Friday, April 17, 2020 / by Kayla Nelson
Core concept: It’s not me, it’s you - personal brand over brokerage: no one cares about your brokerage, they care about how much you care about them. Also: teams are the approach to grow into a real estate career (personal attention, interests are aligned, old brokerages aren’t equipped to create modern agents who can become independent of them.
When I started in this business over 21 years ago, it made sense to align with a big brokerage. Big brokerages had something a newbie didn’t: a track record and some statistics to brag about, even if they weren’t my own.
At this same time though we used to sell homes via newspapers, staging was almost exclusively used for super high end properties and the internet was being boasted about as being the way homes will be advertised in the future (Segway into another blog on the millions of dollars I didn’t make buying Property Tech stocks!).
Fast forward 21 years later… the internet is THE way to sell homes, we use staging almost ALL the time (with a return of 3:1 why wouldn’t you stage?!) and while big brokerages still have a place in the market, the argument for joining local, boutique firms has been bolstered substantially.
Here’s why boutique firms are having an upsurge in popularity from agents and clients alike - it comes down to 3 main things, Care, Alignment & Career Advancement.
A little while ago the voluntary shipping lane speed reduction for SF harbor made the news headlines. Because of the size of these massive cargo containers cruising along at speeds faster than whales can negotiate, they’ve been killing whales inadvertently and probably not even noticing.
Now I’m not making the parallel that big brokerages kill whales, or agents. What I’m suggesting that is because of their size, cargo ships are not equipped to care about the same things a much smaller, nimbler vessel would care about.
For example, a local, family owned fishing vessel can’t afford to run into a whale so they will be hyper vigilant to keep an eye out for these majestic creatures and be sure to avoid them for everyone’s safety.
Case in point - a hyper local, boutique agency is going to care. They will care about the staff they have, the reputation they have, the outcomes of their clients and agents and they will want to make sure they have an outstanding track record for avoiding those whales of problems that circulate in these thar Real Estate waters!
Boutique businesses are limited by time. Ultimately that’s what they’re selling, time, not homes as many people think initially.
There’s only so much time that these boutique businesses have to commit to each agent, each client and each opportunity in general, so boutique agencies are generally focused on bringing on the right people, working with the best clients and in general, investing their time wisely to ensure everyone is getting a win-win.
It’s very easy to see the culture of a boutique brokerage as you’re typically working with the owners in a hands-on capacity.
It’s the opposite of the mega brokerage model where there are layers upon layers in between you and the owners and by the time homogenized culture reaches you, it all feels and looks the same as every other large brokerage.
Because boutique business owners are so focused on maximizing their time invested, they typically look for long term relationships with clients and agents. These owners define success through the success of everyone they meet. They play the long game and look for a fair outcome.
Before we opened our own brokerage we interviewed with all of the local brokerages to see what they could offer us. Our summary of these meetings was pretty bleak. It seemed like they were the same but different, they all had a variety of fees and charges that would keep them receiving income even if we weren’t. Going back to the cargo ship analogy, we felt like the fuel to keep these juggernauts moving forward which didn’t sit well with us.
Then more we thought about it we realized that we weren’t in alignment with the big brokerages who would make the same money off us if we were selling or not - they just weren’t into us as much as we were into them!
For agents joining our brokerage I can say this; if we all decide it would be the best thing to work together I can assure you that I want your success just as much as mine. We are linked for better or worse so we need to ensure the outcome isn’t the latter. Your success is our success, your failure is also ours and we can’t afford to invest time and not get to a very positive result!
For many agents who are striving to make a legitimate career from real estate boutique brokerages will often have a surplus of opportunities for the agents who don’t quite yet have the desired database just yet. These opportunities can be valuable for the agents who need to supplement their income and also want to work alongside someone who has already ‘made it’. Just being around to see a top agents’ best practice is often enough of a game changer for those agents who feel like lemmings to jump ship.
I made a social media post a little while ago which I took down quickly due to a grammatical error and the fact that it didn’t ‘meet’ the audience. I also posted it 4 or so weeks into being a new dad for the first time so it could have been posted at 4am as well, although most of the day now seems like 4am to be realistic. Let’s get back on track. Not being a quitter and embracing the Bay Area’s recycling and upcycling culture I’m going to try to explain this post again and use it as a summary.
Schrodinger's Cat is a concept that if you place a box over a cat that philosophically the cat is both under the box and not under the box at the same time. As I wrote this I now finally get why this concept fell flat on social media where we usually post about property and motivational quotes…
I think that this cat concept can be applied to brokerages and agents as well.
If you ask any agent what brokerage is the best they’ll tell you theirs. If you ask any neighbor which agent is the best they will say theirs. I’m suggesting that they are all both right and wrong at the same time.
The best brokerage is the one that cares for you and your clients at the same level that they care for themselves. The best agent is the agent that realizes that no one cares about your brokerage, they care about how much you care for them.
There’s a ton of real estate information available in the news today and on the Internet. It can be extremely confusing, especially in times of uncertainty like we’re facing right now.
If you’re thinking of buying or selling this year, you need an agent who can help you:
Make sense of this rapidly evolving housing market
Navigate everything from virtual showings to new online marketing strategies
Price your home correctly at the beginning of the selling process
Determine what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller
Dave Ramsey, a financial guru, advises:
“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”
Hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the current market will make your buying or selling experience so much easier.
So, how do you identify who truly understands what’s happening right now? How do you know who will take the time to simply and effectively explain what today’s market conditions mean to you and your family?
Check out the agent on social media. What are they posting on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more? Are they using their social media platforms to share relevant, helpful information, or are they just posting memes and recipes? The best agents are committed to educating the consumer so they can feel confident when buying or selling a home.
Bottom Line: What agents are posting online will help you determine who meets the criteria Dave Ramsey suggested you look for: someone with the heart of a teacher. Let’s connect today, so you can work with a true and trusted real estate professional who has seen several real estate cycles and can help you to make the best decisions in any market.