The 10 biggest real estate franchises in the Australian market

Edm Thumb The 10 Biggest Real Estate Franchises In The Australian Market

The 10 biggest real estate franchises in the Australian market

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Given how unbelievably hot the residential real estate market has been through 2020-21, we thought it a good time to check in on what that market looks like from a franchise business opportunity perspective.

In my experience, the real estate brands have always pretty much kept to themselves when it comes to promoting their franchise opportunities in Australia. What I mean by that, is that almost none of them are actively involved in promoting their franchise offers in the places where the vast majority of all types of franchise brands do.

I recall early on in my career, a role with a major franchised real estate brand - and it was often all about CONVERSION of existing franchise partners from other brands, coming across to yours.

Conversion is also important in the case of independent real estate offices, being converted to franchised brands.

Not much seems to have changed. As when you know exactly where and who your targets are, then that changes your marketing mix and approach. 

Much of the ‘join us’ style content on websites of the real estate brands in this list, is written assuming a level of knowledge and industry experience. Certainly, there is specific content as well about starting your career as well.

Characteristic of the list, is very little detail and transparency on costs and fees. 

This list has the expected high profile and large brands featured prominently. However, what is noticeable is the almost ‘anti-franchise’ brands that also make the list. 

We included the non-franchised brands if the volume of locations warranted it. So, we find a list with franchises, co-operatives and membership types of models all vying for that perfect mix of brand presence, service, technology and support for would-be real estate business owners.

Why we create these lists

We created this list to help make your research and decision making process easier.

We’ll update it as the market changes, and as we get more information for you*

1.  Ray White - 700+ franchises

Residential, commercial and rural real estate.

There is no doubt that Ray White is a marketing machine. 

Ironically, for such a marketing focused business, it’s own window to the world, its website, is surprisingly sparse. Information it seems is so deep into their key platforms, RayWhiteGroup and RayWhite, which you could suggest is symptomatic of knowing their market dominant presence.

Lesser brands may likely be unable to be as sparse with content and information, opting for greater transparency and a more personable feel, perhaps this is a weak spot for Ray White? 

The brand is very transparent about how many new residential offices it is looking to open, and giving the suburb location - we counted 253 locations it is seeking franchise partners nationally.

The business is very specific in positioning itself as one led by family-values, “Constant family values since 1902.” it states on its website.

In listing the Ray White Board on the website, what generation of the family a member is from (3rd or 4th) is listed. The CFO is listed as an ‘Honorary Member of the White Family’ - which does feel a little odd.

Interestingly, the brand also states it’s only after experienced operators in its ‘Join Us’ detail, that it is “...looking for qualified, experienced operators or the person with a great real estate sales history looking to further their prosperity…”

  • CEO = Dan White, Managing Director
  • Headquarters located = Sydney, NSW
  • Franchising Since = Business established in 1902
  • Investment = TBC
  • Ongoing Fees = TBC
  • Training = Professional development ongoing training, Entry level courses, real estate licensing courses, customised group training and more.

Social Media Presence 

  • Facebook = 19.5k followers
  • Instagram = 1.6k followers
  • Twitter = 8.6k followers (Global)
  • LinkedIn = 34,834 followers

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2. LJ Hooker - 480 franchises

Residential, commercial and rural real estate.

Regardless of office numbers, L J Hooker refer to themselves “...Australia’s #1 real estate brand.’

I found elsewhere in the site that they are “...Australia’s best-known and most trusted real estate brand consistently ranked #1 by Newspoll and Galaxy over the past decade.”

They don’t refer to franchise owners at all on their site it seems, business owners is the terminology they use. They are not the only brand I’ve seen dropping reference to ‘franchise’ so openly in their collateral, across varying niches - while still being a franchise business.

The key clear pitch from them as far as a call to action for would-be franchise owners, is to attract and inspire people with experience with, “Do you have more than three years of industry experience? Take the next exciting step in your career by opening your own office in our multi-award winning network.”

On another page, after clicking ‘Download an Info Pack’, the brand asks “Are you ready to move agencies? At LJ Hooker we aim to make the transition to a new real estate agency as smooth and easy as possible.”

An aspirational video on what the future looks like of you and your team with LJ Hooker is on the site, as well as a key focus on the brands commitment to digital innovation and the role it plays.

Broadly, the brand provides a good level of detail about what they offer franchise partners, but to get anything beyond the initial detail for some more specifics, you need to make contact.

