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Is Your Broker Your Technology Nemesis?

The Barrier of Fear

This week, while on a conference call, the conversation turned toward using video as a source to convey messages to other agents.  One member of the conference call brought up the issue that some brokerages have blocked on-line videos in their firewalls.  Thus, blocking their agents from on-line training, marketing and many other beneficial features necessary to increase knowledge and market using a fantastic tool.  Even though I had heard of this issue, I haven’t put much thought into it till that moment.

Why would a Broker alienate both today’s technology and the emerging brand of practitioner?  Is it the need for control, security, the lack of understanding or all of the above?  What would possess a company to make technology a barrier?

The Broker’s Role

Whereas I am a firm believer in the Broker’s mentality and education setting the culture of the firm, I am also growing in my despair.  I am simply  not seeing Brokers growing as rapidly as their agents.  The reluctance I see in Brokers being willing to lower their defenses against emerging trends and the evolution of the industry is very pungent.  The need for Brokers is evident and important.  Agents need someone they can depend on to mentor and train them.  Pre-Licensing standards and the nature of the business combine to preclude elimination of the Broker, at this time.

Therefore, we need to keep moving forward and those who get “it” need to just progress until we outlive the mentality.  Eventually Brokers will have no choice but to embrace the need for brokerage-evolution.  No more home tours, no more floor duty, no more archaic and ineffective marketing and really, really no more hiring agents who can just fog a mirror.  Progressive education, open-mindedness to new ideas and provision of resources, that meet the needs of today’s consumer are all important elements of long term development.

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Where Do You Hang Your Hat?

Over and over again I hear agents muse about the antiquated modality of their brokers.  And here’s my question – why are you still there?  It takes virtually no effort, in most instances, to transfer your license to another shop, or to even become your own broker (even though I don’t think everyone is cut out to be the “boss”).  I heard a speaker say “Brokers are only as good as the worst agent.”  I am going to go a step further and say that an agent is only as good as the span of control and development offered by the brokerage.  If you find yourself always frustrated by the broker, why haven’t you found a new home, yet?  Is it your own fear, complacency or lack of motivation?  If any of these answers are true; than you have what you deserve.  Or maybe, just maybe it’s you and not the broker in the first place.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could relocate all the social media agents on twitter, facebook and services such as AgentGenius together in one company?  You’d own the world!

Written By

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is



  1. monika

    October 24, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    I like that idea! Imagine the firm we would have!

  2. Missy Caulk

    October 24, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    I’ve had the same thoughts Matt, a brokerage of ALL technology agents. We would rule the world, problem is you’d have to come and manage all of us.

  3. Chris Shouse

    October 24, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    That would be the most fantastic agency in the world. I would love to be part of something like that. Could it be done? Probably not because of the differences in each state. Bummer.
    You have discribed my broker to a tee and he is younger than I. I asked him why he did not have a good strong website bringing in leads and was not more into technology. OH then he would have to pass out leads and mooniter stuff. He competes with us and is now into foreclosers but he never shares anything. I long ago quit going to the office and I do not use his paper or ink or forms I download my own off the website. But I still pay 100.00 bucks a month and he charges me late fees if I can’t pay. Why am I still there? I have no idea

  4. Michelle DeRepentigny

    October 24, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Recently I merged my office with two others. After searching for over a year, my final deciding factor between the 2 offices I was considering was that my new broker was on Facebook and we had a company group on Facebook.

    While not every agent in the office is quite up to speed and he is not quite as social media savvy as I would like to see him become, he does recognize the potential and isn’t afraid of change. We spend some time every week talking about the things we can implement to move of closer to the perfect blend of technology and high touch professional service for our clients. As a start, every company listing has a video on youtube and the office website. Now if I can just convince him that a multi author blog is the perfect replacement for our stale little website, I will feel that I have accomplished something.

    Eighteen months ao I was the only broker in town with a written blogging/social media policy and mine was not restrictive, it was just to re-emphasize the use of the golden rule in online formats. I actively encouraged my agents to blog, with admittedly limited success. Recently I had another broker call me to discuss how to “control this blogging thing”….she wanted to prohibit her agents from blogging. She just doesn’t get it and I failed at converting her. I fear that is the mindset of most of the brokers in my area, they are scared to death of what their agents may be doing and instead of getting involved and making sure everyone understands the responsibilities that come with a blank page to post for the whole world to see…they just want to darken the screen.

