Thanks to their uniquely personalized identities in local markets and the advent of affordable new tech tools like Amazon’s Echo devices, independent real estate brokerages are well-positioned to compete against larger national real estate chains.

Thanks to their uniquely personalized identities in local markets and the advent of affordable new tech tools like Amazon’s Echo devices, independent real estate brokerages are well-positioned to compete against larger national real estate chains, according to leading indie brokers.

“I look at this time as the first time for opportunity,” said  Tiffany McQuaid, the president of McQuaid & Company Real Estate Services in Naples, Florida, during a panel session at the Inman Connect New York 2019 real estate conference on Monday.

“This is the first time where everyone has been so vocal on what’s going on, on the national level with big box companies,” McQuaid said, which gives indies an insight into their competitors and the larger trends affecting the entire industry.

According to McQuaid, everything that competitors are doing is laid out bare, and it’s to an indie brokerage’s benefit to look and ask, “What problems can I solve in my marketplace that are going to make me money?”

McQuaid identified four specific areas on which to focus in her home market of Naples, Florida, which she calls her “four shiny pennies.”

The first is AI, in the form of Alexa Skills, voice-activated apps for Amazon’s Echo smart speaker devices, which can be built quickly by anyone with rudimentary computer skills. McQuaid & Company Real Estate Services has their own branded skill for real estate search.

“Why are we not focusing on this as an indie?” McQuaid asked. “We’re all looking to be in [clients’] homes.”

McQuaid also has agents who are “snowbird certified” and relocate individuals from northern states to Florida. They are experts on things like changing residency or getting a new driver’s license.

“I overly educated my Realtors on what it takes … to know everything about re-locating a customer to Florida,” McQuaid said.

McQuaid & Company Real Estate Services also offers special service for properties over $1 million and views it as her job to raise the value of the property.

The brokerage is also active in throwing community events, such as food tasting festivals in the market where they’re strategically placed.

Joining McQuaid on stage was Linnette Edwards, a partner and associate broker at the Bay Area-based Abio Properties.

Edwards focuses strongly on building out a brokerage with the best people — she has a “no assholes policy” — and also creates unique, humorous videos in-house.

The session began with a discussion about how to thrive in 2019 as an indie brokerage.

Vanessa Bergmark, CEO and owner of Red Oak Realty, and Amy Bayer, co-founder and CEO of Porchlight, reminded agents affiliated with indies that they own their territory.

“It’s yours to lose,” Bergmark said. “It’s building that network that will give you the strength to keep on building your marketshare and crowd out those disruptors that are coming in.”

Bayer also emphasized the point that real estate is all about being local. At the end of the day, in an era of disruption, agents will never be crowded out.

“They ultimately all come back to people and connections,” said Bayer. “They want that assurance through the process; they need a local.”

Email Patrick Kearns

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