The parent company of GMAC Real Estate is looking for a new executive to run the firm as it converts all of GMAC’s corporate-owned brokerage offices into independent franchisees.

Canadian-based Brookfield Residential Property Services, which acquired GMAC Home Services LLC last year, plans to drop the GMAC name and rebrand the company by the end of the year, said Graham Badun, Brookfield RPS’ managing partner and chief executive officer.

Badun said he will assume the role of interim president of GMAC Real Estate on June 12, when current president and CEO John Bearden steps down after nearly eight years on the job.

Bearden was a "terrific asset" to GMAC Real Estate, building the firm into one with a national profile and guiding it through its sale to Brookfield RPS, Badun said. The company is conducting a nationwide search for a permanent replacement for Bearden, he said.

In acquiring GMAC Home Services, Toronto-based Brookfield RPS more than doubled in size, from about 15,000 agents to more than 30,000.

Real estate markets have been more challenging than expected when the deal was announced in September (see story), which has caused a "few delays and hiccups" in post-merger plans for GMAC Home Services, Badun said.

The planned sale of GMAC Real Estate’s corporate offices has taken a little longer than expected in some markets, but the company will be well positioned when the process is completed and the franchise rebranded, Badun said.

Brookfield RPS — which counts Royal LePage, La Capitale, Johnston & Daniel and Centract among its Canadian brokerage brands — is willing to sell corporate-owned GMAC offices only to new owners who are willing to continue as company franchisees, Badun said.

The offices will remain as part of the franchise network, meaning the sales will not result in a reduced agent or office count. GMAC Real Estate claims about 15,000 Realtors in 650 locations in the U.S., Canada and Portugal.

"We’ve had inquiries from buyers who want to take offices out of the franchise system, and we’ve said no," Badun said. …CONTINUED

Boston-based Hammond Residential Real Estate, repurchased from GMAC Real Estate in March by founder Saul Cohen to operate as a GMAC franchisee, is one example of the ongoing reorganization.Three company-owned Carlson Real Estate offices in Massachusetts were sold in separate agreements and continue to operate as GMAC franchisees (see story).

In another recent deal, investors led by real estate veteran Dick Schlott purchased New Jersey-based Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate, agreeing to continue to operate the 16-office, 700-agent company as a GMAC Real Estate franchisee (see story).

Badun said there are three similar deals in the works, including the planned sale of Pacific Union GMAC Real Estate in the San Francisco Bay Area and Koenig & Stray GMAC in Chicago.

Given the baggage associated with the General Motors name and less than universal brand recognition, it should come as no surprise that Brookfield RPS plans to rebrand GMAC Real Estate.

About 38 percent of consumers recognize the GMAC Real Estate brand, compared with 90 percent or more for rivals like Century 21, RE/MAX and Coldwell banker, according to a 2008 survey conducted for Century 21 by the market research firm Millward Brown (see story).

Badun said Brookfield RPS did not even acquire the brand name in the sale of GMAC Home Services — it’s only licensing it until it can rebrand.

"We have hired a rebranding company and will be in the market with a new brand in the fourth quarter," Badun said. "Stay tuned — we have some exciting stuff" in the works, he said.

Brookfield RPS has already completed the integration of GMAC Global Relocation Services into Royal LePage Relocation Services, making it the "number two or three relocation company in the world, depending on how you count," Badun said.

Another company acquired in the GMAC Home Services deal, GHS Mortgage, is now part of a joint venture with Wells Fargo, Premia Mortgage LLC, which does business as Premia Relocation Mortgage.


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