Yesterday, a name and number was sent to me by an internet lead service. It doesn’t cost me anything to receive the leads – the internet-lead company gets a referral fee from the listing agent once the sale closes. I’m on the list more for amusement – I’ve never closed a sale from any internet-lead service.
I always check the MLS to see if their house has been listed recently, and look for upgrades in the photos – because there could be a 10% swing in price.
This property was an active listing, so I knew what was coming – the sellers weren’t getting enough action, so they blamed the agent (not their price).
I get the seller on the phone, and he starts right in with,
“What company do you work for?”
His current agent is an independent, so instead of having a frank conversation about the realities of the market and why his house isn’t selling, he jumps to the conclusion that he needs a big company to push the product. I mention that I can better expose his property using my video tours, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with it.
He wants a big-name company. Period.
This is why the large franchises exist. They know that sellers don’t have much experience with selling real estate, and the accompanying discomfort causes them to make snap decisions. Many people have been brainwashed by advertising, and feel more comfortable selecting a brand name, rather than investigate the choices.
My take on the subject:
1. Most are independents. According to NAR, the majority of realtors (57%) work for independent, non-franchised companies. If the realtors themselves don’t see the value in working with a franchised company, then why should the consumer?
2. Selling real estate is an individual sport, not a team sport. Sellers are hiring an agent to advise them how to sell for top dollar with minimal hassle. You want to believe that there is a ‘Company Way’ to sell houses and every one of their agents did it the same. But it’s not like that – we are independent contractors that all sell differently. Want proof? The only thing we have in common is the MLS – and look at how differently it is used by agents. Some include lousy or no photos, great or crappy remarks, etc.
3. Quality – The recent DANGER report concluded that ‘the No. 1 liability for the industry is its masses of “untrained, unethical and/or incompetent agents.”’ These agents work at every company (franchise and independent), and sellers are misguided to think that if they call a brand-name company, they will automatically get a competent professional. Inexperienced agents typically usually learn at a big franchise office, then go out on their own once they are experienced – which would make you think that hiring an independent agent would make it more likely to get an experienced agent.
4. Reputation – Have you ever had a bad experience with a brand-name company? This is why many agents prefer to be independent – the actions of other realtors in the office can have a negative impact on their own reputation.
5. Independent companies vs. independent realtors. Once you are open to hiring an independent, then break it down further. A big independent brokerage has some of the same problems as a big franchise. Ideally you want to hire a guy whose name is on the door – he has the most riding on every detail of the transaction.
This isn’t a knock on franchise offices themselves – there are good and bad agents everywhere you go. It’s the industry itself that prefers to mask the competency of the agents. Have you noticed how few realtor blogs there are? Why is that? It’s because agents don’t want to be scrutinized, and their employers don’t want to be either. They prefer to hide behind big names and imagery where the consumer has little idea what they are actually getting – until it is too late.
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