Editor’s note: The following excerpt from the Inman News Blog opens a discussion about the future of small brokerage firms in the real estate business. A reader wonders whether smaller firms will gain an upper hand with buyers as the housing market slows and they seek more aggressive representation from a firm that doesn’t have an agent on the other end of the deal. Click here to share your opinion.

Debate: Will small get bigger in real estate?

Many large real estate franchise companies have spent years building world-class brokerage brands through television advertising and traditional brand marketing campaigns. And it paid off. Realogy (formerly Cendant) brands alone (Coldwell Banker, Century 21, ERA, Sotheby’s) touch somewhere around one in four real estate transactions. An Inman News reader now asks: “In a falling housing market, has size become a competitive disadvantage, particularly for those mega-firms that try to serve both buyers and sellers (i.e., practice dual agency?)”

Bill Wendel, from the Real Estate Cafe, starts off the discussion by saying:

“Size was arguably an advantage in overheated housing markets where there was fierce competition for scarce listings. Now that larger, well-known names are overloaded with inventory in falling housing markets, price-conscious home buyers are hiring exclusive buyer agents because they know dual agents can’t negotiate aggressively on in-house sales. That’s why Seth Godin’s mantra, ‘Small is the New Big,’ is a rallying cry for exclusive buyer agents and the home buyers they serve.”

The other side of this, though, could argue that buyers are more aggressively using information available to them on the Internet and therefore don’t need the services of a buyer agent as much.

What do you think? Click here to join a discussion on this topic.

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