What comes to your mind when you think of a real estate agent? According to Mr Mwangi Muthike, a 28-year old accountant, real estate agents are people on a mission to close a deal as fast as they can to earn a commission. Lies are told and crucial information is concealed.
“I don’t mean to disparage those in that trade, but I don’t trust most of them,” he says. These sentiments are shared by many people. Mr George Aludo, a realtor, had heard that statement countless times and after working as a real estate agent in the United States for more than 20 years, he wanted to come back home and continue with his career. But he had a concern.
“I wanted to work with a brand that is popular and one that is trusted by both sellers and buyers. Also, one with an extensive network and makes use of technology,” he says.
Luckily, RE/MAX world’s leading real estate franchise had just set base in Kenya, and he found all the qualities he was looking for in the franchise that has a global reach of over 100 countries. He works in their regional office in Westlands.
“RE/MAX has over 120,000 sales associates worldwide. When an ad is put up, it is seen by all these agents. That means if I have a client seeking a house in a country like Brazil and they are in Kenya, I can still be able to find what options are available in the said country or link them up with an agent there,” he explains.
Although he considers this to be a great milestone that is yet to be achieved by other real estate companies in the country, what he really loves to tout about RE/MAX Kenya is the structure. “When people want to buy or rent a property, they want credibility. RE/MAX Kenya does a due process to ensure that the seller sells what he owns. We also offer guidance to ensure that the prices are not over or underpriced,” he explains.
RE/MAX operates a business model with 3 tiers. The Kenyan franchise with its regional office in Westlands sells the franchise to franchisees or broker-owners, who then recruit agents. Currently, it has more than 10,000 agents in Kenya.
According to RE/MAX Kenya Chief Executive Officer James Muratha, their goal is to revolutionise the real estate market and also create a network of well trained and trustworthy agents.
“RE/MAX has set standards for all its offices worldwide such as branding, training under RE/MAX University on customer care and sale pitching and state-of-the-art technology. We endeavour to provide all these resources to our agents,” he offers.
Hannibal Simba, a RE/MAX agent Mahale franchise used to work as a realtor on a part-time basis as he focused on other businesses such as event planning. However, since he synergised his brand with RE/MAX, real estate has taken the centre stage. “Since I joined RE/MAX Kenya, it has really been busy for me. I don’t take it like a job, but my own business. I get enquiries from people in the diaspora looking for a reliable company to deal with. We have a large number of people who have bought or sold the property through us yet miles away,” he notes.
MORE BUSINESS FOR THE COMPANY
With a listing of more than 200 units of their website, this translates to more business for the company and also money for the agents as they earn through commissions. However, Dickson Weru, a sales agent at RE/MAX Liko notes that although they probably make more money than other realtors, they are trained not to focus on the earnings but mainly on building and fostering a relationship with clients.
“Here, we are not pressurised to make a sale. On many occasions, I have had to talk clients out of deals that I feel are not favourable. However, on one occasion, I dealt with a client who had been looking for property for over two years but didn’t find credible sellers. I introduced him to RE/MAX and within four months, he had started the house buying process.”
Mr Muratha’s vision is to have the company touch base on all parts of the country and have as many agents as possible, thus creating employment for youth. “Since we launched RE/MAX Kenya, it has been a successful journey. Besides closing more than 200 deals, we have built new relationships and keep tendering the existing ones. We hope to help to bridge the unemployment gap by recruiting more sales agents,” he says.