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The Brokerage of The Future

Very curious

I have to admit that when Sherry Chris, from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, asked me to put a quick video together about what I thought the brokerage of the future should be, I was EXTREMELY curious of what the final outcome would be.  Think about it, the answer would have to depend on the vision and business approach of each particular person – a single real estate agent, a team under some sort of brokerage model, a team thinking of opening their own brokerage, an entrepreneur thinking of a business, or even an existing brokerage in peril …..

My particular perspective would have to be a bit jaded, since we left a “big brokerage” in search of a company that would be more open to our “out-of-the-box” thinking and less focused on profitability with more regards to quality and customer service.  Putting this question out to the social media world is risky to say the least, most of us are realizing that we have the ability and power to be independent and no longer need the pseudo protection of Big Brother.

When I looked at the final video one particular person stood out as a sore thumb (no disrespect to Tom Wilkins) – and that was because of the mention of profitability.  Think about it – we’re all here to make money, it’s a given and in my opinion needs not to be pounded, especially in a world of “no hard sales”.  Whoever starts a business today and doesn’t think of profitability, should not be in business to begin with – and honestly, the problem with the brokerage of the past is that “profitability” became their main concern and placed basics on the side like education, customer service, technology, training, tools, behaviors, systems….

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I will be following in the coming weeks to see what the brokerage of the future looks like:

Although it may seem a near impossible task, with new technologies we can meet—and exceed—their expectations. It’s all a matter of understanding consumers’ needs and the current economic environment, and then making the right investments in tools and programs to transition into a new kind of brokerage—one that is sustainable and successful, grounded in new digital technologies, but has the traditional industry know-how to sell property. We have to strike a careful balance between being an established brand with Web-savvy sensibilities and a relationship-based, local shop culture.

It will be interesting to see if a happy medium can be attained- can a big brand achieve the goals of those of us immersed in this medium without losing perspective and keeping culture in mind, or will the brokerage of the future just remain a concept that’s beyond reach?

Written By

Ines is all Miami, all the time. A Miami Beach Realtor® with Majestic properties, Ines authors,, and and is always on communication's leading edge. She goes out of her way to engage and be engaged, often using Mojitos to keep the mood light and give everything she does a Miami flavor. You can find her goofing off or instigating trouble at Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or LinkedIn.



  1. Will

    August 10, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Hmmm… not sure about what’s been said in this short video.

    1) Bring all the offline, online? Sit in front of a webcam in your home unshaved? That creates distance between the clients and the realtors which prevents a relationship formed and sales to be made. I’d say bring many offline online but increase your focus on the offline. It’s too easy to sit behind a computer and wait and try to conduct trades. Unfortunately we are not in the stock brokering business where this is actually effective.

    2) Don’t forget who the real clients are, buyers and sellers? Wrong, IMO. Brokerage clients are realtors. The problem has become that the brokerages just look at the realtors as cashflow from desk fees and transaction fees. Instead brokerages need to refocus their unified branding efforts, cut off the millions of indicidual brands running around, act more like a team, and build a business together. They need to refocus training and marketing efforts, establish standards for their brokerage’s pratice, and cut the poor performers off.

  2. Steve deGuzman

    August 10, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    I think our brokerage IS the agency of the future

  3. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    August 10, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Will – I appreciate your response but please remember that the one minute – thirty-two second video above just grabbed snippets of the conversation and I encourage you to visit the link above to get a complete picture of the study being completed by the BHGRE’s team.

    The unshaven statement is a figurative reference meant to represent how a lot of business comes from the web and how we need to revisit traditional methods. And for the record, Matt Fagioli does an amazing job of taking the on-line world offline (maybe one of the reasons he was asked to participate).

    Steve – please contribute, why is your agency “IT”?

    As for who broker clients are……the first part of my video said REALTORS….but “never loosing perspective of buyers and sellers”

  4. BHG Real Estate

    August 10, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    RT @Ines: @BHGRE_Sherry @BHGRE_Wendy – brokerage of the future?

  5. Doohee Hong

    August 10, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    RT @BHGRealEstate: RT @Ines: @BHGRE_Sherry @BHGRE_Wendy – brokerage of the future?

  6. Real Estate Feeds

    August 10, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    The Brokerage of The Future: Don\’t be stingy with your thoughts- stop by and comment!
    Very curious I have to ad..

