Real Estate

This family-owned brokerage is unstoppable. How do they do it?

Forty-seven years ago, Bill Raveis launched his real estate business in an office over a grocery store in Connecticut.

Today, the William Raveis family of companies is a $16 billion business that includes real estate, mortgage, and insurance. It dominates the market in its nine-state footprint across the Northeast and Florida.

We wanted to understand more about this impressive brokerage that continues to best the competition and deliver excellence, so we sat down with Ryan Raveis and Chris Raveis, sons of the founder and Co-Presidents.

The William Raveis brand has been around for over 40 years. How has the company and the industry evolved in that time?

Ryan: We started out as a family business, and we are still a family business to this day, even as we’ve grown to over 4,400 sales associates and 135 offices. In that time, the same mantra hangs on the wall of all of our offices, in our headquarters, and with all of our managers in the field: The Sales Associate is Our Customer. Everything we do —and have ever done — starts and ends with them.

Over the years, new formats and models have been introduced as a ‘threat’ to the independent broker: Sears gets into houses. Merrill Lynch gets into real estate. Wall Street capital is pouring in. 100% commissions. Discount brokerages. But through it all, we’ve known the real estate industry is resilient and our culture would always be our differentiator. Nothing has slowed us down.

Let’s talk about culture and the fact your recruiting numbers in the last year have been your highest ever. What is behind that?

Chris: We’re small in feel. Anybody can reach us, and all our associates have our cell phone numbers. We like to call and get to know every agent who joins our company. So it’s a very small-feeling company, but we’re all the way across the eastern seaboard. We have the size and the breadth and the network that allows us to compete with anybody.

We have family values because we’re a real family: it’s my dad and my brother. And we translate that into a culture of care — what we think of as the “Raveis Way.” What that means is treating everyone with courtesy and having a strong commitment to your local community.

Every branch manager is a certified coach. Why is that important and what does that mean for prospective associates?

Chris: Coaching is 100% part of our culture of care. You can have the best technology in the business but without culture, it means nothing. Without training, without translating it into human action, it means nothing. That’s why all our office managers are certified coaches. We have relationships with Tom Ferry and Mike Staver — two of the best real estate and leadership coaches in the business. Our design is blending technology, mentorship, and coaching to ensure our associates’ success.

The soul of our company is what makes us different, and it might also be the hardest thing to express. You have to experience it to understand it.

What does it mean to be an independent broker in 2021?

Ryan: It means, first and foremost, that we don’t answer to shareholders. We answer to our agents. We invest in technologies that put them in a better position and give them a competitive edge in any given market.

Since 1974, we have been an entrepreneurial, family-run business. That allows us to focus on what’s going to position us best for success in the future. We have a real estate business, complemented by a very strong mortgage company and a very strong insurance company. Our goal is to make the experience as seamless as possible.

Our sales associates are professionals who asked themselves, do I want a company that is agent-first or Wall Street-first? And it makes the decision pretty easy.

Learn more about William Raveis Real Estate.

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