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Vitals: Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene
Years in Business: 55; six as Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene
Size: 20 offices, 1,000 agents
Regions Served: Nine counties throughout Houston and surrounding areas
2017 Sales Volume: $2.5 billion
2017 Transactions: 8,616

Marilyn Eiland was once a school teacher who sold real estate in the summer to supplement her income, but she fell in love with the industry, typed her resignation to the school district, and has now been selling real estate for more than 40 years.

She started her career as an agent, brokered a franchise for Gallery of Homes and then had the opportunity to join the Gary Greene company, becoming general manager. In 2000, she and Mark Woodroof acquired the company and in 2012, partnered with Better Homes and Gardens to form Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene.

What is it that you love most about real estate?
Marilyn Eiland: I love working with agents and always have. I remember when I was general manager how thrilled we were that we had reached $350 million one year, and now, that’s an adequate month. We’ve grown a lot.

Do you have plans for continued growth this year?
ME: The outlook is definitely good. Houston is an unusual market. There are almost 38,000 members of the Houston Association of REALTORS® and not 5,000 of them do more than four transactions a year. It’s really tough for them, and they are willing to have conversations. We recently acquired Blake Wilcox Properties, and we have two more that we are working on right now (at press time), and we will continue looking at acquisitions.

What separates your firm in your marketplace?
ME: From the industry point of view, what is unique about us is the fact that we are very much a partnership model. Our agents work with coaches in the office, and everything we do is about trying to improve their income. That separates us from a huge number of brokerages we compete against because they have caps. We care as much about the first transaction that an agent does as the last one, and we do not have a cap. This partnership relationship has given us the ability to have a large creative services department that creates flyers and advertising for agents, and is at their disposal for free, and it gives us a way to work with our agents that is just more personal.

How about from a public perspective?
ME: I think our branding makes us different in the public’s eye. Gary Greene’s been in Houston for 55 years and Better Homes and Gardens is a great consumer brand. I think that makes it easier for an agent to make a cold call—there’s an immediate trust. We want to make a difference in the lives of those we work with.

What attracts agents to the firm?
ME: They like the idea that we are going to constantly have training opportunities, and that it’s our job to increase their business, providing leads and offering company-provided business. New agents also like that our training never stops.

What are you looking for in new agents?
ME: I like to see an energy level, and that this is something that they really want to throw their hearts and minds into, because it’s a hard business. We look for those who have relationships in the community and those who are engaging, because those are going to be the types of REALTORS® the public will turn to.

What do you feel is the biggest opportunity in 2019?
ME: To be in front of as many agents as we can. Other companies are starting to look for options as a lot of those agents wish they did more than four transactions. We can show them that, with our support, we can improve their bottom line.

Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.