CHICAGO – RE/MAX Northern Illinois has announced that its newest Chicago franchise has opened in the hot West Loop market. Founded by two young real estate professionals with strong track records, RE/MAX NEXT, is headquartered at 1046 W. Kinzie St.
The leaders of the new office are Michael Opyd, who will serve as managing broker, and Rafay Qamar, who also is a co-owner of RE/MAX Northern Shores in Skokie, Ill. The new office traces its roots to last November when the two men met for an introductory chat the morning after the Cubs thrilling victory in Game 7 of the World Series.
“We’d both been up late celebrating and didn’t talk much business, but it was clear to both of us that we had similar goals when it came to starting a new brokerage in the downtown area,” recalled Opyd. “Rafay told me about the flexibility RE/MAX offered in commission arrangements with brokers, which fit my vision for how best to build a new brokerage to serve the booming downtown Chicago market.”
Jack Kreider (center), executive vice president and regional director of RE/MAX Northern Illinois, met with the broker/owners of the new RE/MAX NEXT franchise in Chicago’s West Loop, Rafay Qamar (left) and Mike Opyd.
Their business model is to “put our affiliated brokers front and center, supporting them aggressively and helping them grow. We want to make life as easy as we can for them, with a structure that can be tailored to fit their individual needs, whether they are just starting out or have years of experience,” Qamar said. “Combining formal training with a tech-savvy environment in which our brokers can learn from each other will be a big part of our approach.”
The new office space will provide an essentially fiber-optic working environment in a spacious setting with 20-foot ceiling heights, a large lounge area, full-service café and even a director of hospitality to look after the needs of brokers and their guests.
Qamar noted that they have even adopted a motto for their new business.
“We call ourselves an agent-centric real estate company with full marketing and commission autonomy for our brokers, meaning that we’re committed to doing what it takes for them to build their own brand in conjunction with ours,” he said.
One way they will do that is by offering brokers who are new to the business an intensive two-week training program that will equip them for success.
“We want to give them all the tools they’ll need, from helping them forge connections with lenders, inspectors and other complementary professionals to making sure they understand the market and have mastered the tools needed to serve their customers,” Opyd said. “We’re trying to cover everything, even making sure they have professional headshots.”
Opyd certainly knows the downtown market, where he has built a strong record of accomplishment since earning his license nine years ago.
“It’s a fast-paced market but one I’ve become very comfortable navigating,” said Opyd, who devotes a good deal of his spare time to volunteer work with the United Way Young Leaders Society. “Overall, we are extremely excited about what we can achieve here, and there’s little question that others share our feelings. We anticipate having about a dozen brokers on board within our first 60 days.”
Opyd and Qamar agree that among the most appealing aspects of locating in the West Loop/Fulton Market district is the opportunity it brings to work with the many high-tech businesses that are relocating there.
“Those firms are bringing a lot of talented people into the city, people who want to live here as well as work here,” Opyd said. “Our goal is to serve those people, so we felt it was important to have a physical presence here. Of course, this area is seeing new development of all types, residential, office and retail, which naturally creates lots of opportunity for real estate professionals.”
Qamar notes that they have already had some productive conversations with several of their new neighbors, and he also is drawn to the area by the caché it has for international investors.
“Investors based outside the U.S. are an important part of my client base, and they are attracted to Chicago’s downtown market. Now, that entire area is at our doorstep,” said Qamar.
Looking to the future, Opyd and Qamar hope to add outposts around Chicago’s central business district in locations such as River North and the South Loop.
“Making it convenient for brokers to work with us is our goal, and we think that having several small offices rather than a single large one may be the best way to accommodate our brokers’ needs,” said Qamar. “At my Skokie office, we were able to attract 17 brokers to our sales team in the first year and generated over $30 million in sales. I’m confident we can do that and more here in downtown Chicago.”