, easy-to-use platform that allows them to nurture and convert more leads,” said Robin LaSure, LeadingRE vice president, corporate marketing. “We are pleased to introduce the service to our members looking for a highly effective and affordable agent or team level CRM and email marketing platform.”

IXACT Contact Co-Founder and EVP Rich Gaasenbeek adds, “We are simply delighted to have been selected as a preferred service provider by LeadingRE. Their members are market leaders who have achieved success through innovation and excellence across all aspects of their business, and they are exactly the kinds of companies we most enjoy working with,” Gaasenbeek said.

Learn more about IXACT Contact at Learn more about Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® at



About IXACT Contact

IXACT Contact® Inc. is a cloud-based real estate CRM that helps agents stay organized and build lasting relationships, headquartered in Toronto, Canada. The integrated solution offers three powerful elements including a real estate CRM, email marketing platform and mobile-friendly agent website for one low price. Established in 2007, IXACT Contact is a sister company of Morris Real Estate Marketing Group, which has been in business since 1927.

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Consumers Show Preference for Independent Real Estate Brands

CHICAGO – (5/31/17) In a recent survey of more than 3,000 U.S. homeowners, consumers indicated a strong preference for working with sales associates affiliated with local independent brands. More than 88% said they preferred working with an agent with a “well-known, local real estate company,” while   12% preferred those affiliated with a national franchise.

This was one of several responses describing how today’s consumers buy and sell real estate as part of a broad-based, wide-ranging U.S. consumer segmentation study conducted on behalf of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) by McKee Wallwork + Co. and Decision Analyst.

This particular finding on the appeal of independent brokerages is supported by another third-party source, the REAL Trends 500 ranking of the top 500 residential real estate firms in the U.S. The data collected from brokerages around the country indicates that LeadingRE produced 25.7% of the total sales units among the top 500 brokerages in the U.S., outselling any single franchise network, and that has been the case for more than 10 consecutive years. LeadingRE members also represented 14 of the top 25 firms in the U.S. in sales volume for 2016.

In terms of total sales for all brokerages in each network, LeadingRE’s residential real estate firms outperformed their nearest network competitor by $62 billion, producing 1.1 million sales units valued at $368 billion in home sales.

“Year after year, the independent firms that comprise our network demonstrate their market leadership locally and collectively as an international community focused on delivering the most exceptional customer experiences,” said LeadingRE President/CEO Pam O’Connor. “This is consistent with the growth in popularity of local restaurants, locally-branded divisions of major hotel franchisors, and other locally-sourced retail goods and services that offer the brand differentiation and community roots that appeal to many of today’s consumers as compared to big box brands of the past.”

Figures for the top 500 firms are verified and published by REAL Trends each April. Figures for total sales of all networks are estimated by using average sales units per agent for each network’s firms in the REAL Trends 500, multiplied across each network’s entire agent population. 

With member firms in 65 countries, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® selects only the highest quality, market-leading independent companies for membership and supports them with its robust referral network, award-winning professional development programs, Luxury Portfolio marketing program, and events providing meaningful connections to people and opportunities worldwide.

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Why Global Matters: Looking Beyond Borders Integral to LeadingRE’s Growth

LeadingRE Chief Economist Marci Rossell, EVP of Global Operations Chris Dietz, and President/CEO Pam O’Connor featured on the cover of RISMedia’s Real Estate Magazine, April 2017. The full article appears below, and the digital magazine can be viewed here.


By Maria Patterson

That timeless belief, “all real estate is local,” is so ingrained in the minds of most practitioners that eyes often glaze over when the topic of global real estate is brought up. But Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® has been taking an alternative view since the early 2000s, when it actively began expanding to other countries from its strong U.S. base.

“Real estate isn’t local or global,” says LeadingRE President/CEO Pam O’Connor. “It is both. Those who ignore the global piece are missing enormous opportunities.”

Recently, LeadingRE brought on its own chief economist to share insights on the global economy and how it impacts real estate. Dr. Marci Rossell, whose background includes stints with the Federal Reserve Bank, Oppenheimer Funds and as chief economist for CNBC, believes that real estate is only beginning to feel the effects of globalization.

