How Fast-Growing RE/MAX Keeps Attracting New Realtors Because of solid support, the number of agents in 2017 ballooned to 116,000.

By Brittany Shoot

This story appears in the January 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of RE/MAX

A few years into his career selling Seattle real estate, Matt van Winkle reached a crossroads: He could continue as an independent agent or build a bigger office where he could mentor other agents. "In our market, there's an assumption that if you're independent, you're a discount agent," he says. "I wanted a lot of support and technology, and I wanted a brand everyone knew but was underrepresented in this area."

Related: 8 Proven Ways to Make Money in Real Estate

He found both of those qualifications in RE/MAX, the 45-year-old franchise, whose hot-air balloon is an instantly recognizable corporate symbol. Van Winkle opened his office six and a half years ago, and now, at age 34, he's Washington state's highest-grossing RE/MAX broker, with an impressive 235 agents working out of his firm.

These are the success stories RE/MAX loves to tout, as it transforms the careers of brokers nationwide. RE/MAX opened 59 new U.S. franchises in the first quarter of 2017, and it promotes growth by supporting brokers like Van Winkle with website design templates, a mobile app, and that priceless brand recognition -- and in turn, brokers bring in and mentor new talent. "It's a winning model that offers outstanding customer service and a strong global brand that has led the industry for more than 40 years," says co-CEO Adam Contos. The company saw 12.5 percent revenue growth in 2017. By the second quarter of 2017, the total number of RE/MAX agents had grown by 5.7 percent from the year before, to more than 116,000.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Real Estate Is a Great Investment

For Van Winkle, being a broker-owner means spending less time at open houses and closing meetings. To be successful in a large market like his, he says, brokers can't sell real estate and keep up with the demands of recruiting and supporting agents. "The brokerage owners I know who are the most successful? None of them sell real estate."

For more on franchises, check out 2018's Franchise 500 list.

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