I recently caught up with another local broker who runs an office larger than mine for a summit of sorts comparing notes on the direction of our industry and the local marketplace for the coming year. It all started with a couple of chance encounters in social settings over the course of the past month or two, where, taking the cue from our brief interactions we decided it could be mutually beneficial to get together sometime to exchange perspectives.
We ended up meeting for lunch at a local eatery last week, with my 11-year-old daughter also in attendance, and her presence contributed to a friendly informal and down-to-earth tone for the proceedings. The experience proved to be a fascinating contrast between brokers using two very different business models, each providing a finger on the pulse of different parts of the real estate market:
Whereas he has achieved great success running a franchised residential brokerage with the help of social media and multiple lead-generation platforms providing a pipeline for him and his team of sales agents, for my part I have built my career running an independent brokerage with multiple areas of specialization that were developed organically over time.
As a result, while his business model enabled him to scale up and capture increased market share of residential sales in the county, my business became more diversified which—while not posting the kinds of numbers he was able to—did make us less susceptible to fluctuations in the housing market. And his connections with key players at the national and corporate level keep him more attuned to industry trends and cutting-edge programs, while my awareness tends to be more focused on the details of the projects I handle at a local and regional level, albeit in more segments of the market.
Between our viewpoints we were able to get a more complete picture than either of us had going in that we are entering a marketplace where dedicated agents are going to have to differentiate themselves from casual practitioners, particularly in the face of ongoing technological advances and increasing regulation on practices such as buyer agency.
We both noted a continued low inventory with many transactions linked through contingency offers, and increasing use of tools like the Buy Before You Sell platform mentioned in my last column. We both felt fortunate to be individually busy in a market where fewer agents appear to be handling more of the business. And we agreed that the level of complexity and challenge in putting and keeping a contract together these days makes the average transaction more work than it has been in recent years.
In any event, the encounter was enriching enough for each of us to merit putting a follow-up lunch on the calendar for next month, and our newfound connection helped show how two colleagues with contrasting styles and approaches to the work we do can learn from one another.