For Creig Northrop and his vast team of real estate agents, it was time.
Having been named the No. 1 real estate team in the country by sales volume on multiple occasions in the REAL Trends 1000, Northrop was looking for the next opportunity to grow.
The company’s transition from The Creig Northrop Team of Long & Foster Real Estate to Northrop Realty, a full-service brokerage, will facilitate that opportunity. Initially, the new entity will serve Maryland and Washington, D.C., and it will continue to be led by owners Creig and wife Carla Northrop.
Creig Northrop said the transition will allow the company to open numerous new offices in the mid-Atlantic, as such efforts were “capped” under the previous parameters.
That’s just one new option Northrop Realty — which operates from its new Clarksville headquarters, as well as offices in Carroll, Baltimore and Montgomery counties, and its new location in Anne Arundel County, in Annapolis — has in its game plan.
“Before, I was an agent and we were operating under government rules, so we could only have five offices, by law. Now, we’re looking in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and Washington,” he said. “We can have however many offices we need to service a state.
“Within a year or two, we’re shooting for 20 locations,” Northrop said. “Now, we can partner with Long & Foster and Christie’s, and our agents get all of the benefits of those associations. Previously, we worked for them.”
He added that the switch also allows the agents of Northrop Realty “to become their own CEOs and build a structure for their own businesses under our brand,” he said. “We used the team logo on our signs before, but now they can use their pictures, and create their own identity with the same structure.”
Why was now the time to make the move? “Because we felt we’d reached our highest accomplishments with The Northrop Team,” he said, which had hit the No. 1 spot with Real Trends three years in a row.
Another benefit of the change is that it highlights Northrop as a turnkey brokerage.
“Most agencies offer you a desk and say, ‘Good luck,’” he said. “We can offer Custom Customer Relationship Management software, staging, photography, etc., and take care of details and allow our agents to sell.”
Northrop Realty also has unveiled its own relocation department. Under the former setup, that function was handled at Long & Foster, in Chantilly, Va. “Ours will be boosted by Long & Foster, but now we can do it here, so people can move in while working with agents who live locally,” he said. “That’s our home field advantage.”
Northrop will be altering his role with the new entity, too.
“I’ll be a player/coach and start Northrop U,” in partnership with the Frederick Academy of Real Estate, he said. “Many agents get into the business not really knowing exactly what it entails. I’ve been at it for 30 years and my mother, Elaine, has been in the business for more than 45 years, and we want to give back to the industry.”
If the transition from the team concept to a brokerage sounds unusual, it is. “I don’t think it happens often,” said Jeff Detweiler, president and CEO at Long & Foster Real Estate headquarters, in Chantilly.
“Teams start with a natural progression,” he said. “One agent is successful, then works with one more in order to get some vacation time. Then they may get some administrative help. On the rare occasion, it grows into something like the Northrop Team. But only the largest teams, in the best of times, roll out to become their own brokerage.”
Usually, Detweiler doesn’t think it makes sense, “because they have to deal with economies of scale, and sometimes they don’t know all the different facets of the business. But Creig’s team is a rare entity for which this made sense, due to its sheer amount of transactions.”
He added that Northrop’s number of salespeople floats around the 100 mark, “which is five times more than other big teams in the industry. In general, a big team is considered to be about 20, with maybe 13 in sales and the rest administration.”
While calling the move “a daunting task,” Detweiler thinks Northrop is the man for this move.
“I could run down 100 things that a brokerage is responsible for, and that’s one of the most underappreciated aspects of making this move,” he said. “I don’t know anyone who’s done exactly what we’re doing, but I think Creig understands” his new role.
On the other hand, Bob Lucido, president of The Bob Lucido Team of Keller Williams, in Ellicott City, is happy to stand pat with his relationship with Keller Williams.
“We’re proud to be part of the No. 1 residential real estate company in the world, Keller Williams. We are the No. 1 team in world of the No. 1 residential real estate company, which operates in more than 30 countries,” he said. “My people can grow within our team, so we don’t need a separate brokerage.”
Lucido said his agents and staff have what they need under the more traditional setup. “They can create their own teams within our structure in Maryland, around the country and around the globe,” he said. “We’re very happy with the program we have.”
And, like Northrop, he expects that will lead to considerable growth. Soon.
“We’re proud that we’ve had a spotless record of integrity and honesty for 41 years,” said Lucido. “People trust the Bob Lucido team, and we have been expanding in 10 other cities for 18 months; and we plan to be operating from 100 cities in the next three years. This will give our team and our clients more opportunities and more exposure.”
Northrop, however, is looking forward to growing under his new set of rules.
“Wes Foster [co-founder of Long & Foster] was a mentor,” said Northrop, “and when we made the decision to become a brokerage, I told Long & Foster we needed to get to the next level, while still working together. And our clients will not be affected. That’s allowed us to grow from strength.”