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Wood Brothers Realty
Number One Top Workplace Among Small Businesses, 2014
Brothers Patrick and L.K. "Buddy" Wood III asked themselves a few key questions when they made the decision to start their own real estate business three years ago. At the top of the list: What would be the ideal kind of company to work for as real estate agents, and how should this company be run?
"What kind of company would we be looking to work for, as agents?" is how Patrick puts it.
Wood Brothers Realty, based in the St. Louis Hills section of south St. Louis, is the answer to those questions.
Launched in 2011, the company has grown rapidly from an initial group of 20 managers and agents to a team of 120 and revenue of more than $1 million, while building a reputation as one of the best places to work for in St. Louis. The company garnered the top spot among small employers in this year's Top Workplaces. The company's portfolio includes residential and commercial real estate sales and property management.
"We put the agents first," Patrick says of the Wood Brothers approach. "We consider it a pure partnership - they are choosing to work for Wood Brothers, and are independent contractors. They have a choice. We strive to make it the best possible relationship and give them the tools to make the job easier and get a successful closing" on the property transaction.
In the real estate trade, agents work as contractors and are not employees in the conventional sense. Movement from one real estate firm to another is commonplace, and agents typically pay fees to the firm for various functions - making copies, marketing/advertising, using a desk, and other basic tasks. Wood Brothers' departure from convention is notable in this regard.
Chris Sorth, a veteran agent who's been with Wood Brothers for about two years, said Wood Brothers is reasonable on fees and charges. Not one to sugarcoat things, Sorth says he "paid for everything except to flush the toilet" at a previous real estate company, including use of the Internet, marketing, advertising, insurance, and a desk to work on.
"At Wood Brothers, you pay for nothing," Sorth said. On weekend days when open houses are scheduled, "Buddy makes sure there is water, something to eat, fresh fruit in the office to take with us. He knows we'll be at an open house a minimum of four hours. He's concerned about our well-being when we're out in the field."
"The difference is night and day," said Tina Brancato, who joined Wood Brothers a year and half ago. With a previous company, "each person was on their own," she said, while "Wood Brothers is a big family, so supportive. They have your back. You can go to them with any problem, 24-7, they are there for you.
"The classes are outstanding," she added, referring to free educational programs in real estate offered by the company, addressing topics such as how to handle contracts and legal forms, listings, sale by owner, and other issues. "It's all to keep you up-to-date on the market and how to be a successful agent, and good ideas on how to market yourself. And they are open to your ideas.
"The marketing is fantastic," Brancato said. "All advertising is free, all the marketing. You don't pay for anything." She contrasts that with a previous job, where agents paid the company for various functions, including "transaction coordination," a franchise fee, and "errors and omissions" charges on transactions that she says could be "outrageous."
"You really feel at home there. I'm never leaving," Brancato said.
Dave McCahan, another Wood Brothers agent, says Buddy and Patrick embrace a simple but effective philosophy: "It's wanting to help increase our business, and their business increases," he said. The atmosphere at the company contrasts sharply with a previous company he worked for, McCahan said.
"It felt very competitive there. It doesn't feel that way at all here. Everybody helps everybody else."
The Wood brothers are third-generation real estate professionals, following grandfather Lowell (L.K.) Wood and father L.K. Wood Jr. in the profession.
Buddy, 37, did office chores at his dad's business starting in high school, while a student at Chaminade. Patrick, 32, also went to Chaminade and then earned a business degree from St. Louis University before going to work for L.K. Wood Realtors in 2004.
Their approach, they say, is based on a basic philosophy of honesty - "don't lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate people who do," Buddy says, acknowledging the strict code of morality emphasized by the Brothers of Mary at Chaminade. The company takes seriously the ethics provisions of the local and national real estate associations, and ensures that agents never feel like they must violate their own code of ethics.
"Having high morals allows them to feel more free," Buddy said, noting cases where agents felt "scared" to ask managers about possible ethical issues. "Here, they know there is protection in coming to the broker or manager, not punishment. We know we're in this fight together."
So, there's the big picture - a philosophy of honesty and ethics that goes "from the top down," Patrick said.
And there's the "little things" such as "no fees whatsoever to work at Wood Brothers," and amenities such as heating and air conditioning at the office that features seven different zones that can be adjusted to the temperature preference of the individual agent. The company fast-tracks commission payments to agents, knowing the agents don't get paid a regular wage or salary.
"It's maybe three months to sell a house, and takes 30 days to close," Buddy says, citing a typical scenario for a sales agent. "We strive to have the accounting department turn out the commission check the same day (as closing). It means a lot to the salesperson."
"We don't look at agents as something to make money" by assessing fees, Patrick said, "but as a way to build the company together and make more money as a partnership. It's a focus on fairness to the agents, and it's the same for all, whether it's their first day or whether they've sold one house or 100."
Real Estate Agents and MLS Home listings in Saint Louis, MO
Home Buying and Real Estate MLS Listings in St. Louis County, MO
Welcome to Wood Brothers Realty, your professional and licensed agents in finding your dream home or property in Saint Louis County, MO.
Whether you're buying a home or selling a real estate property, our agents can help you close a deal with the right people in Saint Louis County, other areas in MO, and even get exposed to international buyers. We are dedicated in providing personal and customized real estate buying/selling services through our updated MLS listings in Saint Louis County, MO.
No Other Real Estate Company Can Bring You World-Class Service and Positive Results with your home buying and property listings like our agents can!
Our passion is real estate and our goal is for our Saint Louis County clients to get as much information as needed for them to make a sound decision about the home or property they're buying. Our knowledgeable agents have access to updated MLS listings in Saint Louis County, Saint Charles County, Jefferson County, and other nearby areas in MO. Thus, you can always see the latest properties in the MLS listings and buying that perfect home could literally be just one click away!
For sellers, our agents will also personally manage your account and inform you when your property will show on the MLS listings. We always update you on the status of your property and give you our recommendations on how to strengthen its appeal to the real estate market in Saint Louis County, MO.
We also welcome agents who have the same passion and dedication that we do. Working with our firm will guarantee a positive boost in your real estate career as we train and expose you to the ins and outs of the real estate business.
CALL US TODAY! We'll help you get started on your home buying adventure!
Our number: (314) 353-8888
Opening hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 6:30 pm
Saturday and Sunday, 9 am to 6 pm.