"Our long-term intent always was to convert the companycompletely to a franchise model," Van Ness says, and theIrvine-based firm has decided that now is the time. "We have cometo realize that it is inefficient for us to try to run twodifferent businesses with the same staff," Van Ness tellsGlobeSt.com. "We realized that it's time to make a full commitmentto the franchise business."

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The 10 SVN corporate offices are all in Southern California andArizona. The rest of the company's approximately 160 offices arelocated throughout the US, Panama and Costa Rica.

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Van Ness says that SVN has been running an organization of 1,500people, more than 1,000 of them advisers, providing support to thefranchisees as well as direct support to advisers and other staff.With the sale of the corporate offices to a franchisee, he says,SVN will be able to focus its resources on supporting its 200 or sofranchisees, who in turn will provide the direct support toadvisers and staff.

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SVN has retained the investment banking firm of JMP Securitiesin San Francisco to market the corporate offices. Van Ness saysthat SVN hasn't put a price on the offices, and he adds that priceis not the company's only consideration in seeking a buyer.

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"We want to find a buyer who is a good strategic fit. The valuein the deal for us and for them is going to be in what they can addto the organization in the long-term," Van Ness says. Likely buyersfor the offices would be someone who owns, manages or finances asignificant amount of real estate, he says.

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SVN's expansion has been detailed in the pages of GlobeSt.comover the years and in recent weeks and months. Early this month,for example, Chicago-based Fisher/Sears and Associates Inc.joined SperryVan Ness Chicago, becoming the multifamily division for theChicago office of SVN. The company also recently boosted its New Jerseypresence with the opening of a new office there, and otherunits of the firm are expanding too, such as SVN AssetManagement.Late last year SVN announced that the firm waslaunching its "next wave of growth" and would be relying primarilyon franchisees for the expansion. The firm, which started in 1987as a local Orange County entity, grew to prominence in Californiaand Arizona before launching its national expansion. SVN startedexpanding under the franchise model about the year 2000 and hasgrown "pretty dramatically since then," Van Ness says.

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At the same time, it has been providing support directly to theagents and staff in all of the franchise regions. "We really can'tprovide that support as effectively as the local franchisees can,so what we're saying is, let's focus our support on the franchiseesso that they can better support the people in the offices," VanNess explains.

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