NEW YORK — Franchisor Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate’s ongoing case studies of entrepreneurial, independent "Beta Brokerages" have revealed new approaches to recruiting, sourcing local content, identifying trends, marketing and social media, and technology.

The Beta Brokerage Project launched in the wake of a "Brokerage Reboot" discussion of real estate industry executives, including Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate CEO Sherry Chris, at Real Estate Connect New York City in January 2010. Executives from five such companies discussed best practices today at Real Estate Connect New York City,

Reporting on key trends from the 2012 "Beta Brokerage" case studies, the Realogy Holdings Corp. franchisor said today that recruiting has become "a much more diverse process and quality, not quantity, is of paramount importance." Brokerages want to attract not just agents, but "technologically-savvy neighborhood specialists"  with expertise in marketing, media and digital realms.

To create local content for their website, the report found that innovative brokerages are hiring professional writers. Some are building relationships with local media outlets to grrow website traffic. Local content helps brokerages build credibility with potential clients and capture more leads.

Another important business strategy discussed in the report is identifying and "owning" trends, such as neighborhood development. Because building plans for new retail shops or event complexes are submitted years in advance, brokers and agents can gain insight that helps them predict which neighborhoods are about to boom, and plan their business strategies accordingly.

In the marketing and social media arena, "Beta Brokers" not only use Facebook, Twitter and blogs to  celebrate local institutions, cultures and people, but have built out "friend-like" agent-broker profiles aimed at selling their agents’ services — not just homes.

To make their offices run more efficiently, brokerages are using paperless tools including third-party transaction management and e-signature platforms like DocuSign, Cartavi and the iPad to create an integrated, cloud-based office system that requires less administrative or back-end support.

Companies identified as innovative "Beta Brokerages" by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in 2012 include:

  • Michael Meier, The Meier Group, New York
  • Mark Mlakar and Dominic Morrocco, M Squared Realty, Washington, D.C.
  • Tiffany Combs, Climb Real Estate, San Francisco
  • Lane Hornung, 8z Real Estate, Boulder, Colo., and Burlingame, Calif.
  • Jeff Burke, NuHabitat, Houston
  • Greg Dallaire, Dallaire Realty, Green Bay, Wis.
  • Jeff Martel, 43 Degrees North Real Estate, Boise, Idaho
  • Phillip Cantrell, Benchmark Realty, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Vanessa Bergmark, Red Oak Realty, Berkeley, Calif.

 The full directory of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Beta Brokerages is available at

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