  • CEO = Graeme Hyde, Network Chief
  • Headquarters located = Sydney, NSW
  • Franchising Since = Established in 1928
  • Investment = TBC
  • Ongoing Fees = TBC
  • Training = Tailored onboarding program with one-on-one guidance and support from Growth Coaches, with personalised mentoring from support teams and experts.

Social Media Presence 

  • Facebook = 21.5K followers
  • Instagram = 4.8k followers
  • Twitter = 3.3k followers (Global)
  • LinkedIn = 16,900 followers

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3. Harcourts - 400+ franchises

Residential, commercial and rural real estate.

Refers to itself as “Australia’s fastest growing real estate brand…”

With Harcourts acting as the residential real estate property brand, the company also offers opportunities to become a business owner in the Nutrien or NAI Harcourts businesses as an alternative.

The Nutrien Harcourts brand is “...dedicated exclusively to servicing the real estate needs of regional and rural Australia.” It is a joint venture between Harcourts and Nutrien Ag Solutions, who are “ experts in a range of different farming areas…”

NAI Harcourts is “...a new joint venture which combines the resources of NAI Global, (and) Harcourts International…”. With NAI Global being the 4th largest commercial real estate services company in the world, and as the ‘premier network of independent commercial real estate firms’, according to NAI Harcourts, commercial real estate and business broking services are delivered under this brand.

Even in the context of the Australian market, Harcourts is very global in its pitch to would-be franchise owners. The numbers provided are mostly global in scale to demonstrate the size and power of the brand.

Much of what they refer to on their site, is presented as ‘world-class’, with a key focus on technology and how their multiple proprietary platforms assist their business owners.

One thing did jump out in that the brands Australian leadership team, CEO national, CEO’s of the states and more, all have their personal mobile and email address on the ‘Join Us’ page for contact. This in itself is a strong signal of transparency and openness.

Overall, an impressive presentation of their brand in their franchise pitch. In saying that, like the vast majority of real estate franchises, details are quite broad, with a requirement to make contact for information.

  • CEO = Marcus Williams (Australia)
  • Headquarters located = Eagle Farm, QLD
  • Franchising Since = 1888
  • Investment = TBC 
  • Ongoing Fees = TBC
  • Training = TBC

Social Media Presence 

  • Facebook = 2.8k followers
  • Instagram = 1k followers
  • Twitter = 1.2k followers
  • LinkedIn = 18,582 followers

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4.  Elders - 320+  franchises

Residential, commercial and rural real estate.

Elders describes itself as “...Australia’s most trusted and respected real estate brand…”, as well as “Australia’s most experienced real estate agency.”

In a significant tick for transparency that should be commended, they display on the bottom of their ‘Join Elders’ page, a list of what they see as key things the business has achieved in the last 12 months;

  • 2 National marketing campaigns launched,
  • 12 new offices opened,
  • 130+ events and training sessions delivered, and
  • A 3.5x increase in revenue.

They are the only brand I’ve seen on their platform to also include things like marketing campaign collateral examples. Elders also provides detailed profiles of a range of leaders within the business, which is also to be commended.

It would appear that overall, the brand has a significant slate of programs, tools and support elements for existing franchise partners. Observation of their ‘Experience Elders’ website for potential partners, suggests that this is not presented as best as it could be, with simple short dot point lists describing what appear to be significant assets and features of the business.

This unsophisticated approach in comparison to other competing pitch presentations may hold it back somewhat.

  • CEO = Tom Russo, General Manager, Real Estate
  • Headquarters located = Adelaide, SA
  • Franchising Since = Established 1839
  • Investment = TBC
  • Ongoing Fees = TBC
  • Training = State based on legal requirements, leadership training, prospecting, recruitment and property management training. Shared knowledge and networking sessions, as well as online learning

Social Media Presence 

  • Facebook = 5.38k followers
  • Instagram = 17k followers
  • Twitter = 431 followers
  • LinkedIn = 3,571 followers

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5.   Raine & Horne - 300+ franchises

Residential, commercial and rural real estate. 

Raine & Horne describes its place in the market as having been “ the forefront of the Australian real estate scene, making us Australia’s most trusted network and real estate superbrand.”

The company values and presents its ‘family-owned’ status, although not to quite the same extent as other family-owned brands.

It is a new experience for me to see perks of award winners listed, down to the types of products people have won as incentives previously.

Similarly to Elders above, the business lists extensive support tools and assets as dot points in a list, rather than presenting and promoting further detail. These are clearly key tools and factors in a would-be franchise partner pitch, it seems odd not to do them justice with just a sentence. They do focus on 4 key feature products following, yet still give them just one sentence.

