Two years after entering the Richmond market, a fast-growing residential real estate brokerage has struck a deal to more than double its local agent count with the addition of an established homegrown realty group.
Northern Virginia-based Samson Properties has expanded its local footprint with the addition of One South Realty Group, a 15-year-old firm led by Rick and Sarah Jarvis with a commercial division led by co-founder Tom Rosman.
Rosman’s 12-person division, One South Commercial, will break off to become its own stand-alone business, while One South Realty’s 90 or so residential agents will now hang their licenses with Samson Properties.
The One South Realty brand will continue as an agent team under Samson, which entered discussions with Rick Jarvis about six months ago.
CEO Donny Samson said an associate had known Jarvis for years and suggested One South as a prospect for the 37-year-old brokerage, which has been on a growth streak in recent years.
“Having an industry leader like Rick Jarvis and One South Realty Group will give us even more street cred and respectability in the Richmond area,” Samson said. “We’re headquartered in Chantilly, and while we’re just down the road, it is hard to make an impact in a local market without getting great, local people.”
Founded in 1986 by Donny’s father, Danny Samson, Samson Properties totals roughly 5,500 agents in 36 offices primarily in Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. It expanded to Richmond in 2021 with an office at Libbie Mill-Midtown, where it has grown its local agent count to 85.
With the addition of One South, that agent count more than doubles, and Samson effectively picks up a second local office in One South’s home base at 2314 W. Main St. One South’s Bay Properties affiliate in White Stone and Mathews also will transfer to Samson.
Rick Jarvis, who founded One South with Rosman in 2008, said the affiliation with Samson gives the residential agents a bigger toolkit of resources to work with at a lower cost, thanks to Samson’s efficiencies of scale, than would have been possible otherwise.
“The move is as much as anything to relieve the administrative burden,” Jarvis said. “Moving to a larger group with a lot of scale allows us to download those very expensive operations … so we can manage our business at a far cheaper rate than we could before.”
In addition to access to Samson’s technology and other resources, Jarvis said, the alignment extends One South’s geographic reach, with agents able to access additional multiple listing services. He said One South pays Samson “fairly nominal” fees for that access, which includes to Samson’s title-settlement arm, Cardinal Title Group.
Samson agents receive 100 percent of their commission on a sale, meaning no percentage goes to the brokerage. The commission model involves a transaction fee that can be waived when agents reach a certain level of sales volume.
Donny Samson has said the brokerage is able to afford that model through its ownership of the title company, which agents can use and in turn generates income for both companies.
While Samson handles residential and commercial sales and leases, Rosman said the arrangement presented an opportunity for One South Commercial to go out on its own while maintaining its relationships with One South’s residential agents. Among them is Rosman’s wife, Michelle, who will continue with One South under Samson.
“We’re going to keep working with those guys. We get a lot of referrals,” Rosman said.
Rosman said a goal is to grow One South Commercial’s reach across more of Virginia. Beyond metro Richmond, it has listings in the Tri-Cities, Farmville, Stafford and Portsmouth, among other parts of the state. Its team includes 10 agents and two administrative staff members.
“We want to grow by three or four more agents next year,” he said.
One South Commercial will continue operating out of One South’s Main Street office but eventually will open its own office, Rosman said. The transition to a new business entity is expected to be completed by early next year.
Rosman and Jarvis founded One South after meeting each other while working together on deals when they were with other companies.
Having made it 15 years as an independently owned firm, Rosman said, “It’s been a great run.”
Jarvis described their new working relationship as a formal separating of two divisions that had effectively been operating that way for some time. When One South opened, at the height of the Great Recession, Jarvis said, “Our ability to share resources was greater than today.”
“The needs of each side have changed a little bit,” he said. “This is going to allow us both to have a little more direction of where we want to go.”
Jarvis said One South is on track to exceed $500 million in total sales volume this year, with over 600 residential and commercial transactions closed so far and an additional 55 pending as of last week. Last year, it absorbed local peer Clocktower Realty Group, a move that roughly doubled its size to about 140 agents and staff.
While its alignment with Samson makes One South part of a much larger and fast-growing company, Jarvis said the move will allow One South to focus on other things, such as the marketing and industry insights that he said his administrative duties had taken him away from.
“We are more focused on the task at hand, which is arming our team with the skills, market knowledge, techniques and learning the new tools so we can thrive in a market which will likely remain inventory starved,” Jarvis said.
“Growth is not necessarily a focus for us. We are more interested in preparing our existing team for whatever the market brings,” he said. “Our new model allows us to focus internally and not constantly be forced to try to increase headcount, and that excites me to no end. I feel like we are getting back to what we do best.”