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Kentwood offers world-wide perk

Highlights:

  • Kentwood buys Inspirato license.
  • Provides brokers and employees access to luxury vacation homes around the globe.
  • Kentwood will top $2 billion in sales this year.
The $15 million "Big Rock" penthouse in Solaris in Vail, is in Insperato's portfolio of Signature Properties.

The $15 million “Big Rock” penthouse in Solaris in Vail, is in Inspirato portfolio of Signature Properties.

Kentwood Real Estate is on track to sell a record $2 billion in real estate this year, besting last year’s record of $1.71 billion.

The 185 brokers sold $1.85 billion in October and expect to hit $2 billion in early December.

As part of the $2 billion milestone, Kentwood CEO Peter Niederman unveiled an amenity that gives all of its agents, as well as its 80 or so employees, the opportunity to stay in luxury homes throughout the world.

Kentwood purchased a license agreement with Denver-based Inspirato for Business, which provides access to more than 150 multi-million dollar destinations around the globe.

Kentwood is the first realty brokerage company in the nation to ink such a deal with Inspirato, the world’s largest destination vacation organization, based on membership.

It was started on Jan. 1, 2011, by Brent Handler, a year after he left Exclusive Resorts, which he helped launch in 2002.

Inspirato for Business was launched about a year ago and has more than 100 signed up for the service.

“Our whole idea is that with Kentwood on the road to cross over $2 billion in sales, we felt this is a way to give back to all of our employees and all of our brokers,” said Peter Niederman, CEO of Kentwood.

Niederman said he negotiated a custom deal with Handler,  in which Kentwood paid the one-time initiation fee as well as a recurring annual cost. It is available to agents and employees at Kentwood DTC, Kentwood Cherry Creek and Kentwood City Properties.

“We felt all of our employees have worked so hard and this was a way to give back,” he said.

The employees book their destinations, which are subject to some restrictions, and pay the cost of staying in the home or hotel. Inspirato has more than 260 vacation options for its 150 or so Signature Residences in its world-wide portfolio. In Colorado, its portfolios include properties in Vail, Beaver Creek, Aspen, Snowmass Village, Steamboat Springs and Telluride.

Kentwood employees also are responsible for travel arrangements.

Niederman is no stranger to Inspirato. In fact, he was one of the first to sign on.

Peter Niederman

Peter Niederman

“I was No. 10,” Niederman said. “Now they have more than 4,500 members. I thought it would be a great way to take vacations with friends and family.”

When he wanted to extend it to his company, he called up Handler two or three months ago.

“I told Brent we wanted to design something for our company that is really unique and different,” he said. “Brent and I are so aligned when it comes to creating a great corporate culture, it was really a pleasure working with him.”

By buying a Business Enterprise license, Kentwood can grant its brokers and employees access to the Inspirato for Business portfolio, although the agents are not Inspirato members themselves. Through the license, Kentwood also has the opportunity to use the Inspirato for Business portfolio for employee incentives, reward travel and corporate meetings. Although the specifics of the Kentwood deal were not released, a  license for Inspirato for Business starts at $35,000, plus an annual fee.

In April, the Denver Post ranked Kentwood as the fourth best place to work in the metro area for mid-sized companies with 150 to 499 local employees.

The Inspirato deal is an example of why people working at Kentwood gave it such high marks, Niederman said.

“This is a good example of the type of corporate culture that we foster, which is why we scored so high in the survey,” Niederman said.

Susan Henderson, a broker with Kentwood City Properties, couldn’t say enough about the chance to stay at homes that in some cases can be worth millions.

In fact, one of the condos in Vail is valued at $15 million.

“Isn’t this terrific? I think it is enormously generous of them,” Henderson said. “This is way better than taking us to a resort in the mountains for a weekend.”

On Tuesday, she was looking at the company’s website.

“They have all of these wonderful places from Thailand to the Turks and Caicos,” Henderson said.

“I’m such a travel junkie, the question is: “Where wouldn’t I want to go?”

The Kentwood employees have some restrictions, Handler said on Tuesday, just before giving a speech in San Francisco. For example, they can’t travel during holidays that are high-peak travel times.

This $3.5 million villa in the British West Indies is available to Insperato members.

This $3.5 million villa in the British West Indies is available to Inspirato members.

Brent Handler

Brent Handler

“We have to make sure that we protect the availability to all of our members,” he said.

Inspirato leases all of its properties, whether it is one of the 17 residences it has at the Solaris in Vail or if it is chartering a Silversea cruise ship for its members.

“We don’t own anything,” Handler said. “We have long-term leases on our properties. We pay for them whether they are occupied or not.”

While Kentwood is the first real estate company to participate, it is an ideal industry for such a perk, Handler said.

“If you are in a competitive environment, whether it is in technology or luxury real estate, this is a great amenity to help you attract talent,” Handler said.

Niederman said his goal isn’t to use it as a recruiting tool.

“I wanted this to reward our existing employees who worked so hard,” Niederman said.

“It truly is incredible to think we are going to top $2 billion in sales this year and I wanted to thank them,” he said. “Working hard is important, but taking time off with your family and friends also is important for a balanced life.”

But he wouldn’t have any problem if  the travel perk enticed a top broker who was thinking of jumping ship to land at Kentwood.

“If it helps us recruit some top brokers, all the better, but that isn’t my reason for doing this.”

Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at  JRCHOOK@gmail.com. InsideRealEstateNews.com is sponsored by Universal Lending, Land Title Guarantee and 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.