Bill Raveis passing torch, names sons co-presidents of mega brokerage

Family-owned firm has 120 offices, plans Florida expansion

William Raveis
From left: Ryan Raveis, Bill Raveis and Chris Raveis

In 1974, with a loan of $2,000, Bill Raveis launched his eponymous firm from a one-room office over a Connecticut grocery store. More than 40 years later, after establishing the firm as a Northeast powerhouse with over 3,800 agents, he reckons it’s time to step back a little.

“We’re taking the next phase in terms of our succession planning,” he told The Real Deal on Thursday. Bill, 70, will remain chair and CEO of William Raveis Holdings, he said, while his sons Chris and Ryan will become co-presidents of the company, which includes real estate, mortgage and insurance divisions.

The sons have been amping up their involvement in the firm, Bill said, and it was time to formalize the line of succession. Retirement, however, is not in the cards.

“They’ll have to drag me out by my ankles,” he joked.

Though Bill has always been the face of the firm, his sons have been heavily involved in company operations. Chris spearheaded the brokerage’s expansion beyond Connecticut in 2003, and previously ran operations and sales in Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Ryan was president of William Raveis Mortgage.

As co-president of the company, Chris will also oversee William Raveis NYC as director of sales, his father said. “Instead of reporting to me, they will report to Chris. He will be more operational,” Bill said.

The suburban brokerage circled the New York City market for several years – coming close to buying a stake in Bellmarc Group in 2011 – before launching William Raveis NYC in 2014 with industry veterans Paul Purcell, a former president of Douglas Elliman, and business partner Kathy Braddock.

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William Raveis NYC had a tough first year, including the quick departure of some headline recruits such as Fabienne Lecole and Julia Boland. In March, Bill decided to postpone the launch of its new development division, as TRD reported.

Using a signature phrase, Bill characterized the New York business as a “slow roast.”

“We didn’t expect it to happen in one or two years,” he said, of the 45-person office.

Still, the firm is growing outside its stronghold in the suburban Northeast.

Next month, the firm plans to open a 3,000-square-foot office in Naples, Fla., one of 30 planned in the area over the next decade.

“We did some research. We’re in nine states [in the Northeast] and 20 percent of people in those areas have a second home in Florida,” said Bill, himself a snowbird. “We have a whole chain of customers heading down there, so why not follow them?”