Profile picture for ghghj

Boutique agent vs large company -- is there a difference nowadays?

When choosing an agent, how important is it to list with a larger company with many agents vs a small boutique agency?  We have a recommendation for a particular agent with very positive sales statistics but she specializes in a different part of town, and usually sells homes that are priced 3-4 times more than ours.  Will that be enough of a mismatch that we should consider somebody else.  Does it matter any more who the listing agent is, or has the Internet leveled the playing field?
  • September 28 2011 - US
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Answers (19)

Profile picture for sunnyview
I think the internet does level the playing field some, but I tend to prefer agents that are familiar with my price range and area. My concern would be that the agent might use your house a a first showing to buyer that they would like to move up into another price ranged house. That does not happen with good agents, but it can be a consideration. IUt all depends on the agent.

If it were me, I would interview that agent as well as several other agents and try to find at least one that sells a fair amount in your specific area and price range. You want a marketing strategy and agent that will appeal to your specific type of buyer. Interview 2-5 and then pick the one that you feel will do the best job.
  • September 28 2011
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While the internet has leveled some of the playing field, there's still a whole bunch of extra marketing dollars that some agents / brokerages spend above others. For me, it's all about experience in your market, price point, and it's not just a "one internet marketing strategy fits all" type of deal. I would review agents' listings on and off line, and go with a personal recommendation from someone you trust in your neighborhood. Or if you wanted a giggle, get all the agents in at once and do a group interview ;)
  • September 28 2011
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The company has little to do with how your property will be marketed compared to the individual agent. Agents are technically sub-contractors, NOT employees.

   I would look into exactly how the agent plans to present your property professionally, to the largest possible audience and if possible their skills in terms of marketing and negotiation.  Assuming all else equal, it could help to have an agent who has a well known name in the area, but unless they have several listed/sold property's there it wont make a difference. 
  • September 28 2011
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The size of the company really has nothing to do with the qualifications of the agent.  Real estate is a people/relationship business.  There are both good and bad agents in large and small real estate companies.  I would talk to the agent you have in mind and see if you have good lines of communication.  The internet has made it easier to market homes but the agent still has to work and you still have to have a good working relationship with the agent.

  • September 28 2011
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Real Estate is primarily about relationships. It's a service so you need to be comfortable with both the individual and the group representing you. I work for a company that was for a time focussed on new developments in Brooklyn, New York.
We tend to deal with younger professionals and have really mined all the data we gained from every customer. Having said that, we have many neighbourhood specialists who focus solely on a certain part of the city, often a few square blocks.
If the broker you are considering normally deals with much more expensive properties, chances are they will either a) hand the duties of looking after your property to an assistant or team member, or b) pay little attention to your property as they are likely to make more money on others. Now granted, there are a number of other options in between, and yes, the internet does tend to level the playing field, but ultimately you want someone who has the resources and connections to get your home sold for as close to the price you want.
I would interview the broker in question. If they come highly recommended, there's a good chance that they want what is best for you. They may be able to recommend an associate who is more appropriate, or perhaps one they are grooming and mentoring, in which case you will get someone with a similar work ethic and values.
In the end you want someone willing to give 100% to you and your property, whether they be a seasoned veteren or a new broker making their first sale.

  • September 28 2011
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Knowing the local market is the absolute key to marketing your home. Neighborhoods have their own dynamics. I live in a neighborhood that the west side sells for 5% more than the east side, always has. But to drive through the neighborhood, to the outsider the west side looks identical to the east side. Brokers in the area know that, outside brokers don't. That is just a quick example. if a broker isn't aware of that dynamic, they are going to get the pricing wrong. Use a broker that knows your area! 
Plus, the big companies spend tons of money on networking on the internet, the world is moving towards the digital sale, so I would want a company on the cutting edge, small companies simply cannot stay on the cutting edge, it just isn't cost effective for them to try to compete with a company like RE/MAX that spends tens of millions of $'s each year to stay ahead of everyone else. In this new tech age, it is why RE/MAX has market share all over the place. Find a local RE/MAX broker and build a relationship with him/her.
  • September 29 2011
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You are correct about the Internet, it levels the playing field. But ultimately you have to feel good about the choice you make. Obviously the price has to be right as well but feeling good about the person working for you is most important. Choose someone you trust, talk to a variety of people and then make your decision.
  • September 30 2011
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Using this as an opportunity to plug ReMax is not right. There are lots of good quality real estate chains to choose from and the agent is more important than the agency. Even the best agent in the worst agency is better than the worst agent in the best agency. Do your interviews and then pick the agent and the marketing plan that you think will appeal to buyers.
  • October 01 2011
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well - you are definatelly not short on questions on this post.
Yes, interview the Broker your friend referred to you. I know when I am referred I try to absoutelly do my best job. 

