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Real Estate Brokerage

Why real estate brokerages are not startups

(REAL ESTATE) Brokerages are popping up nationwide that are sleek and modern, and also misinformed as they call themselves startups. Let’s talk about the technical definition.

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Businesses that are just starting out often refer to themselves as startups (which is inappropriate given that startups are funded differently, scale differently, and have completely different KPIs). Take real estate brokerages, for example. An increasing number call themselves startups, but when you look at the definition of a startup, can you really call yourself one?

Small businesses and startups have very different definitions (and there’s no shame in being a small business or an “innovative brokerage”). Let’s discuss.

1. Startups have a different goal altogether.

Typically, startups are about growth. They’re designed from day one to scale extremely quickly. Small businesses are often limited by a target market or geographic location. There’s nothing wrong with that, but they aren’t scalable the same way an international software brand is. Think about scaling in terms of a beauty salon versus MatchCo, an app that uses technology to create a foundation just for you. A franchise does not a startup make.

2. Startups generally seek outside funding to accelerate growth.

Startup founders often give up equity shares to generate funds before becoming profitable. Small businesses are typically self-funded, bootstrapped into profitability, and owned by one or a select few. A small business venture is typically less risky than a startup, too. The idea behind a small business venture is profit, and you want the business to last. Startups are structured to be sold or acquired once it hits critical mass – a “startup” is temporary.

3. Startups disrupt the industry.

Think about these companies – AirBnB, Google, Dropbox, Facebook, even Apple, a long time ago. In their early days, they were startups. It was risky to invest in these companies as they were trying something new (not iterating on something like the real estate practice which is one of the oldest professions in America), but they have outshone their competitors. They disrupted the marketplace. That’s what a startup does. And it doesn’t always work. Sonitus Medical attempted to disrupt the hearing aid market. They raised almost $90 million in funding before the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services decided the product wouldn’t be covered. The company held an auction and closed its doors. Brokerages have experimented with paying salaries, going paperless, or having all agents working remotely – these are all fabulous innovations and iterations, not disruptions.

The takeaway

We’ve been on the forefront for over a decade of ushering in the era of indie brokerages, paperless real estate brands, and counter-culture companies, but brokerages are simply not startups, and this is not up for debate. Iteration is not innovation.

Don’t call yourself something you’re not – be an “innovative broker” and rock it, because you’re not a temporary company seeking to scale so rapidly that you’re acquired for your indisputable disruption.

And finally, don’t fall for real estate brokerages pitching themselves as “startups” when they’re misinformed and really mean they’re simply, and beautifully “modern.”

Dawn Brotherton is a staff writer at The American Genius, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Before earning her degree, she spent over 20 years homeschooling her two daughters, who are now out changing the world. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to golf. She hopes to publish a novel in the future.

Real Estate Brokerage

Refocusing your team before sales plummet

(REAL ESTATE) It’s that time of year again – holidays distract and procrastination sets in, so here’s how to refocus your team before they are led astray by the calendar.

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This time of year is always difficult in terms of focus. We universally obsess over resolutions and try to be motivated to perfect our lives, but by this week, reality has set in and we still haven’t bought a home in Belize or lost 25 lbs.

If you’re a broker or team manager and are noticing this lethargy or discouraged state with your team, consider stepping up as a leader to get the team to refocus.

As the seasons change, so can our moods. It can be helpful to have quarterly check-ins with your team (either one-on-one or as a group) to discuss current methods, trends, what’s expected on either side, and what can be improved.

This form of open communication helps employees de-stress and may help them recharge and regain motivation. Another communicative form can be found in surveys.

Sending check-in surveys via email to your team to assess their feelings of the workload, the market, and to voice any concerns they have – it can be a great way to open the door for bigger, more important conversations. These surveys can be formatted to be answered anonymously, as well.

Be sure to always be accessible and focused yourself, as you’re setting the barometer of expectation. Allowing for this open communication can let you know what can be improved on your end, which can aid in refocusing.

Another way to bring your team together is by taking everyone out for a quarterly lunch. This helps your agents to bond, while also feeling like their work is being appreciated; therefore, motivating them to keep on producing well.

At the end of the day, you can’t be everyone’s friend, soo, if you’re observing behavior that seems to be unproductive or unfocused, don’t be afraid to speak frankly. Sometimes all it takes is for that behavior to be acknowledged to convince someone to step up their game.

Remember – each team and each manager is different. The attempt to get everyone on the same page and to continuously make strides as a team can take trial and error, but it’s something to always be cognizant of to avoid issues in the future and keep sales on track.

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Real Estate Brokerage

Startup lets you buy shares of ultra expensive cars, are houses next?

(REAL ESTATE) This cool startup lets you buy shares of rare classic cars, Ferraris, super cars, and the like – it’s not mainstream yet, but housing’s next. Here’s why.

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Startup lets you buy shares of ultra expensive cars, are houses next?

While the vast majority of cars significantly depreciate in value the moment they are driven off of the showroom floor, for those rare models that become enduring classics there’s typically two barriers to ownership: scarcity and price.

The market for collector cars thus has been limited to those few who were wealthy enough to afford the purchase, limiting ownership of vintage models such as Lotus, Ferrari, and Lamborghini to the select. And the value doesn’t decrease for these vehicles after the point of purchase; over the past decade, the value of classic cars has increased by over 400 percent, according to the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index.

Rally Rd., a New York based company founded in 2016, offers those of us who would want to own such vehicles the opportunity to do so – or at least a portion of them.

