Climb Real Estate, a boutique San Francisco brokerage focused on city-dwelling Millennials, has been acquired by NRT LLC, the nation’s largest residential brokerage, the companies announced Wednesday.
NRT is the parent of Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s International Realty and ZipRealty and a subsidiary of Realogy, a publicly traded real estate conglomerate. Terms were not disclosed.
Climb, which has about 100 agents in San Francisco and Oakland, will continue to operate under its own name. NRT has pursued the same approach with other regional firms it acquired including the Corcoran Group in New York City and Laura McCarthy Real Estate in St. Louis, said Bruce Zipf, NRT’s president and chief executive.
“For me the deal wasn’t about money, it was about helping me grow the business,” said Chris Lim, whose new title is Climb president. He started selling South of Market condos 14 years ago and in 2010 founded Climb with Mark Choey and Tiffany Combs. SoMa and South Beach are still the company’s stronghold.
With NRT’s backing, the plan is “to grow this platform where we believe it has the most relevancy in the marketplace,” Zipf said.
That includes San Jose, where Climb is already a big reseller of downtown condos, Oakland and possibly Berkeley and Walnut Creek.
Climb tries hard to appeal to Millennials by focusing on mobile technology and social media. It has hip, open-plan offices, and its website features agents’ pets and kids. It renovated a vintage Airstream trailer, which serves as a mobile office and marketing vehicle. It’s at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert this week.
“I believe what this represents is a more traditional type platform coming together with a more innovative, unique-type platform” and providing the financial capital to expand Climb in the Bay Area, Zipf said.
Greg Macres, NRT’s executive vice president for the western region, said, “We want our agents to be more mobile (and) stretch the boundaries of technology. The interesting thing about Climb … is they initiated their company with that. They are not transitioning” into it.
Lim said Climb’s top agents — who include Todd Montgomery, Marcus Lee, Matt Finely, Jessie Lee and Kristen Stuecher — are excited about the acquisition.
Kathleen Pender is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @kathpender