Bob Bowes and I were honored to have Harley Rouda, president of Real Living, LLC, and his wife Kaira Sturdivant Rouda, a nationally acclaimed author and brand expert, visit the Bowes Real Estate, Real Living offices yesterday.
In 2009 GMAC Real Estate joined the Columbus-based realty firm, Real Living, to create one of the country's largest real-estate franchise operations. The combined company operates under the Real Living name.
Today, the organization has more than 10,000 agents and 500 offices. As part of the Real Living family, Bowes Real Estate, Real Living offers customers and agents an even larger global reach and referral pool, along with an expanded network of technology tools and training. Bob Bowes, President of Bowes Real Estate, Real Living, is excited about these opportunities.
Harley kicked off the meeting and broke the ice calling himself a S.O.B. (Son of a Broker). He grew up in the real estate industry, literally, as the son of a broker, and has built his business on the principles of hard work, personal service, and attention to detail. Harley shared with us details on the direction of the company, both where it's been and the path for growth to fuel where it's going.
Here are some of discussion highlights from the meeting:
The 'Cow Bell Analogy.' As a native Midwesterner, Harley described the growth of his business in farmland language. The Cow Bell Analogy describes dairy farms in the Midwest that often have a lead cow with a bell that the group follows. A quick translation to real estate - capitalize on the assets you have and replicate what works.
The Real Estate Market. The end of the tax credit hit the industry hard. While the first six months of 2011 have been very difficult for the real estate industry, there are signs that things are picking up in the second half. We're only three weeks in, but if it keeps trending in this direction we could start to see an uptick in activity, and we could end up better off than the second half of 2010.
East vs. West. An interesting observation is that real estate tends to flow west to east. For example, real estate in California rose sharply, but also was one of the first and fastest to decline. Las Vegas, Phoenix soon followed. Because we are in a relatively stable market, we eventually felt the effects, but not to such a severe degree.
Why Real Living. The Real Living brand is coming to a town near you. As the fastest growing real estate franchise, Real Living is coming east as well, and you'll notice more of the black and red For Sale signs not only in Arlington, but across the region.
Real Living was one of the first real estate firms to capitalize on the Internet for real estate, and it also understood its market - making a concerted effort to market to women, who represent 91% of real estate-driven decisions. The company continues to build on its leading-edge approaches today.
All in all, it was an open and candid discussion about the franchise, the company and the market, and we all walked away with a unified approach for growing the business both on the local and national levels.