KW Expands to Japan to Create Careers Worth Having, Businesses Worth Owning

Lalaina Rabary|Published: Aug. 30 2019

When Mark Yamamoto – a serial entrepreneur and successful business owner – was approached by a trusted acquaintance with the opportunity to lead KW’s expansion to Japan, he passed.

“I did my research on Keller Williams and was impressed. The opportunity seemed very interesting, but I didn’t think it was for me.”

Determined, Yamamoto’s friend delivered a copy of the Franchise Systems Orientation manual to him with an ask to reconsider.

“As I began reading, I started seeing the reasons why Keller Williams had achieved the status of world’s largest real estate franchise. I finished the book overnight and called my colleague the next day, asking him to grab the next flight to Austin, Texas, with me. I had to see it for myself.” 

By the end of August 2018, Yamamoto had attended two training events and accepted the role of regional operating principal for KW Japan.  

“Keller Williams is everything a company should be. The idea of shared goals and success isn’t a concept; it’s a reality. When I look around, I see people energized, empowered, and transformed by KW’s agent-centric model; the impact it will bring to the people of Japan is extraordinary.”

KW Japan team at Mega Camp in Austin, Tx in 2019.

Creating Careers Worth Having

Keller Williams’ presence in Japan goes further than impacting the real estate market, Yamamoto explains – it presents a unique opportunity to shift the paradigm of employment.  

“The core real estate industry is $450 billion – $225 billion being brokerage and $124 billion residential, but agents don’t see much of that because companies operate on a salary-based compensation structure versus a reward and production-based structure. As a result, very successful agents leave to open their own real estate businesses, but not everyone has the courage or skills to do so. That’s where Keller Williams comes in.”

In addition to independent real estate agents, Yamamoto believes mothers and employees on the brink of retirement will reap the greatest rewards with the launch of KW Japan.

“Highly skilled and educated women are struggling to rejoin our country’s workforce because of large gaps in their résumés. Japan also has a mandatory retirement age while carrying the status of the country with the world’s highest life expectancy at 83 years old as of 2016.  Depending on the company, someone may be required to retire at 65-67, when they have nearly two decades of passionate living to do. There is a lot of context to change people’s lives here.”

With Yamamoto at the helm, KW Japan is initializing operations and expects to open its first market center in Q4 ’19.

“We’ll be delivering an agent-driven consumer experience built upon the high expectations that surround the KW brand. To that end, our team is using the systems, tools, and models, along with all of KW’s regional resources, to customize an offering to what consumers need in Japan.”

KW Japan signing with KW Worldwide President, Bill Soteroff.

As of July 31, Keller Williams has 50 market centers and 1,648 agents across Asia. Japan is the 10th addition to an impressive lineup of nine regions including Cambodia; Dubai, UAE; Greater Shanghai, China; Indonesia; Israel; Malaysia; the Philippines; Turkey; and Vietnam.

“The team in Japan understands that Keller Williams’ model is highly disruptive and unique for their local agents,” said William E. Soteroff, president of Keller Williams Worldwide (KWW), the international division of Keller Williams. “We are excited to have a remarkable new leader in Asia who understands this massive opportunity and has a clear vision for the future.”

Interested in expanding your referral network or joining KW Japan’s elite team?

Connect with KW Japan

Global Growth

As of July 31, Keller Williams Worldwide has: 

  • Over 200 market centers (outside of U.S. and Canada) across 39 regions
  • 8,464 agents collectively operating outside the U.S. and Canada, up 23.8% since the end of July 2018.

Outside of the U.S. and Canada, KWW regions include Argentina; Belgium; Belize; Bermuda; Cambodia; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Czech Republic; Dubai, UAE; France; Greater Shanghai, China; Greece; Indonesia; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Jamaica; Japan; Luxembourg; Malaysia; Mexico; Monaco; Morocco; Nicaragua; Northern Cyprus; Panama; Philippines; Poland; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Romania; Southern Africa; Southern Cyprus; Spain; Trinidad and Tobago; Turkey; United Kingdom; and Vietnam.

The division is exploring further expansion opportunities across Africa, Central and South America, Central and Eastern Europe, and throughout Asia.

Core criteria for new licensees start with having a qualified leadership team grounded in the Keller Williams culture; the company also strives for government, banking, and judicial system stability and a higher maturity level for a real estate market.


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