Two decades in business, a stratospheric rise in Chicago’s competitive real estate market and a nationwide expansion—homegrown @properties is ringing in its 20th anniversary with a bang. Under the leadership of co-founders and co-CEOs Mike Golden and Thad Wong and President, Head of Brand Growth Chris Lim, the residential brokerage firm has laid the groundwork for a national franchise program that’s shaking the market status quo across the country. Here, the dream team tells us about their red-hot success, why now is the time for growth and what’s next for this flourishing empire.
From left: Chris Lim, Mike Golden and Thad Wong inside @properties’ Chicago headquarters. “[Chicago is] a diverse metro with every type of home and household. It’s a mix of Midwestern pragmatism and global sophistication,” says Golden. “It’s a great lab to develop new marketing, technology and services that we can then roll out to other markets. Our goal is to be the most innovative brokerage firm in the country, and that innovation will always make its way through Chicago first.”
Congrats on a stellar 20 years and a meteoric rise to the top. From 2000 to now, what have been your proudest moments?
TW: There isn’t an award or milestone that is more important than the relationships we’ve enjoyed with our agents, clients, agents at other real estate firms, the communities we serve, and vendors and partners. That is what has made us successful and what makes it fun coming to work every day. In our business, relationships are everything, and we believe that so much we memorialized those three words in our core values.
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2020 has been a wild year. Why franchise now?
MG: We think it’s the perfect time to grow. We learned a lot in 2008 and 2009. Back then, the housing and financial markets were melting down, and our rivals were closing offices, cutting services and tightening budgets. We made a conscious decision to step into that void and offer a solution for agents and clients. And that led to the greatest period of growth in our firm’s history up to that point. Today, the housing market is in better shape, but we still see competitors pulling back as a result of COVID and other pressures, and we are ideally positioned to take advantage of that disruption.
How will @properties retain its edge through a national expansion?
TW: We always come back to a few key differences: the best marketing; a fully integrated technology platform that works for our agents and clients; great training to ensure our clients receive the best service; and our culture, which focuses on that word you see on billboards and bumper magnets all over town: ‘love.’ The cool thing is, it’s really hard to copy us because we’ve built it ourselves. It’s authentically @properties. This is our promise as we embark on a national expansion, and it’s being met with lots of excitement.
Technology plays an important role at @properties. Tell us about future programming. TW: Tech has become the spine of our operation, and it’s getting stronger and stronger. … Our agents and clients benefit from an end-to-end solution that is built in-house and is now consumer-facing. And the improvements and add-ons we are developing for pl@tform are better—and reach the market faster—than off-the-shelf software because we are so plugged into the market. There is a direct line from the consumer to our agents to our technologists, and that’s a big advantage.
Photography by: courtesy of @properties