  7. RealEstate Babble

    August 10, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    AgentGenius: The Brokerage of The Future Full

  8. Ian Greenleigh

    August 10, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    The brokerage of the future needs to communicate, via current and emerging channels, the true value of hiring real estate professionals in this world of free information. It needs to speak to people like me, people that think they can do everything on their own and become expert in a matter of days. Ask the average 24 year old–“why hire a REALTOR®?” and you will get varied and muddled responses. The brokerage of the future will answer this question before anyone thinks to ask it.

  9. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    August 10, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Nice Ian! that is especially important when you start trying to fill generational gaps – funny enough…..a lot of our new clients are under 30

  10. Jeffrey Douglass

    August 10, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Ines, I loved the video and the fact you were willing to do it. Very cool, and very web 2.0 – open discussion.

    I now have a great deal of respect for BHG and Tom Wilkins. He/they have the guts to speak about the real problem that big brokerages have – profitability. Giving top agents 90% splits and marketing allowances and calling them partners does not work. For the big brokerage of the future to exist, with all the risks that come along with doing business, they have to return to profitability.

    While many of us choose to be independent and have the experience to do so, big brokers can bring training opportunity and standard of care to those newer in the business, and maybe Brand will matter in the future.

    I’m not too sure since the game has changed. But I’m enjoying the conversation.

  11. Matt Stigliano

    August 10, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    @Ines – As someone who doesn’t have a lot of varied broker-agent experiences, I may not know what the past is enough to know what the future should be. I do know that I have complete disdain for the throw 1,000 agents against the wall and see what sticks. I do think brokers need to nurture the talent they seem. Much like a good coach of a sports star, a broker needs to see the spark and figure out how to turn that spark into a flame. I felt I wasn’t getting that, so I changed companies. Now I feel I am getting that – and it’s showing in my current production.

    I don’t think the answer is complete independence for agents. It works for some and destroys others. For me, I actually like to be in the office working – it spurs me to work harder. I work from home, but do different things at home than I do at the office.

    I loved Jay’s section – too often a broker just takes what they can get. Why are brokers short changing themselves? Pick the agents, build a company. Not to brag about my broker, but you can see her doing it everyday. We have empty offices…not because no one wants to join, but because she’s building a team – a company who works together and builds and feeds off of each other. I feel privileged to be a part of that office and it instills in me a desire to not only work harder for myself, but to work harder for her to insure her success. An agent should want the broker to succeed too – when they don’t wish that, they are just there for the ride and will sign with a new company the first chance they get.

    As for your section Ines you mention brokers being “enablers” and one thing I learned from my transition from one broker to another was that my old broker had a set way of doing business in his mind. It didn’t involve technology too much and that was where him and I didn’t see eye to eye. Because of that, I kept to myself – keeping the things I learned to myself as well. There was no room for experimentation and talk about new tools. At my new brokerage, we are encouraged to talk about it. Our broker dives in and investigates new things when we mention them to her. She wants to learn as much as we do. And we share our ideas and tips amongst the agents. Giving each other ideas only spurs more ideas. Having an office that fosters that is huge in my book.

    And although I see the point Will was trying to make about who the real clients are, I agree with you. We may be the clients of the broker, but without the buyers and sellers (our clients) the broker has nothing. The broker needs the entire chain to work or they are doomed. Brokers need to get agents to build those relationships between agent and client. They need to help teach that and make their agents more aware of the power of the relationship – not just today, but for the future. If the broker helps that grow and at the same time focuses on the broker-agent relationship, they keep a chain together that will build both businesses, theirs (broker) and the agents.

  12. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    August 10, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Jeffrey – I do think the main problem is identifying the level of expertise of each particular agent. In my opinion, if the brokerage teaches the agent how to foster relationships with their clients (forgetting the traditional scripted hard sales please) – then profitability is a sure thing. My husband actually laughed at the income statement bit (he’s an accountant) – he doesn’t remember the last time he scrutinized financials or did a cash flow analysis without keeping profit in mind……a bit redundant.

    Matt – do you realize your answer is longer than the post?? LOL – love it!!! I’ve changed brokerages twice in my short 5 year real estate career: the first was all about numbers and no quality – the second yes training, but a bit superficial and with too much corporate bureaucracy – the third……kick ass! My broker is young, connected, willing to help and learn and the culture at the office fits us like a glove.

    Your last paragraph is right on and that’s why social media is so powerful for our business – it’s a relationship business, plain and simple.

  13. Jeffrey Douglass

    August 10, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Thanks for the reply Ines, I still think the major problem facing the major brokerages is run away cost in agent splits and office space. Offices can be closed, but reducing your top producing agents can be a huge problem – it is kinda a house of cards.

