Ask the Brokers – Does Size Matter (When Selecting a Broker)?

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Before it is over, I may need to retitle this post, but it’s too early. So, on to the latest email I received (from Illinois, no less) in what is shaping up to be Ask the Brokers Week at the San Diego Home Blog.

I have a question and hope that you can be honest with me about it. With the market the way it is today, would it truly make a difference if I go with a big real estate company verses a real estate marketing consultant, who reassures me that we will get (my property) sold before I get into any further trouble and lose it all? I just need some truth because I just wasted 3 months with a friend of mine who honestly didn’t show me anything that she claimed was being done except working from her computer.

Steve and I have worked for Little, Big and Biggest when it comes to brokerages. I will give you the most honest answer I can given that we are currently affiliated with the Biggest category.

All things being equal, the brokerage your agent aligns himself with is terribly important. Larger companies can provide resources that smaller firms simply can not. These include legal and administrative support, technology-related opportunities and tools, and credibility and presence in the agent community. I will brace myself for the onslaught of agent rebuttals to this statement, but the average agent (and, therefore, the consumer), in my opinion will be far better served by the large, established brokerage. And, the sad fact is that most agents are average at best.

All things are not equal, however. Big and small companies alike will have mediocre agents under their banner and they will have stellar agents associated with their brand. Ultimately, the individual agent will dictate the level of service and success that the client receives. A brand name alone does not qualify an agent to represent you. As the consumer, it is incumbent to evaluate the differences. Look at the individual agent’s marketing and services program, look at their track record, evaluate their successes and speak to their past clients.

As for your particular situation, I obviously don’t have all of the facts. Properties fail to sell for a variety of reasons: Market factors; location; property condition; and, most importantly, price, to name a few. Beyond this, the agent can indeed be an influencing factor. Proper pricing advice and aggressive, professional exposure are critical in a successful sale. The best agents today will find themselves “working from their computer” a lot, that much is for sure, but as one who leans a little further toward the side of technology than most, I still spend as many hours a day communicating with my clients on the phone and face-to-face than I do from behind a computer screen.

It is all too easy (and common, I’m afraid) for the agent to bear the brunt of blame when things are not going well. Too often, this is not justified, yet often some of the blame is warranted. A successful partnership, and don’t forget that your relationship with your agent is just that, is dependent on effective communication and on trust. The most important advice I can offer is this – If you are unhappy with your representation for any reason, you should find an agent that you can respect and trust. You have so many choices. Settling for a “friend” because you feel obligated may not be in your best interest, unless of course that friend is the best agent for the job.

Big company or small, your agent is an independent contractor who brings with them a particular level of experience, knowledge, professionalism, and success, not to mention a particular tool box of marketing and service tools to help you sell your home. Big companies may tend to offer their agents a wider array of spoon-fed opportunities to serve their clients and a more impressive brand recognition, but these are not ultimately proprietary things. Your agent, large company or small, can and should demonstrate a commitment to their business by being always knowledgeable in the market, in contracts and disclosure law, and in the changing technological opportunities for marketing your home. They can and should show a commitment to you and the business of representing you using the best resources available. Ultimately, it will be the qualities of the individual agent which are most important to you personally and to your transaction.

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