In the property boom of the last few years, dozens of realty professionals opened their own businesses; but the recent market downturn has led many of them to shut up shop. It is now foreign realtor chains that are slowly changing the face of the Greek property scene, breathing in a new air of professionalism; according to a recent study, the local market is large enough to sustain up to four such chains. US-based RE/MAX recently made a new start through a franchising scheme, after the failed choice of partner a few years ago. It now numbers 15 bureaus – seven in the Thessaloniki area, five in Athens and one each in Kozani, Trikala and Patras – and is targeting 150 in Greece and Cyprus over the next five years, which would account for a 25-35 percent market share. According to the director of RE/MAX Hellas, Christos Samoladas, each bureau is allocated a population area of around 30,000 and the minimum cost for each franchisee, who is provided with full know-how and training, is 293,000 euros. There are additional monthly and commission charges. RE/MAX has about 4,500 bureaus in 39 countries. ERA Hellas, directed by Yioula Syvetou, recently launched its own franchising network, targeting a similar market share. It provides training and marketing and advertising support to franchisees. Both companies provide customers with virtual tours of the properties on sale. ERA Franchise Systems, a subsidiary of NYSE-listed Cendant Corporation, has more than 900 bureaus across Europe.