– Words by Angela Cowan Photography by Don Denton
This March, Anna and Max Carbone celebrated a successful five years since they acquired Century 21 Assurance Realty in Kelowna, having grown the company from 60 to more than 90 high-performing realtors and gaining the distinction of being named Century 21 Canada’s number two overall rated brokerage in the country.
The pair both love the Okanagan, and researched for five years to find a business to bring them here—a place where they could help people succeed and prosper in all aspects of their lives.
“We feel that the Okanagan is the best place in the country to live and work,” says Max, explaining why he and Anna moved here from Toronto. “The people are friendly, it’s more relaxed, it has a more enjoyable pace of life, but also has a thriving entrepreneurial culture.”
Both had experience in real estate prior to moving to the Okanagan. Anna came to the table with a long and successful career in sales and senior management positions in media companies, including CHUM Television, CTV and Bell Media, and grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and property investors. And Max had worked in commercial real estate in the GTA, facilitating multi-million-dollar deals, and had also established his own strategic planning firm, which worked with many of Canada’s leading real estate firms, corporations, entrepreneurs, not-for-profits and more.
Taking on Century 21 made sense, but it was also an opportunity for the pair to turn their efforts to something more personalized.
“We thought it would be nice to help people prosper, and not just businesses,” says Max. “We enjoy helping new realtors to get going and be successful, as well as helping experienced realtors improve their careers while having time to enjoy the amazing Okanagan lifestyle.”
In addition to personalized high-performance strategic coaching, another impactful aspect of the brokerage is Elevate 21, a comprehensive in-house marketing service provided to every real estate agent, ensuring that each listing has the same high level of photography, social media exposure, signage, professional website and more—and all for a lower cost and higher value than if the agents had to do all the work themselves.
“We have exceptional photographers and a terrific marketing team. We do all of the photography and high-quality virtual tours. We support the property marketing for our realtors,” explains Anna. “This saves realtors an incredible amount of time, which they’re able to then spend with their clients, or with their families enjoying life in the Okanagan.”
Elevate 21 is also what helped attract Dean Desrosiers to the company. After being in the real estate business since 2008, Dean has recently signed on as a partner with Max and Anna after working as an associate broker for several years. Dean, an accredited real estate coach, is passionate about working with and helping people on a very personal level, whether that’s the agents he’s working with, or their clients.
“Real estate is one of those professions where you can work 12 hours a day very easily and still not have success, and it can wear you down,” he says. “With Elevate 21, we deliver a win-win, where the agent can sign up a client and we’ll work together to help the realtor look great with that client.”
Moving into the partner position, Dean’s shifted to a more behind-the-scenes role in supporting agents.
“It’s super important that agents know that they have somebody behind them who understands what can go right and what can go wrong,” he says, adding that Century 21 in Kelowna has an incredibly (and unusually) high ratio of brokers to agents. With three brokers and five senior managers ready to support the cast of agents, someone is always available.
“An agent might need to talk to one of us for two or three minutes, and it’s not a lot of time, but it makes a difference,” says Dean. “They might need someone with experience to bounce an idea off of, and we always want them to feel and know that they can call us anytime.”
“Dean is also a licensed coach and he’s a really solid member of the leadership team to help the younger and inexperienced members evolve,” says Anna. “It can be pretty daunting, graduating from your real estate course and not knowing where to start.”
Max pioneered a proven purpose-based coaching program that “helps realtors and entrepreneurs determine their life purpose, values and goals,” he explains. “It’s a very powerful approach, as it’s based on helping them create and execute a plan that’s in line with their personal and career aspirations.”
Anna says, “The people who are attracted to living in the Okanagan are here for very deliberate reasons, so our brokerage’s ability to lighten up realtors’ workloads helps them align with their life values.”
Max adds, “Our company philosophy is to ‘enable prosperity,’ both financial and in personal wellbeing.”
That approach has resulted in a win-win for staff, realtors and their clients.
“Honestly, I think we have the best agents in the Okanagan at our brokerage,” says Dean, “down to every last one of them.”