O’Connor, the well-respected industry vet who has led the exclusive network of indie brokers since its founding, passes the torch to the organization’s COO…

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (LeadingRE), a selective network of top-tier independent brokerages, announced today that CEO and president Pam O’Connor, who’s led the organization since its founding, will be stepping down from her position on March 31. Paul Boomsma, who currently holds dual roles as the organization’s COO and president of the Luxury Portfolio International division, will take her place, effective April 1.

“To say it has been an honor to work alongside the leaders of the best real estate companies in the world, as well as our incredibly talented staff, is an understatement,” O’Connor said in a statement. “I am both gratified by what we have achieved together and excited to see what the future holds for LeadingRE and its extraordinary companies and people.”

As Boomsma takes the reins, Stephanie Anton, EVP of Luxury Portolio International, the luxury marketing program founded by Boomsma in 2005, will become president of that program while Jessica Edgerton, formerly associate counsel at the National Association of Realtors, will join the organization as EVP of operations for LeadingRE.

LeadingRE was founded in 1997 as the result of 50 large brokerages departing from a relocation organization and a merger with the Genesis network (then a referral network made up of indie brokerages). Over the past 20 years, O’Connor has built LeadingRE into an international network with 565 member firms and 130,000 sales associates across 65 countries around the world, with 425 of the members based in the U.S.

The company has corporate offices in London and Singapore as well as a separate corporate relocation arm, Relo Direct Inc. To join LeadingRE, brokerage members must rank among the top five independents in their market — and be in the top 10 overall — in either units or volume.

From left to right, Pam O’Connor, Paul Boomsma and Stephanie Anton.

The organization provides indie firms that benefit which franchises enjoy as a built-in perk: power in numbers, specifically when it comes to referrals. One of the milestones O’Connor cites is boosting LeadingRE’s referral conversion rate among affiliates to close to 50 percent, representing billions of dollars annually, as well as achieving sustainable 5 percent growth in the network’s total number of referrals each year. “We’ve really perfected how you handle the art of the introduction, how to nurture leads,” said O’Connor.

Boomsma, who said O’Connor has been a wonderful advocate for real estate brokers, told Inman that his goal in taking over the organization will be to continue to raise the bar in the real estate industry. “If you have strong brokers, they have great agents and great consumer interaction,” Boomsma said. “It’s about raising the bar so the consumer has the best representation in the market.”

O’Connor plans to remain in the real estate industry as a consultant and will join LeadingRE’s board of directors for the coming year to ensure continuity. “I’m not going to go out and have business cards printed, but if some interesting things come along, I’ll look at them,” she said. “I’m not going to be sitting at home eating bonbons. I’m still pretty young; it’s time to do some other projects.”

Anton praised O’Connor for helping LeadingRE “keep a pulse on the brokers’ point of view.”

“The brokers tell us what they need; they are highly opinionated,” Anton said. She called her own promotion “the best of both worlds,” noting that “I get to keep Paul but continue to do what I’m doing, so it’s an easier transition for me. It’s exciting, we’ve been able to capitalize on a really good luxury market.”

Email Gill South.

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