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Summer 2015 • Volume 9 / Issue 2

Gino Blefari, CEO, HSF Affiliates LLC



John Davis, president, Keller Williams Realty

Chris Heller, CEO, Keller Williams Realty

Typhoon in the Philippines The Whole Foods of Listing Portals

Dave Liniger, co-founder, CEO and chairman of the board, RE/MAX Holdings Inc. LORE


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Lives of Real Estate brad hollingsworth, ext. 1906 stephen kowalchuk, ext. 1917


Summer 2015 Volume 9 / Issue 2

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Publisher’s Note Real estate professionals are frequently recognized for sales achievements but what goes on behind the scene is even more impactful.

COVER STORY: Leadership Changes Meet the newly appointed leaders, Gino Blefari of HSF Affiliates; John Davis, president and Chris Heller, CEO of Keller Williams, and Dave Liniger of RE/MAX, LLC.

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Gino Blefari, CEO, HSF Affiliates LLC Blefari is more than an executive, he’s a life coach, in the truest sense of the word. Read how he inspires others.

John Davis, president, Keller Williams Realty With a big personality and tons of passion, Davis is ready to take on his new role as president of Keller Williams Realty.

Chris Heller, CEO, Keller Williams Realty With an intense internal drive, the new CEO of KW Realty has lofty goals and the fortitude to exceed them.

Dave Liniger, co-founder, CEO and chairman of the board, RE/MAX Holdings Inc. Stepping back into his role as CEO of RE/MAX, this innovative leader is pushing the company to new heights.

Building a Boat Co-op When disaster struck the Philippines, help came from William and Tiki McIntyre, real estate professionals who live in another natural-disasterhit city—New Orleans. The Whole Foods of Listing Portals Find out how new president David Mele plans to dominate in the online-listing-portal world. LORE






n this issue of LORE, we examine the new leaders of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Keller Williams Realty International, and RE/MAX, LLC. Three are new in their roles: Gino Blefari at Berkshire Hathaway, Chris Heller, the new CEO of Keller Williams and John Davis, the new president at Keller Williams. Dave Liniger, who takes over as CEO of RE/MAX, LLC, is not new to the position of the company he founded in 1973. Each of these individuals brings enormous years of experience to their new roles, and each has definite ideas about the future and how he intends to move his company forward. What is just as interesting to us is how they got here. What events, challenges, and experiences shaped their lives and their careers? We cover them not just from a professional point of view but also from a personal one. Each of them has lived a fascinating life, with more twists and turns than a nor’easter. We trust you will enjoy hearing their stories.

Stephen H. Murray Publisher


Lives of Real Estate

Publisher Tracey C. Velt

Editor-in-Chief David Grassnick

Graphic Designer Bryan Warrick

Marketing Manager Doniece Welch

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he changing of the guard at any of the national real estate organizations is not a frequent event. Most of the men and women who have risen to be chief executive officers of these firms spent many years learning the ropes. Most end up at the head of their firms for many years. So, it is an exceptional time when the leaders of three of the nation’s top real estate organizations


Lives of Real Estate

change at the same time. Such was the case at the close of 2014. Read about the personal and professional lives of Gino Blefari, CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC; John Davis, president of Keller Williams Realty; Chris Heller, CEO of Keller Williams Realty and Dave Liniger, who recently stepped back into his role of CEO of RE/MAX Holdings Inc.

Gino Blefari CEO HSF Affiliates LLC

John Davis president Keller Williams Realty

Chris Heller CEO Keller Williams Realty

Dave Liniger Co-founder, CEO and chairman of the board, RE/MAX Holdings Inc.


when the leaders of three of the nation’s top real estate organizations change at the same time. Such was the case at the close of 2014.

Dave Liniger photo: Edward DeCroce / Decroce Photography




Gino Blefari CEO, HSF Affiliates LLC

A FRIEND INDEED Blefari is more than an executive, he’s a life coach, in the truest sense of the word. Read how he inspires others.


who cares more about people than he does himself. He’s a great friend. When I went through some stuff, he was there to help me get going again. He’s my life coach. — Dwight Clark, former wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers 8

Lives of Real Estate

When Dwight Clark, former wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers football team, was going through a tough time, one person was there to pick him back up— Gino Blefari. “I was in construction when the bad economy hit,” says Clark, who is famous for his winning touchdown reception off a Joe Montana pass, dubbed “The Catch,” in the Jan. 10, 1982, NFC Championship Game. “I got beaten up financially and was going through a divorce. Gino changed my life and got me going in a better direction,” says Clark, now a business consultant. It’s a sentiment echoed by long-time friend and business associate, John Thompson, co-founder and COO of Intero Real Estate Services, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate in Los Altos, Calif.. “I’ve known Gino since I was 13 years old. I’m 50 now, and I would follow him into a foxhole. He’s always been there for me in good times and bad. For a guy who is so busy, he always finds time to reach out and lift up the spirits of those who are in need,” he says.

For Blefari, who just took over the reins as CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC, based in Irvine, Calif., helping people achieve their goals is more than something he’s passionate about. “I’d say that my personal life mission is helping people achieve their goals faster than they could in my absence. That is my personal philosophy. I like to think I’ve made an impact on people and their careers. I also like to think that my influence and friendship with people has allowed them to accomplish more than they could have without my role as mentor and coach.” Based on the experience of Clark, Thompson and a host of others, Blefari is a raging success. A Salesperson Is Born For Blefari, starting a real estate career was “by accident and not by design.” He was working at a golf course while attending college full time. “My parents had a home on the 9th tee,” says Thompson. “I would throw my clubs over the barbed wire fence and slither through a small hole. I met Gino when he thought I was sneaking over the fence to play a few rounds for free.

