US giant confirms push for Australian agents

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Simon Parker

Keller Williams, the second largest real estate group in the US, is “actively pursuing relationships in Australia” as part of a global push to add 75,000 associates to the organisation over the next decade.

“We are looking at expansion opportunities around the globe - including countries of all sizes,” Chris Heller, president of KW Worldwide, told Real Estate Business.

“Rather than the size of the country, our focus is on looking for owners and agents who would benefit from our economic and organisational models and are the right fit for the Keller Williams’ mission, vision and culture.”

“We are actively pursuing relationships in Australia, and once we find the right leadership, we will move forward as quickly as possible. Our goal is to grow the KW presence across the globe by 75,000 associates over the next 10 years.”

Mr Heller told Real Estate Business that the company, which has more than 700 offices in the US and Canada, was open to purchasing an existing Australian real estate network, or starting from scratch.

“We are open to both, it will depend upon how potential franchisees want to proceed - we are open to doing what works best for their business,” he said.

Mr Heller's comments come not long after the CEO of Victoria-based group hockingstuart, Nigel O'Neil, highlighted how difficult it has been in the past for US-based real estate groups to successfully set up shop in Australia.

Mr Heller said KW is unique from other US real estate groups in that it treats its agents and principals as “stakeholders” in the business.

“We work to solve business issues together,” he said. “In North America, we reward this collaboration via our profit sharing program – through which we gave our associates back more than $34 million in profits last year.

“As we begin our expansion outside of the United States and Canada, we’ll be expanding this philosophy with our new growth share program, which will also financially reward associates who help grow the company.”

Mr Heller also pointed to the company’s training and education programs, which are offered through its training division, Keller Williams University (KWU), as a reason for its growth. He said the University offers more than 60 courses including those covering lead generation, buyer and seller mastery.

Tougher market conditions in the US have done little to dent the company’s growth in recent years, largely on the back of a focus on lead generation and reduced expenses.

“Already this year, our agents’ productivity has increased 11 per cent, 83 per cent of our market centers are profitable and we continue to remain profitable (as of 9/30/11).

“This outpaces every major trend in our industry.”

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