RE/MAX Australia’s newly appointed managing director, Michael Davoren, said there’s no reason why the group can’t become the country’s biggest real estate network.
“The aim of REMAX, generally speaking, is to become the number one network in Australia,” Mr Davoren told Real Estate Business.
“There is no reason it shouldn’t, it has done that in many other countries around the world. I have no doubt it has the right systems, the right strategies, and the right philosophies to do that. But it needs to grow, and that’s what I’ll be focusing on.”
Mr Davoren, who starts in the top job on November 1, brings three decades of real estate industry experience to the role, including terms as president of both the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) and the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ). He is currently a director of the REIQ and has also managed his own real estate company, had past appointments in industry corporate roles and is an auctioneer.
“I think Michael is the perfect choice to lead RE/MAX Australia,” said Larry Oberly, RE/MAX vice president, international development. “He’s familiar with so many aspects of the Australian real estate industry and has vast experience and a track record of results and excellence.”
Mr Davoren told Real Estate Business that RE/MAX Australia’s core focus in the past six months had been shoring up the stability of the network, something he said a lot of other networks had also been doing.
“[The market has] shaken the industry pretty dramatically, he said. “I don’t think there’s any news in all of that.” He added the process also involved the US office obtaining a better understanding of the Australian market and their franchisees.
“That has been done, and from the discussions I’ve had it’s been done very successfully by some of the [US RE/MAX personnel] that have been over here,” he said. “These guys have told me the franchise guys in Australia are very, very good quality.”
In terms of the company's growth prospects, he said RE/MAX Australia sees opportunities across the country.
“Queensland is probably its strongest state, currently, but the real powerhouses of real estate in Australia are Victoria and NSW, and Queensland. REMAX is really underdone in Victoria and NSW.”
“To be a good, solid network, you need to be well represented right across the board, because in the end, one of the values in being in a network is the referral base, and your ability to help your customers and clients regardless of where their real estate is.
“It is really important to make sure we’ve got a really broad base across the continent.”
RE/MAX operations in Australia are in two different geographic regions. RE/MAX Australia is headquartered in Brisbane and covers Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, ACT, Northern Territory & Tasmania. RE/MAX Western Australia has its offices in Perth, where Geoff Baldwin is the regional owner and managing director.
Mr Davoren said principals in Australia had three key challenges going forward, including technology, finding and keeping good quality staff, and compliance issues.
“Technology has the potential to be a threat to the real estate industry, but it also has the potential to create a fantastic opportunity for the industry as well,” he said.
“Like any industry, if you ignore technology, it can be at your cost. I’m not suggesting the real estate industry is going to be wiped out, but I think the public will demand more and more information through technology, as opposed to wanting to visit real estate agents.”
But technology will not remove the need for agents to build and maintain personal relationships with clients.
“In the end, that’s what real estate is about - creating relationships. Any sales is all about creating relationships, and I think that’s one thing the real estate industry really needs to work very hard at, that the relationship between the agent and the public is very strong.”
Ensuring an office was compliant with the myriad local, state and federal government regulatory requirements was also a key issue for principals.
“As much as some people like to think there are some ‘cowboys’ in the real estate industry, the reality is it’s one of the most regulated industries in Australia.”
Larger offices were likely to become more popular as principals grappled with the increasing costs associated with running their businesses.
“One thing the real estate industry in Australia has not mastered as yet is very large offices,” he continued.
“We have lots of mum and dad size businesses, and just a bit bigger than that with four or five sales people...I think the real estate industry in Australia will come to accept that the bigger office model will be the most profitable model, purely because of the costs that are involved.
"Technology costs, compliance costs…the more heads you can spread that across, the more profitable you can become.
“But [the change] will take a while.”