The first thing Jake Hogeboom, CEO of @HomeRealty Lakeshore, does upon hiring a new broker for his firm is to NOT hand that person a coffee mug with an omnipresent corporate logo and a procedures manual thicker than the Oxford English Dictionary.
He presents agents with company-issued Apple iPads instead, then invites them to join him for a cup of freshly brewed java in the kitchen suite at the front entrance to the home office.
Hogeboom can’t stop smiling while explaining the non-traditional approach he is undertaking to put a modern stamp on an old-fashioned industry.
“There’s a lot of people who are (skeptical),” Hogeboom said of creating a very different real-estate brokerage, which emphasizes a more personalized and technology-focused experience for clients. “It’s just time for something fresh. I think the timing was right for us to start this when we did.”
The skeptics might see him as an overly ambitious 29-year-old with a grandiose business plan.
He has the support of his father, former CBS reality-television series “Survivor: Guatemala” contestant and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Gary Hogeboom, who is a licensed real-estate agent.
Together, they are the co-owners of @HomeRealty Lakeshore, but Jake, a former Hope College basketball player, is calling all the signals from the huddle of this franchise.
Jake’s team sold more than 700 units totaling approximately $100 million in 2013. He projects sales of 800 units and $150 million in 2014.
“I love what he’s doing with it,” Gary Hogeboom said of his son’s leadership of the firm. “He had his own company when he first started out and then he went to a big corporate firm, where he found what he liked and didn’t like. I’ve had a great time just watching him and seeing him run with it.”
The firm’s unique approach is communicated in its highly original nameplate.
Jake has brought digital thinking to the forefront of buying and selling properties.
He operates the main office, 11539 Lakewood Blvd., in Holland Township, which opened recently after being relocated from a temporary site on Eighth Street in Holland, as well as a second office in Grand Haven. The location in Grand Haven, 510 Miller Drive, launched the firm in April.
His combined staff of 25 brokers and eight full-time employees range in age from 29 to 55.
“Our average age is probably 35-ish while the industry average is 54,” Jake said. “I’m using a sports analogy: We’re building this like a sports program with fresh, new ideas. We’re focused more on the workplace culture and just working with families on a better overall experience.
“Our motto is just to make our clients feel like they’re at home.”
Three of the top 10 and six of the top 30 agents in the Holland area left other firms to join the @HomeRealty team.
Luke Bouman, 29, didn’t hesitate to jump from Coldwell Banker Woodland Schmidt.
“It was tough. I really liked Coldwell,” said Bouman, recognized as one of Realtor magazine’s top “30 under 30” rising stars nationally in the real-estate industry this past spring. “I just really looked it as, ‘Where am I going to succeed long-term?’ There’s a lot of things you can’t put your own stamp on (working for a traditional real-estate company).
“It’s going to be a lot easier for me to build the Luke Bouman team this way.”
In addition to issuing iPads to agents, Jake, who managed the Coldwell Banker Woodland Schmidt office in Grand Haven before leaving to start his own firm, provides an all-inclusive experience that features a title company to handle closings on-site at both locations.
“We do all of our own closings at our office so our clients don’t have to go to another location for that,” he said of a partnership with Lighthouse Title Group that simplifies and expedites the entire process.
It’s also a mostly paperless operation, emphasizing the use of digital documents to help protect the environment. Buyers and sellers sign their names on tablets instead of reams of paper.
“I still have my same marketing team and I haven’t lost a single client as a result of it,” Bouman said of switching firms.
It isn’t just a different method of buying and selling properties that sets @HomeRealty apart. The firm has established its own charitable foundation to assist local nonprofit groups.
The @Home Foundation, fully funded by the efforts of agents and staff from both offices, has set a goal of contributing $50,000 annually to local charities, Jake said.
“We’re 100 percent local. Everything stays right here,” Bouman stressed. "Local is important in West Michigan. We make all of our own decisions, which is really nice. I’ve had a lot of companies recruiting me, but there’s no excitement, no enthusiasm, like there is here.”
No other real-estate brokerage is doing business in quite the same manner.
The relaxing coffee bar, children’s play area and contemporary sofas and other furnishings are definite signs things are different upon stepping into the @HomeRealty office in Holland Township.
“I just thought we could do things better. It’s fun being an owner with my dad. The larger companies have a different mindset,” Jake explained. “We just think of this in a different manner.
“It’s about agent branding and not corporate branding here. The plan is to stay local. I don’t have any dreams to franchise it,” he said. “We don’t just want anybody being an agent for us — we want the best in the business to be part of our team. Our goal is to spend as much time with the client as possible.”
By Brian.VanOchten
(616) 546-4279 

Posted Jan. 5, 2014 @ 7:00 am 

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