Real estate agents are leaving the past behind — and traditional brokerages, too. The industry landscape is shifting in favor of providing lucrative opportunities that reward talent. That means top agents are migrating to the pinnacle segment of the market, innovative firms, and white-glove customer experiences.
It makes sense. Top talent knows the industry is about creating strong client relationships and VIP experiences. Agents are differentiating themselves from the competition by aligning themselves with brokerages that support these initiatives. The result is improved client satisfaction, increased retention rates, larger client bases, and better reputations. In this new era of the business, high-performing agents must carefully weigh a brokerage’s culture and values before signing on the dotted line.
Traditional Brokerages Build Fences To Keep Top Talent
There are over three million active real estate licensees in the U.S. alone. Obtaining a license requires little to no experience. Low barriers to entry have made the industry accessible, but they’ve also led to a market oversaturated with agents.
As a result, standing out can be difficult. Traditional large brokerages tend to hire less experienced agents because their returns are higher; low-commission agents mean the brokerage can take a higher split.
Regardless of sales volume or historical efficacy, agents associated with traditional brokerages typically use the same marketing materials, logo, and pitch. They even use the same business cards. Top performers separate themselves from the rest in the eyes of their clients, but they don’t always receive the rewards that market leaders should.
Traditional brokerages typically use clawback clauses to retain strong talent, which allows agents to receive sales commissions only if the company employs them at the time of payment. Other brokerages offer a minor percentage split if agents leave. These clauses coerce top performers into staying on board to receive their payout. It is essential for agents to carefully read and understand the requirements of any contract with a brokerage before they sign it.
Ultimately, brokerages have little to do with a sale. They sponsor the agent’s license, but most deals happen because of agent talent. Agents carry the costs and risk, yet they must secede a significant portion of their income in exchange for a logo. This approach creates an unsustainably competitive environment among agents in conventional real estate firms.
In comparison, next-generation brokerages value partnership and cooperation. The new industry landscape favors agents who work deals together and refer business to each other.
New Firms, New Approaches
Next-generation brokerages that emphasize collaborative cultures and a personal approach to real estate sales are emerging. In this innovative model, agents are more than salespeople — they’re integral consultants who focus on building relationships with each other and their clientele.
This new breed of brokers helps agents set their businesses apart with the aid of a hybrid manager. With hybrid managers in their corner, agents develop client bonds that transcend the transaction and bring value in a way traditional brokerages cannot. They don’t just guide property purchases. When it’s a client’s birthday, they’ll send a card. They welcome the client to a new area and help them access vital community services, such as the local hospitals and schools. Under this approach, an agent can even get their client into the hottest restaurants, arrange access to exclusive events, offer advice, and manage real estate portfolios. Elite agents are encouraged to provide authentic client support and care.
A personal touch means prioritizing clients, though hybrid managers also support the collaboration of high-end agents. For example, one agent may be familiar with a specific neighborhood, and another has a lead on an opportunity in that particular neighborhood. The hybrid manager can help align these agents, so the two can work together on the deal. Cultivating solid relationships is a crucial element of client interaction in this model and internal brokerage culture.
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Who Thrives Under This New Model?
While commercial brokerages bear name recognition, they need a more personalized experience and high-end service that clients prefer. 71% of consumers expect personalized care, and nearly all are frustrated when it’s not delivered. High-end clients require more than just a generalist.
Most industries except real estate have embraced hyperspecialization over the past decade. Whether these brands specialize in a product or service like Drybar or Dollar Shave Club or a consumer segment like Lululemon or Rosewood, they deeply understand their base and deliver products and services customers inherently desire. New industry models apply this approach to real estate.
Despite market fluctuations, agents who focus on pinnacle markets and individuals continue to see success. By prioritizing brokerages reimagining the industry through the lens of the “royal customer experience,” agents can align themselves with the power players reshaping the industry. The benefit? More opportunities, career growth, job satisfaction, higher commissions, stronger relationships, better resources, more data, and better access.
Landscapes Don’t Change Overnight, But Minds Can
Every brokerage should offer more than just its name; a prime brokerage should be a valuable ally that helps its agents flourish. The team an agent chooses to align with impacts their career’s success — or lack thereof. Top performers, particularly those focused on the high-end real estate market, are often shortchanged when working at large, traditional firms.
Top performers need to consider if their current brokerage is working for them. If not, they should prioritize working with firms defining a client-centric real estate industry. By aligning with newer approaches to the industry, bright, talented agents can position themselves to engage with more substantial opportunities. The brokerage you join should fit your culture, value, and needs — and your clients’.