A couple of weeks ago, as I was foraging through the cyberspace, I stumbled upon a very interesting hash-tag on Twitter. It was dubbed #HomeLoveKe and I was curious to know what it was all about. Upon further investigations, I discovered that the trend was a media campaign being run by RE/Max Kenya, a new face in the Kenyan real estate market.
I was very impressed, to say the least, more so because of the fact that most of the leading Realtors in the country little to no effort to interact with their potential clients on such platforms. There was definitely something fresh about this company and I sought to dig deeper and find out what plans they have in store for the market and Kenyans, in general. I met Robyn Emerson, the Regional Director of Re/Max Kenya, at their regional offices on the 4th Floor of Delta Corner Tower in Westlands and she was about as excited as I was to shed more light about Re/Max.
LEAH: So Robyn, perhaps you can tell us what or who Re/Max is?
ROBYN: Wow! Where do I start?! Re/Max is an international real estate franchise that was founded in the United States by a guy called Dave Liniger, a real estate agent. Dave had noted that real estate agents were disgruntled and unsatisfied; they weren’t getting a fair amount or percentage for their efforts in the whole process. So, he decided to come up with a new kind of model in the real estate that was based on maximum results and benefits to both the real estate agency and the agent, hence Re/Max. Maximum Results. Maximum Benefits.
LEAH: I definitely didn’t see that one coming! Go on…
ROBYN: Basically at Re/Max we aim at the letting our agents have a sense of freedom and independence to impart their creativity and entrepreneurial mindsets in dealing with clients. It’s about letting agents feel like their contribution is valuable and that they aren’t just someone’s donkey out to get a commission.
LEAH: I’m getting the drift that Re/Max was founded on one of those personal platforms, close-knit basis kind of thing?
LEAH: What products does Re/Max offer?
ROBYN: The unique thing about Re/Max is that is that it’s a franchise. It has sold its franchise to over 97 countries around the world and has over 100,000 real estate agents working with it. All the companies that buy the franchise adopt the Re/Max business model and work under the Re/Max brand name. Re/Max deals mainly with real estate brokerages, selling, buying and letting as well as management of property
LEAH: You mentioned some African countries among the 97. Tell me about Re/Max in Africa.
ROBYN: Re/Max has quite a wonderful foothold in Africa. It was introduced in South Africa about 22 years ago when someone bought a Master franchise. In fact, it is the leading Real Estate Agency in the region. Re/Max is also in Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and it’s also about to open a new branch in Rwanda
LEAH: About Re/Max in Kenya, when did you guys come in?
ROBYN: Re/Max Kenya is about a year and some few months old now (launched the last quarter of 2013). As I said earlier, our model is based on having brokerages existing and working under the brand. So far, we have 7 franchises in the country
LEAH: All of them are based in Nairobi?
ROBYN: Currently, yes. But this year we’re planning to get up to 20 franchises which will get us to about 500 real estate agents spread across the country.
LEAH: I see you guys are really strategizing.
LEAH: Does the Kenyan real estate market have potential? Do you think Re/Max will make it here?
ROBYN: Oh yes, it does. The real estate industry has really grown in Kenya over the past few years and we feel the time is right for Re/Max. The market is looking for something different in regards to customer service, performance, knowledge, resources, and international standards. And Re/Max is offering exactly that!
LEAH: The real estate market is very competitive. Who are your biggest competitors currently?
ROBYN: That’s a good one. While it’s easy to point out the large firms as our competitors, believe or not, our greatest competitors are actually the so many individual and small firms. People whose core business is not even based on real estate. And they are so many! And the hardest bit is that it’s so difficult to strategize when it comes to these unknowns.
LEAH: From my experience of the Kenyan construction market, I know the real estate market has not really matured yet. People still find it hard to let a real estate agency handle matters concerning their property. Who is your target audience?
ROBYN: We aim to serve the entire spectrum; right from luxury developments, commercial, high class residential to that simple family home. At Re/Max, we have the advantage of having Franchisees that have specialized in different areas. So if it’s a low-cost residential home a client is interested in, we have someone to handle it, if it’s luxury apartment, we have someone on it. Our experts make it easier for our clients.
LEAH: That seems like a very good strategy. So any last words? Parting shot? What is the future of Re/Max?
ROBYN: We want transform the Kenyan real estate market and set a new benchmark with regards to how issues are handled in the industry. We want to increase our number of franchises and become the leading employer of real estate agents in the country. Re/Max international is the leading seller of real estate properties globally and we intend to replicate this in Kenya
LEAH: That’s quite remarkable. I wish you guys the very best
ROBYN: Why thank you! We hope for the best!