Dallas-based brokerage and franchisor United Real Estate and Nashville area-based brokerage Benchmark Realty have merged with the aim of saving $1 billion for agents and consumers by 2025, United announced Wednesday.
United Real Estate, a division of United Real Estate Group, operates in 24 states with more than 100 offices (over 80 of them franchised) and more than 10,500 agents. URE’s agents will close more than 48,000 transactions worth more than $12 billion in sales in 2020, the company said in a press release.
Benchmark Realty LLC, founded in 2006, operates seven offices in the Greater Nashville area with 1,300 agents and will bring in total annual sales worth $3.2 billion this year, making Benchmark the top brokerage in terms of market share in the Greater Nashville and Middle Tennessee areas, according to the release. In 2019, Benchmark ranked as the 61st largest brokerage in the country in terms of transaction sides and the 83rd largest in terms of sales volume, according to Real Trends.
Asked whether URE had technically acquired Benchmark and, if so, what the purchase price was, URE CEO Dan Duffy told Inman via email, “This is a merger of two similar model businesses with complementary cultures and points of differentiation. The terms of the transaction are confidential and are not being disclosed.” The deal closed on Dec. 3.
The deal with Benchmark will expand United’s presence in the Greater Nashville region. Both firms operate under 100 percent commission, fee-based business models, which, along with a focus on technology, United expects will result in “$1 billion in transactional efficiencies for agents and consumers when compared to other brokerage firms over the next four years.”
Asked what that meant, Duffy said, “United’s virtual, cloud based proprietary technology offering, commission plans, lower referral fees and the elimination of brand royalties, technology and other fees historically charged by other national brands results in efficiencies realized by United agents that they either capture or pass along to their clients.”
In a statement, Duffy said URE had spent the better part of a decade positioning itself for this kind of growth.
“While Benchmark’s size and market share were appealing, we were also attracted to the alignment of our cultures and how Benchmark demonstrates their commitment to extraordinary agent and client outcomes,” Duffy said.
Duffy told Inman that there will be no change in the leadership, support resources or brand of Benchmark.
“Benchmark has strong unaided brand awareness and hard earned reputation for excellence in the greater Nashville market,” he said. “Over an extended period of time the United brand will be incorporated alongside of and in a complementary way to the Benchmark brand.”
“Benchmark agents will see no changes to the excellent programs and support to which they are accustomed and will continue to proudly fly the Benchmark brand,” he added.
“Over the weeks and months to come, they will enjoy all the programs they have been accustomed to receiving and they will gain access to the support and resources of United’s technology, training and support programs — all at no cost to them.”
In a statement, Phillip Cantrell, Benchmark’s CEO, said, “As a part of United, we will offer more marketing/productivity tools, education for our affiliates and more client services in the months ahead.”
URE touted its proprietary Bullseye Agent & Broker Productivity Platform as a tool that the firm said helps makes agents and brokers more profitable.
“[The platform] is the realization of a decade of investment and is a tremendous competitive advantage, especially when compared to companies who have only recently begun their technology development journey,” said Rick Haase, URE’s president and COO of United Real Estate Group, in a statement.
“It creates both cost savings and opportunity for higher revenue, and we transfer these economic benefits to our brokers, agents and clients.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional comments from URE.