After leaving in May 2021 for eXp Realty, The Woolcott Real Estate team has returned to RE/MAX. The team is one of Canada’s top producers, with more than $503 million in 2021 sales volume.

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After losing one of its top Canadian teams to eXp Realty in May 2021, RE/MAX has gotten the last laugh.

The Woolcott Real Estate team announced on Wednesday that it has returned to the Denver-based franchise after 16 months with eXp Realty. Leader Drew Woolcott and his 31-person team are hanging their hats at RE/MAX Escarpment Realty Inc., which operates out of three offices in Waterdown, Hamilton and Burlington, Ontario.

Drew Woolcott | Credit: RE/MAX

“We wanted to align with a brand that was 24/7 live body service as that’s the service we aspire to provide for our clientele and the service we hope our agents can also get from us and the company we’re affiliated with,” Woolcott said of his return to RE/MAX. “[Broker-owner] Conrad [Zurini] and his family are a remarkable group of people. They will answer their phones any time of day. It’s hard to leave a voicemail for the Zurinis.”

In an email interview with Inman, Woolcott explained his initial departure from RE/MAX after 28 years, which was fueled by financial worries at the height of the pandemic.

“We were very deep in the throes of COVID in our marketplace when we left the brand,” he said. “At the time, we were looking at all our options and exploring ways we could help our agents financially.”

Although his team took its success to new heights at eXp — they completed 535 transactions worth more than $503 million in 2021 — Woolcott thought the brokerage’s virtual model was more trouble than its worth.

“We ultimately found that it was of tremendous value to deal directly with people versus systems,” he said matter-of-factly.

As frustrations mounted, Woolcott began searching for a new home for his 31 agents. The team leader and 30-year sales veteran said “several suitors” stepped forward; however, he decided it was best to return to RE/MAX.

“There were several suitors, but we didn’t consider any of them seriously given we already were familiar with RE/MAX,” he said. “We came to a solution that works very well for our team, and I think hopefully will for RE/MAX too.”

“Based on our experience with our RE/MAX broker-owner [Conrad Zurini] and our past experiences with the brand, RE/MAX has a 24-hour manned system that was very significant and important to us as we strive to provide the best client service possible,” he added.

In a separate statement, Zurini echoed Woolcott’s commentary about RE/MAX’s high-touch support and services.

“We at RE/MAX Escarpment are so pleased to welcome back Woolcott Real Estate,” Zurini said. “They are a family business like we are, Drew, Jayne, Justine, Peter and their entire team have invoked a culture of service excellence in our community, we are proud to be working in the background to further their brand and enhance their already high level of customer experience.”

RE/MAX Canada President Christopher Alexander added, “In just over 16 months, Drew has decided that RE/MAX is the place to be if you are serious about the real estate business. There is no other company that offers more support to professional realtors than RE/MAX.”

Woolcott’s boomerang back to RE/MAX is part of an ongoing war between brokerages for the best-and-brightest agents and teams, with eXp announcing last week that it successfully wooed former RE/MAX franchisee Ige Johnson and 35 of her 50 agents.

“Once you fully see the model you can’t unsee the model,” Johnson said of her attraction to eXp’s growing metaverse.

RE/MAX addressed the mounting pressure from companies like eXp during its R4 Conference in March, with RE/MAX CEO Nick Bailey saying the 49-year-old company would be making strategic changes within its technology — a common pain point for agents, team leaders and franchisors.

“We’ve done some major key acquisitions in the last few years of technology,” he said. “It’s had bumps along the way, and I know we’ve had some. You know how I know? Because you’re not afraid to tell us. But we love it.”

He added, “…We’ve heard you you want it simple, and you want it easy to use and easy to access. We’re on that mission [and that] doesn’t mean it’s all done today. But you can see the progress that’s made for the foundation that’s laid in front of us to continue on the path of one ecosystem, personalization and simplification.”

Email Marian McPherson

eXp Realty | RE/MAX
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