I ’ D S AY T H AT MY PERSONAL LIFE MISSION is helping people achieve their goals faster than they could in my absence. — Gino Blefari




However, my family belonged to the club,” he says. Blefari was 22 years old, and the two became fast friends. When he graduated from college, a developer bought the golf course and needed a manager. “I managed the golf course for the developer until I started learning the construction business,” says Blefari, who carefully observed the salespeople on the developer’s staff. “I thought, ‘I might like to give that a try.’” Blefari went to work for a local brokerage, and his real estate career was born. Blefari had held roles in most facets of the real estate business, including top-producing agent, team leader, branch manager, regional partner-owner and more before opening his own brokerage, Intero Real Estate Services, in 2002. Intero was powered by an entirely new technology platform and led by a team of real estate veterans who were


we a p p l i e d c o n s i s t e n t p h i l o s o p h i e s t h a t we re ro o t e d i n o u r m i s s i o n s t a t e m e n t : ‘ G u i d e d by the principles of trust, re s p e c t a n d i n t e g r i t y, we e m p owe r p e o p l e t o a c h i eve t h e i r d re a m s . — Gino Blefari


Lives of Real Estate

all born and raised in Silicon Valley. However, starting a company from scratch is never easy. “You create the name, the culture and the marketing materials, and then lay out the philosophy for your company. That’s hard,” he says, but not harder than getting through the downturn of 2007-2008. “The lowest was in December 2008, when I refinanced my parents’ home to make payroll in 2009,” he says. However, as most great businessmen do, Blefari pulled through. “From day one, we applied consistent philosophies that were rooted in our mission statement: ‘Guided by the principles of trust, respect and integrity, we empower people to achieve their dreams,’” says Blefari. “To us, the word people meant our agents, our staff, our communities and our clients. A great team operates with a high level of accountability, and when team members make personal commitments to one another as well as to management, the team will make significant headway on its ‘wildly important goals’ (WIGs).” Mentors and Role Models The idea for setting WIGs came from the book “Four Disciplines of Execution,” by Chris McChesney and co-authored by Sean Covey, which comes as no surprise for those who know Blefari well. He’s a big proponent of personal development and listens to leadership books whenever he has a free moment. It all stems from listening to a Zig Ziglar tape. “I was struggling to sell a house my first six months in the real estate business. Ziglar talked about opportunity, setting a regular schedule and more. Things clicked for me. I had been ready to quit. Then, I changed my mindset and sold a house, and then another house; within a week, I had six houses sold. It was a turning point for me,” he says.


to sell a house my first six m o n t h s i n t h e re a l e s t a t e b u s i n e s s . [ Z i g ] Z i g l a r t a l ke d a b o u t o p p o r t u n i t y, s e t t i n g a re g u l a r s c h e d u l e a n d m o re . T h i n g s c l i c ke d f o r m e . — Gino Blefari




Now, he looks to powerful business speakers, trainers and coaches for inspiration and ideas. Asked to name favorites, Blefari rattles off a list: Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Tom Hopkins, Mike Ferry, Tom Ferry, Og Mandino and Brian Buffini, to name a few. “Og Mandino was a mentor of mine. Mike Ferry, Brian Buffini,

Affiliates.) Then, I go to the coffee shop at 6:30 a.m. I’m all about routine. Of course, that’s a bit of a challenge with my new job since I’m traveling so much,” he laughs. Family Family has been Blefari’s biggest influence. “I didn’t have to look far for a


t o wo r k h a rd e r o n yo u r s e l f t h a n o n yo u r j o b .” I t ’s t h e s a m e thing Blefari teaches when c o a c h i n g agents, managers a n d o t h e r exe c u t i ve s .

Tom Ferry—they all had an impact on me in my real estate career. I’ve coached with them all,” says Blefari. “They taught me the X Factor—to work harder on yourself than on your job.” It’s the same thing Blefari teaches when coaching agents, managers and other executives. “I was coached on the importance of a schedule. It’s something I believe in strongly. To this day, I have a scheduled call with John Thompson at 5 a.m., then another with Bob McAdams (president of Real Living,) at 5:30 a.m. and a 6 a.m. call with Sue Yannaccone, (senior vice president of network services, HSF


Lives of Real Estate

role model because I was Paul Blefari’s son. I certainly looked to both my mom and my dad for inspiration,” he says. His parents taught him humility and empathy. For example, “Gino had a tenant in a property that he owned,” says Thompson. “The tenant had fallen on hard times and wasn’t paying his rent. He was two or three months behind. So Gino packaged up a bunch of inspirational books, provided them to the tenant and told the tenant that if he read the books and gave him a book report, he would waive the past-due rent. It’s part of his nature to do whatever he can to help others see the potential in themselves.”

Blefari is also hugely grateful for his wife, Joanie, with whom he has two grown children, Alex (23) and Lauren (21). “My wife and I are very proud of our two daughters,” he says. For the others in his life, he serves as a mentor and friend. “He is someone whose

loyalty and friendship are unwavering. He never asks anyone to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself. He walks the walk with his leadership, and I admire that,” says Thompson. Clark agrees: “He makes you a better person and a better businessperson by passing along his knowledge.”


Gino Blefari is a huge sports fan. “I like to work out, specifically lift weights, golf, and watch football and baseball,” he says. “I’m a huge San Francisco 49ers and San Francisco Giants fan.” In fact, Blefari says that many of the sports figures he admires have taught him some of the business practices he follows today. Former 49ers Coach Bill Walsh, “taught me how to run a company. The whole idea of scripting out my day came from Walsh, who scripted out the first 15 plays of each game,” he says. Baseball great Willie Mays “had a huge influence on me. He was an ambassador for baseball. He was a great peace-maker,” says Blefari. “When the Giants hated the Dodgers, Willie Mays was the only ambassador. I mimicked him, tried to throw like him, swing a bat like him. He was my hero.”




John Davis, president Keller Williams Realty

A DYNAMIC LEADER With a big personality and tons of passion, John Davis is ready to take on his new role as president of Keller Williams Realty.


