Andrew appears in the Top 100
People in Real Estate Magazine
In 2017, Andrew Azzarello was in his sixth year as a successful real estate agent beloved by his clients. But behind the scenes, he toiled in an industry in which too many brokerages thrive on the sweat of their agents and clients are seen as merely transactions. Andrew envisioned a brokerage in which agents came first, communities were their partners, and clients were friends—not “sales.” And he made it happen. Before the year was out, he launched his first residential brokerage in Syracuse, New York, under Better Homes and Garden Real Estate Select, an international real estate company with independently owned franchises across the globe—and in no time, he was awarded REALTOR® of the Year by the Greater Syracuse Association of REALTORS®. A former educator, Andrew built a firm that focuses on educating, uplifting, and serving both the agents it employs and the communities it occupies—and it’s recognized nationwide as a place where ideas and ambition come together.
What began just four years ago as a single franchise with three agents has blossomed into three locations with 45 agents and 450 transactions valued over $200 million—and they’re still expanding. Serving Onondaga, Oswego, Madison, and Cayuga counties, Andrew and his BHGRES team lead with a commitment to guide clients through their home buying and selling journeys. And, as a result of the culture and family dynamic that Andrew has fostered, it’s done with a focus on team mentorship, five-star customer care, and ongoing support that allows agents to flourish—and love their jobs. It is a model that was invented, tried, and proven during his swift rise in the industry, and applied in not one, but a trio of real estate businesses.
In the fall of 2021, Andrew acquired Salina Abstract and Title Services, located in downtown Syracuse, NY. Just months later, his wife Nicole expanded the reach of the brokerage to Florida, with an independent brokerage in Sarasota and ambitious plans for at least four more locations across the sun-swept region, all embodying the same vision that has agents and home buyers and sellers flocking to his East Coast branches. “We look forward to welcoming our agents and serving our neighbors and communities in New York and Florida for years to come,” Andrews shares.
With three thriving companies, Andrew is well established as a leader in the field, yet he sees himself not as a business tycoon, but rather as an advocate for agents everywhere. It is an uncommon goal in an otherwise cutthroat industry where agents are undervalued and unappreciated. Call it destiny or call it desire, it is the path that Andrew has forged, and with each step along his journey, he’s paving the way so that others can follow.
We spoke with Andrew to learn more about his vision and progress in this endeavor, and what we discovered is that this is a man who not only talks the talk but walks the walk!
Andrew, what prompted you to create a brokerage focused on the success of your agents rather than your own or that of your company?
I was an agent before I was broker, and I knew what I liked and what I didn’t. Traditionally, agents haven’t been encouraged to offer their ideas, but I believe they have valuable insight, and if it’s something that would be mutually beneficial, I’ll implement it. When agents feel engaged and have a sense of accomplishment and mutual partnership, they’re more motivated, and as a result, they get more clients, and our charitable activities gives them a sense of belonging within the community. As a broker, you must have your agents’ best interests at heart. They need to have pride in aligning their names with the brokerage. I never really had that, so I make sure my agents know they have my full support. In my companies, the agents come first, and I make sure they have the tools and resources to be successful and, above all, love their jobs.
As the leader of two thriving real estate franchises and a title company, you also feel responsible for the people and communities you serve. Why is this important to you?
The big thing is that we support the community, and we want to make sure that they entrust us, as we entrust them. For us, it doesn’t begin and end with the sale—the relationship endures. Your clients should become part of your family, and they do! We have client appreciation events, send cards for the anniversary of the day they bought their house, and for the holidays—even for Halloween. These little things add up to big rewards because the more in touch you are, the more your referrals increase. Our clients send us gifts too because they genuinely value the relationship. We had two clients who were sisters and buying homes across the street from each other. We bought them each binoculars as a housewarming gift, and years later, they turned to us when it was time to sell. But we feel our responsibility stretches beyond the doors of our offices. We’re actively engaged in community charities and fundraisers, including the Stuff-a-Bus annual toy drive and a co-ed softball tournament for Autism Awareness, and we’re hosting an NBA fundraising gala in 2022.
Can you share some of the unique benefits that your agents enjoy?
We’re a one-stop shop, so the office staff will take care of listings, photos, and all the background work so that agents can focus on their clients. And agents support each other’s success, working together to make postcards, put up “open house” signs, do listing paperwork, contracts, without ever asking for a percentage of the commission from the listing agent. With regard to commissions, I want my agents to do well—and they do—but we emphasize more the culture, the family feel of the brokerage, and by doing that, our agents stay with us. If the commission is there, but the culture is not, it won’t matter what the split is.
How is your brokerage different from others as it relates to client care?
We take our family culture of the brokerage and we bring that to our clients, so it doesn’t feel like it’s a just a cold transaction. Clients are more open with us, feel comfortable asking questions, and trust our guidance, so it’s an enjoyable experience where they feel like they’re working with friends, not “just” a broker who will forget their name as soon as the contract is signed.
What do you enjoy most about your work or what drives you?
The satisfaction of the clients, the relationships, and the fulfillment of watching my agents grow and succeed. This is what I enjoy most and this is what drives me to keep growing my firm.
Better Homes and Garden Real Estate Select