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Vitals: RE/MAX Northwest
Years in Business: 8
Size: 10 offices, 350 agents
Regions Served: Western and Central Washington
2018 Sales Volume: $2.5 billion
2018 Transactions: 5,000

While studying real estate law in law school, Matt van Winkle realized he didn’t want to be a lawyer, yet he liked the analytical side of real estate and decided that was the career path he wanted to follow. He graduated in the summer of 2008 and met another litigator who was doing real estate on the side. Together, they created a hybrid law firm/real estate brokerage, and van Winkle found a passion for the residential transaction side of the business, so he stopped practicing law and focused primarily on that. Today, he serves as founder and CEO of RE/MAX Northwest in Seattle, Wash., where he helps agents focus on their bottom lines.

How is the Seattle market faring in 2019?
Matt van Winkle: It was one of the hottest markets in the country for quite a while, but in May 2018, activity dropped as the market pulled back pretty significantly. We’re back now, doing pretty well as far as activity is concerned, but not at the same pricing from last summer’s peak. The city of Seattle is down, but the markets where people moved when they got priced out of Seattle are still appreciating at a healthy level. We’re approaching what might be considered the new definition of a balanced market.

What do you see as the biggest opportunities for growth?
MW: I’m a firm believer that we’re going to see incredible consolidation in the industry in the next couple of years. When I look at growth from a brokerage perspective, I look at what’s happening in our market and the recent changes in our MLS, and I see a lot of agents being pushed out of the business. As a result, this will lead to a lot of brokerages needing to consolidate. We’re intending to grow substantially. We’re currently right around $2.5 billion in sales, but based on what’s happening, we could be pushing $4 billion in a couple of years.

Why will your company survive? How is it unique in the marketplace?
MW: I’ve only been in the brokerage business for eight years, and was never in the market pre-recession, so I’ve always been in this business with technology pushing us forward. What makes our operation different is how we focus on the agent as the business owner. While most offices focus on lead gen and their top line, we focus on every little detail of the agents’ business—as well as the bottom line. It’s not about how much they sell, but rather, their efficiency and return on investment.

How are you attracting new agents to your firm?
MW: The biggest thing that attracts experienced agents to join the company is our development program—our coaching and mastering program that we run for agents, and the systems that we teach them and provide them with, which allows them to scale their business by taking all the things that our highest producers use and adapting them to their own business. They want to come in and get a turnkey system that’s proven to work in our market by agents who are selling as much as $50 million a year.

Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.