Ross McCredie sets out to build another successful real estate brand with Sutton Group

Ross McCredie has big plans for one of Canada’s most recognizable names in real estate

The last time Ross McCredie bought a real estate company, people said he was an idiot. It was 2004, and McCredie, a sales executive at the time, approached New York-based Cendant Corp for Canadian rights to the Sotheby’s International Realty title. Sotheby’s, of course, is now one of the biggest names in Canadian real estate.

“I wasn’t a real estate agent, no one could figure out why I bought it,” says McCredie. “But it was a great brand. I didn’t realize how many bad coffees I’d have to have over the next 12 years or how many realtors I’d have to speak to in order to get the best. We built 40 offices and I was super proud.”

He also may have had something to do with the modernization of the real estate industry in this country. “We took away the ability to put pictures on the back of busses and cheeseball marketing and we professionalized the industry,” McCredie says. “I think a lot of the brokerages changed their marketing based on that. I went from someone everyone thought would be the dumbest person to ever buy a real estate company to actually being thought of as being forward-thinking.”

After establishing the Sotheby’s brand in Canada, McCredie sold it in November 2012 to Montreal-based real-estate company 360 Vox Corp. Since then, McCredie has held a variety of executive roles both here and in the U.S. and has been working on projects with Vancouver tech firm Dapper Labs.

Last month, McCredie’s eponymous investment firm acquired Sutton Group Realty Services, taking over the Burnaby-based real estate group and its 200 offices nationwide. The company has an annual sales volume surpassing $35 billion across 115 franchise owners.

“I kept looking at it, wondering who owns it and why they hadn’t done much with it in awhile,” says McCredie. “I think it’s a huge opportunity to take a great national brand—in the ‘80s it really did rock the industry. That’s our plan. To take this on and jazz up what the business and the brand is going to do.”

So what’s the big transformation to the industry this time around? McCredie is focused on improving the lack of verified data associated with the industry that Canadians have, which he calls among the worst in the world. “I want to leverage the platform and the relationships to empower Canadians with verified data. I think the real estate agent of the future needs to act like a true fiduciary, and I don’t think they’ve done that in the past. They should be acting in the best interest of the clients, and to do that they need the best information.”