A big red, white and blue Re/Max grand opening balloon was well inflated and lit up Thursday night, Nov. 8 in the Pointe at Wellington Green. Re/Max Direct had recently opened up its new office, located at W. 10240 Forest Hill Blvd., and it was an evening full of people with smiles, live saxophone music, and plenty of food and drink.
Entering into the new Re/Max Direct office, one steps into a refreshing, modern, airy, open environment. Floors are wood; walls are white; the furniture is modern. There is a flow of positive energy in the air. There are cozy booths to do business in and chat. The conference room is divided with glass walls and doors; the table is made of concrete, which is unique and fits well with the decor.
Computer access is everywhere. The office has a feel of high-tech combined with simple, neat and modern. This location of Re/Max Direct is owned and operated by Brian Russo and Andrew Burrow, who own other locations as well.
Russo was born in Queens, N.Y., and raised on Long Island. He went to college in Rhode Island and earned a degree in business finance in 1993. Soon after Russo moved to Palm Beach County, he started buying and investing in real estate. He was buying single-family and multi-unit properties. This worked well for him, so he decided to get more involved in the real estate industry.
Russo spoke with a friend who was a real estate broker and decided to open his first Re/Max Direct location in Boynton Beach in 2001. In 2003, he opened another office in Lake Worth. Both offices became successful, so in 2004 he purchased another four Re/Max Direct offices that were already operational. Shortly thereafter, Russo added a seventh office in Delray Beach.
“Then the market changed and it turned on us, so we quickly went from expansion to cost-cutting consolidation,” he said.
Russo and Burrow developed a new concept for their office that would include more location visibility, more light and more openness. They also wanted to move the activity up to the front of the office so clients could feel the energy and get excited.
Burrow was born in South Florida. He grew up in Coral Springs and Parkland and then graduated from the University of Florida in 1999 with a degree in business. He earned his real estate license in Gainesville before he moved back to South Florida, where he had a job lined up in real estate.
“I loved it,” Burrow said. “I was always interested in architecture, houses and looking at houses.”
In 2002, Burrow went to work for Russo at Re/Max Direct. They became partners in 2012. Today, Burrow and Russo have two offices open and two in the process of being opened.
“We modeled this office after the Apple Store — clean, simple, modern, open and inviting,” Burrow said of the new Wellington location. “We want our agents to meet clients here instead of at Starbucks. We provide the coffees, espressos and the atmosphere, along with the technology to showcase our business.”
Russo noted that in the past, clients would sit with agents for hours. They would research properties with their clients in an old conference room, determine which ones they wanted to look at, make appointments to visit properties, then go out and physically look at them.
“Today the flow of information has increased and has become less time-consuming,” Russo said. “Now buyers are very informed about the inventory that’s out there that is specific to their needs and desires before they come into the office. They are on their computers at home researching the properties, and they have a real good grasp of where they want to be. We used to have an interview process between the agent and the client that used to last a couple of hours. This has now shortened down to 10 to 15 minutes.”
Burrow and Russo noted that Re/Max is the No. 1 real estate company in the world and has the most brand recognition. “It is the No. 1 company regarding online presence and all other media,” Russo said. “They have the best resources available regarding technology, knowledge of the business and support. Re/Max will provide the most advertising of your property.”
ABOVE: Re/Max Direct partners Andrew Burrow and Brian Russo (center) with agents and Wellington Chamber of Commerce ambassadors.