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“Innovation” is one of those buzzwords real estate brokerages use to describe the value they bring to the table. One independent brokerage—Kentwood Real Estate—not only delivers on that value, it also has the awards and productivity to prove it.

Led by Chief Executive Officer Peter Niederman, Denver-based Kentwood is home to 185 agents who work in three pristine, high-end offices in the city. As the largest independent brokerage in Colorado ranked by sales volume and transaction sides in the 2014 RISMedia Power Broker Report, Kentwood is no stranger to pushing the envelope—and it does so aggressively with technology.

For starters, Kentwood agents have access—at nominal costs—to three company-owned drones for capturing aerial listing photography—a huge hit with clients and brokers alike. Agents can also use Google Glass to walk through a listing and narrate every nook and cranny they see along the way. If those things weren’t cutting-edge enough, Kentwood’s mobile app also features Matterport, a high-quality, rapid 3D visualization of physical spaces, that rolled out to agents in March.

“Anything we touch isn’t good; it’s great,” Niederman says. “We’re early adopters of the latest technologies, and we’re not afraid to try new things. Our agents can’t wait to try it either.”

Perhaps that’s why Kentwood won LeadingRE’s Most Innovative Real Estate Brokerage Award earlier this year, as well as other awards for per-agent and brokerage productivity. Kentwood has come a long way since Niederman bought the company in 2007. Building on Kentwood’s solid name recognition in Denver, Niederman focused on creating a culture of cooperation so competing brokers would see Kentwood as “the most cooperative brokerage in the marketplace.”

In addition to fostering better working relationships, Niederman stressed the importance of hiring only the best “next gen” brokers who fit the Kentwood model of high performance and productivity, he says. In other words, it’s not a place for new agents who need training.

One of those agents is Michele Ciardullo, an eight-year Kentwood veteran and member of the Sandy Weigand Team. Ciardullo says she’s continually in awe of the technology the company adopts. The corporate marketing team’s support is also second to none.

“Our team recently won an $8 million luxury listing due, in large part, to the amazing presentation the marketing team helped us put together on a tight schedule,” Ciardullo says. “The sellers loved seeing the 3D tour in action, as well as our sleek marketing pieces, multiple search websites and high-end drone photography, that we showcased in our presentation.

“Peter has tremendous vision and sees what’s coming before anyone else does, and he encourages us to think outside of the box. That’s great leadership.”

If you ask around, most Kentwood agents will credit Niederman’s progressive leadership with elevating the brokerage’s profile. One example: He took the company’s traditional play-it-safe approach and flipped it on its head by investing more than $1 million in the domain name.

“A lot of people thought I was crazy,” Niederman recalls of the 2012 purchase. “But I knew if our brokerage wanted more eyeballs on our brand, we needed to get in front of consumers where they were spending the most time—and that’s online. We’re the only real estate firm on the Front Range that has this type of brand ownership and content control online, and it’s paid off.”

With low inventory driving double-digit price appreciation, Denver is a sizzling hotbed for real estate sales growth. In 2014, Kentwood agents closed more than $2.2 billion in sales volume—a staggering average of nearly $12 million per agent. Fueled by an uptick in new household formations, major companies relocating to the area and more millennials flocking west, the pent-up demand for housing spells opportunity for Kentwood to seize new business, Niederman says.

To capture these fresh leads, Kentwood is advertising on TV as other real estate companies pull back. Jamie Slough, Kentwood’s Director of Marketing, says its “We are Denver” advertising campaign, which includes TV, radio, out of home and online placements, points audiences to as a community resource.

The response from agents has been nothing short of ecstatic, Slough says.

“It’s tough to get a true sense of ROI from an advertising campaign,” Slough says. “But when I see our agents embrace and adopt the advertising into their own materials and they’re winning competitive listings left and right, the results speak for themselves.”

Deborah Kearns is an award-winning writer based in Denver with more than a decade of experience in corporate communications and news journalism. She has covered the real estate industry for more than seven years.

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