Big Box Brokerages vs. Boutique Real Estate…
Is BIGGER better when it comes to real estate brokerages?
That’s the BIG industry debate at a time when national brokerages are gobbling up smaller agencies to create behemoth firms. Most recently, New York-based Compass purchased Paragon Real Estate Group and Pacific Union International, both based in San Francisco.
The combined firm will become the nation’s third largest residential retail brokerage.
Yet this wave of consolidations isn’t crushing Boutique brokerages. It’s fueling their fire and highlighting their passion for providing profoundly local, personal, and concierge-level services to agents and their clients.
In fact, Abio Properties, with offices in Oakland and Lafayette, was created in direct response to the big guys getting too big.
Abio co-founder Linnette Edwards previously worked a decade at the fourth largest brokerage in the Bay Area and knew she wanted something different.
“Most brokerages have the same end game: profitability and building a business empire. But Abio’s mission can be summed up in one word: People,” Linnette says.
Here are six more reasons why agents, homebuyers, and sellers should work with a boutique brokerage:
1. Close-Knit & Culture Conscious
What’s a boutique brokerage, anyway?
A boutique brokerage is a close-knit group of experienced brokers and agents who work together, not against each other, to achieve the best outcomes for clients.
It’s also small enough to cultivate its own unique brand and culture – one that is often cooperative, community-focused, family-oriented, energetic, and fun.
Abio is boutique by design, with two offices and 35+ agents.
By comparison, Pacific Union had more than 50 offices and 1,700 real estate professionals when it was acquired by Compass. Keller Williams, another giant with Bay Area offices, has grown to 181,000 associates globally.
“I came to Abio because it was crucial that I work in an environment where we have each other’s backs, where there was complete collaboration and I didn’t have to compete with others in my office,” says Abio Realtor Vikki Bearman, who joined Abio after working several years for large brokerages.
Realtor Bouchra Chandran, who recently joined Abio, says, “I love the unity and camaraderie between agents and their vision of the future of real estate.”
Sometimes you just want to go where everybody knows your name, right?
Whether you’re an agent or client, a boutique real estate brokerage is focused on serving YOU with high-end, personalized service.
At large agencies, sometimes brokers never even see the properties they represent! And clients might not interact with their real estate agent more than a few times during the process.
Boutique firms provide truly concierge service.
For agents, that means friendly and fast office support.
“When an agent wants any kind of change on a property website or creative piece, I can accommodate them without having to go through a whole corporate ladder,” says Abio marketing maven Emma Wong.
For homebuyers and sellers, boutique means their real estate agent will see each transaction through from beginning to end, be available 24/7, and leverage their vast local resources to help each client.
3. Innovative & Nimble
Creativity and innovation are encouraged, not stifled. Unlike at large top-down organizations, agents and staff at boutique firms can present ideas directly to the company owner.
“I feel like I have an impact, that management trusts me,” Emma says. “Many of the things I have suggested have been implemented within a week or two.”
4. Top-Tier Team
Part of cultivating a unique culture and brand involves recruiting the best and most dedicated team members – people with the expertise, personality, and passion to fit into a small professional family.
At Abio, recruitment is personal. The agents know they are more than a number to management.
Real estate is a high-tech game now more than ever – and boutique agencies have access to the exact same tools as larger companies. They use the same multiple listing service (MLS), REALTOR.com, Homes.com, Zillow, Trulia, and more.
In addition, some boutique firms offer specialized home search tech, like Abio’s FindEastBayHomeListings.com, which allows users to create an online notebook to visually collect, organize, and share the properties they love.
And when it comes to online property marketing, smaller firms are more flexible and able to create innovative, customized marketing products more easily than larger firms. Think unique property websites, videos, and social media promotions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
All created in-house by professionals who personally know their clients.
6. Community Comes First
A boutique brokerage is intensely local and invested in supporting a beautiful and welcoming community.
At Abio, you’ll find us volunteering on community projects, including at the food bank, and launching programs like “Take Me Home Tuesdays,” a partnership with a local animal shelter.
With a focus on community, a boutique team intimately knows its neighborhoods, schools, amenities, local contractors, and other real estate agents. Relationships with other local agents is a key to successful negotiations!
The bottom line: Industry mergers have intensified in the last few years and show no sign of slowing down. Before Compass acquired Pacific Union, for example, Pacific Union bought its way to becoming California’s largest independent brokerage by purchasing the L.A.-based John Aaroe Group, then merging with Partners Trust and absorbing Gibson International.
But we know that size matters, and our hearts rest with David, not Goliath.
To learn more about the perks of working with a boutique real estate firm, contact Abio Properties at 888-400-ABIO (2246) or [email protected]
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