Whether your a first time home buyer or a seasoned vet, the right real estate purchase is right up there as one of the most exciting, yet potentially stressful experiences in life. To achieve optimal results, aligning oneself with the right property expert is a must. SmartAsset has rounded up the 10 best real estate agencies across the U.S.
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Short for “Real Estate Maximums,” RE/MAX has been in operation since 1973. In its 40 years of existence, the company has grown to encompass more than 100,000 sales agents, working in franchise-owned, operated offices in more than 85 countries and territories. As one of the most widely recognized names in real estate, RE/MAX receives 48 million hits to its websites on an annual basis. More importantly, RE/MAX is regarded as one of the country’s most productive real estate sales forces. In a survey by Real Trends 500, a leading resource for residential real estate rankings, RE/MAX claimed the top 18 positions. It also dominated the top 50 list, snagging 44 spots.
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A real estate powerhouse in its own right — and one of the industry’s most recognized brands — Century 21 boasts a global operation throughout Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. There are approximately 7,000 independently owned, operated broker offices, with 100,000 associates spread out over 73 countries globally. Century 21 has established itself as a leader in e-marketing and recently emerged as one of the most respected brands in the industry for the 14th year in a row, according to global market research firm Millward Brown. The firm achieved a 96% brand awareness score among consumers, and was bestowed its “Likelihood to Recommend and Future Consideration” stamp of approval. Ever since it added enhanced functionality to its website, Century21.com has outpaced growth rates compared to Realtor®, Zillow and Trulia between April 2011-2012, according to Comscore.
Keller Williams Realty, Inc.
Ranked as the number one agency in the U.S. by agent count with approximately 80,000 sales associates, Keller Williams Realty, Inc. is a real estate force with which to be reckoned. In 2012, Keller Williams achieved profitability in 91% of its nationwide offices. Recently, the company opened franchises in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Southern Africa. It is planning further expansion into Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Turkey. J.D. Power and Associates most recently handpicked Keller Williams for the “Highest in Customer Satisfaction” distinction among home buyers and sellers. Furthermore, Keller Williams took the ninth spot in the Top 150 Work Places as the single national real estate company that made the list.
Founded in San Francisco more than a century ago in 1906, Coldwell Banker has a rich history of providing dependable real estate services to its clients. The company has a worldwide associate sales force totaling 82,000, with 3,100 offices in 50 countries and territories. Coldwell Banker is known for providing top rated services, which begins with its agent training. In its annual Training Top 125 poll, Training magazine listed the organization in third place alongside Verizon, Jiffy Lube, Farmers Insurance and CHG Healthcare Services. Similarly, Coldwell Banker was named as one of the top 10 companies committed to workforce learning development via Chief Learning Officer magazine’s 2013 LearningElite poll.
ERA Real Estate
ERA, which stands for Electronic Realty Associates, is operated by Realogy, the parent company of Century 21, Coldwell Banker and Sotheby’s International Realty. Founded in 1971, ERA was motivated to champion a then-novel technology, the facsimile, to bring real estate services to heightened functionality. Since its beginnings 42 years ago, ERA has grown to bolster 32,000 sales agents around the world, in 2,400 independently owned and operated franchises.
ERA has offices in 46 states, and 36 countries and territories around the globe. In 2012, the organization expanded into Turkey. Electronic Realty Associates maintains its promise of delivering effective industry innovations, this time through its website, ERA.com. In 2012, the site received honors from the International Academy of the Visual Arts (IAVA) and Inman News. Through a recent partnership in 2013 with Homes.com, ERA will offer enhanced social media functionality, extensive community data reporting, and real time broadcasts of property listings.
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Sotheby’s International Realty®
While the original Sotheby’s Auction House was founded in 1744, it wasn’t until 1976 that Sotheby’s International Realty® materialized. Once it formed a strategic alliance with Realogy in 2004, Sotheby’s was able to offer franchise opportunities to select real estate brokerages. After expanding over the years across the U.S., in 2006 Sotheby’s expanded to New Zealand, Switzerland and Spain.
The business is highly regarded and characterized as prestigious, maintaining a high net worth customer base. Numerous residential sales for Sotheby’s range in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. For five years in a row, Sotheby’s has achieved Best in Category in Business Franchise Review’s Franchisee Satisfaction Awards. In 2011, the company tallied 600 offices with nearly 12,000 agents located in 45 different countries and territories.
Originally founded in 1973, Corcoran hosted its now-famous “One Day Sale.” This gimmick, which real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran pulled off in 1991, helped her to sell 81 apartments within a 24-hour period. Her tactic was to take an assortment of properties around the city and sell them all at the same price, to her agents’ best friends.
In 1995, the Corcoran website went up and became one of the first online portals for the real estate industry. Presently, Corcoran is one of New York City’s largest, privately owned residential real estate firm. Servicing the New York City area (including Brooklyn and the Hamptons), Corcoran has 32 offices with 2,200 agents. While those numbers are not staggering, the business commands a lot of revenue, with $18 billion in annual sales.
Camden Property Trust
Specialists in owning, developing, acquiring, managing and disposing m multifamily residential apartment communities, Camden Property Trust has become one of the largest publicly traded companies of its kind in the U.S. It owns and operates approximately 192 properties with nearly 65,000 apartments across the United States.
The company remains committed to maintaining a diverse portfolio of high quality apartment structures. In addition, Camden Property Trust is focused on providing a proactive, dynamic and vibrant work environment for its employees. Perks include discounted rentals for workers, and a hefty 401(k) match of, minimally, 50% of up to 7% allocation. Most recently, Fortune Magazine named Camden Property Trust one of the top 100 Companies to Work For.
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate
With 9,100 sales associates and 280 offices in Canada and the U.S., Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate is worthy of a best real estate agency distinction. Originally launched in 1978 by the Meredith Corporation — a leading purveyor of quality media and marketing in the U.S. — the real estate firm has emerged as one of the more reputable brands, partially because of its kinship with a magazine sharing the same name. In 2008, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate entered into a new franchise system, which is helping to catapult it further up the ranks.
Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink are former Microsoft executives who also started Expedia. They founded the online portal in 2005 and the company has since achieved tremendous growth. Sure, it’s a website and not your typical real estate agency, per se. But when Zillow partnered with Yahoo! Homes in 2011, it soon became the largest real estate network online, according to comScore, Inc., a leading digital business analytics company.
Zillow is unique in that it strives to provide its users with the tools and applications to make sound real estate decisions independently. Not only through its informative blog, but also through its “living database” of more than 110 million homes across the U.S. Add to that a property Zestimate® portal, including rent Zestimates, and you’ve got a full arsenal of tools to make your real estate transactions easier.
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