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Nelson_ZideFor the past 25 years, Nelson Zide has been a national ERA multi-million dollar seller, and while he doesn’t shy away from admitting that the money is a big part of why he loves the business, it’s the people he helps that really make him happy.

“I like seeing the smiles on people’s faces when we can consummate a sale to get people what they want and where they want to be,” says Zide. “I enjoy working with people. Everyone has a circumstance that’s a little bit different, and the challenge is helping to solve their circumstance.”

Zide, senior executive vice president of ERA Key Realty in Framingham, Mass., got his real estate license in 1977, opened up his own brokerage two years later, and became a part of ERA Key Realty in 1997.

“We’re always looking to grow and are very focused with our management team on recruiting both brand-new and experienced agents,” he says. “We’re also always looking for opportunities to acquire and merge with other companies.”

For example, the firm recently acquired a small office of 15 in the northern tier of its Massachusetts-based coverage area, bringing the firm’s total to 14 offices and 340 agents.

“What’s unique about us is that there are five owners—all local and all who grew up in the real estate business—and we’re very visible. All of our agents have our cell-phone numbers, and if they can’t reach their manager, they know they can reach out to us,” Zide says. “We started small with a family-type atmosphere, and even though we’ve grown, we’ve continued that feeling. We always have time for our agents, as we know that the more successful they are, the more successful the company will be.”

That’s why 10 years ago, Zide had an independent company come in to interview every person on staff to find out what was most important to them. Almost universally, the top answer was training.

“We took it to heart and beefed up our training, because that’s what they wanted, and we know that’s important for our growth strategy,” says Zide. “We gather together in the office to watch the ERA webinars, which are top-notch; we offer a company-wide monthly training program; do smaller meetings for the different tiers of locales; and have an eight-week mentoring program with an office manager. All are free, and agents can get all their continuing education credits for free. There’s no excuse here for not getting educated.”

As of the end of April, Zide was dealing with  tight inventory, especially in the $300,000 to $450,000 range, which are wildly in demand by first-time homebuyers.

“West of the city of Boston is not as crazy as the city, but we’re seeing very little inventory, multiple offers, a lot of cash offers, very disappointed buyers and sellers shocked at what they’re getting,” says Zide.

Vitals: ERA Key Realty
Years in business: Since 1997
Size: 19 offices, 340 agents
2015 sales volume: $694 million
2015 transactions: 2,500
Region served:  Massachusetts, from just outside the 128 Belt, south to Rhode Island, west to Connecticut and north of the New Hampshire border