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Revolutionizing real estate: Inside the rise of indie brokerage Revel Realty

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A decade ago, Ryan and Nicki Serravalle were scouring their brains trying to come up with the perfect name for the indie brokerage they were about to launch. They wanted something stylish and edgy that would spotlight their mold-breaking approach.

“I was in real estate selling at a high level,” says Ryan. “But I felt that real estate was boring – status quo.” He told Nicki that he thought they could create something special. 

“We went back and forth on the name for months,” Ryan recalls. Finally, it came to him. He called Nicki but refused to spill until he got home. When he finally revealed it at the kitchen table, “Nicki’s eyes opened with full shine and she smiled,” says Ryan. 

He knew then that they had finally hit the mark.

They liked that the name – Revel Realty – had positive associations ranging from celebratory to revolutionary “We got lucky. It feels organic,” says Ryan. “We’re both very positive individuals, and that’s embedded in the name.”    


Pushing the envelope


Whether others agree or not, it seems to work for them. It took until year four for the brokerage to really get rolling. Now franchising, this Niagara-Falls-based husband and wife duo find themselves co-founders of one of the fastest-growing independent brands around, with 22 offices across Ontario, 350 agents, and close to 75,000 social media followers combined across various platforms. 

The couple makes a point of embracing change and taking an “aggressive, attack mode approach” to business operations. Yes, even during the current market slump. 

Are they considering reigning in operations like so many others? Nope – this brokerage just opened its newest branch. “Pushing creative solutions is the key to market volatility,” they contend. 

Collaborative culture and cutting-edge technology


The Serravalles believe their brokerage is “well armed” to adapt thanks to top-flight technological software (“We’re forefront thinkers in the tech world”); hands-on education/training/mentoring; in-house consultants for everything from legal advice and franchise development to marketing and mortgages; and last but not least, a collaborative, fun-loving work culture that promotes opportunities for agent growth. 

“We’re leveraging each other as a tight-knit team, putting a huge onus on education and offering a variety of options for agents, including leadership roles, franchise owner, or mentor,” Ryan explains. “Everybody works together to empower each other.”

In a former career, Ryan was a professional basketball player who twice played in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament. There’s a basketball court complete with bleachers and a projection screen amidst Revel’s 5,000 square feet of office space. (“It’s for events, but sometimes I still like to shoot hoops too.”)  


From basketball court to boardroom


Ryan recognizes that he has a high level of competitiveness along with a killer work ethic. Nicki is apparently the more pragmatic of the two. 

“We mesh together and feed off each other’s strengths. Do we bump heads? Of course,” she admits. “Ryan’s brain works like a hamster wheel. We’ll go on vacation, and he’ll come up with an idea or a great master plan— and then I have to see it through,” she laughs.


Nicki and Ryan Serravalle photographed by Jennifer Blakeley


Emblematic of their energetic brand and culture are their lifestyle magazine (Revel Style – part and parcel of putting more of “an onus on lifestyle,” the Serravalles assert) and their annual black-tie Revel Charity Ball, a highlight of the community social calendar. Even their agent profiles are avant-garde, with photos by a professional celebrity photographer.


A galvanizing brand


Of course, there’s still no escaping the common perception that independent brands tend to be underdogs.

Virginia Munden, co-founder of the Buzz Conference (a premier real estate event bringing together industry-shaping innovators, thought leaders, and influencers), notes that there’s a lot of talent in the field these days with powerful networks and digital skills taking their business to the next level. A snowballing indie brokerage like Revel deserves similar attention to big brands, she insists. 

It seems Revel Realty is a galvanizing brand.

“We’re offering a unique vision to an industry inundated by the status quo,” says Ryan. “We understand that the only constant in the industry is change. We say we’re revolutionizing real estate in a new way. We like our odds.”  


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