Franchises versus Independents

As you may know from previous posts, I am very skeptical about the value of NAR membership. 

In the July issue of Realtor Magazine, they performed an analysis of Realtors from the May 2010 Membership Profile. 

The NAR position is that franchise brands, such as Re/Max and Century 21, have branding power, and therefore a marketing edge over independent brokers and offices.  They also noted that in November of 2010, NAR proposed a change to MLS policy which would let franchise offices tie their MLS feeds together into a national MLS listing service.  Of course, NAR didn't anticipate that independent real estate companies would see this as favoritism.

NAR leads us to believe that most Realtors belong to franchises, but the reality is that, in their own article 54% of Realtor members reported they worked for a franchise.  Hardly a landslide.

The fact is, also supported by this article, that national franchises are losing offices and members due to high fees and low return on investment from the franchise.  The old days of a franchise selling their "marketing edge" to gain Realtor members are long gone.  My own experience with a large franchise has been outlandish monthly fees for everything from making a copy to a monthly technology fee that basically paid for someone to help me reset the wifi password every month because they randomly changed it.

These fees imposed by franchises means the Realtor you hire to list your home has less flexibility to market your home.  The internet has enabled savvy independent Realtors to take advantage of social media, construct compelling websites, and blog, without the need for a central franchise to provide the service.

In my opinion, franchises do not have more branding power than independents.  NAR favors them because they are like unions.  They collect dues from members, and then vote to spend the money as they see fit.  The largest real estate company in our area is an independent (but that is another story).  Success in real estate depends on a coherent, stragetic marketing plan, and demonstration of experience and competence. 

When selecting a Realtor for your next purchase or sale, pick the individual, not the company they work for.


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