By Kevin Zimmerman
Slowly but surely, William Raveis is conquering the world.
Actually that’s not entirely true; the Shelton agency is instead focused on conquering the East Coast.
“Who would have thought that little William Raveis, who grew up in a small house in Fairfield, would have come this far?” the 70-something founder, chairman and CEO of William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage & Insurance (WRRE) laughed.
And he has plenty to be cheerful about. The agency recently acquired Key Solutions Real Estate, a luxury and family-owned brokerage based in Sarasota, Florida, for an undisclosed amount.
With that, WWRE now has 14 offices in the Sunshine State, including locations in Naples and Palm Beach; construction of a 4,000-square-foot office in the center of Sarasota is forthcoming.
It’s part of an expansion strategy that Raveis plans to ultimately include Tampa, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Jupiter. “We’re looking to have 35 offices in Florida in the next three years,” he affirmed.
“We’re still scratching our head a little bit” when it comes to Miami, which is “a different kind of market,” Raveis said. “But we like the Florida Keys.”
Since opening its office in Naples five years ago, and then expanding to Palm Beach, the company said it is on track to close well over $3 billion in sales in Florida alone.
But that, as they say, is not all. “My vision is to have a presence from Maine to the Florida Keys — all the vacation spots,” Raveis said. “That includes Savannah, Charleston, Hilton Head. And that’s because the flow from the Northeast to Florida is very, very strong, and the agents in those communities are aware of that.”
The timing for entering Georgia and the Carolinas — Raveis already has offices in Maine, Long Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and the Cape Cod/Martha’s Vineyard/Nantucket Island hat trick — remains up in the air. “You gotta go where the fish are jumping,” he said. “You can’t do everything at once. But we will be contacting folks (in those markets) and where the interest is, is where we’ll go.”
The expansion strategy centers around a handful of key factors, he said: An attractive, preferably luxury marketplace and that it be a family business.
Such was the case with Key Solutions, whose players are Susan Saltalamacchia, her son, Brian Tresidder, and family friend Keith Redding.
“Our business development team calls (a prospective acquisition), then we meet with them,” Raveis said. “We all really hit it off” with the Key Solutions team.
The WRRE strategy is not just to acquire a company that’s available, he emphasized. “These are companies where they care about their people. Typically a real estate company that is a boutique, which is to say that they have sales of under $1 billion, is family-run. Nearly everything else is corporate-run and owned by some entity.”
WRRE, of course, is atypical: Founded by Raveis 47 years ago, it now has more than 4,300 agents in eight states and realized $16 billion in production in 2020. It is also family oriented, as his sons Chris and Ryan serve as co-presidents.
Also setting it apart is a new process, Raveis CashBid, where the company puts down an all-cash offer on behalf of its clients to buy a new home; once their offer is accepted, the client may close with Raveis Mortgage.
CashBid creates a much stronger buyer and enables certainty that the buyer can perform on their side of the contract, Raveis said.
It follows the launch earlier this year of Raveis Purchase, whereby WRRE buys a seller’s existing home, enabling homeowners to unlock their house’s equity quickly in order to make a noncontingent offer on their next home.
“It helps people get houses quicker by offering them one place to do everything — close, finance, insure it, take care of the title,” Raveis said of the new offering.
“Nobody else in the United States offers something like this,” he said.
This article was published on Westchester & Fairfield County Business Journals on August 23, 2021.