Every year, RealTrends chooses GameChangers based on five-year, transaction side percentage data from the RealTrends 500. This year, we chose seven independent brokerage firms and 10 franchises who grew their businesses at astronomical rates.
In analyzing this list of top-growth brokerages, these GameChangers grew their brokers in multiple different ways — from mergers and acquisitions to recruiting and coaching and retention.
As principal broker/owner of HomeSmart Realty Group/Legacy in Oregon, Jim Sparkman and his business partner and broker/owner Mark Farrow, brought about 338% growth between 2017-2021 by transaction side percentage to be named a 2022 RealTrends GameChanger.
RealTrends spoke with Sparkman about the growth of the brokerage:
Tracey Velt: What was your biggest aha moment or lesson learned while building your firm?
Jim Sparkman: Our constant involvement in our community has led to deep relationships and brand recognition. We can make a lot of money in our industry, but if we aren’t good stewards with it and blessing others, why do it?
Having spent almost 30 years in the Army solely in servant leadership, my response is to serve others agents and the community. If my partner, Mark Farrow, and I come in with a servant perspective, that breeds the culture we want as an organization.
The ownership team sits on multiple non-profit boards, at least 50 agents do, as well. Our favorite event of the year is our Annual Day of Giving. We do this the week of Thanksgiving. We bring our agents in for a marketing meeting, break them into groups, give them each $100. Their job is to grow it and give it away. They take pictures, find people to match donations and give thousands of dollars. It’s all grown from giving hearts of our agent.
Tracey Velt: In the past five years, what percentage of your growth was organic (recruiting or increasing agent productivity) and what percentage was M&A?
Jim Sparkman: Some 95% of our growth has been organic, very little has been through M&A. From a retention, Mark believes that our best in service breeds success. Our agents get the service of a full service brokerage with 100% model. They go out and tell their friends and because of our agent base, that’s where the majority of our recruiting happens. Our best recruiting tool is satisfied agents who like our brokerage, administrative staff and the marketing and tech tech support we provide.
Tracey Velt: Moving forward, what is your main focus for growth?
Jim Sparkman: We would like to see growth happen based on our agents and their relationships with other real estate professionals. We believe that our agents are the WHY to the company, and we want them to share the message to others in the industry. We see additional branch offices and markets in our near future, as well.
Our focus is to get into markets we’re not currently in but believe the 100% model with the right culture will impact that community. We don’t only look from an economic model, we want to make an impact in the community. If we want to keep with the culture we currently have, that’s what we need to do.