Residential Real Estate

Raleigh Real Estate Agency Gears Up For National Expansion

NOVEMBER 14, 2020BY CALEB HARSHBERGER, Staff Writer

Sixteen years ago, realty “mad scientist” Mike Regan started a real estate brokerage in Raleigh with plans to upend the way the industry does brokerage.

Regan launched Hunter Rowe Real Estate with plans to create a new system where inhouse staff handles marketing, support and other backend processes, letting brokers focus on the selling and consulting. The company focuses primarily on residential real estate.

“What we are is an R&D company that does real estate,” Regan said. “Instead of each agent having to develop all their marketing and support, we do it for them and they benefit from those economies of scale.”

Today, the company has swelled to 65 agents and counting. The company is now gearing up for a national expansion.

“It’s been a lot of years. A lot of things take a long time to figure out, and how to work out all the kinks and bugs,” Regan said. “Now we’re really ready to scale.We’re enabling productive agents to have much better quality of life, work much fewer hours.”

For years, the company has worked on building and improving policies and proprietary software to best implement the system and prepare it to scale. Now, Regan says brokers using the Hunter Rowe system can make multiples of what they could elsewhere, and without having to manage their own team.

The company is currently based in the Triangle with smaller offices in the Triad and Wilmington, but Regan says they have plans for new markets soon.

“We’re ready to grow. We’ve got our product,” Regan said. “We have set as a goal to grow at least 60 percent in the next year and then we start opening in other cities.”

The company is currently on track to close the year with around $300 million in annual revenue and plans to expand when that number grows to around $450 million. Regan didn’t say where they were heading next, he said it’d likely be a contiguous expansion.

Even before that, the company expects to add around 35 additional brokers in the coming year.

Regan came to Raleigh in 1995, and before launching Hunter Rowe, worked in consulting as a process improvement specialist. He eventually decided to try bringing his expertise to the realty industry with the launch of his own company.

“When I got into real estate it wasn’t because of getting into sales, it was figuring out how to change an industry and how to find ways to do things in a more productive way,” Regan says.

“People have joked that been the mad scientist for the last 15 years, and I guess that’s about right,” Regan said. The expansion comes as demand for homes continues to explode across the Triangle as interest rates remain at historic lows.

Last quarter, the Triangle housing market broke records in showings, home listings, pending listings, closed listings, overall sales price, average resale sale price and months of housing supply, according to an MLS data analysis by appraiser Stacey Anfindsen.

How One Indie Brokerage Grew Its Sales By Thinking Like A Doctor

Mike Regan wants agents to get the same kind of prestige and respect as doctors and lawyers — and he’s structured his brokerage to make that happen
 

BY JIM DALRYMPLE II | Staff Writer

November 23, 2020

It’s never been a more interesting or exacting time to be an indie broker. In November, Inman celebrates the indie by narrowing in on what growth tactics are working best and what tech is emerging that offers the best competitive advantage.When Mike Regan first founded Hunter Rowe Real Estate more than 15 years ago, he had this idea that he could do something different.

“I got into real estate not with a background of sales and marketing but with a background in process improvement,” Regan told Inman. “And I thought here’s an industry that could benefit from a lot of process improvement.”

Regan had previously worked as a business consultant and had an MBA in economics, and his idea was to structure a real estate company more like a doctor’s office. In other words, he wanted his agents to focus on the specific tasks that created the most value while at the same time turning over other jobs to a strong support staff. The hope was that this would free agents up to make more money, and would help clients see them as high-performing professionals.

“The agents who are really professionals at what they do,” Regan said, “I’d like them to have the same respect as doctors or lawyers.”

A decade and a half later, Regan said this approach has largely worked. His indie brokerage — which is based in Raleigh, North Carolina — has already done about $250 million in volume in 2020, and will likely hit $300 million before the year ends.

The company has also seen explosive growth in its agent count; Regan said that he has added 25 agents since July, bringing the total to 62. The brokerage has 38 support staffers as well, most of whom are also licensed agents but who spend most of their time assisting the selling agents — much in the way a nurse might support a doctor.

Regan added that he additionally plans to expand next year into new cities and states in the Southeast region.

“We want to grow at least 60% in the next year,” he said.

So how exactly does all of this work and what makes Hunter Rowe unique?

Teasing out the medical metaphor, Regan explained that when people go in for treatment, an array of people — receptionists, nurses, etc. — assist them in addition to the doctor. If the treatment is ongoing, the doctor may primarily lead and oversee a variety of specialists and nurses who all participate in components of the treatment.

That’s more or less how Hunter Rowe works. Regan said agents do things like consultations and negotiations. But after that initial point of contact, the support staff is ready to step in. They can field clients’ questions, take clients on showings, and guide them through contracts.

“The idea,” Regan said, “is to free yourself up of the things that someone else can do;  in order to do the things that only you can do.”

Agents supervise this process, but Regan said the result is that they’re able to devote more time to things like lead generation than they would be if they had to handle, say, contracts all on their own.

The relationship between agents and support staff tends to have a kind of one-on-one organization, with certain staffers typically working with and handling multiple tasks for the same agents over and over again.

Commission splits at Hunter Rowe vary, and Regan declined to say exactly how the breakdown works in each case. But to cover the management of the support services, agents pay “a small investment out of their commissions,” and then for services a la carte as they use them.

So for example, if agents wants someone to handle their showings, they would pay to have one of the support staffers do that. However, the agent also gets to determine how much of the work they want to delegate.

To make all of this work, Regan said Hunter Rowe has been gradually developing its own computer system over the last 15 years. The system is called RelevateTM, and in total the company has spent at least $570,000 on it over the years. That’s a lot, but Regan said the coordination the system offers is essential when it comes to having multiple people working on a single transaction.

“Without the softwareit would be a mess,” he added.

There are certainly other companies out there that offer varying levels of service for their agents. But Regan said that by bringing the kind of specialization common in other industries to his company, he’s been able to build a company that has a very high retention rate, and in which agents typically average about 30 transactions a year.

“Real estate agents can do a better job and take better care of people, and that’s what this model does,” he concluded. “It allows the best agents to give the best service.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II