The company selects cars to purchase based on market data that indicates that the vehicle is a good investment designed to yield returns, and then provides users with comprehensive information about the particular vehicle itself, including detailed overviews of the mechanical and visual aspects of the car. In the near future, there are plans to offer 24-hour access to a live stream video for users who have invested, allowing for a real-time connection to investments.

The process is straightforward for the investor.

Rally Rd. purchases the vehicles and maintains the titles. A subsidiary company is then created for each, with the company hosting SEC-registered offerings. Potential investors can then purchase one or more of the 2,000 to 5,000 equity shares in the cars during the investment window. Shares in the cars begin at $50 and increase steadily, depending solely on the car’s valuation, with the company not charging commissions or management fees.

“Each investment on Rally Rd. is essentially a mini public company,” says Christopher Bruno, the start-up’s co-founder and CEO, speaking to CNBC. “Our investors are able to create a custom, diversified portfolio of equity interest in blue-chip collector cars, share by share.”

Once a car is fully funded on the site, trading for that specific vehicle is closed. The company opens the window for trading on vehicles monthly, allowing users to buy and sell stakes in cars that they had previously missed, or those which they no longer want to own. For the investor, such a window allows them to realize increases in the value of their investment.

For example, a 1955 Porsche 356 Speedster’s window for trading closed in December 2018, with shares appreciating 15% from its initial valuation of $425,000 when initially offered, moving from $212.50 to $245.00. Rally Rd.’s inventory is always available for sale, with proceeds from the sale paid to shareholders, as well as additional dividends possible if the car realizes any special revenues, such as being rented for use in a project like a movie or television show. The decision to sell a vehicle from their inventory is made based on information from the vehicle’s investors, collected through their proprietary app, and the company’s advisory board.

With over 20 cars available, investors have a range from which to choose, and the company plans to have 100 in their inventory at the end of 2019. Buoyed by two rounds of funding this year, which netted it $10 million, Rally Rd. is planning to expand their investing opportunity from a website and an app to a vehicle showroom, much like other car dealerships, allowing users of the platform to attend initial offerings of new stock in person, if they so choose.

With the first such showroom set to open in SoHo in New York City, other possible locations for future showrooms include California, Florida, and Texas. To expand their portfolio for the investor, Rally Rd. expects to announce expansions into other arenas in 2019 as well, including investments in art and sports memorabilia, which, as markets, have a more established footprint in fractional ownership opportunities.

Rally Rd. sees these plans for expansion – of both products available for investment and method of doing so—as necessary to engage their diverse investor base. The company has seen a large majority of its users, which they number at over 50,000, come from the ranks of millennials. “They’re investing earlier. They want to see diversification. They’re comfortable investing online,” said Bruno, speaking to CNBC. “They seem to really fit our model very well. They get it immediately.”

We’re seeing the investment world open up to buying shares of alternative assets, even housing.

For now it’s not a mainstream method, but the housing market will be impacted by the creativity blossoming in America. Whether Rally Rd branches out into housing or multifamily is unknown, but others are already testing the waters, so stay tuned.

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Real Estate Brokerage

Chip & Joanna Gaines properties continue to become short term rentals

(REAL ESTATE) Chip & Joanna Gaines are beloved flippers, but recipients are no longer living in their dream homes that were aired on tv.

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Chip and Joanna Gaines: Reality TV stars, business moguls, American treasures. Millions of viewers have watched Chip and Jo flip homes into their clients’ homes of their dreams on the HGTV hit, Fixer Upper, and the ending scene of each episode showcased each family enjoying their new home among beloved family and friends.

However, according to Realtor.com, the majority of the homes meant to be enjoyed by families are now short-term rentals featured on websites such as Airbnb, Homeaway, and VRBO.

The most recent listing? A house purchased and renovated for the show’s Executive Producer, Michael Matsumoto, is listing his home for a bargain price — compared to other Fixer Upper listings — at only $300 a night.

The listing reads: “stay at the Producer of FIXER UPPERS home built for the finale of season 4. A 20 minute drive to Waco it’s the perfect retreat. This home is family friendly and ideal for entertaining family and friends. It has a beautiful open concept kitchen with plenty of cooking essentials, 2 full baths with a rain shower in the master, original bunk beds seen on TV, huge yard great for kids complete with play structure, basketball court and a small gym.”

Sounds pretty legit, right?

Even though the four-bedroom, 2-bath Crawford ranch is beautiful and spacious, the home was originally purchased for $12,500, so charging $300 a night is quite the investment return.

Another home known as The Bardonminium recently sold for 1.2 million to a real estate investor, who now lists the home for up to $1500 a night. According to a Magnolia spokesperson, Chip and Joanna prefer their clients to live in the homes, rather than simply turning them into cash cows.


Masmuto Farm House: Source: Airbnb

In Waco, where the average price per square foot is only $99, short-term rentals for Fixer Upper homes are without a doubt a lucrative opportunity.

But watching a house renovation to see it become an Airbnb is a lot less appealing than watching it become a family’s dream home.

A 1,050 sq. foot shotgun house costing $28,000 was recently listed for $950,000.

Which brings us to the question: why wasn’t an “Airbnb clause” written into the contracts of the buyers yet? We’re honestly not sure, but it looks like that’s about to change.

Magnolia spokesperson, Brock Murphy, recently issued a statement saying, “We are going to be more strict with our contracts involving ‘Fixer Upper’ clients moving forward…we want to ensure that [short-term renting] does not get lost in this new vacation rental trend,” the statement continued. “We are going to do our best to protect that moving forward.”

It is worth considering a similar clause for fellow flippers, and with this spotlight, we anticipate the industry and HOAs will be looking more closely at this topic.

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