Lives of Real Estate

When John Davis was in college, he took a placement test to help him decide what career was a good fit for him. “I played football in college and was chosen as the defensive captain that year,” says Davis, who was named president of Keller Williams Realty in February 2015. With results in hand at a team meeting, the football coach called Davis to the front of the room to “let all the players know exactly who they voted for as defensive captain,” says Davis. “Coach had a good sense of humor.” It turns out that Davis scored high on the following careers: military officer, real estate broker, coach, priest, interior designer and hairdresser. “So you see, I’ve got range,” he laughs. One person who noticed that range is Gary Keller, co-founder of Keller Williams Realty. In 1995, Davis met Keller, who gave him some business advice. “He asked if I would join a mortgage company he owned, and I did. Right out of the chute, I came into the business world with Gary coaching and training me,” he says. Two years later, after being the leading producer in the mortgage company, Davis made the transition into real estate sales. He worked closely with Mark Willis, former CEO of KW Realty, and Mary Tennant, former president

of KW Realty in the Austin Southwest market center. “I thought, I’ve got Gary Keller training me, Mo Anderson is our CEO, Mark was my first team leader and Mary was my second team leader. Wow!” he says. Turning Things Around It was that experience, says Davis, that enabled him to take a failing Southlake, Texas, market center and turn it around. “I took on a market center that was $472,000 in debt and was probably going to be shut down. From Gary’s teaching, Mo’s leadership, and Mark’s and Mary’s examples, I was able to turn that market center around so that it became the third-most-profitable one in the entire Keller Williams system,” says Davis. “It was one of those business experiences that really shaped me.” Davis has replicated that success at market centers and regions throughout Keller Williams as an agent, team leader, operating partner and regional leader. “When I was offered the regional director position with the KW Greater Heartland Region,” he says, “we took an underperforming region to the No. 1 region in terms of agent count.” By doing this again


t ra i n i n g m e , M o A n d e r s o n i s o u r C E O, M a r k [ D a v i s ] wa s m y f i r s t t e a m l e a d e r a n d M a r y [ Te n n a n t ] w a s m y s e c o n d t e a m l e a d e r. Wow ! — John Davis




and again, he proved to all that he did indeed have range, as those early aptitude assessments had revealed. When it came time to expand KW’s North American operations, the executive team asked Davis to become the vice president of growth. “It was an absolute dream come true,” says Davis. The Growth Initiative, which Davis continues to lead, has fueled the company’s record growth, productivity and profitability gains and set it on the path to becoming the franchise leader in worldwide agent count, transactions and sales volume.

I was a junior in high school, that we were poor.” But Davis saw Vail transform from a small town, with no paved roads, into a worldclass resort. “It impacted me personally because I realized that anything is possible. I watched an empire get built, so I knew from an early age that real estate would be my one thing.” While his parents are his “heroes,” another person who influenced Davis’ life was a neighbor, Dr. William Bevan. “Doc was an ER doctor in the Vail Valley. He was like a second father. He told me all the time that I was a champ. He taught me how to study

I T H I N K I T ’ S T H E AT H L E T E I N M E

t h a t s a y s I wa n t t o m a ke s u re I ’ m c o m i n g t h ro u g h f o r o u r p e o p l e . I t ’s n o t a wo r r y. I t ’s n o t a d o u b t . I t ’s j u s t a n e e d t o b e s u re t h a t I ’ m b r i n g i n g i t (e n e rg y a n d g u i d a n c e) eve r y d a y. — J o h n D a v i s Now, as the new Keller Williams president (Davis succeeds Mary Tennant, who has joined the company board of directors), he is certainly up for the challenge. “I think it’s just like being an athlete. You understand you’re moving from being a contributor into a starting role. I look at it with a great sense of anticipation. I think it’s the athlete in me that says I want to make sure I’m coming through for our people. It’s not a worry. It’s not a doubt. It’s just a need to be sure that I’m bringing it (energy and guidance) every day.” Changes Growing up in Vail, Colo., says Davis, “formed the person I am today. When people hear that I grew up in Vail, they assume I was a silver spoon kid.” However, he says, that was far from the truth. His father was an assistant manager at a local grocery store. “My parents are my heroes because I didn’t even know, until


Lives of Real Estate

and work out athletically. He insisted that I study two hours a day,” says Davis. “It made a difference hearing, from someone other than my parents, that I was amazing. I still call him to this day.” It’s these experiences that gave Davis the confidence and drive to push through and succeed in the opportunities presented to him. “Leadership is all about people and understanding what motivates them. What stalls performance? One of my goals is to learn more about what motivates our people so that I can help them get what they want,” he says. The truth, he says, and Chris Heller, CEO of KW Realty, agrees, is that “We have not arrived. The beautiful thing about a system like KW is that we can measure ourselves against our potential. It is so exciting. Our greatest challenge is also our greatest opportunity in that the sky is the limit.”


J o h n D a v i s ’ f avo r i t e t i m e o f ye a r i s C h r i s t m a s . H e a l ways p u t s u p m u l t i p l e t re e s a n d s h owe r s f r i e n d s a n d f a m i l y w i t h g i f t s . “ Th e h o l i d ays a re a t i m e t o re f l e c t , a t i m e t o g i ve t h a n k s a n d a t i m e t o s e i z e o p p o r t u n i t i e s ,” h e s ays . D av i s p u s h e s eve r yo n e o n h i s t e a m t o f i n i s h t h e f o u r t h q u a r t e r s t ro n g s o t h ey c a n s p e n d s t re s s - f re e t i m e w i t h t h e i r l ove d o n e s . J u s t a s i m p o r t a n t , h e k n ow s t h a t m o m e n t u m w i l l c a r r y ove r i n t o t h e N ew Ye a r, a n d h e wa n t s h i s p e o p l e t o g e t a j u m p s t a r t o n a c h i ev i n g t h e i r m o s t s u c c e s s f u l ye a r ye t . D av i s j o ke s t h a t i f h e eve r w r i t e s a b o o k o n l e a d e r s h i p i t ’s g o i n g t o c o n s i s t o f o n l y t wo p a g e s . “ Th e f i r s t p a g e w i l l a s k , ‘ H ow d o yo u k n ow i f a l e a d e r i s s u c c e e d i n g ? ’ ” h e s ays . “ Th e s e c o n d p a g e w i l l s ay, ‘ I f t h e i r p e o p l e a re s u c c e e d i n g .’ N o t h i n g m o t i va t e s m e m o re t h a n h e l p i n g p e o p l e g e t w h a t t h ey wa n t . I f yo u t a ke c a re o f yo u r p e o p l e a n d p rov i d e t h e m w it h t h e re s o u rces an d tools to b uild a big life, everyone a c hieves m ore.”




