In the 24 years Buyer’s Edge brokerage has been representing clients, not once has founder and CEO Steve Israel considered converting to both buyers and sellers.
Instead, Israel has found success in the long run, earning honorable placing on the Washington Business Journal‘s list of top brokerages.
“We are not newcomers at all — very boutiquey — but at the same time, the model has held up for a long time,” Israel said. As a buyer’s agent-only brokerage, he acknowledges the model of representing buyers and sellers, but begs the question still: Who is really representing the interests of the buyer?
Israel describes the advantages of being a buyer’s agency as both a moral and ethical way of doing business. He doesn’t discredit the big brokerages that handle both sides of the transaction, but he does wonder if it’s right.
“The truth is, in todays world, with the internet access and people’s ability to look at things a whole bunch of different ways… it makes a lot of sense to have someone that represents you and your interests on both sides,” he said.
Top D.C. brokerages
The Business Journal ranked the top 25 brokerages in Washington D.C. based on data provided by Real Trends. As covered in April, Real Trends ranked the top 500 brokerages in the country according to sales volume.
Long & Foster Companies ranked No. 3 in the country, and No. 1 on the Business Journal‘s list. Washington Fine Properties LLC and TTR Sotheby’s International Realty ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
Buyer’s Edge ranked No. 20 on the list.
Buyer’s Edge takes the road less traveled
It seems as though declaring buyer’s agency exclusive is cutting off a significant revenue generation, but Israel has always thought that just because he can doesn’t mean he should.
“Back then (1992) was right at the beginning of buyer representation, essentially. It was based on HUD, and the Federal Trade Commission kind of came out and said ‘Of course people should get paid for doing the buyer’s side,'” he said.
This forced agents who were already splitting commissions with the broker to now split with the buyer’s agent. And everyone involved was already splitting commission with whomever brought the buyer.
Israel knows the obvious advantages of brokering deals on both sides, but he holds onto his original model because he believes in it.
Buyer’s agents represent only buyers, but cutting off the source of sellers also means missing out on certain opportunities.
“Pocket listings, or private exclusive listings, which are listings that firms have…the more that you realize about that, then there is a disadvantage to potentially working with a buyers agent,” he admitted.
“It’s a long process. We, like a lot of other small companies, have cut our teeth and made our way on personal referrals and a long, long, long term marketing plan.”
“Anybody who is looking for a buyer’s agent will easily find us, but they have to know that buyer’s agency exists”