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With more real estate brokerages doing business as “one-stop shops” — providing mortgage, title and closing services — not only consumers, but agents are faced with a choice: What’s the best model for me?
The leaders of two real estate brokerages with contrasting models — Better Real Estate and The RECollective — explored some of the finer points agents should consider when choosing a brokerage during a session at Inman Connect Las Vegas Tuesday.
As part of a vertically-integrated company, Better Real Estate’s goal is to provide end-to-end services to its clients, including mortgage, title and settlement services provided by its sister companies, Better Mortgage Corp. and Better Settlement Services.
Long Beach, Calif.-based boutique brokerage RECollective doesn’t provide ancillary services to consumers, leaving it up to agents and their clients to decide who would be the best provider.
“I just don’t have consumers coming to me saying, ‘I want to go to the mortgage company that you own, or the company that’s under your umbrella,’ ” said RECollective broker and CEO Barb Betts. “They say, ‘I want to go to the mortgage lender you trust.’ ”
Betts said The RECollective is focused on helping its agents prepare consistent marketing and social media for prospecting, and managing all the details needed to get their clients to the closing table.
With The RECollective, “the Realtor ends up being the one stop shop,” she said, taking care of any hitches in the process.
“If there’s a problem with the file, I know,” Betts said. Thanks to the leverage Betts has with vendors, she said, the problem gets taken care of fast. “The consumer wants the transaction handled like a pro.”
Christian Wallace, head of real estate at Better, said that having one company handle the whole process from start to finish is becoming more and more appealing to consumers.
“Today, especially after COVID, easier and faster is what people want,” Wallace said.
In addition to simplicity, Better Real Estate is also providing additional innovative services — like a new cash offer service for buyers who are pre-approved by Better Mortgage — that the company sees as advantageous to consumers and agents.
Kymber Menkiti, Keller Williams regional director for the Maryland-Washington, D.C. region, wondered if more brokers will need to become one-stop shops in order to shore up sagging profit margins.
“It depends,” Wallace said. “Barb’s got a great business, but it’s going to be tough not to” become a one-stop shop in the future. “I don’t think everything is going to go that way, but a few of us are going to rise to the top, and we’ll be right there.”
Having just gone from four agents to 400 in just a few months, Wallace said she knows that providing solid back office support “is critical to their success.”
The bar has been raised to the point where agents should expect that, at a minimum, their broker provides them with the technology and training they need to prospect and provide top notch services to their clients, the panel agreed.
“Everyone says they have great technology,” Wallace said. “You’re giving me CRM? Great, everyone has CRM. What else are you going to give me?”
Better Real Estate agents can count on a steady stream of leads from Better Mortgage, and they’re also salaried employees, with health and retirement benefits.
But that won’t appeal to everyone, Betts said.
“Agents are attracted to the business because you’re independent contractors,” Betts said. “They want the freedom to brand themselves and market themselves.”