Re/Max to Tap Housewives, Retirees for Growth as It Enters Japan

Re/Max Holdings Inc., the franchiser of real estate brokerages about to begin operating in Japan, plans to use housewives and retirees to take advantage of a housing market recovery.

The company, based in Denver, will start its business in Japan on Dec. 1. Its agents can earn as much as 94 percent of broker fees from a deal, Aki Nakamiya, 44, chief executive officer of Re/max Japan, said.

The nation’s real estate market has been recovering after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to end more than a decade of deflation since coming to power in 2012. Land prices on average in Japan’s three-largest metropolitan areas increased for a second year as low interest rates lifted demand for properties in the year to July 1, according to the land ministry.

“Business practices in Japan’s real estate market have remained unchanged,” Nakamiya said in an interview in Tokyo. “We look to bring new innovative business practices to Japan’s real estate market and we welcome everyone to work with us.”

Re/Max Holdings is expanding its business overseas as it seeks to boost revenue from franchise fees after an initial public offering last year.

The company, which popularized the commission-based business model, began in 1973 with four employees, including three female brokers, Nakamiya said. It is now one of the biggest real estate franchisers and brands in the U.S.

Re/max Japan plans to mirror that success, Nakamiya said. The real estate brokerage market in Japan is similar to that in the U.S. four decades ago: the majority of real estate agents are men who are paid a salary, she said.

The Re/Max brand in Japan is owned and managed by Ikezoe Co., a Tokyo-based real estate franchise operator. Re/Max Japan will charge a 10,000 yen to 40,000 yen agent fee and plans to increase its franchises to as many as 1,000 in five years.

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