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The “Bigger or Older Is Best” Myth Exposed

The “Bigger or Older Is Best” Myth Exposed

The “Bigger or Older Is Best” Myth Exposed

Some Real Estate offices proudly promote themselves as being the biggest. Or maybe their office has been in business in the area the longest. That's OK. But to assume that means they are the best choice could be a costly mistake.


This form of self-promotion is designed to engender a feeling of security. Size = Success or does it?


You know the type of promotion I’m talking about, “List with us, we’ve been around for 30 years” or “We can expose your property to more buyers because we have a large sales team”.


Age/size means “safe” - or does it?


In the case of SIZE, take a national franchise brand.


There are many of them. It’s true that they may offer a good all round level of service (but so will a well run independent agency). But did you know that most of these offices are in fact, independently owned?


Different offices in a franchise chain are often, in reality, in competition with one another. Certainly this can be true in the case of the same franchise branded offices in neighbouring suburbs.


For example, a national brand located in New Farm views the same national brand in Ascot as a genuine competitor. They don’t help each other to sell the other agency’s listings.


They don’t even share resources. For all intents and purposes they are entirely independent agencies fighting for market share. The problem with choosing an agency simply due to their BIG size is that they often have a numbers game culture. Selling real estate can be for them little more than a game of volume sales. Customer satisfaction levels come a distant second to volume.


As evidence of this, you only have to consider a training course I attended. I spent half a day listening to a well known Real Estate trainer whose clients include the principals of some of Australia’s biggest agencies.


At this course he gave this frightening advice…

· “Trying to improve your sales staff skills is a waste of time. You’re better off focusing on volume.”

· “The quickest and best way to get more listings is to get your current vendors to spend up big on pictorial advertising,” and, even more astonishingly he then went on to say…

· “Pictorial advertising has nothing to do with selling property. Most buyers come off the internet. However, pictorial advertising builds an agent’s market exposure and is the best way to get more listings.”


So there you have it. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a fascinating insight into real estate sales, the BIG business way. Whilst considering the – “bigger is best” argument, let’s look at one such practice of the Big agencies. Some BIG agencies unashamedly push many of their vendors down the auction path.


It’s all about volume to them, building awareness of their own brand (through vendor funded pictorial advertising in the newspapers) and a quick sale and not necessarily for a premium price either. That’s the ‘old school’ approach.


Now, I’m not saying, “Don’t auction your property.” Certainly if you are on a tight time frame and need the money from the sale reasonably urgently or you have a property that is likely to attract 3 or 4 competing motivated buyers then a well campaigned and conducted auction makes good sense. The problem is ‘old school’ auction agents have a one approach fits all mentality. It’s usually all about expedience, volume, and a kind of ‘mass produced BIG business get it sold quickly’ approach.


What I am trying to say is that, just like any other industry, a large operation often also means ‘mass produced’, where quality may be sacrificed to save costs. In retail an analogy could be, say, Target or Kmart and their commitment to low margin volume sales. Their products are less expensive than, say, a similar product found at a specialty boutique retailer. However, the boutique retailer’s product is better made, lasts longer and comes with a better warranty. The boutique store has expert, passionate staff on hand to deliver personalised service and impeccable attention to detail. This can also be said for specialist boutique agencies.


If you want quality advice, exceptional marketing and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the agent views you as something other than a number, then consider the more boutique agency which could be a franchised office. It'll be the agency building their business on reputation and customer satisfaction - and not just fat profits from a mass market, high volume approach, works with fewer clients and therefore has the luxury of working harder for you to deliver the results you expect and deserve.  


Longevity and age counts or does it?

There’s no doubt an agency or individual agent who has been operating in the local area the longest has a certain appeal to local home sellers. Why not, they’ve been around the longest. And there’s a degree of comfort when it comes to dealing with the familiar. But does that appeal and comfort automatically extend to your buyer?

No it doesn’t.


From the buyer’s viewpoint, age of the agent/agency is simply irrelevant. They’re more interested in how they are going to find their next home.


Pre the real estate internet era (not that long ago) buyers would register themselves with an agent who they felt confident could help them find a suitable property to buy. Back then longevity and age was important. Buyers were loyal to the high profile agents who had been in the area the longest especially if they kept in contact with them.


But that’s all changed. With the advent of the internet, buyers are no longer reliant on an agent’s help. They can easily find property (anywhere) using the internet.


The vast majority of buyer’s use sites such as (over 90% of Australian buyers use it).

They log on anonymously, provide their search criteria and sit back and wait for regular email notifications of newly listed property that match their criteria.


The lesson here is to choose an agent who understands the habits of today’s buyer. Sometimes the older agents/agencies are stuck in the past. They haven’t updated their skills or systems to service the needs of our modern buyer.


The Key:


Biggest isn’t always best. "BIG name” real estate offices are actually individually owned. At the same time, their sales teams are often trained by 'volume' training methods. For them it can be a case of quantity over quality. This puts an emphasis on selling property quickly.


On the other hand a customer care focus agency must generate consistently high levels of customer satisfaction as they live or die on referrals and repeat business. Agencies of the ‘new school’ style will be technologically savvy for today’s online buyer, and have the luxury of being able to treat every client and every property with the individual attention they deserve.

And that translates into these types of agency going the extra mile to ensure you, as a seller, achieve the highest possible price for your property.