Fresh off a major rebranding announcement, Chicago based @properties announced Tuesday that it is teaming up with major California indie brokerage Sereno.
The partnership has multiple facets. First and most significantly, Sereno will become an affiliate — a status similar to being a franchise — of Christie’s International Real Estate, a brand that @properties recently acquired. As a result, Sereno will also rebrand and become known as Christie’s International Real Estate Sereno.
At the same time, @properties will acquire an equity stake in the brokerage. The companies have not publicly disclosed financial details of the deal. However, Sereno co-founders Chris Trapani and Ryan Iwanaga will continue to own a controlling stake in the brokerage and will remain onboard as owner-operators.
The deal also means that Sereno will be able to gradually integrate @properties tech platform into its operations.
A statement on the deal notes that the partnership will “power Sereno’s continued growth as an independent alongside the Christie’s International Real Estate brand.”
Though the definition of an independent brokerage varies and is the subject of some debate, @properties co-founder and co-CEO Thad Wong told Inman that Sereno will remain an independent brokerage even with the Christie’s affiliation insomuch as it remains locally owned and operated.
Trapani added that having the Christie’s name “elevates us to a whole other level and dimension in terms of luxury.” Iwanaga echoed that sentiment, telling Inman that “we’ve worked hard on creating a culture of meaning within Sereno.”
“The association with Christie’s will elevate that,” he said.
The deal comes at a time of growth for both firms. In the case of Chicago-based @properties, the company announced its acquisition of the Christie’s brand last November. Then, in late January, @properties rebranded to incorporate the Christie’s name into its banner.
In Sereno’s case, the brokerage merged with fellow Bay Area indie Dwell Realtors in March 2021. The company also scooped up a pair of high-powered teams that same month.
Tuesday’s statement notes that Sereno did $6.5 billion in sales volume in 2021 and has been listed as a top brokerage in the U.S. by ranking firm Real Trends. Iwanaga and Trapani founded Sereno in 2006, and today the brokerage includes 580 agents in 17 offices sprinkled across the Bay Area.
In Tuesday’s statement, Wong said Sereno is the ideal partner “to carry the Christie’s International Real Estate brand into the Bay Area.” Elaborating to Inman, he also said that both @properties and Sereno share a similar culture and both grew up as long-running partnerships between friends.
“The cultures of each of our firms, even though they’re so geographically removed, are very similar,” he added.
Trapani and Iwanaga both told Inman that they watched over the years as brokerages in their region consolidated into larger firms. However, Iwanaga noted that whenever Sereno was approached about joining another company in the past, the conversations had been focused primarily on business, rather than on relationships and culture. But that changed when he and Trapani began talking to @properties.
“When we started talking with Thad and [@properties co-CEO Mike Golden] it just felt good,” Iwanaga said. “I remember that first time Chris talked to Thad and he said, ‘you know what, he’s a good dude.'”
Trapani was similarly upbeat, noting that this is the “first time that we’ve felt 100 percent confident that our philosophies have been aligned.” He added that between @properties technology and the Christie’s brand name, the deal is “almost unbelievable.”
“I would characterize this,” Trapani concluded, “as electrifying for us.”
Correction: Due to an error in a press release, this post initially misstated the rebranded brokerage’s name. The company will be known as “Christie’s International Real Estate Sereno.”