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Dan_ElseaLike most markets, metro Detroit and Michigan jumped up about 6 percent in terms of homes sold in 2015, after falling about 5 percent the previous year.

“We were a bit surprised at the jump, since Michigan, after being the first to fall in the recession, was the first to jump back. After almost four years of recovery, we thought the market would settle back down, but instead it jumped up,” says Dan Elsea, president of brokerage services for Real Estate One Family of Companies. “The contributing factors were both low interest rates and rising wages, but mostly, it was the second wave of the recovery finally kicking in, which was the release of pent-up sellers, finally with equity, who could afford to sell. Roughly two-thirds of those sellers were also buyers, so it stoked the buyer fire as well.”

The company operates under five different brands—with Real Estate One acting as the flagship—and each has a strategic significance and a loyal following.

“We have an extremely productive salesforce, one of the most productive among the large brokers across the country, and all of our brands have great depth in each of the markets they service, giving us a competitive alternative to the national franchised brands,” Elsea says. “We have a unique, multi-brand business model that gives us the flexibility to adjust to different markets, which helps attract both consumers and sales associates.”

While Real Estate One’s footprint in the state of Michigan may have a few holes, its primary focus is to build within its current footprint.

“Growth comes from both improving our agents’ success and adding talent. We focus on providing a great business platform for our agents with personal branding, education and marketing tools that give our agents the best opportunity for success when they are competing for a client,” Elsea says. “We have added talent equally through experienced agents, acquisitions and new agents to the business.”

Looking at the state of the market in early 2016, Elsea notes for-sale inventory in the under $250,000 markets is still a challenge; meanwhile, upper-end inventories are rising faster than demand, so the firm is beginning to see a challenge in this segment, as well.

“We see some great niche opportunities with investors and new construction. We have also been successful with a ‘Listing Love Letters’ campaign, which involves sending handwritten letters to targeted areas telling a story about your buyer; we will do over 10,000 in a given campaign, with clients’ responses running about 1 in 25,” reports Elsea. “We are also seeing more and more agents who have hit a ceiling with their business, so they are frustrated and looking for additional resources to grow their business, which fits into our business model.”

Initiatives like that have helped rank Real Estate One as one of the Top 10 Workplaces in Michigan for the past five years.

“Like most companies that have been around a while, we have built a culture that attracts and retains,” says Elsea. “Our culture focuses on a very open and caring environment for our sales associates and employees. Our core values form the acronym EXCITE—Excellence, Caring, Integrity, Teamwork and Empowerment, words we have lived by for 85 years, but just finally put down on paper a few years ago.”

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