This is the first of the brands in the list to have franchise partner success stories featured and prominent. Six videos walk you through each ‘Reason for Joining’ by different franchise partners, which is very fit for purpose. I am surprised to see so little of this - excellent content by Raine & Horne.

In a nice yet subtle touch in the process, as part of the wrap up to provide your details on an enquiry, ‘You’ll personally meet with Angus Raine’ is one of the steps.

  • CEO = Andrew Brien
  • Headquarters located = Sydney, NSW
  • Franchising Since = Established 1883
  • Investment = TBC
  • Ongoing Fees = TBC
  • Training = Business bootcamp - new offices are enrolled in our comprehensive business boot camp: Profit & Growth, covers: strategy to leadership, profitability and sustainability.

Social Media Presence 

  • Facebook = 16.5k followers
  • Instagram = 9 followers
  • Twitter = .33k followers
  • LinkedIn = 6.8k followers

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6.   First National - 261 member offices (co-operative model)

Residential, commercial and rural real estate.

First National describe themselves as “...Australia’s most advanced real estate network and the trademark ‘Swash’ is the country’s most recognised symbol for real estate.”

The brand very clearly positions itself against the franchised real estate companies. “As a real estate ‘Adaptive-Cooperative’ group of members, First National Real Estate takes a more collaborative approach than franchises. The network is managed by its member base, rather than a single person or entity.”

The brand focuses on the key financial aspect difference being the flat fee structure. Members pay a fixed monthly fee, and no fees applied to property management. The company points to a view that franchises have higher fees, and suggests franchises may put same-brand competitors in suburbs of franchises not achieving high enough turnover.

They refer to the model being particularly attractive to sole agents looking to grow their business with support yet lower fees.

While the options of an alternative to a franchise model is clearly good to have in the market, the tone and focus of anti-franchise real estate from First National feels a bit much for a network of 260+ offices in size. 

It seems that rather than focusing on their own attributes, the brand is more focused on vague claims like ‘how franchise head offices will play-off offices against each other to drive results.’. In that context, it’s an unsophisticated pitch.

I think this style of language would appeal to certain types of people, namely, those who have had a bad experience with a franchise prior, or those reluctant’s who fear franchise over-reach.

  • CEO = Ray Ellis
  • Headquarters located = Richmond, VIC
  • Franchising Since = Established 1981
  • Investment = TBC
  • Ongoing Fees = Flat Fee (TBC)
  • Training = On demand sessions online, (little other detail provided)

Social Media Presence 

  • Facebook = 11.5k followers
  • Instagram = 2.3k followers
  • Twitter = 3,503 followers
  • LinkedIn = 4.68k followers

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7.   Professionals - 225 member agent offices

Residential, commercial and rural real estate.

“Switch to one of Australia’s best real estate brands.” is how Professionals pitch themselves. 

This is another non-franchised brand positioning itself very much in the lower and flat fee structure realm. This is reinforced in content on their ‘Become a member’ site with, “We operate under a not-for-profit structure with all fees going back to offices in the form of first class marketing, training and events.”

They suggest that ‘Switching is easier than you think’ we’d assume for agents with other brands. 

Only the second brand in this list thus far to include extensive videos of the experiences of current members in the group (8 videos). Again, great fit-for-purpose content.

Given it is a not-for-profit marketing group, notable was the marketing commitment for offices. “Professionals marketing activation ensures consistent promotion and brand recognition that supports the growth of your brand in your community and provides a healthy pipeline of appraisal leads.”

‘Discover how changing brands can support your business growth’ is a key call to action of the brand.

To get any further information you are required to make contact with your details. In a different approach, the brand lists that you will get to download a brand book, and watch their introductory video upon getting in touch. Putting an introduction video behind and enquiry wall is not a common approach.

  • CEO = David Crombie
  • Headquarters located
  • Franchising Since = Established 1976
  • Investment = TBC
  • Ongoing Fees = Flat fees (TBC)
  • Training = Speakers and trainers available at events and via webinars covering sales, property, business management and marketing.

Social Media Presence 

  • Facebook = 7.4k followers
  • Instagram = 1.3k followers
  • Twitter = 280 followers
  • LinkedIn = 327 followers

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8.   Century21 - 200+ franchises

Residential, commercial and rural real estate.

“Join the relentless. Century 21 is building the future of real estate and we invite you to be part of the journey. We’re the largest real estate company in the Asia Pacific region…” is the immediate pitch from the brand.