    Your point of providing newer agent training and tools in important as they move forward – but the profitability issues needs attention today for them to survive till tomorrow.

    Nice to be married to an accountant – bet your profits will always be good! Thanks for the conversation.

  14. Sal Antsipenka

    August 10, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    The brokerage of the future is going to be the same as media of today and the future. What you need is to get a good lead, convert it and make a sale so that everyone is happy. I think the future is in the visual presentation without leaving your home or office. So real estate brokerages will look a lot like large brand name retail corporations very soon. Powerful internet presentation and a lot of visuals plus all conversion and lead generation widgets.

  15. Linsey

    August 10, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    I am loving this dialogue – online and off. There are some challenges and great questions that are being discussed, I am just not seeing black & white answers. I’ll admit, I too am slighlty jaded as a broker of a boutique company after years playing with the big dogs.

    Big companies still talk profitablility because of their sizable overhead. The smaller companies can more easily focus on customer service and retention and profitability follows with a little more ease.

    The other challenge that I see is the mid-level producer. What real value can a corporate name bring them? Returns seem to be diminishing in that regard. The training is not a critical factor and the splits tend to be higher. As of late, I’m not seeing enough substantial value to keep that agent on board. High production agents aren’t the profit center for big companies, leaving them with entry level appeal.

    In one of the Inman Connect sessions someone also mentioned something I’ve been thinking about ever since: How do you maintain a high level of brand synergy in a large organization when much of your brand is represented by independant contracters? Many of these agents step into the office to do nothing more than pick up paychecks – I know I was one of them. I know my business philisophy varied greatly from many of the agents within that organization. It’s a bit of a dilemna – no?

  16. Matt Stigliano

    August 10, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    @Ines – I needed to do something to occupy my time until the big secret is revealed. I am a big fan of “comfort.” Any brokerage could probably work for any agent…if they could find their comfort within it. Toward the end of my stay at my last office, I lacked the comfort factor. This new broker (Sheila Moran) makes me feel comfortable and makes me feel challenged. In my case, that’s what I need. I don’t want to ever feel like I’m floating along. With her challenging us all, we’re set to grow, but with a reason – ours and hers. If a broker can find a way to break through the “us against them” sort of mentality of broker splits, they’d have a lot easier time getting agents to help them grow. Although I don’t financially benefit if our brokerage grows (ie, no sort of ownership), I know that if I help her flourish I will be rewarded and be given more opportunity to thrive. I feel as if I’m invested in my office…not just there to collect my checks.

  17. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    August 10, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    the beginning of my vid said the following “the brokerage of the future is one that recognizes that they need the individual agent to survive – they will help that agent become autonomous and will foster their brand and relevance ” – if the brokerage achieves this, then the agent will have no reason to ever leave. it’s the take, take take mentality with no reward that will never work

  18. Benn Rosales

    August 11, 2009 at 2:20 am

    The Brokerage of The Future? is it more than just working in your underwear and numbers?

  19. Media4u

    August 11, 2009 at 4:28 am

    The Brokerage of The Future | Real Estate Opinion MAG – AgentGenius

  20. Shu Lee

    August 11, 2009 at 4:50 am

    The Brokerage of The Future | Real Estate Opinion MAG – AgentGenius

  21. Joe Loomer

    August 11, 2009 at 7:46 am

    I think there’s already a national brand that’s achieving all of the “brokerage of the future” aspects in your video.

    Although it still comes down to each individual market center’s Team Leader (vs. Broker) – the Keller Williams model is agent-centric, focused on EVERYONE succeeding, and puts education at the forefront of the culture.

    Go on YouTube, search for Keller Williams Real Estate, and you’ll be falling asleep late tonight without having been through half the videos. Do the same on Facebook and see how many agents are there – then try the same for the other national brands.

    The focus on creating a culture of excellence – centered on faith, family, business (in that order) – is what is turning this into a behind-the-scenes real estate revolution.

    My day at the office typically involves at least one hour of assisting other agents. I relish it. I could close my door and stick to Joe’s business alone – but I find the energy I get from being a part of this team effort makes me more productive – much like Matt’s experience. This isn’t limited to my little hole in the wall in East Georgia – it’s national.

    When the founder of the company leads a Quantum Leap session by presenting a Nicaraguan guitar player with no arms, you know you’re in the right place.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  22. Big Dave

    August 11, 2009 at 9:33 am

    The Brokerage of The Future | Real Estate Opinion MAG – AgentGenius

  23. Ken Brand

    August 11, 2009 at 9:39 am

    What a juicy subject!

