Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices CEO Chris Stuart is taking his talents to Place, Inc., the brand-agnostic back-end technology platform for high-performing real estate agents and teams.
Stuart will take the helm as president of Place, co-founder and CEO Ben Kinney told Inman. Berkshire Hathaway agents were notified of the news Monday morning.
“I’ve gotten to know Chris over the last year, and I was very attracted to Chris’s passion for improving the consumer experience,” Ben Kinney said in an exclusive interview with Inman. “Also, his experience in running an organization the size of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is an asset. He’s led over 55,000 agents [across] 1,500 individual offices.”
“Place is just starting to really scale and grow quickly, and we need someone with the experience of running an organization of that size,” he said.
Prior to Place, Stuart served as BHHS’ CEO and senior vice president of business development and operations. He also served as the executive vice president and managing director of Intero Real Estate Services before it became a BHHS affiliate in 2014.
Under his guidance, BHHS grew immensely and cemented several partnerships with the industry’s leading tech companies including MoveEasy, Adwerx and HomeKeepr.
Launched in February 2020 with co-founder Chris Suarez, Place partners with top-producing real estate agents and teams to run their back-end operations, including accounting, payroll, human resources, marketing, brand development, talent acquisition and legal affairs. Place members also have access to an array of Ben Kinney Companies’ technology, training, coaching, mortgage, title and escrow tools and services.
Place offers additional benefits to members based on their transaction sides and sales volume. Agent “associates” who sell up to 24 units per year get access to financial and retirement planning assistance. Agent “partners” who sell between 25 and 49 units per year or earn $250,000 in gross commission income get access to another tier of benefits, namely healthcare.
From there, agents are able to scale their way up to “senior partner,” “managing partner” and “equity partner” status, which comes with additional benefits such as revenue sharing and equity in the company.
Place charges a percentage of the team’s profit, Kinney said, and if an agent or team doesn’t generate any revenue, Place doesn’t make any money. “We have a mutually beneficial model where we share the profit of the team, and if the team makes no money, neither do we,” he explained.
Place currently has 50 team partners, which represent more than 500 individual agents. Kinney said Place is in the process of onboarding 20 more teams and believes the company is in the prime position to experience robust growth during 2021, thanks to its suite of benefits and the fact they’re helping teams stay with their current brokerages.
“Last year, we were really proud to roll out paid employee level health insurance for all of our sales professionals who achieved at least 25 sales,” he said of what differentiates Place from its competitors. “We covered the cost of health insurance and we’re really excited to actually bring paid healthcare to the real estate industry.”
“We operate similar to Side, except we don’t want the agent to leave the brokerage they’re with,” he added. “Side helps top teams go independent, and thus becomes a competitor to the brokerage. We work with the top teams no matter what brokerage they’re at.”
Along with Stuart’s hiring, Kinney said Place is ready to enter the spotlight. The company recently completed the acquisition of URL Place.com and is working on launching a consumer-facing site with a nationwide home search platform and mortgage services by the end of the third quarter.
“Place has had a crazy year,” he said. “We finished last year strong with $85 million in revenue [and] we have over 50 locations opened [through our agent partners] and over 150 W-2 employees working at our corporate offices.”
“The pandemic forced all of us to stay put and focus on improving the processes and the services that we provide our partners,” he added. “Our partners are more profitable and growing faster than they ever have been, and that’s because we laid the foundation during 2020 for them to be more successful.”
Stuart was unavailable for comment.