As an industry, we should stop being obsessed with things we can’t or won’t fix and look at the things that make us special as individual agents and organizations. Here’s why.
There has been a lot of talk about Zillow buying ShowingTime on social media and how it will affect our industry. The conversation about Zillow’s takeover of our industry is not a new topic. In fact, it’s an old record.
The fact is, our industry isn’t strong enough or organized enough to do anything about it. The local associations don’t have the stomach to do much, and neither do the national associations. If the industry had taken enough action years ago could impacted Zillow’s market share as a platform and eventual transition to a broker.
What you need to know is that most of the leaders in the associations are volunteer positions and many of these people volunteer because it is the high point of their careers.
Of course, this is not generally applicable. There are a lot of great people out there who volunteer for the board. All in all, however, it is not filled with the same caliber of businesspeople sitting on the boards of Compass, Zillow, Redfin, or any other “disruptor” believed to be changing our industry.
I’m not judging volunteer positions – I’m just telling a fact. As a former board member, I am grateful for everyone who volunteers.
In my opinion, these companies are unstoppable. There is no way to reverse their trajectory. We don’t talk that much about realtor.com for some reason, but it has been doing (and doing) the same thing to Opcity for a while.
There are a number of other companies that are spending millions of dollars on television advertising to target our prospects and get them back to us for a fee. It’s just a business. They innovated and copied each other.
So what will actually happen to our industry in the next few years? I believe the commission percentage will go down for many of us in the near future. They are already in the form of transfer fees to these companies. But that is the nature of a competitive market. It’s all about supply and demand – and there’s plenty of supply in the form of licensed agents.
I believe that around 50 percent of the current total agent count will be retiring or being pushed out of the industry in five to seven years as commissions drop and companies gain market share. We will see a stronger presence from Zillow, Redfin, Compass and realtor.com, along with others we don’t even know.
I see the remaining 50 percent fall into two or three categories. The first will be those who work as employees for companies like Zillow or Redfin.
Another category will be the bigger brands that can gain market share. Compass is a good example of this. Re / Max seems to do its best to keep up with the times and innovate. EXp Realty is a brand that probably will be around. I think a lot of the older brands are becoming irrelevant.
The third category is the one I’m looking forward to the most because I fall under that category – and these are indie brokers who scale their business or differentiate themselves with so much service that they are a viable alternative to these larger companies .
Some of these companies do things very well, but there is always room for the “little guy” to step on the plate. An example is what happened to my own realtor three or four years ago when Compass, eXp, and Better Homes and Gardens (to name a few) came into town offering partnerships, acquisitions, mergers or whatever, that much of it made up smaller companies giving up their brands to be part of something bigger.
Fast forward three years, and the end result was that most of my competition (the boutique brokers with 40 to 70 representatives) no longer exist. And I realized that so many of my agents were from brokerage houses that no longer exist, and after a while, those agents wanted the independent culture they had in the past.
An agent who is successful in an environment with hundreds of other agents will not necessarily be satisfied with fewer agents. I’ve seen this firsthand in my recruiting endeavors. Fortunately, I’ve seen the opposite much more common by recruiting agents who used to be in a smaller setting that no longer exists.
The bottom line is that we as an industry should stop obsessing over things that we can’t or won’t fix and look at the things that make us special as individual agents or as an organization. In the end, it is the focus on your own business that gets the higher returns on your energy. The strong will survive and the weak will perish. Which one will you be
Ryan Rodenbeck is the realtor and owner of Spyglass Realty in Austin. Connect with him on Instagram.