    I’m a sales manager for a BIG brokerage and there are 82 Icons in my office.

    There were earfuls of conversation and presentation at Inman Connect. Lynsey Planeta and I had some spirited debate and there was a tasty debate on stage between Rob Hahn and Kris Berg.

    In the end, my take, it’s all about TALENT, passion, insight and the willingness to change, scramble, embrace, fail fast and succeed sooner.

    If a big brokerage is led with passion and intelligence – they’ll kick butt…same thing for the Independent Broker. Talent always rules. Well led big brokers aren’t going away and technology is empowering more independent minded agents to strike out on their own.

    Competition and innovation is good for everyone. There’s as many crappy independent brokers are there are big brokers and visa versa.

    In all the debate, nobody has defined to exactly what a big broker is – is it 50 agents, 100, 1,000?

    Cheers who ever you are and where ever you are. Hit it hard!

  24. ines

    August 11, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Joe – I think we’ve already had this discussion about KW, it was the first brokerage I left and may I add…..left with a very sour taste in my mouth. It was cliquey and the culture was all wrong (many agents have left after us and many from the same office have gone out of business) – great model, but totally depends on individual team leader. Consider yourself lucky.

    Ken – you totally rock – it is ALL about passion and although it also has to do with drive, the best brokers are not selfish and know if they help their agents succeed, they will ultimately make more money – I don’t think it’s that difficult.

  25. Joe Loomer

    August 11, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Ines, I completely agree with what you said about depending on the individual team leader – which is why I kinda led with:

    “Although it still comes down to each individual market center’s Team Leader”

    It’s a shame your experience was not a more positive one – when it works (and it works more often than not) – it’s awesome. I’m blessed to be in that situation here.

    My intent with my comments was to indicate that their is a model that closely mirrors your video (and the awesome folks you chose to present) – but it still will always come down to leadership. Either it’s forward-thinking and agent-centered with a culture to back it up, or it’s the same old Bovine Scatology.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  26. Ian Greenleigh

    August 11, 2009 at 4:09 pm


    Per my last comment, I’m trying to find actual data concerning generational/age differences in public opinion of the VALUE of real estate professionals. This is different from that recently notorious study showing realtors as among the most reviled of professionals today. I’m looking for opinions on WHY we need licensed agents. The brokerage of the future will demonstrate its value to the young naysayers of my generation using THEIR preferred means of communication.

  27. ines

    August 11, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Ian, someone must have done a study to show data. There have been a couple of generational posts here on AG that will blow your mind away. As for young buyers….i can tell you it’s all about the method of communication – nothing like texting a client that we are confirmed without having to pick up a phone (maybe I was born on the wrong year)

  28. Ian Greenleigh

    August 11, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    The Brokerage of The Future. Great article, video & conversation. Thanks @ines

  29. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    August 11, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    @Ian_at_DriveBuy thank YOU, thought provoking questions you pose

  30. Ruthmarie Hicks

    August 13, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    The “throw 1000 agents against a wall and see what sticks model” – seems to be prevailing around here – for the time being. As big fish eats small fish during the consolidation phase of our market shift – I guess it was inevitable. I am with Keller because they DON’T do that and yet they are large enough to survive. I don’t want to be forced into moving again because a brokerage closed. I’ve only been in the business four years and my first brokerage was the “1000 agent model.” I moved after 18 agonizing months to a smaller brokerage – which was then eaten by a big brokerage. My initial brokerage was swallowed by a bigger fish and is now SUPER brokerage – for the area. It’s unfortunate that it too has the “1000 agents against the wall model” and that by simple acquisition it has managed to corner the lions share of agents – productive or otherwise.

    Btw, I don’t promote Keller for the sake of Keller. It is not for everyone and each franchise is individually owned. It allows me to promote ME without forcing a major brand down my throat. It gives me enough of a split to make self-promotion practical – and it has enough broker support – so I can get good solid advice when I need it. This is a treacherous market for anyone with less than 50 deals under them. I’m sure there are some wonder Keller franchises and some terrible ones as well.

  31. ines

    August 13, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Ruthmarie – I think the “throw 1000 agents against the wall and see what sticks model” prevails everywhere, not just in your part of the country. I find it incredible that bigger brokerages make it impossible for agents to leave, to a point that they become so unhappy that they become resentful …that can’t be good either.

    Jay hit it in his video about being picky and hiring talent, instead of wasting precious resources on people that may not even last in the business.

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