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Call it disruption, adaptation, or evolution, but the world of real estate has expanded to encompass many different brokerage and business models. That’s a huge benefit to clients and agents alike. Yet in the luxury space, there’s a reason traditional brokerages remain the best option not only for real estate professionals but the buyers and sellers they serve.
That reason is simple: to give white-glove service, agents know they need to be their clients’ first call—not the last link in a long, automated chain, or a last resort in case something goes wrong.
“I have witnessed many changes in the industry, most of which have been improvements, and these include technology,” says Robert Radcliffe, a Principal with The Radcliffe Group, Sotheby’s International Realty – Pacific Palisades Brokerage. “But while technology definitely has its benefits, it also has its shortcomings.”
Radcliffe has worked for a range of brokerages over the course of a career spanning more than 30 years. “I’m a better agent and business person because I have learned different ways of doing business,” he says.
Likewise, Shelton Wilder, CEO of The Shelton Wilder Group, Sotheby’s International Realty – Brentwood Brokerage, brings a breadth of real estate experience to her role. “I am known to be a serial entrepreneur—I’m not afraid of change but rather, welcome it,” she says. “I strive to be proactive so I can better serve my clients.”
Yet both she and Radcliffe have returned to their affiliations with a leading luxury brand. Here, they share four of the top reasons why time-honored traditions still deliver the best results in the high-end market.
1. Delivering a sense of immediacy through connection
Luxury real estate depends on agent responsiveness and personal connections. And these are difficult to provide if you don’t have a professional network to help you in your day-to-day.
“I know what it means to feel support from those around you and I’ve made this a priority in my life, because this allows me to have more bandwidth for my clients,” says Wilder. “Whether it’s taking that extra step to help design their home before listing, or going through disclosures one page at a time, I know I can be of better service with an incredible team behind me.”
Radcliffe notes that when he needs to communicate important details to a client, picking up the phone or scheduling a face-to-face meeting are not only the most effective options, but the most considerate.
“In my opinion, any brokerage that is attempting to claim technology as their best asset, or is attempting to transition agents to a less hands-on engagement for the sake of ‘ease,’ is shortchanging the client,” he says.
2. It’s not only clients that need exceptional service
“As much as I value technology, I tend to serve my clients with a personalized approach—and I appreciate having the same treatment for myself and my team,” says Wilder. Being part of a traditional brokerage ensures clients aren’t the only ones having their needs and requests looked after—agents can enjoy personalized assistance too. “There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that the manager or office staff haven’t offered to help,” she adds.
Ironically, Wilder has found that traditional brokerages also provide the best training when adopting innovative new products, platforms, and solutions to serve her clients.
3. A beloved brand name is the best marketing tool
“I come from a fashion background, and names like Hermès and Bergdorf Goodman speak for themselves,” says Wilder. “When folks come to a Sotheby’s International Realty agent to list their home, they know what they’re getting. There’s a lot of comfort in consistency, and this coupled with my dynamic approach and passion will take my brand to the next level.”
But there’s more to a traditional brokerage than a great name: Wilder notes that she has access to a hands-on team to support with marketing, including listing presentations and CMAs. Likewise, when listing the benefits of his brokerage affiliation, Radcliffe says, “Their incredible marketing, networking, and—perhaps most importantly—their class.”
4. The luxury real estate ecosystem is international
It’s safe to say that nearly all luxury agents build their businesses based on a robust referral network, and that’s another key advantage of a traditional brokerage. “Having that global reach was a major consideration for me to return to a more traditional company,” notes Radcliffe.
“I recently connected with an old friend who wanted to list their home for approximately $45 million outside of the Los Angeles area, and I was able to bring in a very collaborative, top-producing agent to co-list,” recounts Wilder. “A traditional brokerage truly feels like a family, and I love being able to pick up the phone and connect with other agents throughout the globe.”
Thanks to established support systems, global reach, and luxury caché, the traditional brokerage still stands as the real estate model of the future.