“Globalization is still a strong force in real estate, despite the recent rise of economic nationalism worldwide,” says Rossell. “The factors that drive real estate buyers to one area of the world—things like safe political environments, cultural and family ties, the supply of talent—are still in place. And while a stronger dollar makes U.S. real estate more expensive for foreign buyers, these other forces are a powerful counterbalance to that trend. Globalization may be under threat, but it represents an international integration arising from economic, cultural and political factors. It is here to stay.”

The iPhone has had a lot to do with this. Introduced in June 2007—less than 10 years ago—it has unleashed a new era of innovation, made the internet and global communication accessible to the masses, and further eroded cultural differences. The world population as of August 2016 is 7.4 billion people, and the median age is 30.1 years old. This is the iPhone generation, and we can only expect more global integration in the future as a result.

But if you’re sitting in Omaha or Cincinnati or Atlanta, you may still be asking, “What does this have to do with real estate in my market? We don’t have a lot of international buyers.”

In 2015, NAR reported that foreign buyers purchased 214,885 residential properties from April 2015 to March 2016, a 3 percent increase over the prior year. While most of that has been in coastal markets like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and Miami, many Chinese have purchased in college towns across the country based on where their children are studying. In any market, there is likely more international activity than you think. Individuals from other countries often gravitate to the same real estate agents who have worked with their friends and family or financial advisors and have thus established a foundation of trust. You could be missing out on international business in your town or city simply because you are underestimating the potential business and have not focused on it.

Even if you have few foreign buyers in your market, no one can ignore the changing demographics in this country in virtually every state and region, represented by millions of potential real estate buyers who come from different cultures and ethnicities.

Non-Hispanic whites are now 62 percent of the American population; they will be less than 50 percent by about 2055. Today, about 14 percent of all Americans are foreign-born, versus 5 percent in 1965 (though, ironically, that 14 percent is similar to what it was in the early 20th century). These changes in the composition of our country have major implications for real estate as we usher in a new generation of buyers and sellers from different cultures. If we expect to serve the needs of these potential customers who come from other backgrounds, we must learn those values, customs and needs. All of this bodes enormous opportunity for those who embrace the change and recognize the need to recruit agents from different backgrounds, to customize services for these different cultures, to engage with them online and in the community, and to provide services in different languages.

LeadingRE has jumped into globalization in terms of both coverage and culture. Comprised of 550 strong, independent brokerages with 4,000 offices and nearly 130,000 agents, the network is now operating in 63 countries and expects to hit 70 by fall 2017.

Leading that charge is EVP of Global Operations Christoph (Chris) Dietz, based in London and Frankfurt, Germany. Since joining LeadingRE five years ago, Dietz has expanded the network’s country count by more than triple, but even more significantly, he is continually reinforcing a global mindset that goes beyond coverage.

“In Europe—simply because of geography and other factors—we cross borders all the time and have a sense of the different cultures and practices,” Dietz says. “That is not the case in the U.S., so we are always thinking of the little things…having +1 before U.S. phone numbers for international dialing, scheduling multi-audience calls or webinars involving overseas colleagues at times that make sense, reviewing messaging intended for all members so that it isn’t so U.S.-centric.

“But the best way for that kind of thinking to be natural is to experience other cultures,” he continues. “At LeadingRE, we are very focused on connecting our members, not just having dots on the map. That way, we form trusted relationships based on mutual understanding and respect, and we find that at the end of the day, people are people. If we know each other, we are more likely to do business with each other.”

To foster these cross-border relationships, LeadingRE schedules at least two or three non-U.S. events each year in addition to its annual “Conference Week,” held last month in Miami with members from 25 countries in attendance. In 2016, the network’s annual Global Symposium was held in Amsterdam, and a luxury property event for its Luxury Portfolio division took place in Beijing. Regional networking webinars for members in the Caribbean proved so popular that they are being replicated in Europe and other regions this year. In 2017, in addition to its Global Symposium in Vienna at the end of September, a variation of its highly lauded “Asia Immersion” event in Shanghai in 2014 will be repeated in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with pre- and post-event visits to Singapore and Thailand.

“There is an enormous sense of comfort when gifting a client to a LeadingRE/Luxury Portfolio colleague in another part of the world,” says Lulu Egerton, a partner with London-based Strutt and Parker in the UK. “Even if we haven’t met a particular member, we know that these companies have been carefully vetted and share our values.”