Chris Heller, CEO Keller Williams Realty

DETERMINED TO SUCCEED With an intense internal drive, the new CEO of KW Realty has lofty goals and the fortitude to exceed them.


Lives of Real Estate

Childhood experiences, both good and bad, can shape our lives in ways we’d never expect. No one knows that better than Chris Heller, who took over as CEO of Keller Williams Realty in February 2015. Second grade was hard for Heller, and while he wasn’t failing, he was encouraged to stay back and take second grade again. “My best friend across the street was staying back, so I thought it was a good idea,” laughs Heller. “Of course, in second grade, as far as all the other kids are concerned, you flunked.” From that point, Heller was determined to show people differently. “I guess I was on a mission to show that I wasn’t the stupid kid,” he says.

Heller started looking around. “I was introduced to Keller Williams, but I didn’t really know much about the company as it wasn’t established yet in San Diego,” he says. However, he read Keller Williams Founder Gary Keller’s book, “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent,” and, he says, “I thought, ‘Here’s a company that’s figured it out.’ I had just spent 16 years of trial and error, developing something along the same lines as what Gary was teaching people to do.”

The truth is, he has nothing to prove, especially in his professional life, where everything he touches turns to gold, not because of good luck, but because of the hard work and good business decisions he’s made over the years. Heller was 20 years old and a college sophomore when his father encouraged him to get a real estate license and work the summer at a timeshare resort.

Joining Keller Williams In 2004, Heller joined Keller Williams (KW). “It was a brand new market center that they were still running out of the operating partner’s garage,” he says. The owners offered Heller a minority interest. Now part of KW, the Heller the Home Seller Team sold thousands of homes. In fact, Heller has sold more than 100 homes a year every year for the past two decades. During a five-year stretch of one of the most challenging real estate markets in history, his sales volume totalled more than $450 million.

Early Years For 16 years, he worked as a sales associate for Prudential California Realty. During that time, he was a top sales associate in San Diego and one of Prudential’s 10 top agents nationwide, but wasn’t sure where he wanted to go with that career. “I was at a pretty serious pace, and I thought, ‘If I stop, everything stops.’ If I lost that income, I wondered, what would happen to my lifestyle?” he says. Frustrated by the lack of opportunity that faced him,

Then, says Heller, “In 2008, I got a call from Mark (Willis, former CEO of KW Realty). He said he wanted to talk to me at Mega Camp in Austin.” It turned out that Keller Williams was making plans to expand outside of North America, and the leaders of KW wanted Heller to be president of KW Worldwide. “Thankfully, I had a couple of years to prepare because Mark didn’t announce our plans for total world domination until Family Reunion 2010,” he laughs. Heller commuted between San Diego and


e s p e c i a l l y i n h i s p ro f e s s i o n a l l i f e , w h e re eve r y t h i n g he touches turns to gold, not because of good luck, b u t b e c a u s e o f t h e h a rd wo r k a n d g o o d b u s i n e s s d e c i s i o n s h e ’s m a d e ove r t h e ye a r s .




Austin for more than a year. “I realized early on that whenever I was in Austin, I could get more done in three or four days than I could in two weeks over the phone,” he says. It didn’t hurt that Gary introduced Chris to Nina, now his wife, and he soon made the move full time to Austin. Transitioning to CEO Now, Heller is CEO of Keller Williams Realty, following in the footsteps of Mark Willis, who has joined the company board of directors. And Heller has plenty of challenges ahead. At the 2015 Keller Williams Family Reunion, the company announced it has become the largest real estate franchise by agent count in the world. The Austin, Texas–based company

about,” he says. “I’ve had the privilege of sharing the Keller Williams opportunity around the world, and wherever I’m traveling I love walking the areas to [get a better sense] of the people there.” In addition to exercising, Heller enjoys spending time with family. He has four children, Alli (24), Sophie (21), Nick (19) and Olivia (15). Three have expressed interest in pursuing a real estate career. Heller credits his mother with keeping him positive. “Every morning, when I’d wake up, she’d always say it was going to be a great day. Now, that thought pops in my head as soon as the alarm goes off,” he says. But his resolve comes from his intense internal drive. Maybe


t h a t we h a ve n ’ t a r r i ve d . We w a n t t o m a ke s u re c o m p l a c e n c y d o e s n ’ t e n t e r t h e p i c t u re .” — Chris Heller

added a net 17,000 associates in 2014, increasing its worldwide associate count to more than 112,000. “One challenge is having our people realize that we haven’t arrived. We want to make sure complacency doesn’t enter the picture,” says Heller. Heller says, the focus shouldn’t be on the leadership or KW, the company. “It’s about making sure our agents understand the opportunity that’s there and helping them take advantage of it. This is a career where there’s truly no limit to what you can earn. Our systems and models make sure that [sales associates] have the opportunity to maximize this for themselves and their families,” he says. Getting Personal To ensure he’s handling the challenges of his new position with a clear mind, Heller stays fit. “Staying active is something I’m passionate


Lives of Real Estate

it’s to prove to everyone that he isn’t that little boy who got held back in second grade, as was evidenced by his determination to make his high school basketball team. Heller had been on vacation and missed a couple of days of school, including the first two days of basketball tryouts. “I showed up the third day, and the coach told me that since I hadn’t been there, I was out of luck. That day they were doing conditioning drills, so I just joined in. I kept running lines the entire practice—even after all of the other boys stopped. I never quit, and the coach decided to put me on the team,” says Heller. That story sums up Heller’s leadership. “There’s no part of me that’s ever thought I’ve arrived in any area in my life,” says Heller. However, he adds, “A long time ago, a person called me insatiable. I guess it’s true, I have a big appetite to keep learning and getting better.”


