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For Vermont Real Estate Company, Independence is Everything

04/13/2023 02:32PM ● By MATT HAEFELE
When Kara Koptiuch and Bryce Gilmer decided to start their own brokerage, they knew they were onto something big. What started as a two-broker agency based out of a small office on Kilburn Street in Burlington is now Vermont’s leading independent brokerage with an annual sales volume of over $130 million, offices in Burlington and Montpelier, and twenty-three agents providing top-notch real estate services across every county in Vermont.


In 2016, Kara and Bryce were seasoned brokers, but their experience in the industry was frustrating and restricting. The franchise model offered little flexibility to work in a way that served their clients first. They knew that if they started their own firm, they would be free to provide benefits to their clientele they wouldn’t otherwise be able to with larger brokerages and out-of- state franchises. So, they started Vermont Real Estate Company .

From day one, Kara and Bryce have been committed to creating a culture of independence and client service. The business grew year after year as the two partners added industry veterans who aligned with their values and newer agents they were confident could live up to their service expectations. As the brokerage grew, the duo looked for ways to support their expanding roster in ways that helped agents expand their own network with the same independence that inspired Bryce and Kara to start the agency.

“We make sure that our agents prioritize client care. In agent interviews, we ask about what they will do to go above and beyond for their clients,” says Kara.

The company doesn’t just hire well – they invest in their agents. In-house training sessions focus on a client-first mentality, and templates and procedures are in place so clients receive the same service across the company. Everything is designed to help agents succeed so they can, in turn, focus on returning client calls, help sellers clean out their houses, and even touch up paint before a showing!

Bryce and Kara’s investment consistently pays off. Agent retention at the company is high, “Agent retention is important to us. We’ve seen other models where brokers seek to maximize revenue with a revolving roster of agents who are focused on generating new business. Here, we believe in people first, for both our clients and our agents. It’s more important that we foster strong relationships than squeeze every dollar,” Bryce commented recently. “Real estate is such a hospitality, customer-first job—the big picture is that if you put people first, then the clients will trust you, and your business will grow.” 



Growth comes organically to Vermont Real Estate Company. Bryce and Kara are always considering opening new offices around Vermont and bringing on new agents, but only when it makes sense. For the brokers, rapid growth is the last thing they want.

“We’ve always been intentional about our growth,” says Bryce. “Whether bringing on a new agent or opening a new office, we first and foremost want to make sure that it will benefit the community, our clients, and our current agents. If we stick to our commitment to service, growth will follow. We’ve proven that.”

In 2019, Bryce and Kara knew the next intentional phase of growth wouldn’t be possible without the help of a driven colleague, Susannah Kelley. By then, Susannah was in the industry for six years and brought efficiencies to the agency that would directly benefit their agents. Not only is Susannah a top-earning agent, but she also brings organizational and transactional expertise.

For Susannah, independence was important. “I felt I could thrive in the environment
at Vermont Real Estate Company. At past brokerages, I wasn’t able to manage my clients’ real estate transactions from start to finish. Here, I am there every step of the way for my buyers and my sellers,” says Susannah. “I also love managing the team. I want our agents to know they’re working for a well-oiled machine and make sure they get an experience that enables them to thrive!”


Most brokerages their size would have a handful of administrators handling client transactions. At Vermont Real Estate Company, every team member has a real estate license, which adds another level of experience and expertise to each real estate transaction. Agents are their clients’ primary contact from the initial meeting to beyond closing. Says Kara, “One thing that sets our agents apart is that they do everything, soup to nuts. I would send any one of my clients to any of our agents.”

Today, the brokerage is thriving. A quick glance at the hundreds of online reviews reveals the level of service Vermonters love about the agency. Past clients are always quick with a referral, and first-time clients don’t hesitate to add to the growing pile of glowing testimonials.

“I think it’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of our agents. I want to give a huge shout-out to our team. They are the cream of the crop!” says Kara.

Ultimately, the goal is to cover more ground and expand their coverage into the few remaining areas they don’t already service. But not without their commitment to their culture – because for Vermont Real Estate Company, independence is everything.


Vermont Real Estate Company

431 Pine Street, Suite 118 

Burlington, VT 


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