I had the opportunity to interview the founder of Northwest Group Real Estate (NWG) based right here in Seattle at University Village (http://nwgrealestate.com/). Nick and co-founder Pat Suarez founded NWG in 2007 and have seriously disrupted the local residential real estate market. NWG is a boutique firm with 10 brokers and focuses on the core markets of NE Seattle and the Eastside. Nick started NWG with the vision that many people were ready to turn away from the traditional model of the broker as a transaction provider, and wanted to form a deeper relationship with their broker, one that would span first home purchase, through move-up to downsize and everything in between. His hypothesis was correct; by word of mouth and through hundreds of referrals, NWG has sold $250M in residential real estate since 2010. The firm rarely loses a client and over 97% of their listings lead to a successful sale.
Nick and his team take the long view when it comes to client acquisition and satisfaction and truly put the interests of their clients first, emphasizing customer education and advising against a purchase or sale if it isn’t in their clients’ best financial interests. Nick created the ClientCare Program for his clients, consisting of quarterly reports outlining home maintenance recommendations, a comprehensive network of home-related resource referrals, and personal assistance from NWG’s administrative staff contacting and coordinating home repairs and improvements. There are no other residential real-estate firms in the NW that provide this level of value to the homeowner. While most brokers’ primary concern is the transaction, NWG focuses on a cradle-to-grave homeowner experience. Additionally, NWG offers a true “team approach” to handling clients. It’s common for the administrative staff and each of the ten brokers to know or be familiar with all of the firm’s clients by name.
NWG has been extremely successful in creating new business through client referrals. They received over 150 in 2013, including 35 first time homebuyers. Marketing efforts include direct high-quality mailings to specific areas as part of a geographic marketing plan, and placement of educational articles and ads in specific magazines (WAC Quarterly and Luxury Homes Magazine). These targeted efforts have been successful – last year NWG held a 15% market share in West Bellevue for sales above $1.5M.
Nick routinely turns down opportunities to grow the company, instead preferring to keep NWG’s boutique positioning. Where most real estate companies pursue a volume driven business model, NWG has been very successful so far because of its quality driven business model. And with over 400 transactions in Seattle and the Eastside over the last three years, including an average 2013 selling price of $822,000, it’s clear NWG’s strategy is paying off.