a person called me insatiable. I guess i t ’s t r u e , I h a ve a big appetite to ke e p l e a r n i n g a n d g e t t i n g b e t t e r.” — Chris Heller


C h r i s H e l l e r i s a n i n t rove r t . “ I wa s p a i n f u l l y s h y w h e n I wa s yo u n g . I ’ m s t i l l n o t a h i g h l y s o c i a b l e p e r s o n ; m ay b e t h a t ’s a n u n d e r s t a t e m e n t ,” h e l a u g h s . “ I h a d a re a l l y t o u g h t i m e i n c o l l e g e . I wo u l d n eve r t a ke a c l a s s w h e re yo u ’d h ave t o g i ve a n o ra l p re s e n t a t i o n . I j u s t c o u l d n ’ t d o i t . I f i t w a s o n t h e s y l l a b u s , I wo u l d n ’ t s i g n u p f o r t h e c l a s s , o r I wo u l d d ro p i t ,” h e s ays . H oweve r, o n c e h e g o t i n t o re a l e s t a t e , s o m e t h i n g s h i f t e d . H e l e a r n e d t o exc e l a t g i v i n g l i s t i n g p re s e n t a t i o n s , a n d h i s d e t e r m i n a t i o n t o b e t h e b e s t ove r r u l e d a n y f e a r o f p u b l i c s p e a k i n g . H e s o u g h t o u t eve r y s p e a k i n g o p p o r t u n i t y h e c o u l d g e t . “ [ R E A L Tre n d s wo u l d h ave m e] o n p a n e l s , a n d t h o s e f e e l i n g s I u s e d t o h a ve — b e i n g p a n i c - s t r i c ke n , l i ke I c o u l d n ’ t b re a t h e , w i t h m y h e a r t p o u n d i n g — d i s a p p e a re d . Th i n g s h a p p e n i n yo u r l i f e , yo u s h i f t a n d yo u g row i n t o d o i n g t h e s e t h i n g s ,” h e s ays .



What happens when you build a business that puts agents first? THE RESULT: World’s largest real estate franchise by agent count Training Magazine’s

#1 training organization in the world

Learn more at


National Franchises Ranked by Transaction Sides Per Agent Affiliated brokerages qualifying for the 2015 REAL Trends 500 and Up & Comers



16.6 13.6



Realty Executives

More opportunity? More respect? More productive professionals around you? Last year, RE/MAX brokerages in the REAL Trends 500 closed twice as




Coldwell Banker/NRT

many transaction sides per agent as other brokerages in the survey.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices


That’s more – a lot more. Century 21


Find out why RE/MAX agents lead the industry. Open your eyes to RE/MAX.

Real Living


Keller Williams


Better Homes & Gardens




Rankings calculated by RE/MAX based on 2015 REAL Trends 500 data, citing 2014 transaction sides for the 1,460 largest participating U.S. brokerages. Berkshire does not include HomeServices of America. ©2015 RE/MAX, LLC. Each office is independently owned and operated. 150212


Dave Liniger, Co-founder, CEO and chairman of the board, RE/MAX Holdings Inc.


Stepping back into his role as CEO of RE/MAX, this innovative leader is pushing the company to new heights.

Photo: Edward DeCroce / Decroce Photography 24

Lives of Real Estate

While Dave Liniger was in the hospital with a life-threatening infection, one thing kept the co-founder and chairman of the board of RE/MAX, LLC, going—his wife, Gail. The year was 2012, and his company was going strong. However, Liniger fell ill with a bacterial infection that settled in his spine, resulting in temporary paralysis. The staph infection was so severe that doctors gave him only a 5 percent chance of survival. “Just before we were married, in 1983, Gail was in an airplane crash in Canada. She was in a coma for a couple months and in and out of the hospital for the next three years learning to walk, talk and think,” says Liniger. Flash forward 29 years, and Liniger was the patient. “I watched her all those years ago. She never cried, she just made up her mind to be the best. I figured if she could handle it, then I could too.” Building a Brokerage Thus began a transformative year for the adventure-loving founder of RE/MAX, LLC, which he created in 1973 after working for what he says was the “best company in the country,” Van Schaack, a real estate brokerage in Denver. “The average Van Schaack agent was making $50,000 a year

in 1971 on a 50-50 split at a time when the average Realtor® was making $5,000,” he says. However, Liniger had an idea for a new company: What if he changed the 50-50 split to 100 percent, but rather than be a rent-a-desk brokerage, the company would be professionally managed? Thus, Liniger created RE/MAX and its 100 percent business model. The truth, he says, is that “It was a blessing I was naïve and didn’t know it couldn’t be done. When you’re passionate about something, you want to prove everyone wrong.” It took some time to “prove everyone wrong,” he says. After all, the real estate industry is slow to accept change. “I was putting a program together that would enable top producers to keep more of their commission, so I never anticipated the backlash.” The hardest part for Liniger was dealing with the growth. “The team you put together to start isn’t the team you end up with as you grow. After all, the person who can be your bookkeeper when you have eight offices probably isn’t the comptroller you need when you have 95 companies and you’re a private entity.” Changing the people Photo: who are unable to grow with the company Edward DeCroce / is difficult. Decroce Photography


you want to prove everyone wrong.” It took some time to “prove everyone wrong,” he says. After all, the real estate industry is slow to accept change. “I was putting a program together that would enable top producers to keep more of their commission, so I never anticipated the backlash.” — Dave Liniger




Part of RE/MAX’s success, says Liniger, is that the company has always been community minded. To date, it has raised more than $130 million for the Children’s Miracle Network. “I didn’t involve myself too much with philanthropy early on as I was so busy building the business,” he says. That all changed when Liniger built Sanctuary Golf Club, a private golf course, in 1997. “Dozens of RE/MAX agents wanted to do charity tournaments on the course. About six months before we opened, we had more than 300 applications for charity golf tournaments,” he says. That prompted Liniger to rethink the way the golf course was run and include in the business plan about 25 charity events a year. “Today, we’ve raised about $80 million net and have 25 charity events a year, including three military days,” he says. “We are heavily involved in hospital and scholarship programs created for combat vets who run out of VA benefits,” he adds.


in Douglas County to the University of Colorado (CU). Valued at $40 million, the museum and exhibition facility on 14 acres represents the largest donation of real estate ever received by CU.


