For 12 years John Lawrence has been a mainstay of the local real estate scene, founding his real estate practice in 2006 and franchising with Weichert Realtors in 2008.
From a corner office at Oak Park Avenue and North Boulevard, his group of real estate agents has operated in the center of town and been responsible for placing many local homeowners in their homes.
On Oct. 1, Lawrence announced that Weichert Realtors Nickel Group was joining Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group. Lawrence will stay on as Managing Broker.
For Lawrence, the partnership allows him to keep doing what he has always aimed to do: provide his agents and their clients with the best tools and resources available. He notes that much of the technology his firm and their clients embraced and promoted, like three-dimensional home tours will remain, and says the partnership allows him to do a lot more than he could do on his own.
“Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices KoenigRubloff has an amazing presence in the Chicago Market,” Lawrence said. “I look at my job as putting our agents in the best position with the tools and resources they need to help our clients buy and sell homes.”
Another tangible benefit is marketing. The actual quality of the physical marketing materials is better than what Lawrence could provide as a smaller office. Lawrence says that the high quality of the materials is a visual signal that they are offering a first-class experience for their clients who are buying or selling a home.
In addition, the reach of that marketing, and the association of the brand with Warren Buffet opens doors that were not available to him as a smaller shop.
“The national and international exposure is important,” Lawrence said.
He points out that the company can market properties online in China in a way no competitor can because of firewalls set up in that country. They also have a strong presence with international print publications such as the Financial Times of London.
“We have the ability to get places that other companies can’t go or don’t think they can go,” Lawrence said.
In addition, the online presence of the company is orchestrated to make listings easily translatable into other languages and includes currency conversions for clients working from abroad.
National trend, local trend
A little less than a year ago, another local name, Gloor Realty, joined forces with a larger brand when the Oak Park office became part of the Coldwell Banker brand, bringing a national name to the local real estate market.
Lawrence says his office’s move is definitely part of a larger trend of larger firms coming in to acquire smaller offices in vibrant towns.
“Oak Park is highly desirable,” he said.
Nancy Nagy, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group says that there was a lot drawing the company to the area.
“There is so much to love about Oak Park and River Forest – the history and character, beautiful architecture and rich culture,” Nagy said. “The thriving downtowns have great dining, entertainment and unique retail shops that are a draw for new construction and home buyers.
“While this is a new office for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group, we are entering this market by partnering with brokers who are well-established here. We value and have always wanted a presence in Oak Park, River Forest, and the surrounding communities, so we are beyond thrilled that this is the next step in continuing the growth of our company.”
Nagy notes that the firm has west suburban offices in Hinsdale, Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn, Wheaton and Naperville. The Oak Park location is a natural fit for their first office in the near west suburbs.
While the signage is already changing in the office and on the Oak Park Avenue exterior, Lawrence said that his 56 agents will continue to offer the same service they always have.
“The office is staying here, I’m staying in this position,” he said. “The staff is the same. We’re a well-oiled machine already, everything is just getting smarter.”
For Nagy, Lawrence and the strength of his agents were a big draw.
“John Lawrence and the brokers in this office are extremely well-respected and have deep ties within the area,” Nagy said. “They understand the market and needs of homeowners, and what attracts buyers who want to live here.”