Despite a slowdown in the housing market, a new Mississauga-based specialty real estate broker aims to expand across the country from its base in the city.
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Canada started with two offices and about 90 agents in the GTA – including its headquarters near the Square One shopping centre, but it’s now adding more franchises nationally.
It just hired a new director of franchise sales to help lead the effort.
The real estate franchise company bases its business on The Better Homes and Gardens magazine brand, which focuses on luxury homes, vacation properties and other high-end real estate that has made the company successful in the United States.
Nelson Goulart, vice-president of network services, says now is the time to grow the business, especially in the west where the strong economy is propping up the real estate market.
“Surprisingly enough, we’ve had tremendous response from the Western parts of Canada and some of the rural communities as well,” the longtime Mississauga resident told YourMississaugaBiz.com.
Goulart said the brokerage company first started in Mississauga on Robert Speck Parkway in October 2011. Since then the company has quickly established 13 other offices in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Newfoundland.
“We’re still small in size,” Goulart said, “But we’re wide in reach, which no other brand, I believe, has been able to do that after a year.”
Earlier this week, Better Homes announced it had hired U.S. franchising executive Tiago Antonio Pereira to help expand the broker network in Canada.
“We needed someone who had the knowledge and experience that Tiago brings to the table,” Goulet said.
Before he joined Better Homes Canada, Tiago worked at New Jersey-based Realogy Corp., where he was trained and developed master franchise operations in Canada, the United States and Latin America.
The Canadian housing market has slowed in the last year and cities like Toronto and Vancouver have seen sales of condos fall sharply, so real estate brokers are facing more intense competition to earn their house-selling fees.
While the market is expected to stabilize in the next few months, Goulart is still optimistic about growth and the potential success of new franchises, especially in the energy-rich provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
“We’re still seeing some strong activity in Western Canada,” he said.
In competing against already established brokers such ReMax and Royal LePage — the company has hired marketing agencies Decipher and Veritas to help boost its public profile and made other efforts to promote its corporate brand.
But Goulart said the company’s presence on social media has made the most impact. “The brand recognition through that has been priceless,” he said. “In the period of just one year we’ve become the number one real estate brand on Facebook and that’s given us tremendous reach.”
Goulart himself remains committed to the Mississauga community, having lived here for the last 45 years and worked in real estate for more than 20 years with a competitor. He oversees the Mississauga operation.
“I was here before there was a Mississauga,” he said.
Started in July 2008, Better Homes and Garden’s real estate brokerage division is an extension of the U.S. magazine’s brand founded in 1922. The company’s Canadian head office in Mississauga currently employs five people.