Lives of Real Estate

The Linigers cofounded a Denver-area conservation center, The Wildlife Experience, dedicated to fostering appreciation and understanding of wildlife, its conservation and the many forms of wildlife art. “It’s 150,000 square feet, and we host about 180 social and charitable fundraising events each year,” he says. In 2014, Liniger and wife Gail donated the Wildlife Experience in Douglas County to the University of Colorado (CU). Valued at $40 million, the museum and exhibition facility on 14 acres represents the largest donation of real estate ever received by CU. “Gail and I realize that education in our community is a major need,” Liniger said. “We have been so fortunate in business, and our financial success is allowing us to branch out in our charity.” Lust for Adventure While running a company is time consuming, he finds plenty of time to pursue outside interests. “I’ve had a quest for adventure going back to my military service,” says Liniger, who served in Vietnam. In fact, he learned to scuba dive when he was 10 years old and has been on more than 3,000 dives on five continents. He drove for NASCAR and owned a NASCAR team, owns and flies a jet fighter plane—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. One of Liniger’s more daring adventures was a 1998 attempt to circle the globe in a balloon that flew on “the edge of space.” If you’re thinking the famous RE/MAX balloon, think again. According to an article in Balloon Life magazine, “The envelope [balloon] carries a 6,000 pound pressurized (8-foot by 7-foot) cylindrical gondola and will lift into the


was a 1998 attempt to circle the globe in a balloon that flew on “the edge of space.” If you’re thinking the famous RE/MAX balloon, think again. According to an article in Balloon Life magazine, “The envelope [balloon] carries a 6,000 pound pressurized (8-foot by 7-foot) cylindrical gondola and will lift into the stratosphere in the first four hours.




stratosphere in the first four hours. Filled with 170,000 cubic feet of helium for launch, the balloon envelope expands to nearly 40 million cubic feet (about 459 feet diameter) at full cruising altitude. Fully expanded, the balloon envelope could easily contain the entire Houston Astrodome.” Unfortunately, the mission was scrubbed after being postponed for three weeks due to high winds and poor weather in Alice Springs, Australia, where the crew hoped to start the adventure. Another of Liniger’s passions is breeding Arabian horses. It all started when Liniger went to a friend’s barbecue. “They had a fascinating Arabian mare. I was burned out from working and traveling so much. It was so

employee and has been key to the company’s success. Gail is actively involved in day-to-day operations at RE/MAX World Headquarters. She constantly has her finger on the pulse of departmental and company-wide initiatives. Her presence and leadership fortify an office culture of collaboration, productivity, gratitude and giving. She has been instrumental in establishing a culture of giving across the RE/MAX network. Most notably, she and Dave championed the RE/MAX sponsorship of the Children’s Miracle Network in 1992, and then of Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 2002. Liniger has four adult children from his


wo r k i n g a t R E / M A X h e a d q u a r t e r s . “ I m a d e a d e a l w i t h t h e m g row i n g u p : ‘ Yo u c a n h ave a p a r t - t i m e j o b a t R E / M A X , b u t yo u c a n ’ t f o l l ow i n m y f o o t s t e p s .’ I owe t h o s e j o b s to the people who helped me build the c o m p a n y.” — Dave Liniger peaceful watching the horse prance around,” he says. Five months later, he attended a program on genetics at University of Colorado and created a breeding program. At one point, the Linigers had 200 horses at ranches across the state. “Now, we have 70 at one ranch. Our stallions have sired more than half the first- and second-place winners in all classes and categories in the United States for the past 17 years,” he says. Of course, no article about Dave Liniger would be complete with out mentioning his family. Wife Gail was Liniger’s first RE/MAX


Lives of Real Estate

first marriage, Mary, Dave Jr., John and Charles. The family is tight-knit, and when he had his bacterial infection, all his children took regular 8-hour shifts at the hospital to make sure he wasn’t alone. However, you won’t see any of them working at RE/MAX headquarters. “I made a deal with them growing up: ‘You can have a part-time job at RE/MAX, but you can’t follow in my footsteps.’ I owe those jobs to the people who helped me build the company. However, I told them I would help each of them finance a business. All four are entrepreneurs,” he says.

Overall, says Liniger, the real estate business still gives him a rush. “The real estate industry is unique. [Agents and brokers] compete against each other to get the listing. But, once someone gets it, everyone cooperates to sell it,” he says. Plus, he says, brokerages have no assets other than some office furniture. “Our assets are our sales forces. We’re in a business where 100 percent of our assets walk out the door every single night. It’s fascinating.”


D ave L i n i g e r i s i n c re d i b l y s h y.

“ W h e n I ’ m o n t h e s t a g e t ra i n i n g o r speaking, I’m fine. When I get off the stage and attendees ask questions, I’m f i n e b e c a u s e I h ave s o m e t h i n g t o t a l k t o t h e m a b o u t ,” h e s ays . H oweve r, “ E a r l y i n m y c a re e r, I wa s f l y i n g 2 0 0 t o 2 7 0 d ays a ye a r a n d I s p o ke t o o n l y t wo p e o p l e o n t h e p l a n e d u r i n g t h a t e n t i re t i m e .” Th e f i r s t wa s a wo m a n w h o wa s h o l d i n g a h o r s e c a t a l o g i n h e r l a p . L i n i g e r t a l ke d h o r s e s w i t h h e r ; t h e n , w h e n t h e wo m a n t a l ke d a b o u t o p e n i n g a p u b l i c re l a t i o n s f i r m , L i n i g e r s u g g e s t e d s h e re a d t h e b o o k “ Th i n k a n d G row R i c h ,” by Napoleon Hill. “She actually called me a b o u t f i ve m o n t h s a f t e r t h a t f l i g h t b e c a u s e s h e wa n t e d R E / M A X t o s i g n u p w i t h h e r n ew P R c o m p a n y.” ( I t d i d n ’ t . ) Th e o t h e r t i m e wa s d u r i n g t h e p ro m o t i o n o f h i s a ro u n d - t h e - wo r l d b a l l o o n f l i g h t . “ Va r i o u s n ew s s t a t i o n s we re d o i n g s e g m e n t s o n i t , a n d o n e w a s p l ay i n g o n t h e a i r p l a n e . I wa s f l y i n g f i r s t c l a s s n ex t t o a n o l d e r wo m a n . S h e wa t c h e d t h e n ew s a b o u t t h e b a l l o o n r i d e , l o o ke d a t m e a n d s a i d , ‘ I s t h i s g u y n u t s? ’ ” s ays L i n i g e r. “ I s m i l e d a n d s a i d , ‘ P e o p l e t e l l m e I a m .’ N e e d l e s s t o s ay, we h a d a g o o d l a u g h ove r t h a t .”

