Editor’s note: The following Q-and-A interview with June Piper-Brandon, a broker-office manager in Maryland, is a part of the "To Be a Broker" editorial project that highlights broker challenges and strategies for success. Click here for more info.
Name: June Piper-Brandon.
Years as a broker: 3.
Number of sales agents who you supervise: 15.
Years working in the real estate industry: 24.
Q: What is the biggest change you have made to the brokerage in the past year, and what prompted this change? How has this change impacted the bottom line, if at all? What has changed about your service offering in the past year?
A: We are offering more and more training, more opportunities for coaching. Our office has also been improving on our Web site and its ability to service the growing number of buyers who start their home search online. This has increased the number of buyers who are using our company to search for their new home.
Q: Are brokers more or less relevant to sales associates in the current housing market than they were five years ago? Why or why not?
A: More relevant than ever. Brokers need to be more like coaches for the agents, providing them with encouragement and brainstorming ways to increase and improve their business. The business has changed so much over the last five years and we have had to go back to basics from before the last five years.
Q: Are brokers more or less relevant to consumers these days than they were five years ago? Why or why not?
A: Brokers need to educate their agents and provide them with training on how to better serve their clients in a changing and challenging market.
Q: What changes, if any, have you observed in the structure of real estate commissions/compensation/fees in the past year, and what has caused those changes?
A: (My company) is a full-service discount brokerage and the number of listings are increasing, as sellers (want) to save as much as they can on commissions and closing costs.
Short sales have also made some huge changes in the commission structures because banks are wanting to keep as much as they can on the sale of properties. We are seeing more and more sellers wanting to offer lower commissions to buyer agents, yet buyer agents are still resistant to show and sell homes where the commission is less than 3 percent.
Q: What are the most vital services, in your opinion, that you provide?
A: I do a lot of research for my agents to help them by screening more and more services and (finding) opportunities for them to grow their businesses and keep more of their hard-earned commissions. Also, I work to keep up on the fast-changing marketplace so that the agents are prepared as the market changes.
Q: What would your agents say are the most vital services that you provide to them? What would consumers say are the most vital services that you provide to them?
A: The most vital services I provide: Keeping the office stocked with the supplies the agents need to do their jobs and providing a place where they can bring their clients. I also provide them with individual and group coaching, research new ways for them to grow their businesses, and screen service providers to help them keep more of their commission money in their pockets. …CONTINUED