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12/8/2009 3:49:00 PM
Indianapolis-based Kosene becoming full-service residential brokerage

Indianapolis Business Journal

Tom Harton, The IBJ

Kosene & Kosene, a company that made a name for itself developing retail space and condominiums, is launching a full-service residential real estate brokerage as it diversifies in part to counter a tough development market.

Kosene & Kosene Residential employs four residential real estate agents and plans to add 10 a year in each of the next five years. If the company achieves that goal it would have between 50 and 60 agents, a number that today would place it among the dozen largest agencies in the city.

The residential division is being led by company co-founder David Kosene and his nephew, Michael Kosene, 26, the son of co-founder Gerald Kosene.

The younger Kosene said the firm began representing buyers, sellers and renters about four months ago. Previously, it was only involved in the sale of residential units it developed.

The company is developing a marketing plan both to lure agents and brokers into the fold and to help sell houses. "We're going to pride ourselves in being very boutique, very service oriented," he said.

Broad Ripple and Lion's Gate are among the communities where the company has listings, which number approximately 17 so far.

Kosene said the company will open offices to house its agents as the need arises. Part of its strategy for luring agents is to discount what its agents and brokers will pay for their office space and other services, such as advertising, that real estate brokerages typically offer.

He didn't say how much Kosene agents can expect to pay, but it would presumably be less than the $16,000 to $19,000 a year agents pay at some brokerages.

Kosene anticipates that the residential brokerage will operate for the next 12 to 18 months from The Maxwell, a residential property with ground-floor retail space that Kosene & Kosene developed last year at 530 E. Ohio St.

The Maxwell, which was built as a condominium development but is now being leased as apartments, is the latest in a string of downtown condominium buildings developed by Kosene & Kosene since 2003. Beginning with The Alten at 10th and Alabama streets, Kosene built hundreds of high-end condominium units downtown, many of them in the area just north of where Market Square Arena once stood.

Though the company has developed condominiums, apartments and single-family homes since the late 1980s in Marion County and beyond, its focus on downtown projects beginning early this decade represented a marked shift away from its primary business, which had been the development of retail, office and medical office space. The company still leases and manages a portfolio of more than 600,000 square feet of retail space in Indianapolis.

Kosene's embrace of full-service residential brokerage is driven at least in part by necessity. Real estate development opportunities are scarce because of a lack of funding and demand.

As Kosene Realtor Christopher Chabenne said in a press release announcing Kosene & Kosene Residential, "There is less of a need for development and more of a need for brokerage services. It's the best segment to be in now."

James Litten, co-owner of F.C. Tucker & Co., the area's largest residential brokerage firm based on sales, said he couldn't recall another company with a long commercial history moving in such a big way into residential brokerage. "Generally the transition is from residential to commercial," Litten said.

Litten said one of Kosene's biggest challenges will be to attract and retain agents. "It's a very competitive market-very entrepreneurial."

But Litten said the company's experience working with outside brokers to sell its own product will be a help. "Kosene has always been very cooperative with the residential brokerage community here."

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