Inman sat down with Raveis following his firm’s 50-year anniversary to discuss what it takes to lead a brokerage for half a century.

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In 1974, 27-year-old William Raveis rented a small office above a supermarket in his hometown of Fairfield, Connecticut.

Flash forward 50 years and Raveis is still at the helm of that company as it’s ballooned to more than 4,500 agents across 140 offices in nine states up and down the East Coast, while still maintaining Connecticut as its headquarters. The company gathered at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, last week for a convention to mark the half-century anniversary with speakers and entertainment, and received an official state proclamation declaring  March 27 to be “William Raveis Day” in Connecticut.

Raveis celebrates 50 years of William Raveis Real Estate. Photo: AJ Canaria Creative Services

The brokerage has expanded both in size and scope since 1974, with mortgage and insurance businesses alongside its original brokerage business.  Raveis himself has risen to the status of real estate visionary as he continues to lead the company with his sons, Chris and Ryan Raveis.

Inman sat down with Raveis following his firm’s 50th anniversary to discuss what it takes to lead a brokerage for half a century and to set it up for the next 50 years of success.

Inman: What are your thoughts on reaching the 50-year mark?

William Raveis: Our journey has just begun. As a family business, we’ve survived all the economic ups and downs to come out on top. Eight recessions, beginning with the oil embargo of 1974. That’s the year I decided to leave my job at Westinghouse and open our first real estate office in my hometown of Fairfield, Connecticut.

Which brings me to where we are now in the marketplace: The number one family-owned real estate company in the Northeast, Florida and South Carolina with over 4,500 sales associates and 140 office locations and still growing. Winning industry awards like Inman’s Top Brokerage in 2023.

I am grateful and proud to be surrounded by such an incredible group of agents, managers and employees. Fifty years is a big milestone, seldom achieved in our industry.

Raveis in the late 1970’s. Image: William Raveis Real Estate

Inman: What are the keys to longevity for a real estate firm?

WR: Endurance and resilience are key. You’ve got to endure a lot of pain and suffering; as a result, you build resilience. This resilience gives you the ability to navigate any challenges going forward.

Next is our belief in treating the agents as priority customers — as their operating partner, with nationally certified strategic growth coaches and support staff to help them succeed. Our business model was groundbreaking in the 70s and still is today.

Finally, working with my two sons, Chris and Ryan Raveis, to forge the future of William Raveis for the next century, with innovations and products for real estate, mortgage and insurance services under one roof for the benefit of all agents and clients. 

Inman: How has the company evolved over the past 50 years?

WR: As an entrepreneurial family business, we believe that competition is a good thing. It makes us stronger as a company. We are continually adapting and growing by leaning into change, not pulling back.

For example, using AI for luxury marketing and personal branding — two areas where William Raveis’ agents shine above the competition. Over the years, we’ve witnessed 100 percent plans and Wall Street venture-backed firms attempting to upend the industry — but fads come and go. Some companies are no longer in business. We aren’t going anywhere because we keep evolving.

Inman: William Raveis is an independent brokerage. How does it stay competitive with larger franchises?

Excuse me, but we stand among the largest independent brokerages in the country. With over 140 offices, 4500 agents and across nine states from Maine to Florida, we continue to expand our key luxury markets as the No. 1 in the Northeast and the South. It’s how others compete with us that would be my question.

Raveis addresses the crowd at the 50th anniversary convention. Image: AJ Canaria Creative Services

William Raveis is hitting this milestone at a time of sea change in the brokerage industry. How do you think the brokerage can remain adaptable to navigate the next 50 years?

Quite simply, it’s all about the value that our company and our sales force deliver to sellers and buyers that counts. The marketplace will ultimately determine the winners and the losers, but our aim is to be in the winner’s circle 10, 20 and 50 years from now.

Our family business is built on family values. Treat people the way we ourselves wish to be treated, with compassion, courtesy and respect.

In fact, I wrote a small book that outlines The Ten Noble Rules for Compassionate Leadership which are the guiding principles of our company. No. 1 is: We are leaders who put others first. But No. 10 is: We have fun and enjoy our journey.

Fifty years doesn’t feel that long when you love what you do.

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