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From Realtor to Broker: determining the model

When Realtors get the indie itch, the most difficult decision faced today is which real estate model to follow. There are three main options, or a combination of the three, and this very personal decision is a major part of your future success.

An integral part of your brand’s story

When you are a Realtor with the itch to be an indie broker, one of the hardest decisions you will make is in what type of brokerage you want to build. Realizing this early on is going to end up being an integral and huge part of the rest of your story, so pay attention!

There are many number of brokerage models to look at in this choice. From mom and pop (literally, I’ve seen brokerages who are two people working out of home, a drop box for mail pieces (paper) and still have ONLY a home phone to call!), to 2-8 agents, 15-30, or the “let’s recruit anyone with a heartbeat” model with lots of overhead and expenses.

Option one: a traditionally named team

Are you planning on building a team brokerage approach where your own name is the brand (Smith Realty)?

Pro: If you already have a well known name in your area, you could easily expand on a full team and have total control of the company. No one else can build a team within your brand because it’s YOUR brand. If done correctly, there have been extremely successful companies built which produce sales like a well oiled branding machine with 1-3 local locations.

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Con: This model can only take you so far, generally speaking. Remember, if the county next to you (or neighborhood) doesn’t know you, expansion may be harder and you’re climbing an already steep hill with opening a new place AND trying to show people why they should work with YOUR PERSONAL NAME. For me, Amanda Lopez Realty or Lopez Realty, just was not even an option for probably obvious reasons – it doesn’t roll of your tongue at all!

Option two: a niche brand

Do you have a specific niche that you will brand (green, über corporate, service focused, modern homes, new construction, condos, a local neighborhood name)?

Pro: while your market may be smaller, you could potentially “own” that niche and be the most sought after expert who no one else can even compete with!

Con: You run into past friends, family, clients, and fellow agents. They say to you “Hi! Its been so long! How’s real estate going?? You sell condos in that one building downtown right? I just bought a million dollar single family a few blocks away!” You: “Congrats! I do sell condos, but I’m also a licensed agent who sells all sorts of homes…”

Option three: breaking the mold

Do you have a vision of a completely different type of brokerage that you feel so strongly about and creating a name that could be scalable and taken to any market and succeed with the right tools? Perhaps there is a little bit of each of these models you like and dislike. That’s ok too! Always think outside of the box!!

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Pro: You can spread your wings, not worry about convention and have no potential limits. If branded correctly or with the right timing and people around you, by creating something unique and different, you can create buzz, you could attract agents and clients that also believe in your brand and make them brand ambassadors. The sky is the limt with potential growth.

Con: You are REALLY starting from scratch!! You will most likely need a branding consultant, conduct market research, and maybe even spend more time and money into “inventing” your new company’s business model. You can easily fail if you don’t truly nurture that teeny tiny baby of a brand the right way!

Making your choice

There are plenty of franchise opportunities, brokerages that are unconventional and cutting edge, smaller boutique agencies as well as tradional companies who offer larger splits to allow you rights to brand yourself under a more corporate umbrella of safety and expenses being paid. But maybe there’s a mix somewhere you can find to fuel you as well as create something you have time and passion to grow.

There is no right or wrong. Ultimately, it’s your dream. Your passion. Go for it!

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Written By

Amanda Lopez is a real estate broker and founder of Style House Realty in Baltimore, Md. She has worked in the real estate industry for over 6 years and prior to that studied advertising, branding and web design. Refusing to believe the real estate industry had to be bland and boring in design and appeal to everyone, she set out to bring some style and technology into the mix. Amanda can most likely be found with coffee that got cold, great shoes, her mind in the sky and her evernote app open.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. jay Great Falls

    March 5, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    if you go indie like I did or are leaning that way you might consider a franchise or license to use a broker’s corporation and/or domain. That can be easier than starting from scratch. However franchises are expensive.

    I’m very interested in licensing out JustNewListings.com Realty out to new markets and the broker could add their IDX to a PR6 google juiced website to get property showing requests fast as part of their lead generation….justnewlistings.com/north-carolina/wilmington.php for example. I’m adding that IDX feed in 6-8 weeks.

    This model could make for a LOCAL broker dominating organic search engine rankings rather than trulia, zillow, homes or realtor.com.

    If anybody is interested find me on my website or linkedin or google+

    So sick of these 3rd party sites beating us at local search.

    j

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