News and Updates July 10, 2020

Sereno Group’s Acquisition of J. Rockcliff is Part of a Mission to Strengthen the Industry

As fate would have it, Sereno Group kicked off the Independence weekend with the announcement that we are expanding our independent footprint into the East Bay marketplace with the acquisition of J. Rockcliff. This new chapter in our journey marks a wonderful opportunity for us and expands our geographic reach to a part of the Bay Area that has long been admired for its strong marketplace, beauty, and community-minded people.

J. Rockcliff represents what we believe is most significant in a brokerage: a well-respected family of Realtors and staff who are locally rooted in their communities and understand the importance of responsible real estate practice and prioritizing service before self.

Like Sereno Group, J. Rockliff contains an important aspect of our industry that dates back to real estate’s very beginnings: an independent, regional brand that is guided by people from within the communities they serve.

This is real estate’s true value proposition: the intimate and personal knowledge of each community’s cultural textures and nuances, and how that knowledge articulates into value for the client. Real estate is intended to be a localized industry, and brokerages are meant to be run and represented by people who live, work, and know the local community and culture.

The fact that corporate entities outside our industry have tried to change that, starting with the first consolidation effort of our industry in the late ’90s and continuing in its current form of the venture capital-funded monoliths, doesn’t change that core aspect of our business.

The industry’s independence remains its greatest value and strength regardless of the influence of outsiders.

Sadly, the brokerage industry has become somewhat transient over this last evolution of our business. More and more, we see Realtors prioritizing things other than organizational values, work environment, and long-term vision of purpose. These vital and necessary elements have become secondary to signing bonuses, marketing stipends, high splits with no fees, stock options, and promises of proprietary technology that does not yet exist.

On some level, those who decide to move toward those things do so thinking it is a sound business decision. It is, after all, part of the business world that has always existed and an element of a competitive marketplace where the pressure of production is always increasing. It’s how the brokerage business evolved during the industry’s initial corporatization push of the late ‘90s. Business decisions are business decisions, after all.

The resulting effect on the brokerage industry, however, is increased pressure for profit to overcome the frontline expenditure.  In other words, brokerages who pay signing bonuses and agree to larger agent splits have to make up for the costs someplace and this is where the cycle of the bottom-line, profit-only driven mindset begins to undermine the brokerage environment.

And the ones most affected by this are the client and the industry itself.  It’s no coincidence that the general public’s view of REALTORS® is oftentimes not positive overall. In some aspects, it’s deserved.

The cause?

The pressure for brokerages to fill their offices with everyone and anyone in the hopes that quantity instead of quality will make up for the pressures of profitability.  Low barriers of entry cause a dilution of professionalism and accountability that undermines the integrity of the industry.

I do not deny the fact that one of Sereno Group’s main goals is to be profitable and to succeed financially, but it is not the overriding, driving factor in our decision process. We have built our company based upon the higher ideal of creating a community-minded, reputable brokerage with high standards of practice, responsibility, and accountability.

We believe success and profitability come from quality and not quantity. And our independence allows us to control those standards and not be pressured by quarterly earning reports or venture capital ROI questions.

We have always believed that independence matters. As a brokerage it allows us, and by us, I mean everyone at Sereno Group, a voice in our collective futures. And therein lies our bigger purpose: that the strength and vitality of the independent brokerage business thrive and contribute to residential real estate sales.

Sereno Group’s ultimate goal has never been about conquest, world domination, or industry disruption. Our vision has always been about the sustainability of our industry, its people, and the value we bring to the communities we serve. It is a simple vision in an increasingly noisy world.

With all of that said, we are excited to welcome J. Rockcliff into our family. Not only are we gaining presence within a wonderful and vibrant marketplace of the Bay Area, but more importantly we are gaining new friends and colleagues that share our values and cultural priorities.

Of course, the addition of the East Bay market has economic factors that interest us, but the value we gain in like-minded people and a company that cares about its legacy and duty to its community has far greater longterm value in our minds. It also allows us to strengthen our purpose to remain independent and to provide hyper-local representation and presence within our markets.

This expansion of Sereno Group allows us the opportunity to actively participate in this valuable role in our industry.  By connecting with J. Rockcliff our voice for responsible and professional real estate gains strength, resonance, and value.


Ryan Iwanaga

Co-Founder & Chief Experience Officer