Sunday, November 27, 2011

Benjamin Group restructures under a new name

The Benjamin Group, a Scottsdale-based commercial real-estate services firm, has relaunched its business with a new name, business partner and commission structure.

As of this month, the firm does business as City to City Commercial Real Estate and operates from a new headquarters in Scottsdale.

Founder and President Chris Benjamin, along with new business partner Bill Olsen, said City to City Commercial will be positioned to compete with other large commercial real-estate firms in Arizona.

The Benjamin Group was founded in 1997 but recently has shifted its focus, out of necessity, to the bank-owned real-estate market. Benjamin said the firm so far this year has brokered more than $90 million in bank-owned property sales.

Benjamin said the firm's brokers will operate on a 100 percent commission basis, which he described as "a proven, winning strategy underused and underserved in the commercial real-estate field."

He said the unorthodox compensation structure would allow agents to retain more of the commissions they earn while paying their own costs along the way.

Typically, commercial real-estate agents pay 30 to 50 percent of their commissions to the brokerage firm for which they work, Benjamin said. That money is used to pay overhead costs, only some of which are for resources agents' use.

"If you're a successful commercial agent, where is the benefit versus the cost in that situation?" he said.

City to City Commercial Real Estate has 17 agents that specialize in different areas of the commercial real-estate market. Benjamin said he believes the company is well-positioned to succeed as the commercial real-estate market recovers.

His desire is to grow the firm into a national player in commercial real-estate brokerage services. Most of the larger brokerages in Phoenix have offices in multiple cities, and some have international operations.

Olsen said the availability of bank-owned commercial properties, also known as REOs, for "real-estate owned," have created new opportunities.

City to City has brokered sales of more than $90 million of bank-owned properties in 2011, the firm's principals said.

"There is no better time than right now to be in the business," Olsen said. "It is moving in a positive direction as many banks divest of their REO assets."

by J. Craig Anderson Arizona Business Gazette Nov. 24, 2011 12:00 AM

Benjamin Group restructures under a new name

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