A new partnership has united Chicago-based @properties, one of the largest real estate firms in the U.S. by transactions, with fast-growing Georgia firm Ansley Atlanta.
The two companies announced Thursday that they had teamed up. In an exclusive conversation, @properties owner Thad Wong told Inman the partnership began after Ansley Atlanta approached his company about using their software. The two companies eventually determined their goals and cultures were aligned, and decided to formally team up.
“We knew our technology would give them a competitive advantage,” Wong said. “Instead of a licensing agreement on the software, we thought a partnership would be a much better solution.”
Though the two firms are describing their relationship as a “partnership,” Wong said his company has “invested a lot into Ansley” and they are effectively “creating one company that is owned by @properties and also” Ansley Atlanta founder and CEO Bonneau Ansley.
Ansley Atlanta has more than 130 agents and describes itself as “one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.,” according to a statement. Wong said @properties has about 2,600 agents. On Wednesday, @properties also landed the 18th spot on the Real Trends 500 list, which ranks real estate firms by number of transactions.
The two companies will continue to operate using separate names and with their existing leadership teams. However, Ansley told Inman that the investment in his company — which currently focuses on the luxury market — should enable expansion across the region.
“They’ve made a significant investment into Ansley Atlanta and the future of Ansley Atlanta,” he explained. “We’ll be growing the Ansley real state brand all through Georgia. We’ve got the capital to grow our company as fast as the market dictates.”
Both Wong and Ansley declined to provide specific financial details about the partnership.
The partnership will also give all Ansley agents access to @properties software known as “pl@tform,” which the company describes as a “proprietary suite of end-to-end brokerage technology applications” that includes “marketing, CRM and transaction-management tools.” Wong said other companies have software that performs similar tasks, but added that pl@tform is unique because it centralizes those tasks into one place.
“You never really have to move from it, you can just stay on and do everything,” he said. “It’s really the fact that you can start a listing and close a listing, or start a buyer and close a buyer, and never have to use another piece of software.”
For Ansley, that was a major selling point for the partnership.
“As a company my size, it would’ve taken me tens of millions of dollars to get the technology they have, and several years,” he said. “Instead, I’m able to plug into the best technology system available in the world for my company. It’s an amazing thing.”
The partnership also marks the first time @properties is pushing beyond the Midwest, and the first venture since revealing last year that it wanted to offer software to other brokerages.
Wong told Inman that he sees further expansion potential for @properties software in the future. Some of that expansion could come in the form of merger-like partnerships akin to what is happening now with Ansley Atlanta, but he also floated the possibility of licensing the technology outright to other brokerages.
That strategy bears more than a passing resemblance to what Compass tried to do last year when it announced plans to license software to other brokerages. However, Compass agents criticized that plan and the first licensing deal soon fell apart. Today, the licensing initiative is remembered essentially as a failure.
Wong was critical of Compass this week, saying that the headline-grabbing company’s software is a “mess” and that it is “not building a foundation of stability.”
“Right now the only reason agents go to Compass is for more money,” Wong added. “Nobody goes to Compass for a software solution.”
He went on to argue that @properties technology is superior because “we had real estate experience, and we built software to solve issues and create efficiently.” Wong also believes his company will avoid Compass’ licensing debacle by being more selective about who can actually get access to the software.
“We aren’t going to license our software in markets where we have offices,” he explained.
In the meantime, Wong and Ansley both look forward to growing their newly joined companies. In addition to pl@tform, the partnership will also give Ansley Atlanta agents access to @properties’ referral, relocation, and training services, among other things. The leaders envision significant growth to their companies in the near future, and believe @properties technology will help them make that happen.
“There was nothing that even competed in any shape or form,” Ansley said of the tech. “That is going to be the engine that takes us, from a technology standpoint, to where we want to go.”