    BTW, And I have to second your “no more” list – the only thing we have left to get rid of at our office is the caravan, which I quietly protest by not showing up.

  5. Nat

    October 24, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Hey, Matt. While us working together is a fantastic idea, I think we’ll slowly spread our influence over time in our micro markets. Unfortunately, you may be bouncing a grandchild on your knee by the time the majority of brokers fully embrace technology in all its applications.

    As a side note, I like broker opens/caravans. They’re kind of like social media/twitter – but real life people. I see the same crowds from week to week and network. I love those personalities almost as much as my on line RE buds. Call me crazy!

  6. Teresa Boardman

    October 25, 2008 at 5:29 am

    wow what blows me away is that there are agents who work in the brokerage office and use their computers. Seems to me the work around would be to go home or to go to a coffee shop and watch the training. I agree with what you are saying in this post but it just blows my mind that the computers in the brokerage office would be a barrier. Makes me think the agents are not ready to be out on their own.

  7. Jim Gatos

    October 25, 2008 at 5:41 am


    You’re crazy!

    I get more “love” with ActiveRain, Facebook, etc, than ever with broker open houses…

    You asked for someone to call you crazy; okay,.,

    You’re crazy!

    Just kidding

  8. Ken Brand

    October 25, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Nice article. You’re spot on with Broker take. I’d also add that fielding a decent sized team of savvy tech-social-media-web 2.0 Realtor Icons would be a feat in itself.

    As a sales manager in an 80+ team member office, I use the tools you speak of. Leading, pleading, pushing, pulling people to embrace the future is like pushing a string. It’s the same story in most every office in my market area.

    Ask your co-ops – “Hey what’s your twitter handle? or Let’s friend each other on Facebook.” They’ll look at like you’re a Rapper or you’re sporting a face piercing. The whole freaking industry has some room to grow. Yea for us I guess!

    Having said all that, imagining the muscular power, fun and success of a fully connected team of service oriented, career minded real estate agents can make one giddy.

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. Matthew Rathbun

    October 25, 2008 at 7:20 am

    Monika – It would be fun! I think we’d spend more time sharing new gadgets than showing property, but it’d be fun!

    MIssy – I hardly think you all are manageable! It would probably be the easiest managing job ever, since most of you would rarely be at the office. 🙂

    Chris – Whereas I was a practicing broker, while managing; I’ve developed a opinion that managers should be either an agent or a broker – rarely both.

    Michelle – It’s a struggle for several agents to get their office up to par. Good news is for you, that they aren’t competing with the same tools you are.

    Nat – Unfortunately I may not have had a good perception based on personal experience, in regards to caravans. I found them to be a hen house of gossip and a “Who’s cool enough to ride with me.” They took hours out of my week and was just a way to make the seller’s feel good that agents showed their homes. If the home was priced well, and marketed well the agents would come show it regardless of the caravan. Glad to hear that my perception isn’t your reality!

    Jim – We’re all a bit “touched in the head” aren’t we? 🙂 I agree outreaching to consumers on my terms was way more beneficial than driving around to Broker Opens.

    Ken – Great to hear that you’re really doing it! You’ve probably already figured this out, but the agents who may not be tech savvy will most likely have other good traits that will benefit your team! The challenge is for managers to make it all work out.

    Thanks everyone for reading and commenting!

  10. Nat

    October 25, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Jim! I knew it wouldn’t take long for some one to call me crazy! Give me credit, though. I drive myself! (Oops, Matt, does that mean I’m not a cool kid?) And for the record, there is more love in the Rain or on twitter. Fer sure!

  11. Matt Wilkins

    October 25, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Sory for not chiming in earlier. From my experience with Brokers, most of what causes the issues being discussed here is a lack of knowledge/understanding of cutting-edge tolls and technologies. Many Brokers area afraid of alienating what they feel are the agents that will keep their company afloat and/or feel that their way of doing business is how everyone should it too. I was actually fired from the first brokerage I joined 3 weeks after receiving my license because the supervising broker would not allow any new agents to use any other marketing tools/systems besides the ones that wokred for him.

  12. Paula Henry

    October 25, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    I am the only person in my office who knows what Twitter is, a few know about Facebook and fewer about LinkedIn, not to mention video, blogging or any other 2.0 technology. RE/MAX does have video training, though.

    BTW – I totally agree with your philosophy that Brokers should either be an agent or a manager and not both. My broker is one of the biggest competitors in my area.

    So, when are you opening that virtual office?

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