For a little less than two years, I led the 15th largest real estate brokerage firm in the US. It was an interesting departure from the day to day of home building consulting and it provided a real eye opener on the true relationship that exists between the builder and its broker sales arm.
I also had the opportunity to look deeply into other large and small broker organizations through MLS boards and close networking affiliations. Here’s what I discovered.
- The typical broker is full of chaos, drama and continued turmoil. The agents are usually mistrustful of their broker and usually at odds with them always trying to better their compensation arrangement. This relationship manifests itself into distraction, inefficiency, and lack luster performance. Broker/owners generally view agents in an adversarial way and this conflict is played out daily within their business.
- Most agents are afraid of new construction. They haven’t received the training required to possess the confidence needed to professionally represent the home builder and consequently struggle to offer real value to the buyer/client.
- Broker/Owners see home builders as a loss leader meaning the value is not in the commission of the new home sale but the potential spin off business for the resale market.
- Most broker/owners are facing financial hurdles that require them to optimize their revenue potential today without much regard to future consequences. This leads to a scenario that doesn’t always serve their agents or home building partners in the long term.
With all this said, what can you as a home builder do to maximize this relationship?
- Start with an agreed upon budget. Meet with your broker/owner and agree on the annual dollar and methodology being used to sell/market your product. Discuss who will be involved and what their training will be to assure success. Re-visit this quarterly to determine progress and potential changes required by the broker on financial support and resources. This process will define the performance expectations clearly and demonstrate your ROI.
- Whatever agents are assigned to your business, make sure they are as close to a full commitment with you as possible. Invite them to every planning, employee event. Make them feel that they are a key member of your team and you will obtain those agents loyalty and work dedication.
- Provide as much of an orientation/training as possible to the agent on your organization, history, vision, product etc. Don’t assume they are capable of either selling or articulating your value proposition.
- Require your broker to offer funding towards SEO web site optimization and Facebook marketing for your business. Most brokers don’t realize the value in this method of marketing a home building brand and it can be key towards your success.
- If you are aware of any internal broker dysfuntionality you can make decisions that minimize the problems ultimately in your business. Talking constantly with your assigned agents will allow you to discover issues preventing them from producing desired results. You then are in a position to consider an intervention with the broker/owner, begin interviewing other brokers or determining the viability of a direct sales force.
Clearly there are real estate brokers that are more sophisticated business people and more progressive in their deliverables to the home builder, the trick is interviewing them comprehensively initially to determine the right match. Talk to their agents and other builders they represent before making your choice. If you are aware of the true inner workings of the broker, you will understand better the results you can expect.