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Real estate company prepares for growth

Keller Williams Realty will host an open house Wednesday at its new Modesto office.

The public and prospective real estate agents are invited to the event, from 3 to 7 p.m., at 1001 Sylvan Ave., Building A.

Keller Williams, which has more than 650 offices nationwide, began operations in Modesto in June 2006 and now has about 50 agents. It recently moved into larger offices to accommodate what it hopes will be an expanding sales staff.

"We're confident we won't be a little office for long," said Nino Pascolati, who heads the Modesto branch. His goal is to have 150 agents by summer 2008.

The three biggest Modesto-based real estate companies are Century 21 M&M and Associates, which has about 606 agents, PMZ RealEstate, 553 agents, and Prudential California Realty, 204 agents, according to figures from the firms provided Monday.

"There's room at the top," predicted Pascolati, who expects Keller Williams to lure agents from other realty firms.

What makes Keller Williams different from most other operations is its fee structure.

Pascolati said agents pay a maximum of $26,000 a year to the company from their commissions. He said that once his branch becomes profitable, it also will distribute a share of the profits to its agents.

Most real estate firms don't have caps on agent fees or profit-sharing agreements. Agents typically negotiate independent deals for how much they pay brokers for their services.

New agents usually pay a higher percentage — or "split" — of their commissions to brokers; top-selling agents usually keep most of what they earn.

At PMZ, for example, agents pay 20 percent to 50 percent of their commissions for brokerage services, according to a PMZ spokesman.

All Keller Williams agents pay 30 percent to the company, up to the annual $26,000 maximum.

Besides varying on commission splits, real estate companies also have different arrangements for what costs are covered by agents versus brokers.

Some agents must pay fees to use a company's desks or phones, but others don't. Some brokers pay to advertise properties listed for sale, and others make agents pick up that expense.

Assorted additional services offered to agents by brokers — such as Web pages and client referrals — also vary from one company to another.

Because of that, it isn't unusual for agents to switch real estate companies during their career.

PMZ last year added about 100 agents to its ranks, most of whom came from other agencies (including some from Keller Williams), according to PMZ.

At Wednesday's open house, Pascolati said information will be provided on Keller Williams' business philosophy and about the 65 homes it has listed for sale in the region.

There also will be a silent auction of items during the event to raise money for charity.

Pascolati said Keller Williams agents have sold about 70 homes since opening last June.

For more information about the tours, the open house or Keller Williams, call Pascolati at 496-9200.

Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at 578-2196or