For example, when Egerton’s team identified Turkey as a source of investor buyers coming to London, they reached out to LeadingRE/Luxury Portfolio member AYIKCAN Real Estate there, who organized a dinner with high-net worth Turkish business people during a Strutt & Parker visit to Turkey.

“That kind of thing lays the groundwork for relationships that inevitably lead to business transactions,” says Egerton, “and this simply wouldn’t happen without the connections fostered by LeadingRE and Luxury Portfolio.”

As the frequency and participation in LeadingRE’s global events have grown, so have its cross-border referrals. Member-to-member referrals are a core competency of the network dating back to its roots in the old RELO® network. Last year, members generated over 30,000 “client introductions” to one another with a whopping 50 percent conversion rate. Traditionally, most of that has been within the U.S., but cross-border referrals are doubling each year, and conversion is improving thanks to a “Cross-Border Liaison Team” that assists members with communication, customs, and follow-up required by referrals between different countries.

One recent success came with a referral from Smith & Associates Real Estate in Tampa, Fla., to Stone Real Estate in Sydney, Australia. Smith & Associates Vice President of Business Development and Relocation Jane Gowarty made an introduction on behalf of REALTOR® Amanda Heese, whose godmother had a distinctive property in the Blue Mountains of Australia.

With assistance from LeadingRE’s cross-border team, Heese connected with Reece Coleman, CEO of Stone Realty. “Immediately, I felt confident that Reece saw and appreciated the ‘story’ behind the property and would be a natural at marketing and selling it,” Heese says. The connection between the two companies was further solidified when Gowarty and Coleman met at LeadingRE’s Global Symposium in Amsterdam. A few months later, the property was sold just 10 days after being listed, in a market with an average days-on-market of 360—also setting a new residential price record in the area.

“It was an absolute delight marketing this property and getting to know and work with our LeadingRE colleagues,” says Coleman. “While we are literally on opposite sides of the world, we are aligned by a shared focus on delivering an exceptional experience, and this focus on quality is a universal trait of LeadingRE firms.”

Another globalization focus for LeadingRE is on the corporate relocation side. Its sister relocation management company, RELO Direct®, Inc., works with multi-national clients who relocate talent all over the world. As a result, in Shanghai and Munich, RELO Direct works via two firms that are also members of LeadingRE. These two companies operate both destination service companies (DSPs) to assist international expatriates moving from one country to another and real estate brokerages.

“The organization has synergies for us in both areas,” says Dima Lorenz of Ark Properties in Shanghai. “We work closely with RELO Direct to assist employees relocating to China with RELO Direct client companies, but we also work with fellow LeadingRE colleagues to support individual buyers and sellers.”

LeadingRE is expanding its referral business to also encompass commercial referrals, working with its members who operate dedicated commercial divisions as well as selected commercial-only partners in other cities. Given the growth in commercial investment in the U.S. in recent years, that is yet another way in which LeadingRE plans to extend its global reach.

“While the stock market is hot right now, investors are always looking for ways to diversify,” says Rossell. “Not only are financial advisors considering the real estate portfolio of their clients in addition to equities and other investments, but we’ve also seen growth in global real estate mutual funds and global real estate investment trusts (REITs). Additionally, we see consumers in other countries ‘parking’ their money by buying property in the relatively safe economic environment of the U.S. All of this indicates the fascination with and confidence in real estate from an investment, as well as lifestyle, perspective. As we continue to see an accelerated interest in cross-border real estate purchases, the traditional barriers to these transactions—financing, logistics, and more—will be increasingly minimized, so that buying or selling property in another country becomes nearly as routine as it is in the U.S.”

LeadingRE truly lives its mantra: “We’re Local, We’re Global®.” Its locally-branded independent real estate firms have to be market leaders in order to qualify for membership, whether a mega-brokerage like Howard Hanna or Long & Foster or a one-office firm that dominates the market in its small suburb or town. No matter what a firm’s local profile, having meaningful connections to other quality-focused firms worldwide is a real differentiator in this global economy.

This local “private label” character of LeadingRE’s members is serving them well in the age of the internet and today’s consumer interest in community roots and distinctive business personas. It is no accident that the love affair with local brands is driving many business decisions, whether it is the introduction of boutique-brand divisions by major hotel chains or the decision by HomeServices of America to retain the local brands of independent acquisitions like LeadingRE members Kentwood in Denver and Houlihan Lawrence in Westchester County, rather than moving them into its Berkshire Hathaway franchise network.

