- October 4, 2019
Real estate professionals Chad and Aprile Osborne thought they would be with Re/Max for the long run. “We bled red, white and blue for a little while,” laughs Chad Osborne.
But as they watched the industry shift over the early 2000s, with more and more buyers and sellers turning to the internet for information rather than spending a lot of time in a real estate agent’s physical office, they began to think about what being an agent in the 21st century entails. And they probably weren’t the only ones pondering this.
The Osbornes started to believe there was a disconnect between the big companies and the “the boots on the ground” agents. Big names like Re/Max “were relying too heavily on their brand power, and agents were paying significant money out of their commissions,” says Chad Osborne, 46. “The office started to lose its value, and our overhead was tremendous.”
The Osbornes, with more than three decades of real estate experience combined and over $500 million in real estate sales, sold their Re/Max franchise offices in Naples and Bonita Springs in 2015. The couple spent some time thinking about what was next, and in 2018 an idea began forming. In 2019, they launched Call It Closed International Realty, a cloud-based, 100% commission brokerage with a revenue sharing component headquartered in Naples.
I believe by the end of next year, we should be between 400 and 500 agents, and then we’ll continue on from there. In this business, once you hit about 500 agents, it starts to kind of snowball. Chad Osborne, Call it Closed
“We just saw that something was missing,” says Osborne. “And what we felt was missing was a cloud-based national brand with 100% of the commission going to the agents. Where we save money on the brick and mortar, we turn that back around and give it to the agents.”
Others have a similar model, like eXp Realty. And iBuyers, despite Zillow recently exiting the market, have been upending the traditional real estate sale for several years by essentially eliminating the agent. But Osborne says Call It Closed is the only company he knows of that truly provides all of these features to agents sans franchise fees. Agents who work with Call It Closed pay a $99 monthly fee, for which they get access to all the company’s cloud-based platforms as well as unlimited coaching and training. “The software and tools we give our agents are on par with any of the major brands out there and, in many cases, are the exact same tools the big brands give them,” says Osborne.
Agents also must pay a $299 fee for every residential closing ($399 for commercial closings), but that’s a fee they can pass on to clients as part of their closing costs if they choose. Call It Closed makes money from those fees as well as a one-time startup fee, an annual technology fee and from optional ancillary services it provides agents can choose to use.
Call It Closed is now working in 14 states, recently adding Virginia to its lineup, and expects to have about 200 agents by the end of 2021. Osborne declines to provide revenue figures. But both sales and the agent count at Call It Closed have been “going up exponentially,” he says. “We’re growing very quickly.”
The company’s numbers are up for 2021. “But if your numbers aren’t up for 2021, you’re kind of doing something wrong,” he quips.
Call It Closed also offers agents a revenue sharing platform similar to what eXp Realty offers. Agents who sponsor other Call It Closed agents receive a flat amount for every closing those sponsored agents generate. “We reward them for bringing in other agents,” says Osborne. “That’s the reason we are where we are today. We’ve really done very little marketing up to this point; it’s been all word of mouth.”
While Call It Closed is seizing on societal changes in the ways we all do business, being totally virtual has presented some hiccups. “The biggest challenge is maintaining a culture,” says Osborne. “We’re a family-oriented company…and there’s difficulty maintaining that culture and sense of community when everybody is spread out so far. And as we continue to grow, it will probably become even more challenging. Technology has allowed us to do a lot, but that’s still not the same as being in the room sometimes with people.”
To help bring everyone together, the Osbornes are planning a national Call It Closed conference in 2022 in Orlando. The company also plans to hold some regional meetings in 2022, a year that will be focused on building the company’s agent count.
“We don’t necessarily need to open any more states,” says Osborne, though he’s open to it if the right opportunity comes the company’s way. “I believe by the end of next year, we should be between 400 and 500 agents, and then we’ll continue on from there. In this business, once you hit about 500 agents, it starts to kind of snowball.”
Competition from other virtual or traditional real estate companies doesn’t scare him. “The great thing about real estate is, and you can go back as far as you want, there have always been different models out there, and it seems like there is always enough business to go around,” he says. “There has never been one company that has just completely dominated things…But I really feel like as we get more people to hear more about us, we will start to take some of those agents from some of the other big virtual companies.”
(This story was updated to reflect the full name of the company and the correct amount of total sales volume the Osbornes have achieved in their careers.)