I am going to clear up some of the confusion regarding how a brokerage brand impacts a real estate transaction. Here, I cover two misconceptions on the listing side. I will cover buyer side issues in a future post.
Misconception #1: The Brokerage Brand can be Too Luxurious or High End for my Modest Home.
I am going to address this misconception by shedding light on how your agency’s brand impacts your home’s exposure to buyers searching the internet (Since the internet is the primary tool that buyers use for initial research). When it comes to the online marketing of your property, the agency you choose will impact exposure based on whether listings are shared or not shared in your local market. In Fairfield County CT, most brokers share listings. This means they can be viewed on the maximum number of websites, and therefore reach the most buyers. There are a handful of exceptions, so you should remember to ask your broker if they share listings with other sites before you list. If your broker does share listings with other local brokers, buyers in all price ranges will be exposed to your property across all of the sharing sites. This type of local exposure is not particularly impacted by the brand quality or level of luxury attached to it. A modest home or any home priced well below the area median price should have the same exposure as all of the other homes that are listed.
So what is the value of a luxury or well-known brand if at a local level everyone can see the same properties on every sharing site? It is primarily about maximum exposure beyond your local area. Most buyers in Fairfield County are moving from somewhere else in this country or from overseas. If your broker’s (agency) brand is a brand that is known and accessible all over your state, county and world, then more buyers from outside of your local area will be able to view your home on your broker’s site. Keep in mind that buyers do not always use broker sites. For example, many search Realtor.com or Trulia instead. However, when buyers have a relationship with a brand (and most buyers do) you will certainly want your property to be listed on the site they choose, even if they are sitting in Lyon France or Fortaleza Brazil.
Misconception #2: The Brokerage Brand Dictates Consistent Quality of Service.
Here I want to highlight the difference between the Marketing Tools sellers purchase and the Services sellers purchase. Neither of these is solely dictated by the brand. Many agencies set some standards for their agents, but none set a standard for absolutely everything the agents do. The most common standards set by the best agencies are related to the consistency of marketing tools. This gives each agent the same ability (not always the requirement) to expose your home to buyers through the same range of media. Some brokers go beyond that by providing office standards for marketing quality, messaging, photo quality and content. For example, at William Pitt Sotheby’s we are encouraged to stay with a more sophisticated, impactful messaging that aligns with the Sotheby’s brand. We also make sure all properties have a minimum number of photos that are screened for content and quality.
In regard to service levels and quality, Buyers should not assume every agent abides by the same standards within an agency. Sellers should decide the type of services and level of quality they want, and select an agent that fits the bill. For example, an agent charging a discounted fee might limit types of services and the range of marketing activities offered. Also, the quality and consistency of service you get through a team can be different from the personalized service you might get with a sole agent. Some teams assign roles that divide services up in a way that might not work for you. An example of this is the agent that never answers the phone or email but always has her assistant do it. When one person is not involved with the entire process, the service quality has a different character and can be less efficient. When evaluating teams you should ask how tasks are divided, how effectively the team communicates and how consistent the experience levels are on the team. When working with a sole agent, ask how that agent gives you the benefit of personalized service, how they manage priorities, and how they manage time across clients so you get the attention you deserve.
As always, please call me with questions.
-Patricia Rattray, Realtor, Investment Expert, Advocate for Great Communities, 203-570-2096