How Chris Guinn established a business that survived the 2008 financial crisis and the pandemic

Abu Mubarik June 05, 2023
Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023
The company has continued to grow since 2011 and has added property management to its services, managing nearly 100 doors in the Portland metro area. Photo credit: Portland Observer

Meet Chris Guinn III, co-founder of Dwell Realty, a real estate company that was established in 2009 and has grown into a full-blown business with about 30 real estate agents today, according to Business Journal.

Before starting Dwell Realy, Guinn started as a real estate sales agent in 2005. He racked up impressive record sales on the housing market, which gave him the impetus to start his independent real estate business in 2009.

He founded his real estate company at a time when the housing market and the financial industry were collapsing. As a result of the crisis, his first office and that of his co-founder were out of their respective basements.

In 2010, they got a grant from the Portland Development Commission, support from Rose City Mortage, and their savings to launch their current location in the Vanport Square Plaza.

With no employees in a cozy office, Guinn and his partner built the company with the mantra “If we build it, they will come,” and yes, clients started patronizing them. The decision to build the company organically has also paid off; it now boasts 30 real estate agents and an office manager on staff, according to the Portland Observer.

The company has continued to grow since 2011, and has added property management to its services, managing nearly 100 doors in the Portland metro area.

It has also made record sales, with top agents like Mark Borgeson, Torrey Nelson, Christy Marshall, Daniela Sardo, Eric Holmes, Melissa Peake, Hilary Cambron, Charles Fowlke, and office coordinator/manager Kiely Johnson.

Guinn went from launching his company at the start of the global economic crisis in 2008/9 to surviving the pandemic. The year 2021 and 2022 was a challenging time for his company.

“But the good thing that we had done prior to the pandemic was, we had decided to change our business model in 2018. And that was, we decided to actually close our physical offices down in Vancouver and in Portland,” he told Business Journal.

According to him, the operation of the company has been changed to function like a virtual brokerage. As a result, they got rid of the office space and also slashed the brokers’ fees.

He also tells Business Journal that his firm also has a commercial arm called DRCOMM — which means Dwell Realty Commercial. “We do a lot of commercial leasing, and some sales, too. So we’ve got a three-ring circus going on over there,” he added.

Guinn has survived the 2008 financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic to stay afloat and shows no signs of slowing down.

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