Friday, January 18, 2013

WHY ARE YOU AN INDEPENDENT REAL ESTATE BROKER?


It’s not because I’ve never been offered a job.

I’ve been in the business for over 29 years, which means that I’ve experienced two recessions and two bubbles. Throughout everything, I have been a one-woman operation, just a helping hand for friends (that’s what my clients become) that want to buy and sell their homes. I don’t like to waste peoples’ time; not my clients’ nor my own. I believe in getting things done in a timely and cost effective way. Consider it a mantra.

Although I’ve been on my own for most of this time, I’ve stayed in touch with my industry. After all, I started out at a big firm, and even then I quickly saw that I couldn’t deal with the inefficiency. I felt like the real estate agents were creating busy work for themselves so they could justify their beloved high commissions. Firms are known for their flamboyant culture, and agents want to keep driving their BMWs and Mercedes convertibles to society-page benefits.
You want to know something? Most of the heads of these big firms haven’t sold a home since the Internet was invented. When it’s time for these big wigs to solve a problem they pour superfluous amounts of money into a system that is not currently out-of-date. That is like putting more and more quarters into a pay phone when you’ve got a working smart phone in your pocket.

Several people at the big firms told me I would fail working on my own, and when I succeeded, they said it was a fluke. I don’t believe in three decade flukes! Now many firms are trying to negotiate their way out of their leases because they can’t compete with the fact that people can do their work in front of their laptop at Starbucks now. I can only laugh when I think about how they told me I was unprofessional for saving my clients money by refusing to operate out of a fancy “store front” office! I have never had a client complain about meeting in a warm home as opposed to a sterile office space. They also rarely complain when I save them thousands of dollars.

This whole time, big firm owners have made it clear to me that if I ever wanted to come on board with them, I could. They’d give me 2 assistants and a higher commission split. I could live a luxury life! I could be in the society pages! I am not interested and have never been interested. I don’t want to spend wildly. I want to do my job.

My husband is a tech guy, and he’s astonished at the way that real estate firms maintain entire departments for something that could be handled by a few people working on contract from home. Real estate firms still have teams of people making newspaper ads; they have sales meetings, appointment desks, and tons of unused office space. That would all be fine if the customer weren’t forced to pay for it. I believe competition is for the competent and it is time for some real competition.


HOW BIG IS YOUR COMPANY?

When I answer “just me,” often I get, “that’s nice”.  It is meant to be polite but not a as a compliment. Why is that?  Why do we think bigger is better?  Because that is what we are taught! The 80’s taught us about big business, big homes, big cars, and big hair (of course, the “big” philosophy is also a product of Texas living). Well, I can flaunt a few things that are bigger than the mega firms. I have an 80% referral rate when the industry average is 20%.  That is a big statistic that means more to me than the size of my office. Why is it we perceive the firm with the most overhead or employees as the most successful?  One thing is for sure, once you get your overhead up, it’s hard to cut it. I have never understood this “bigger is better” thinking.  Let’s be honest. It’s all about the egos.


WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT TODAY’S MARKET?

While there is plenty to love and loath about the current market, I love that a person with a desk and a laptop can do anything. Sustainability and profitability is success to me.

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