A year after launching a real estate investment fund, WeWork is launching a real estate advisory business that offers brokerage services.
On Friday, the coworking company announced that it is piloting WeWork Space Services, which will represent companies and help them find office space outside of WeWork’s locations. Jason Bauer, who previously co-founded the brokerage Voda Bauer Real Estate, will head the venture. He is starting off with three agents, but hopes to grow that number to 10 to 12 in the near future.
Avi Voda, Voda Bauer’s other co-founder, also joined.
The venture is part of WeWork’s push to offer more services to small and mid-sized companies with ten to 250 employees, according to the company’s chief growth officer David Fano. Some of these firms come to WeWork looking for an office, but end up deciding they’d rather sign a lease with a traditional landlord. Referring these cases to what is essentially an in-house brokerage allows WeWork to keep them in its universe. Any firm that signs a lease through one of WeWork’s brokers will get a free WeWork membership for 12 months, allowing it to access the online member network and book conference rooms at WeWork locations, among other perks.
“Our mission is to create a world where people make a life and not just a living — it’s not ‘sign a bunch of leases and make a bunch of buildings so we can get members in them’,” Fano said. “We’ve already got these companies approaching us. For some reason or another, they chose not to go with us. So let’s stick to our mission and help them find space, but give them some value in the network.”
WeWork Space Services is owned by WeWork, but agents will work as independent contractors for now. Following the traditional brokerage model, agents will be paid commission by landlords for every lease they arrange. Fano said agents would receive a standard commission rate, but did not specify further. He also said he eventually hopes to move away from the commission model and turn the brokers into consultants who advise companies on all their office-related needs (including, for example, insurance) on a regular basis. Because of the other business lines the company wants to add, WeWork Space Services is technically not structured as a brokerage.
WeWork already has a broker referral program, offering commissions to any outside agent who brings a tenant to one of its spaces.
The launch comes as WeWork increasingly enters new business lines. Last year alone, the company started a real estate investment fund in partnership with private equity firm Rhone Group, a gym and a grade school.