Charles Tarbey, chairman and owner of Century 21, has revealed he will soon be launching a second real estate business, in conjunction with popular media brand Better Homes and Gardens.
Mr Tarbey has partnered with Realogy Holding Corporation to bring The Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate brand – which has already operated in the US for a number of years – down under.
The Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate brand will have a very different offering to other real estate brands, said Mr Tarbey.
“The reason for doing this is that I think it represents a different approach to listing and selling real estate than the traditional ‘come and give me a house for sale and I’ll take some photos of it and I’ll put it on the Domains and I’ll sell it’. This is more about a client relationship over a longer period of time,” Mr Tarbey told My Business.
“The franchisees affiliated with the new business will not only offer traditional real estate services but also what I would describe as a ‘complete lifestyle experience’ that leverages lifestyle content that complements and relates to Better Homes and Gardens Magazine,” he said.
Supported by the established magazine, the company will provide lifestyle content such as styling, renovating and design on top of traditional real estate sales and leasing services.
In Australia, the magazine boasts a reach of over 3.5 million people across print, digital and social and is the most-read magazine in the country, Mr Tarbey claimed, adding that the new agency will “plug in” to this audience and grow it further.
The deal does not currently include a partnership with the popular television show.
“You walk into a Better Homes office, you may not even talk to an agent – you may just go into the pre-stage booths we’ll have in each office. You can download podcasts, download recipes, download the latest renovation you saw on a show, make yourself an espresso and walk out,” he said.
“The concept is to bring it more around the entire styling and presenting of a property, and not necessarily listing and selling – it’s offering services around the whole housing industry.”
When asked about possible conflicts of interest between Century 21 and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Mr Tarbey said they are “separate real estate businesses”.
“Yes there’s one owner to them, but each brand has a unique selling proposition. C21 of course is an established, global brand. Better Homes and Gardens is a brand that pitches to a very different market.”
And rather than inviting a flood of new entrants into the real estate mix, Mr Tarbey said he expects the majority of Better Homes franchisees to be established real estate operators looking for new opportunities to grow their business.
“The enquiries we get from people wanting to acquire a franchise … a lot of them are people who work in existing real estate offices. They reach a ceiling in that business and they can’t get equity, so what they generally do is go sideways ... and open a new office in direct competition to the very agent that they [previously] worked for,” he said.
“We felt that because we have a number of top salespeople that will consistently reach that ceiling in our organisation, that a principal in that area could conceivably open a second office in the same suburb, take across that salesperson and give them equity in the second business and at least retain those people on the team.”
Mr Tarbey added that, in his lengthy business career, he has identified distinctive limits on vertical growth for many businesses.
“I found that vertical growth has its limitations, and especially if you want to grow in a certain suburb, there’s a certain limit each agent has got in that location. They then start looking at opening a second office somewhere else, and that’s when I saw problems starting to occur,” he said.
According to Mr Tarbey, the new brand will formally launch in the fourth quarter of 2018, with “a substantial number” of offices opening at the same time.
“My ambition is not to open a single office until the last quarter of this year, the idea being that the website is ready and the CRM which supports the platform … will all be presented at a gathering of real estate agents with a view to opening offices in the last quarter,” he said.
“I don’t want to open a single office [before then], although I’m being pushed to open a couple right now.
“[Realistically] there will be a handful open, but the idea is to open a substantial number all in the one quarter.”
Mr Tarbey added that each of these offices will be more like a ‘one-stop-shop’ for everything real estate-related, with a large number of people working in a smaller number of large offices.
Once opened for business in Australia, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate will then be rolled out in New Zealand in 2020.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.