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SAN RAFAEL, CA-The SOMA Living store has leased 5,000-sf of ground-level floor space in San Rafael for its next store. Scheduled to open July 1, the store will be one of 14 in the Bay Area and among 400 nationwide that the company plans to open and operate during the next decade.

Founded in 1998 by Karl Spoke while he was at Pacific Union Real Estate Group, SOMA Living is designed to be a one-stop shop for researching, buying, remodeling, renovating, maintaining and accessorizing a home. Spoke left his position with Pacific Union Real Estate Group last summer. A month after Spoke left the company, GMAC Real Estate Group, which purchased Pacific Union, sunk $20 million in second-round funding to open 13 more stores nationwide.

Currently, the SOMA Living company has a location at Bryant Street and the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco. It has plans to open stores in Walnut Creek, Dublin, Fremont, Santa Clara and a second location in the city. Customers walk in, research the housing market on a computer and print out the results to take with them; browse samples and online catalogs in the design center; analyze different loan options and get various referrals to architectures, interior designers and contractors.

Being buyer-focused, SOMA Living neither lists homes for sale nor represents sellers of existing homes, new homes or homes under construction. The store does assist in for sale-by-owner transactions. Buyers’ agents – which can potentially earn $60,000 to $75,000 annually, work set hours and receive benefits – staff the sales floor, where they wait for customers to approach them with queries. At the point of purchase, an in-house negotiator takes over for the salesperson to negotiate and close the deal.

Deborah Perry and Jim McMasters of Colliers International in Walnut Creek represented SOMA Living in the San Rafael lease. Pat Burke of Keegan & CoppinoONCOR International represented the owner of the Fourth Street location in San Rafael.

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