If they normally sell higher priced homes in a different neighborhood - that could be an issue depending on how far away you are from the Brokers normal selling area. Bring this up at the interview. Some brokers just want to pile up listings... so make sure whatever Broker you hire truly want to help you.

To list with a larger company with many agents vs a small boutique agency... it all depends on the agent working for you. Make sure they communicate - comminucate - communicate-.  They each have their pros &  cons.
  • October 02 2011
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Profile picture for Sharon Lewis
The reason I moved from a big company to another big company is for my clients, not so I can lose all that extra commission, meaning it serves my sellers because I can not only access local agents but all the agents that are associated with my company when I am selling a home. I think a big company name is important for listing, not for buying. I believe, strongly, that using an agent who knows and works YOUR local market is important, she/he has relationships with other like minded agents and buyer contacts. Plus when someone moving to your area contacts an agent, its an agent in your area, right?  A local agent understands the homes in your area and what local buyers are searching for, they know the schools, restaurants, quirks of the area etc.
Best of luck in your search. There are a lot of amazing agents out there who would love to represent you.
Sharon
  • October 03 2011
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Coming from experience of working with a smaller company, I love my broker, my company, and the agents that I work with on a daily basis.  I believe that the smaller company allows me as a listing agent to market my properties fully, use the people around me as support and be happy and relaxed on a daily basis.  I believe that this goes a long way.
  • October 03 2011
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A BIG agency isn't always better... do your interviews and then choose the agent familiar with the area and with the marketing plan that you think will appeal to the potential buyers of your property.

  • October 04 2011
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Interviewing different agents is the way to go. As long as the agency is professional. I think that it's the agent not the agency that counts most.
  • October 04 2011
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The key to choosing an agent is not where they work, but like any job interview, you must ask the right questions.  My first reaction was to say - if the agent is happy at their company, and with their Broker, then it will not matter.  Smaller firms are like smaller business and so may be more tailored toward a certain sector of real estate or a philosophy that you may find agreeable.  Though larger firms have strength in numbers.  This certainly is personal preference.  Choose carefully!
  • October 05 2011
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Coldwell Banker in Greenwich CT for example has 20% market share. That means 1 in 5 Real Estate transactions in Greenwich is a Coldwell Banker transaction. With that said larger companies have more contracts with more internet companies and better packages like featured properties.  More calls come in to the offices due to them having more listings. Larger companies have more offices and the larger relocation accounts which is more refferrals. If you are looking to sell your house the numbers speak for themselves. If I wanted to sell my home I would choose the agency that sells and lists the most properties in my area.

  • October 12 2011
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The difference in agents has nothing to do with the firm they're affiliated with, but rather their level of competense and commitment.
  • October 13 2011
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You should definitely choose an agent that is familiar with the market you will be selling your home in - an agent that specializes in a different market might not take the approach needed to properly market your property. 

As for whether or not a large or small agency is the way to go think of it this way - what brands do you recognize off the bat and are attracted to using? Don't discount the exposure and marketing power that comes along with a recognizable name.

That being said if you have a bad agent with a good company your going to have problems. I would suggest interviewing several agents and making sure you get information from them about what is important to you in the sell of your home. Research questions to ask them like their average list price to sales price ratio or unique marketing strategies they may have. 

Hope this helps!
  • October 23 2011
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I don't think it matters whether the company you list with is big or small.  Multiple listing services allow agents to share listings, so the entire brokerage community should know about it either way.  You should choose an agent who knows the market, has a good reputation, and is connected to professionals in it.  It doesn't matter if they live in your neighborhood, just that they have good relationships with the major players and spend money on marketing that works. 

Also important is choosing someone who values your business and hopes to maintain a positive relationship with you after the sale.  Don't choose someone who has too much business to care or to give you proper attention or is on the down side of their career and doesn't really value a positive recommendation from you because they have enough past clients already.  Someone who is ethical and values future business will not choose to work for a non-reputable company. 

Finally, choose someone who can add value either through suggestions on improving your home and proper pricing and understands the concept of leverage in negotiations and how to get it for you.  You should choose an agent who also works with buyers to know their common requirements and turn-offs and preferably has seen most the inventory in your market over the short to medium term.  Also, being able to respond to your inquiries promptly is important because if they don't get back to their own potential clients before they have the listing in a reasonable amount of time, how fast do you think they will get back to buyers, buyer's agents, banks, or you once you've signed the listing agreement?  I believe all of these individual characteristics are more important than the size of the brokerage company. 
  • November 09 2011
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The size or name of the Brokerage means nothing. The individual selling your house makes all the difference. It is their job to not only list it on the MLS, but to actively promote your property using creative marketing techniques.

When you are interviewing agents, ask them to see their WRITTEN plan of how they will earn their commission and sell your house for the most amount possible.

If it's not written down, it's not a plan!
  • January 12 2012
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