“We believe there has never been a better time for local brands,” says LeadingRE’s O’Connor. “Ironically, this translates in the global landscape, as well. In effect, we are able to offer the authenticity and connections of strong local brands around the world. When clients understand that they are accessing the same integrity, competence, and client care in another country that they’re used to at home with one of our members, this becomes a huge factor in bridging cultural, political and economic differences.”

So regardless of where you sit in the real estate world, why should you care about global?

  1. National economies are increasingly intertwined, and when business crosses borders, so do people and the homes they buy and sell. As that happens, the barriers to real estate transactions will fall.
  1. The internet and smartphones have introduced new vistas to consumers everywhere, particularly with younger people, so those who have never thought about buying a home in another country are or will.
  1. You already have a host of cultures in your own backyard, and if you wish to have their business, you need to know them.

Having a global mindset does not mean abandoning love or loyalty to country; it simply recognizes the changing world in which we live and the many reasons—business, practical and personal—to respect and embrace the rich opportunities that diversity brings, just as it has in this country throughout our history.

For more information, please visit

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas

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How May I Serve You?


This article by LeadingRE Business Development Manager Jeff Kennedy was published in RISMedia’s e-News on April 19, 2017.


Recently I tried to use my corporate American Express card while on a business trip to New York City. I tried to pay for a taxi, but it was declined. I ran it through twice to make sure it wasn’t “operator error.” Although I was positive that the card wasn’t frozen for lack of payment, it was a bit embarrassing, and I could feel the judgmental eyes of the cabbie glaring at me. Of course, being pulled over, with traffic backed up and horns blaring, just added to the intensity of the situation. Thankfully I had cash, paid a larger than deserved tip and hastily made my way out of the cab. That isn’t the end of the story.

I quickly called the toll-free number on the back of the card and spoke with a customer service rep. I wish I had his name, but I didn’t expect to need to remember it later. Rather than being greeted with the DMV-style voice/tone that we’ve come to expect when calling customer service, he was inviting and empathetic… it was actually a bit disarming. He said things like “You are a valued customer” and “How may I serve you?” rather than the standard “Thank you for calling. How may I help you?”

The fact that he used the word “serve” struck a chord—not because I feel the need to be served, but because of what the word infers. There is a reason that the employees at Chick-fil-A are trained to say “How may I serve you?” and “My pleasure.” It’s because words matter.

When a customer service rep offers to help someone, he is agreeing that there is a problem (which was likely caused by the company), and he is implying that the client needs his help to resolve said issue. Neither of those responses is positive.

“How may I serve you?” has a completely different feel to it. It may be semantics, but his word choice changed the tone and trajectory of our conversation. It made me feel that he was on my side, that he wanted to make it right, and that we were going to figure this out together. In that moment, I went from frustrated business traveler to a “valued customer” with a friend on the “inside.”

What is your mentality with your real estate clients? Do you see yourself as helping them? Servicing them? Or truly serving them?

The best way to serve your clients in real estate is to keep your focus on what is right for them.

Here are some examples of service versus help:

Service – Understand that you couldn’t be successful without this client.
Help – Have a mindset that the client couldn’t do this without you.

Service – Welcome questions, as that shows engagement.
Help – Have a set idea of how long a conversation should be or how many questions a client should ask.

Service – Think of only what is best for your client. Period. Your client doesn’t care that you are getting a bonus for selling that house. They want a house that is a perfect fit for their needs, not yours. Think of the old police adage “To Protect and Serve.”
Help – Think about the quickest way to get the transaction closed.

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) is a service organization first. Our clients are the top independent real estate brokerages in the world. While we offer a referral network, vendor relationships and proprietary platforms, service to our members always comes first, and we are guided by our mantra of Making the Best Brokerages BetterSM.

We vet and hire the right people, but we also invest resources in the ongoing development of our employees. We never lose sight of the fact that serving our members is our reason for existing as company.

The next time you go to meet a client for the first time, try a service mentality, and maybe even go as far as saying the words out loud: “How may I serve you?” You’ll experience positive results and will be glad that you did.


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