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Charlotte-Lee-Collier
Business Observer Friday, Aug. 25, 2017 1 year ago

Real growth

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Premiere Plus Realty, behind an unusual commission model, is pushing toward new goals.
by: Ted Carter Contributing Writer

Not a day goes by lately without Premiere Plus Realty Co. adding an agent to its ranks.

With its roster of sales professionals growing to more than 1,100, Naples-based Premiere Plus is planning a push northward into Charlotte County and an expansion in northern Lee County. You can do that when you draw in sales people who want to be part of an organization but set their own work course.

And you especially can do that when agents keep 100% of their commissions, says Eric Gallus, broker, CEO and Premiere Plus co-owner with his father, David Gallus, managing broker.

Agents are career sales pros, rookies and everything in between. “We're in ages 18 to 70 and 80” and beyond, Gallus says. “We typically bring on 30 agents a month” to keep pace with the market.

With all the new construction in Collier and Lee, “We're doing an average of 300 transactions a month,” he adds.

Though agents decide their own commission rate, Gallus emphasizes that Premiere is not a discount brokerage. Agents, he says, typically charge commissions of 6%, which are usually split evenly with either the buyer or seller's agent.

“Generally, the average sales prices can range from $200,000 up to multimillion-dollar transactions,” Gallus says.

Premiere, an offshoot of the former Independent Brokers Realty on Marco Island, opened in downtown Naples in 2003. It has since added offices in Marco Island, Bonita Springs and Cape Coral and is planning more. The agency also has a 5,600-square-foot training center in north Naples.

The offices serve as support centers for the agents. They work at home but get broker coverage, first-come-first-served use of desk space and computers, use of conference rooms, coaching and other support in exchange for a monthly license fee of $112 to Premiere.

“We as a broker are responsible for supervising our agents,” Gallus says. “We have attorneys and lenders who come and constantly train them.”

Gallus says Premiere has become Southwest Florida's largest independently owned real estate company and is fourth among all companies in the region in sales volume. The firm posted $1.07 billion in total sales volume in 2016, up from $1.01 billion in 2015. “That does not include off-market sales and most new construction sales, which make up a large part of our market,” he says. 

The senior Gallus relocated his Independent Brokers Realty from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area to Naples nearly two decades ago. “As the 100% concept quickly grew, they felt the need to create the referral company,” which gave birth to Premiere Plus Realty, Eric Gallus says.

Premiere further increased its appeal to agents by forgoing transaction fees, typically about $150, Gallus says.

The commission set up is slightly different for the 25 or so agents who do commercial sales and leasing. They get a commission percentage of 95-5. “They do everything from 1,200-square-foot to multi-million-dollar land tract deals,” he says.

Premiere started with a handful of agents under David Gallus. Eric Gallus, who has a bachelor's degree in marketing, came aboard in 2007 to handle brand awareness, business development and to oversee agents.

He is now one of the firm's four brokers. Premiere will add a couple more brokers after they complete their training.

Agent ranks stood at about 350 when the real estate collapse began in 2008 and led many to leave the business. But by 2012, Premiere began increasing its number of agents, Gallus says. The biggest challenge the business faces now, he says, is keeping up with the increased production and agents, and making sure service doesn't suffer. “With the company rapidly expanding there are always hurdles to overcome,” says Gallus.  

Premiere's agents acquire the listing themselves. The listings are taken in the name of the broker and advertised under the company's name. “Those listings then are entered into the multiple listing service and offer a co-broker compensation or any other real estate agent who can procure the buyer,” Gallus says.

But the process, he adds, is hardly cutthroat. Says Gallus: “There is enough business going around for everybody.”

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