It’s not easy to try to disrupt an industry like real estate. Bamboo Realty was a brokerage that tried, catering first to rental clients and later experimenting with a pay-what-you-want commission deal for real estate transactions. But it looks like December’s shuttering of the Houston Bamboo office was foretelling.

  • 'No one ever wants to talk about the ugly side of innovation, which is that sometimes you have to make tough decisions that impact people,' said broker-owner Sarah Schnell Jones.

It’s not easy to try to disrupt an industry like real estate. Bamboo Realty was a brokerage that tried, catering first to rental clients and later experimenting with a pay-what-you-want commission deal for real estate transactions.

Sarah Jones

Sarah Jones

But it looks like December’s shuttering of the Houston Bamboo office was foretelling. Today, Bamboo’s broker-owner and CEO, Sarah Schnell Jones, told Inman that “we are closing the Bamboo offices.” The company had offices in Denver; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Dallas following the Houston office’s closure.

In December, Inman wrote that Bamboo “began as a rental-only firm in 2009 and began representing buyers and sellers in 2011. Since then, Bamboo Realty has become known as a ‘for millennials by millennials’ brokerage that focuses on capturing clients at the rental stage and guiding them toward homeownership.”

Alyssa Hellman

Zach Schabot

Bamboo head trainer Alyssa Hellman and VP Zach Schabot have been helping the agents in Raleigh, North Carolina, find “a soft place to land,” as Schabot put it.

“To quote the great Nuke LaLoosh, ‘Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains,'” he added.

“Our agents have been and will remain my top priority,” Hellman told Inman. “My focus is on them.”

“We built a leadership team with some of the most innovative and talented people in real estate,” Jones told Inman. “We recently came to the realization we can help way more agents outside of Bamboo than we can by continuing to grow our own company.

“Our decision impacts individual agents and their families, which is really hard,” she added. “No one ever wants to talk about the ugly side of innovation, which is that sometimes you have to make tough decisions that impact people. Sometimes that means starting over.”

Jones said that although the Bamboo offices will close, she plans to continue operating in Denver “because there is still an enormous need for real estate agents who help renters.”

Lynn Johnson, an agent with Bamboo Realty, told Inman that she has “seen this company strive to provide unlimited resources to their agents and reveal different models that work for some, but may not for all.”

She added that Bamboo had a focus beyond that of a “discount” brokerage. “We were focused on helping the client and focusing on customer service above all else.

“I commend Bamboo for always swinging for the bleachers and pushing innovation when so many other companies are scared to deviate from the ‘model,'” Johnson added. “I enjoyed my time with the company and look forward to continuing to utilize many of the lessons learned and tools taught to further my career. I am excited for what the future holds for us all.”

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