The company primarily focuses its offer to would-be franchise partners around its training and support, and its technology.

The training is highlighted by the Century 21 University online interactive platform. 

The technology is highlighted with their ‘Complete Business Platform’ which includes the CRM, sales, rental and development project management, business analytics, trust accounting and more.

Century 21 is similar to others noted in this list, in that the technology platforms built and run by franchise real estate companies are clearly sophisticated and significant tools. Yet they are often underwhelming in their articulation and presentation as an attribute to attract franchise partners to the network - yet it appears many (all) agencies see their respective technologies as a key point of difference.

This is the first in the list noted where the brand is open to non-real estate experienced business owners with, “Totally new to real estate but have experience in managing your own business?”

  • CEO = James Bell
  • Headquarters located = Sydney, NSW
  • Franchising Since = Australian-owned arm formed in 1994
  • Investment = TBC
  • Ongoing Fees = TBC
  • Training = C21 University offers courses as an online interactive platform including, leadership, sales, property management, administration, social media, marketing, CRM and mindset.

Social Media Presence 

  • Facebook = 10.2k followers
  • Instagram = 2.4k followers
  • Twitter = 5k followers
  • LinkedIn = 3.8k followers

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9.   McGrath - 107 franchises

Residential, commercial and rural real estate.

In contrast to pretty much every other brand in this list, McGrath does not have a big bold statement on where it sees itself in the market to greet potential franchise partners.

There is no doubt that the brand is able to leverage strongly off the high profile personal brand of the founder, John McGrath. 

In alignment with this, the brand also has a boutique, premium / prestige feel to it.

A key part of the McGrath value proposition to prospects is the size of their Business Development Areas (BDA’s). It is explained in detail why this is the case, “Because we don’t want our business owners to compete against another McGarth office in the same area.”

It is nice to see a couple of well-presented, succinct business owner case studies on the site. Likewise, it is good to see contact details and a profile of key people for potential partners to make direct mobile contact with to discuss the possibility of joining the brand.

Many of the other brand website platforms mentioned in this list can be quite overwhelming as far as navigation around key details of benefit and ‘reasons why’ to join a brand. 

The McGrath website is highly efficient and clean in the way it presents four ways to get involved with the brand in sales, business owner, property management, and office support, and being able to seamlessly look at the benefits of those streams.

A very good presentation of the business offer.

  • CEO = Eddie Law
  • Headquarters located = Pyrmont, NSW
  • Franchising Since = Established 1988
  • Investment = TBC
  • Ongoing Fees = TBC
  • Training = All owners have access to customised one-on-one coaching and mentoring.

Social Media Presence 

  • Facebook = 60k followers
  • Instagram = 26.5k followers
  • Twitter = 10.1k followers
  • LinkedIn = 22.9k followers

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10.   One Agency - 104 offices (license agreement)

Residential, commercial and rural real estate.

One Agency is a license model self-described as “...a revolution in real estate, empowering both individual real estate professionals and established agencies to take control of their own business...and bring an entirely new level of service to clients.”

The brand also claims to be “Australia and New Zealand’s fastest growing real estate agency network…”. 

Principals of real estate offices use the One Agency brand and technology platform to operate their own business. 

The brand describes their offer as opposed to a traditional commission-based arrangement, instead agents pay a one-off establishment fee and an ‘economical’ monthly fee (under $1,000).

A tagline of the brand is “It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep that counts!”, clearly aimed at what they view as excessive fees of franchises.

In a detailed Why One Agency? video, the founder Paul Davies talks often about frustration with franchise fees, and the simplicity of the One Agency model. He also describes it as ‘a fast turn-key solution, that's going to have the new enterprise setup in just a few short weeks.’.

A shop front or no shop front is also the agent's choice, depending on what suits.

With a volume of video content and information from the founder and licensees (at least 12 licensee testimonials), the One Agency presentation is well executed with arguably the most transparent and detailed offer of the entire list.

  • CEO = Paul Davies, Founder and CEO
  • Headquarters located = Brookvale, NSW
  • Franchising Since = Established 2008
  • Investment = TBC
  • Ongoing Fees = Monthly flat fee under $1,000 p/m (TBC)
  • Training = TBC

Social Media Presence 

  • Facebook = 4.8k followers
  • Instagram = N/A
  • Twitter = 29 followers
  • LinkedIn = 1k followers

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*Note: And of course, please contact the brands direct for the most up to date information, as while we've done our best to be as accurate as possible, we know some of this information can be a moving target at times unfortunately!