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Right At Home president John Lusink ponders expansion

Right At Home Realty, Canada’s largest independently owned real estate brokerage, is exploring expanding its reach outside the Greater Toronto Area.

John Lusink, president of Right At Home, says the company has become a force in the real estate industry and is now strategically looking at how the brokerage can grow and what markets it can expand to in the future.

“Is it nationally or is it just across Ontario? Those are some of the big picture things that I’ll be looking into,” says Lusink, who recently joined the company after being regional vice-president of Canada brokerage operations for eXp Realty.

Right At Home was founded in 2004 and has been the No. 1 real estate brokerage in the GTA for the past five years. It has more than 3,900 Realtors, serving Toronto, Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Durham, Newmarket and Burlington. Since its inception, the brokerage has been expanding at a phenomenal rate.

Lusink said the brokerage is based on real estate agents taking 100 per cent of the commission on the sale of a home with a fee charged by Right at Home for processing the transactions. He says the company was a disruptor in the industry 14 years ago, with its focus on providing the salesperson with all the commission.

“The ability to leverage off of the sheer volume of our deals for the benefit of our customer, i.e., the reach and exposure of any of our customer’s listings, is massive as a result of our approximately 4,000 agents,” he says.

Lusink says this drives a lot of traffic to the company’s agents, and to Right At Home’s website. “As we know, the consumer is very savvy and uses the web first and foremost to search for property, information and any other items to do with real estate.”

He said the company’s focus is on being a business partner, understanding that its salespeople need the best transaction, administrative and management support but they are in charge of driving their personal sales – in business for themselves but not by themselves.

“As an independent brokerage, it is a nimble, dynamic firm that has excellent resources, which are some of the best-kept secrets – ongoing free training, great open area offices, our own call centre, staff in every office who focus on assisting agents and customers and (they) don’t have to worry about answering calls,” says Lusink.

Part of the brokerage’s strategy going forward is focusing on changing the perception of the brand, because many people think it’s a discount brokerage.

“I feel there’s opportunity for all kinds of models (in the real estate industry) especially in a market like Toronto where we have 52,000 members now at the Toronto Real Estate Board.”

Lusink, who was a director with TREB for six years, says he took the position with Right At Home to lead the strategic direction going forward.

He says tighter mortgage regulations introduced earlier this year have made an impact on the GTA residential real estate market recently, grinding activity to a halt. One of the trends he’s seeing in the market is taking place in the condo sector.

“Originally condo developers were building condos in sizes that today apparently aren’t matching what the buyers want. You now have families looking to move into condos because there aren’t options for them, whether it’s financial or supply,” says Lusink. “I’ve actually seen a few developments where they’ve gone back and re-designed units to fit the market.”

Another trend, Lusink says, is, “We’re moving to more of a generation of renters. I don’t know how my kids are ever going to own unless they win the lottery. Rents have become almost out of reach and salaries and wages haven’t kept up. That’s a huge challenge for young folks.”