Photo: Edward DeCroce / Decroce Photography LORE



Building a Boat Co-op When disaster struck the Philippines, help came from real estate professionals in another naturaldisaster-hit city— New Orleans.


illiam and Kathryn “Tiki” McIntyre have seen firsthand devastation caused by Mother Nature. “We live in New Orleans. When Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, it devastated our community. While our house didn’t flood, we did have roof damage and mold,” says William, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker TEC Realtors® in New Orleans. A Charity Is Born Fast-forward a few years to 2013, when the McIntyres befriended two couples, Ella and David Delio and Kevin and Sandy Brown, and formed a mastermind group to share business advice. Shortly after the group was formed, the Philippines were hit with a super


Lives of Real Estate


Ella was overwhelmed with the news she was receiving from her family who still lived there. typhoon. Born in the Philippines, Ella was overwhelmed with the news she was receiving from her family who still lived there. “The Friday after the typhoon hit, we were all together watching the [New Orleans] Saints demolish the [San Francisco] 49ers. Seeing Ella’s distress and knowing firsthand the type of devastation storms can bring, we decided we had to do something,” says William. The group decided to have an event to raise money. “We scheduled it for February 9, 2014, at an iconic New Orleans venue called Rock ‘n’ Bowl,” says Tiki. With a silent auction, a live auction, raffle items, T-shirt sales and sponsorships, the event, dubbed “NOLA Loves the Philippines,” raised more than $75,000. “We were overwhelmed by the support from the community and the people who volunteered time or treasures,” says Tiki.

Challenges Little did the McIntyres know that the challenges were just beginning. “Getting money into the Philippines is hard to do. We had to be careful to ensure it was legal and that it ended up in the right hands,” says Tiki. Rather than hand over the money, the group wanted to ensure that the charity would be self-sustaining and that the money wouldn’t be wasted. “We were trying to alleviate the corruption so that the money gets used where it’s intended to get used,” says William. So, he says, “We asked them [Ella’s family] what [the people of Estancia] needed the most. We expected them to say, ‘Houses,’ but they said, ‘Boats.’” Vital to most Filipino families is the ability to fish. The first thing the McIntyres did was buy 10 fish corrals (traps made of nets that are LORE



supported by bamboo stilts) and several boats. Then, they created a boat co-op for the residents of Estancia (where Ella’s family lives), a municipality in the Philippines. Basically, the fishermen use a boat and pay a percentage of their sales to the co-op. Ella’s family manages the co-op. “Her family is very influential, so it made sense,” says Tiki. The money raised through the co-op rentals will fund the purchase of more boats and fish corrals. “We raised enough initially to purchase 100 fish corrals and boats,” says William. Expanding Their Efforts In their efforts to ensure that all the money raised benefited the people of the Philippines, the McIntyres did not earmark any money to visit the people impacted by the typhoon or to do any mission work. “We didn’t feel it was right for us to go to the Philippines on their dime, so we chose to [individually] raise money that would go to the Philippines to rebuild homes and help them—to show them that Americans have their backs,” says William. For their work with NOLA Loves the Philippines and the boat co-op, the McIntyres won Coldwell Banker’s 2014 Hero of the Year Award.


While a second fundraiser has not yet been scheduled, the McIntyres continue to oversee the co-op as well as raise funds through the website,

NOLA LOVES THE PHILIPPINES Are you interested in donating to help buy fishing boats and equipment to help Filipino fishermen regain their livelihood? One fishing boat costs around $600, and donations are tax deductible. You may send a check, made out to “Trinity Christian Community,” to P.O. Box 13665, New Orleans, La. 70185-3665. Please write “NOLA Loves the Philippines” in the memo line. Or donate online at Great Idea: The idea for NOLA Loves the Philippines came about through a mastermind group. Key to the success of William and Tiki McIntyre’s group is that the members are not all in real estate. The group consists of three couples with different professions and challenges. Religiously, for one hour each week, the six group members speak to each other via telephone to give feedback and offer encouragement. “We’ve all had incredible breakthroughs in our lives,” says William McIntyre. In fact, he says, member Kevin Brown, a community developer for underprivileged neighborhoods decided, through the mastermind group, to follow his heart and enter a Baptist seminary. The group allowed the McIntyres to make a charitable impact in their community and in the Philippines. “Being in the group allowed us to make a much bigger impact in the Philippines than we would have if Tiki and I had just made a donation,” says William. 32

Lives of Real Estate




Lives of Real Estate


Luxury homes that aren’t everything to everyone. But everything to a select few. Browse our collection at

©2015 BHH Affiliates, LLC. Real Estate Brokerage Services are offered through the network member franchisees of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Most franchisees are independently owned and operated. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc.® Information not verified or guaranteed. If your property is currently listed with a broker, this is not intended as a solicitation. Equal Housing Opportunity.




