Building a Launchpad for Growth

Photo courtesy of Lamacchia Real Estate

Anthony Lamacchia
Broker-Owner, Lamacchia Realty
Age: 42
Industry experience: 19

In just three months this summer, Anthony Lamacchia added two Massachusetts counties and over 1,000 square miles to the territory his brokerage, Lamacchia Realty, covers, and 92 more agents to do it with. The company bought three brokerages – Fall River’s Right Choice Real Estate, Seekonk’s Keystone Property Group and Falmouth’s Foley Real Estate – bringing the South Coast and Cape Cod into its sphere for the first time and setting up a future expansion into the Providence, Rhode Island market. Today’s residential real estate market is creating dilemmas for brokers, and Lamacchia said he thinks his company is positioned to help solve those with acquisition offers.

Q: Why pick the South Coast for your next expansion, and why pick these brokerages?
A: When we expand, part of what we do is deals for specific people – the right brokerages, the right recruits have to come along. We’re in the people business; it’s not just a geographic play. For example, I want to be in Boston, but we haven’t found the right [partner]. In Bristol County, we were fortunate to have about six agents from another company that walked over in early spring and we didn’t have an office for them. They had to drive up to Braintree which, from down in that corner [of the state] is about 50 minutes. That really pushed me to get out there, searching for acquisition opportunities.

The first person I called was Ron Rusin [of Right Choice Real Estate], because Ron is a very respected, strong leader who’s been in the business a long time. He had a RE/MAX franchise down there for years, a very successful office. Ron wasn’t looking to sell at the time but I literally called him and said, “Ron, we’re coming down there. I’d rather work with you than compete with you” and he pretty much said the same thing in return once he came up and looked at our presentation.

Q: Keystone Property Group, which you bought two weeks ago, is just over the state line from Providence, a fact your brokerage called out in its announcement of the deal.
A:
We did that on purpose. I think that it will be the launching pad into Rhode Island. But, again, we have to have the right deal, the right people. It’s very tricky. Thirty years ago, most of the [brokerage business] models were the same. Now you’ve got all these different models and you can’t really acquire a company that has an entirely different business model.

We are very much high service/high value, and when you’re high service/high value, you can’t offer the highest commission splits because we offer so much [to agents], and not all agents value that. Many do, and in fact most do once they’re here and they get familiar with it, but getting them to jump over is the tricky part even though we have – in my humble opinion – the best products, services, tools and training in the business. But we can’t, for example, acquire a company that gives out 95 percent splits to everybody, no matter how much business they do. It just doesn’t work like that.

I will tell you one of the other reasons that I was attracted to Bristol County is because of South Coast Rail. It’s almost the last place in Eastern Massachusetts that didn’t have a commuter rail line. That’s crazy to me that they didn’t, and I was one of the people that helped push for it when I was chairing the Massachusetts Association of Realtors’ government affairs committee. That’s been in the back of my mind for a couple of years – this area is going to boom.

Q: You’ve always positioned Lamacchia Realty as a company with ambition and growth in mind, but what does that strategy look like now, and how do your recent acquisitions and expansions fit into that?
A:
The market is in very tough shape. These interest rates are cutting sales down dramatically as you know, and that is having an impact and there’s a lot of brokerages out there, particularly the smaller ones. They don’t have anywhere to back up to. When you’re a larger company and you have 80 employees, you can go from 80 to 60 employees. But when you are a small organization and you have one administrative assistant, one small office and your sales go down 30 percent? You can’t really get rid of that staff. You can try, but if you do, it’s kind of a death spiral. I will tell you: If we were doing all the deals we could, we’d be doing one a week right now, but we are not because some of the companies are too small to justify us opening up an office in their market.

Q: So, big-picture, our readers should understand these three acquisitions as opportunistic deals that are part a larger push to expand the Lamacchia Realty footprint?
A:
We’ve been wanting to grow, and we’ve been growing organically, one recruited a time – we went on quite a run from 2018 until 2022. We’re still doing that, of course, but now we can grow in much bigger chunks. With acquisitions, there’re always some Realtors that will leave or say “I’m friends with this brokerage over here. I always promised them if anything changed, I’d go there,” but let’s say there’re 10 top agents [at a newly acquired brokerage] and eight stay. You’re still grabbing a lot of market share by doing that, and I’ll tell you something that’s interesting. And sometimes when an agent leaves initially without learning about us, oftentimes they come back months later when they start hearing how great it is.

Q: What strategic dilemmas do brokerages face right now and how long does that feel like it will last?
A: The lack of sales, the lack of product to sell is the main problem. But you know, the car industry faced this two years ago. Hotels, airlines, too. It’s our turn. The real estate industry is getting punched in the mouth right now, and when there’s less product to sell, you’re going to have fewer sales. And how long do I think that’s going to last? I think at least 18 more months. You’re going to see more listings, in my opinion, probably starting in early 2025. By the time we get to fall of that year, I think you’ll start to see things go back to somewhat normal. By the time we get back to a “normal,” it might be 2026, but we’re stuck in this for a while.

Lamacchia’s Five Favorite Activities Outside of Work

  1. Watching his kids play sports
  2. Fishing
  3. Skiing
  4. Mixed martial arts
  5. Reading business books

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