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South Florida discounter makes mark in first year

Expert Realty offers 2.5% commission to consumers

South Florida’s real estate consumers are ready for broker commission discounts if the first year of a newly launched company from industry pioneer Glenn Cohen is any indicator.

Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based Expert Realty, which launched a full-service real estate business offering 2.5 percent real estate commissions in May 2005, says in its first year it has achieved substantial growth and market penetration in South Florida’s Broward and Palm Beach counties.

“We’ve made a large investment in advertising and marketing and it’s really paid off for us,” said Cohen, founder and CEO of Expert Realty who also launched the low-commission real estate business model now known as Foxtons.

Many real estate companies have expanded their sales force, number of offices and market share in recent years to keep up with booming sales activity and brokerage franchises have also swelled. In addition, the number of real estate licensees who are Realtors has skyrocketed to an unprecedented 1.2 million, according to the National Association of Realtors.

“I don’t think anyone can say they’ve taken that substantial of market share in that short of time,” said Cohen, referring to Expert Realty’s reports of grabbing 5 percent market share of single-family homes under $500,000 in Broward and Palm Beach counties during the first 10 months of operation.

Expert Realty reports that it listed 465 homes in its two South Florida markets in March 2006.

“With these results in hand, we have begun planning an expansion into Dade County and expect to look at new markets around the country in 2007,” Cohen said.

Expert also reported that the company reached a 56 percent capture rate in its title business in March and a 28 percent capture rate in its mortgage business. The company is on track to beat its forecast of $15 million in annual revenue in its first full calendar year and to achieve profitability in the third quarter of 2006, officials said.

Expert Realty is a privately held company so its earnings statements are not made public through filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company’s business units, which also include Home Loan Store and Closing Solution, are fully integrated and occupy the same office building. In its first year, Expert said it has grown its employee staff from 85 to 187 employees today.

Expert Realty agents earn a commission plus salary, and receive benefits including health care coverage and a 401K program, according to a previous Inman News report. Also, agents specialize in either working with buyers or working with sellers, and all agents receive laptops, cell phones and branded vehicles. The company has purchased a fleet of Jeeps for its agents.

Asked about the local housing market conditions in South Florida, Cohen on Tuesday said, “Florida is mirroring the rest of the country and in transition … but the economy is good, interest rates are historically low and land is a limited resource here so Florida is always going to be a strong market.”