The SRMF boys must have a sweet tooth.
Just months after opening their second office at Grove and Libbie, in a building they now share with Gelati Celesti, residential real estate brokerage Shaheen, Ruth, Martin & Fonville is preparing to open a third location south of the river, in a former bank branch in full view of the ice cream maker’s Southside store.
SRMF principal Scott Shaheen said the brokerage this week signed a 10-year lease for the former BB&T branch at 9004 W. Huguenot Road, between the McDonald’s and Hive Salon Studios at Stony Point Shopping Center.
The space was listed by Divaris Real Estate agents Read Goode and Cheryle Toy, who represented the landlord, listed in city property records as an LLC tied to Illinois-based Next Realty.
The lease follows the recent sale of the shopping center to South Carolina-based Ziff Properties, which last month paid $10.4 million for the main retail strip. The sale did not include the bank branch building or three other outparcels that line Huguenot Road.
The new office adds to the 2-year-old brokerage’s West End location at 5808 Grove Ave. and its headquarters at 420 N. Ridge Road, across from Tuckahoe Shopping Center in western Henrico. Shaheen said the new office, which they’re aiming to open this summer, fulfills a goal that was set when he and partners Scott Ruth, John Martin and Mahood Fonville cut ties with Long & Foster to launch SRMF in 2017.
Firm’s master plan
“It really completes our master plan of having a triangle, so we have a city office, a West End office and a Bon Air office,” Shaheen said. He said the southward expansion follows inroads the brokerage has made south of the river, where it is selling homes at Tarrington on the James and recently picked up The Beran Group, a sales team previously affiliated with Long & Foster’s Midlothian office.
Through The Beran Group, Shaheen said SRMF now represents D.R. Horton, the Texas-based homebuilder that entered the local market last year.
“We had that opportunity to be south of the James. We decided we wanted to be in Bon Air,” he said.
Another recent addition to the SRMF fold is Cindy Jez, who likewise came over from Long & Foster, where she had been a regional vice president for 10 years. Shaheen said Jez joined SRMF a month ago, raising the brokerage’s agent count, now at 104.
While Shaheen said many of those agents have come over from other brokerages, he acknowledged about half came from Long & Foster, which likewise has been expanding its local footprint, opening an outpost in Church Hill last year.
SRMF’s Stony Point building totals 3,000 square feet, which Shaheen said will be gutted and remodeled in similar fashion to the Grove Avenue space. He said Dallan Construction and 510 Architects again are signed for the remodel, which will include converting the former bank’s drive-thru bays into a patio.
The brokerage has hired Melanie Banton, also of Long & Foster, to manage the location as one of three marketing media managers SRMF has among its offices. Shaheen said agents are not assigned to a particular office and can work from whichever of the three locations are convenient to listings and clients.
As of Wednesday, SRMF had 98 active listings, not counting lots it’s selling at Tarrington and Tuckahoe Creek, a 47-home subdivision in Goochland by Bill Goodwin’s Riverstone Group. Shaheen said SRMF had 129 listings that were pending.
In the last 12 months, the brokerage has closed 837 homes totaling upwards of $302 million in sales, Shaheen said.
SRMF’s growth in two years has caught the eye of other real estate brands that Shaheen said have come calling with franchise offers. He said one such offer came from Engel & Volkers, the Germany-based brand that recently lost its local affiliate when Select Properties of Virginia reverted back to its previous flag.
“We were called by Engel & Volkers that it was going to be available, and we politely turned them down,” Shaheen said. “It just doesn’t make sense to us at this point in the game. We just don’t want to be a franchise at all.”
Shaheen said the response to SRMF in the two years since its launch has shown a shift in the local market away from franchises.
“I think that franchises don’t bring, in my opinion, the big benefit that they used to bring back in the day,” he said. “Between the Richmond Association of Realtors and the technology that’s out there for agents today, the benefit of being with a franchise, I don’t see that as great as it used to be.”
Despite Engel & Volkers’ exit, other national brands have come into the Richmond market in recent years, including Missouri-based Union Real Estate, whose local franchise added a second office in Hanover last fall. Three years ago, Midlothian-based Napier Realtors ERA acquired the local operations of California-based ZipRealty, while Hampton Roads-based Liz Moore & Associates expanded its local presence.