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Re/Max and Little Oak Realty split: Clash of visions leads to de-franchising decision

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It’s not a move that you often see in Canada’s real estate industry — a brokerage changing brands.

But recently, B.C.-based brokerage Little Oak Realty joined Royal LePage after Re/Max Canada ended their 30-plus year partnership, which began in 1992.

Little Oak will continue to operate under the leadership of Andrew Bracewell and Ray Yenkana.

“We became incredibly dissatisfied with a lot of things with our previous franchisor,” said Bracewell.

Yenkana added, “We had a difference of opinion on the vision of where we’re going, on where they’re going. And they made the decision to de-franchise us.” 

Bracewell explained the differences of opinion included the fact that they felt decisions were being made at a leadership level from the top down in the Re/Max organization as well as the strategies being used for the greater brand.

“We…continued to disagree on some of these issues, and then we made decisions that were in the best interest of our company, and Re/Max didn’t like the decisions that we made, and they ended the relationship,” he said.


A difference in vision


Yenkana said the brokerage originally started in 1977 as an independent and joined Re/Max in 1992. He bought it in January 2000. Bracewell became a partner in 2018 after being one of the brokerage’s agents for years. Little Oak Realty started with one office in Abbotsford with 25 agents in 2000 and grew by taking over an office in Mission in 2006. It then opened offices in Surrey in 2009 and Langley in 2012.

At the time of transition on May 15, Little Oak Realty had about 175 agents. However, Elton Ash, Executive Vice President of Re/Max Canada said at least 45 agents decided to stay with the brand.

Ash said the decision to end the affiliation with Little Oak was a long discussion.

“It was months of deliberation between the parties . . . Ultimately, it was a difference in vision as to the future direction of what they felt their goals and aspirations were as franchisees and that differed from our vision of fitting into the Re/Max model,” said Ash. “It was a difference of vision and thought, and the parties had different points of view on how long-term goals could be achieved. Specifically, from their point of view, they felt our vision didn’t match their vision for long-term success. We felt the same way, I guess.


Re/Max Canada stresses uniformity in franchise agreement, unable to accommodate modifications 


Ash emphasized the significance of Re/Max’s franchise agreement, stating that all 270 offices in Western Canada operate under the same terms. He explained that when some franchisees desired modifications to align with their future goals, it was not feasible to accommodate their requests without compromising the integrity of the other franchisees in the region.

“A lot of the sales associates were quite unhappy about it. About the move to Royal LePage . . . 45 to this date have stayed with us, and there’s going to be more. They don’t want to go to LePage. They want to stay with Re/Max.”

Ash said Re/Max sold another franchise in Abbotsford earlier in the Spring when the non-renewal occurred and another in Mission. 

“The retention factor from the sales associate point of view for us, we’re quite frankly very pleased with it,” said Ash.

Neither Ash, nor Bracewell and Yenkana elaborated on how their visions were misaligned.


Little Oak Realty transitions to Royal LePage

Phil Soper, President and CEO of Royal LePage, described Little Oak Realty as a “long-standing, leading real estate brokerage” in the Fraser Valley. 

Royal LePage Little Oak Realty will continue to service the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland, Grand Forks, and the West Kootenay and Okanagan regions.

“They called us, which is always fun to get a phone call from someone saying we’re looking to take our great big real estate company in a new direction, and we like what we hear,” said Soper. 

“Part of the attraction was we’re a Canadian firm, and we do a lot of tech investment and development in Canada for a Canadian real estate company. And a lot of the real estate firms in Canada are American, and they port what they built for American real estate into the businesses they have in Canada, which is not always successful. Real estate across the border is similar, but it’s not identical. There are differences. So that definitely attracted them to us as the big Canadian firm.”

Royal LePage’s Canadian focus and technological leadership attract Little Oak Realty


Bracewell said they were impressed by how well-positioned Royal LePage is to be the leaders they need to be in the real estate space in Canada for years to come.

“That’s evident in addressing the two areas we were dissatisfied with. Their leadership, from Phil Soper all the way down, we feel are the best people in the country out of any brand. We think they’ve got the best people,” he said.

“And then the decisions they’re making specifically in the technology space and in the way they’re attacking internet search engine optimization and web presence, they’re the leaders statistically by a mile in those two areas out of all brands in Canada, and we’re really excited to be aligned with people who are the leading Canadian brand, it’s built by Canadians made for Canadians, and that translates into Canadian value for our agents. And that is a significant difference from what we’ve experienced in the past, having been affiliated with an American-based, international company that develops strategies and programs for a multitude of countries rather than just the country we work in.”

Yenkana said Royal LePage is bending over backwards to help the brokerage expand and be profitable and doing the same kind of thing for the agents in terms of technology to make their businesses run smoother and better.



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