IT’S AN EXCITING T I M E , a period of significant, b u t f o c u s e d , g row t h . Th e b i g t h i n g i s t o c o n t i n u e t o s t re n g - t h e n t h e p o s i t i o n o f o u r q u a l i t y p ro d u c t s a n d s e r v i c e s i n t h e i n d u s t r y. I t s t a r t s w i t h quality data and information, s o we w a n t t o s t re n g t h e n o u r re l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h M L S s , f ra n c h i s e s a n d key i n d u s t r y p a r t n e r s . O u r n ew v i c e p re s i d e n t o f i n d u s t r y d eve l o p m e n t , A n d y Wo o l l ey, w i l l t u r b o c h a rg e t h o s e e f fo r t s .” —David Mele, president, H o m e s .c o m s h ow n a t right coaching lacrosse.

The Whole Foods of Listing Portals Find out how new president David Mele plans to dominate in the online-listing-portal world. 36

Lives of Real Estate

IS MORE TRAFFIC A C T U A L LY B E T T E R , or does more traffic just mean more lookers? In the end, the number of transactions and sides hasn’t changed.’s focus has always been about attracting the right audience to our site— capturing the 10 million consumers with plans to transact.” – David Mele


t’s the fourth-most-visited real estate website, with 3.02 percent share of real estate traffic in February 2015, according to And that’s just fine (well, kind of) with’s new president, David Mele. “We have a different strategy than the other listing portals,” says Mele, who became president in September 2014. “In a normal year, there are about 5 million residential real estate transactions representing approximately 10 million total sides, which equates to 10 million people actively buying and selling real estate annually,” says Mele. “Is more traffic actually better, or does more traffic just mean more lookers? In the end, the number of transactions and sides hasn’t changed.’s focus has always been about attracting the right audience to our site—capturing the 10 million consumers with plans to transact.” He adds, “Some portals are chasing bigger and bigger. Obviously, there’s a place for that; however, we’re pursuing better and better. We can do that because we are a private company.” What does that mean? It means, he says, that goes after a very specific audience and that bigger is not always better. “We’re supertargeted in finding active real estate buyers and sellers,” he says. However,




it’s what isn’t doing that differentiates them from the other listing portals, he says. “We don’t do broad-based consumer brand advertising because that isn’t as targeted as we believe it needs to be,” he says. “In addition, we aren’t as focused at drawing traffic to home values. People want home values for many different reasons, not only to buy or sell.” Mele sums it up with this: “The proof is in the quality of the leads that we deliver. We find the more transaction-ready consumer for a quicker path to conversion. We’re a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s, not the biggest but we’re growing market share because of our commitment to quality.” So far, that strategy is working. has moved from fifth ranked real estate website in 2014 to fourth ranked real estate website in February 2015, according to Hitwise, with an increase of about 1 percent in marketshare. “It’s about slow, but focused growth,” he says. Mele is no stranger to Before becoming president, he spent 15 years with its parent company, Landmark Media Enterprises LLC, a privately held media company that owns Dominion Enterprises, a marketing services company known for sites such as, boats. com and At Landmark, Mele was president of Pilot Media and publisher of The Virginian‐Pilot, a Landmark Media Enterprises newspaper. He also served as general manager of Pilot Interactive, where he was responsible for Pilot Media’s online and digital operations. Those operations included PilotOnline. com, (online vertical marketplaces for homes, jobs and autos) and a growing digital services division that delivers search engine marketing, social media and Web-development solutions. “I come with a [real estate] market perspective,” says Mele. “Our fastestgrowing business was a digital marketing line. Real estate was our largest category, so


Lives of Real Estate

I experienced the demand and transition toward digital tools and marketing. I was versed in the product set needed to help real estate professionals grow their businesses.” Sports Fan For Mele, it is not all work and no play. “Family is my greatest passion,” he says. Mele is married to Jennifer, and they have two children, Katie (15), and Kyle (13). “On weekends, you can always find me on an athletic field somewhere. My daughter plays field hockey and soccer, and my son plays football, basketball and lacrosse.” In fact, one of his favorite leadership roles outside of work is that of coach. “I coach youth lacrosse (ages 9 to 13). I love the energy. I love to see the development in the younger players. It is a reward to guide them as they blossom,” he says. Mele is also active in his local church and believes in giving back to the community. “I serve our city and community, specifically

MELE VOLUNTEERS with NEST, the Norfolk Emergency Shelter Team, which provides emergency shelter for the homeless.

the disadvantaged and the underprivileged,” he says. He does that by volunteering with NEST, the Norfolk Emergency Shelter Team, which provides emergency shelter for the homeless, and through ForKids, which offers transitional housing for families, specifically single mothers and their children. His brother, Paul Mele, who is an Apache helicopter pilot, inspires that drive and

work to strengthen our relationships with the MLSs, franchises and key industry partners.” In addition, Mele says, he wants to “launch products to provide quality leads to brokers to help them grow their business. In 2014, REAL Trends (REAL Trends Online Performance Study, page 12, ‘Lead Sources and Validity of the Leads’) reported that we deliver the highest-quality leads in the

I COACH YOUTH LACROSSE. I love the energy. I love to see the development in the younger players. It is a reward to guide them as they blossom.” – David Mele passion, he says. “He just returned from serving in Afghanistan as a colonel in the Army. He volunteers to put his life in harm’s way to protect our country.” Mele adds that there are no better leaders than members of our military. “Being in the military requires humility and the ability to know you can’t do anything on your own. You have to bring a team together to empower people. You have to have a desire to help others succeed and not look for your own success. And you must be willing to share credit for successes and failures. I want to be a leader like that.”

industry, so obviously that is core to our value.”

Growing Strong Right now, says Mele, these are exciting times for “We’re entering a period of significant, but focused growth. It starts with accurate data and content, so we’ll

One thing is clear: with Mele at the wheel and a focused action plan, Homes. com will deliver on its promise to the industry by providing an arsenal of digital tools and the highest-quality leads.

And if that means not being as big as some of the other portals, so be it. “Our growth is all organic, and that says a lot,” says Mele. The key, he says, is to “be distinct in our mission and scope so that we can say no to the opportunities and ideas that aren’t central to our core. It’s harder than it sounds because the temptations are there, and they sound really good. This industry moves quickly. We want to deliver the innovation in a focused and urgent manner that is core to our values.”



LORE Summer 2015  
LORE Summer 2015