Indie brokerages are nimble and growing, prompting real estate insiders who took the stage at Inman Connect New York to call for a new category as their market share increases.

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When you hear “indie brokerage” what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

For most people, it’s a small, boutique brokerage hyper-focused on one market (or a few small markets.)

But for Barb Betts, broker and CEO of The RECollective in Long Beach, California, that description is in need of an update as indie brokerages grow more and more across all kinds of markets.

“They’re not just boutique, there’s all different types of indie models out there,” she said on stage at an Inman Connect session in New York on Wednesday. “There are so many options for the indie model, and I think that’s exciting.”

The narrative of indie meaning small is especially outdated now that there are huge brokerages operating in multiple states that are technically independent, such as Fathom Realty at approximately 9,000 agents.

“People don’t realize that some of those names and companies are actually independent,” said Betts.

Those nationwide brokerages that nonetheless don’t franchise may necessitate the creation of a category in between franchise and independent, said Sarah Richardson, CEO of Tru Realty, who co-moderated with Betts on Wednesday.

“Let’s create a new middle model name,” she said.

Another narrative Betts and Richardson said they would like to counter is that indies face bigger challenges when confronted with a downturn — an assertion they argued doesn’t hold up when held to the light.

“I truly believe that since independents aren’t under the heavy hand of a franchise that we can be more nimble, we can be more innovative, and we can pivot quickly, even in a downturn,” Betts said. “I think even in a downturn we’re going to see more and more teams and more independents growing.”

Indies may also thrive under a downturn thanks to their unique stock option plans offered to agents, which can help keep agents on board for longer.

“It is nice to be able to give agents another revenue stream,” Richardson said. “These companies are keeping agents happy as the market starts to transition, as we start to see, us becoming, unfortunately probably a bit more transactional in order to make the same amount of money. So giving stock and having investing periods is a really great way for agents to have more money and have more options and be sticking to that broker that they work with.”

Email Ben Verde

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