Allison James’ expansion into Sarasota comes as online dominates sales of property
It may have been a long time in coming, but Sarasota Realtor Troy Funk has embraced the Internet.
He and his wife, Jenifer, just opened a Sarasota branch of Allison James Estates & Homes, an Internet-based real estate company.
The couple, both formerly with Re/Max Platinum Realty, remain at the same office at 665 S. Orange Ave.
Funk, a real estate agent in Sarasota for 27 years, said the company’s Internet focus attracted him as “the present and future of real estate.”
“Technology has changed our business completely,” he said. “We no longer need MLS books, Rolodexes, fax machines or the bricks and mortar of an office to sell real estate.
“We can run a company more efficiently without the unnecessary expenses that traditional real estate brokers carry, which they have to pass on to their agents by taking 20 to 50 percent of the commissions they earn,” he said.
Agents with Allison James pay a monthly fee but can keep 100 percent of their commissions from transactions. Most work out of their homes, avoiding the overhead and expense of a typical office.
Funk hopes to bring in 100 agents who want to work under the firm’s business model.
The couple’s shift comes as many buyers have also turned to online resources to find and research real estate.
“Most of our buyer leads are coming from the Internet,” he said. “When we put a property on the market now, within minutes we will get calls from people out of state. They are watching their computers and are tagged when new listings come on the market.”
Headquartered in Punta Gorda, Allison James bills itself as the nation’s No. 1 Internet-based real estate brokerage.
According to Real Trends, a real estate research company based in Denver, Allison James ranked 104th nationally last year with $1.1 billion in sales — a 68 percent increase over 2011.
It ranked 103rd for closed transaction “sides” — deals in which it represented the seller, buyer or both — with 4,581, a 57.5 percent jump.
Funk stands as someone who’s decidedly old school. He obtained his real estate license, in fact, while still a student at Riverview High School, in Sarasota.
He went into the rental business, and owned 18 properties at one point.
But he got overextended during the housing boom when he leveraged his investments to buy more properties, and when the market collapsed Funk faced eight foreclosure suits.
From that experience he became a short sale specialist, and a certified distressed property expert (CDPE), and sold many of his own distressed properties using the method.
He said he personally met with lenders at different financial institutions across the country, making contacts that have helped him get short sales approved then and since.
He learned about Allison James from a lender-client for whom Funk sold a house on Bird Key. That person later became a recruiter for the company, and Funk said he was sold by its fast growth.
For his part, Funk plans to keep his focus on short sales.
“My heart is in short sales,” he said. “I have a passion for it because it is so difficult. It’s a real victory when you get them through, like winning a marathon.”