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Tales from Downturn Abbey: How the Slump Turned Out to Be the Best Thing that Could Have Happened for a Determined Colorado Company

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By Barbara Pronin

It could have been a disaster.

For Brad Whitehouse, Mike Burns and Alan Smith, pooling their resources to purchase RE/MAX Professionals in the Denver Metro area seemed like a no-brainer in 2006. They were experienced. They were well-prepared. They were filled with ideas and optimism. How were they to know the industry was headed for the biggest slump to hit since the early ’90s?

“The skies were blue,” Whitehouse recalls. “All signals were go. We were all fired up and rarin’ to go when the bottom suddenly dropped out—and we knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, we had to make one of two choices: throw in the towel and buckle under, or buckle down and ride it out.”

They decided to ride it out, and looking back, Whitehouse noted, the slump created opportunity they might otherwise not have had.

“At a time when every deal counted and the competition was keen, we had to figure out a way to add value—not just to buyers and sellers, but also to our agents. We believed that a little something extra—that consistent, above-average level of professionalism—was going to be the key to our survival.”

They jumped into the anemic market, he says, by taking stock of their strengths: three partners with extensive RE/MAX real estate backgrounds, a well-established level of trust in each other, and distinct areas of expertise—Burns as the broker of record, Smith in sales and sales management, and Whitehouse with a background in technical systems and implementation.

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