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Vitals: RE/MAX Gold Coast
Years in Business: 28
Size: 8 offices, 235 agents
Regions Served: West Ventura County
2017 Sales Volume: Approximately $1 billion
2017 Transactions: 2,143

RE/MAX Gold Coast has been a family-run business for 28 years, with Michael Sipes running the firm as owner and lead broker. The company has six offices, in addition to its own property management division, and it manages both the vacation rentals and long-term rentals that have become a thriving entity over the last five years.

What makes your firm unique in your market?
Michael Sipes: Over the 28 years, there’s been a lot of ebb and flow in the marketplace. Ten years ago, it was a really bad time in real estate with a large number of short sales and foreclosures and property values going down. Our company survived that through our agents. We have 230-plus agents, and some of them have been with us since the beginning. The RE/MAX model has always been “you’re in business for yourself, but not by yourself,” and that’s something that our agents epitomize and take to heart. They run very good businesses and are very professional.

We do a lot of work with the Children’s Hospital, as well. We have some agents here that are the top contributors in our region and we’re really proud of that. The last I checked, nearly 60 percent of our agent count was participating in the Children’s Miracle Network, which means that they’re divesting a certain dollar amount out of each closing to the Children’s Hospital. We’re hoping to get that to 90 percent.

You mentioned some strong retention numbers. What’s the secret to keeping agents and making them happy?
MS: Communication is key, as is supporting them the best you can. I’ve been the broker for the last eight years, but I pride myself on answering my phone. Retention here begins from the onboarding. We share all our systems that RE/MAX LLC has provided, as well as the systems that we have here in-house. In addition, the agents are greeted by our escrow team. We also have an IT person who works with all of our agents. He’s great, and that seems to be a great asset for our team and our agents.

What sort of training does the firm offer its agents to help them succeed?
MS: In addition to social media training, we also have a trainer who does something called “Momentum,” which is designed for new agents, as well as seasoned agents who just need a refresher. The synergy that occurs in that group when you combine those who have been around for a while and those who are just coming in is awesome.

How would you characterize your market in 2018?
MS: We’re in Ventura County, and in December 2017, the Thomas Fires greatly affected our area. We had six agents who lost their homes, in addition to other agents who had severe damage. The community in general, from Santa Paula to Ventura and other places, was affected, and it impacted the beginning of our year quite a bit.

Toward the latter part of 2017 and into January 2018, there was a time where lenders weren’t funding because insurers were stopping their policies from going through. That did begin to change and loosen up, and it’s gotten back to normal a little bit, which led to a nice first quarter leading into April and May. In fact, this past May, we saw a 10 percent increase in our transactional volume compared to last year. Overall, we’ve had about a 5 percent increase over last year.

Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia. 

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