Jason O'Neil | November 18, 2022
The folks over at Morgan & Morgan Law would tell you yes.
But their rivals at Berlin Law Firm—who put their advertisement across the street—would argue hell no.
I love this type of competition because it proves that there’s room for everybody to play the game, even if it’s injury law. While we’re not here to talk about injury law, we are here to talk about size and whether it matters when it comes to real estate.
It’s a question that many home buyers, sellers, and even real estate agents ask me on a regular basis and I’m here to provide an answer.
“Why is boutique real estate better for buyers, sellers, and agents?”
That’s what we are talking about today, let’s get right into it.
What “boutique” doesn’t mean…
What do you think when you hear the word boutique? For many, “small” is the first thing that comes to mind—and I cannot blame them considering when you Google “boutique businesses”, that’s the first time to show up.
The truth is that boutique doesn’t necessarily mean small, but it most definitely means specific. Think of it like this: if you go to a boutique denim store, it's not going to carry every brand you like, only specific brands that they focus on. This selection might not be the widest, but it is the best when it comes to premium denim products. In the same vein, boutique real estate brokers focus on specific types of homes, pricing, and neighborhoods instead of trying to offer services to every type of buyer and seller.
Usually when you think boutique you also think expensive—that can be true when talking about denim jackets. Compare some designer denim to Lucky Brand and I promise you will see the difference both in price and quality. But when it comes to real estate, there isn’t a drastic difference between brokerages.
Everyone knows that the large national brands are all relatively the same. They’ve got agents with decades of experience and some with only a few months, all of which sell the same homes. But what most don’t know is that your local boutique broker is roughly the same price—the only difference is that they are not going to sell every home under the sun like the other guys.
Your boutique broker is focused on a specific type of home with a specific price range and has a proven history of success in that space. Sure you might pay a few extra bucks in the process, but overall working with a boutique agent or broker will more likely yield a successful purchase or sale.
Now that we understand what boutique is not, let’s clarify what it is.
The first is that boutique is bespoke. When I say bespoke, I’m talking about the idea that the home buying or selling experience is unique to each and every individual. No two transactions are alike! As such, why would your brokerage or agent treat you exactly the same as all their other clients on their Rolodex?
Boutique real estate brokers are focused on delivering a 1-of-1 experience to their clients. They come alongside clients and truly understand their wants and needs and facilitate opportunities that fit those requirements.
They tailor their process to the client and ensure that each decision works to their benefit. Rather than operating off some corporatized template used by thousands, they’ve each developed a system that works both for them and their clients and puts them first from the beginning.
We’ve all worked with a specialist before. Whether it be an industry expert, a seasoned tradesman, an educated doctor, or a licensed therapist, there are specialists in every walk of life who’ve dedicated their time to learning everything about a specific topic or focus. As such, boutique brokerages are not focused on every type of home, but rather focused on a special subset of homes that fit a specific customer need.
Here at Circle, we pride ourselves on helping clients find premier six and seven-figure homes in the greater Indianapolis area. In doing so, our agents spend all of their time studying this market, communicating with key players, and cultivating a wholesome understanding of what opportunities are available, so that when customers come knocking, we are prepared to share the good stuff.
Deep knowledge about the overall market.
When you sign up to work with a boutique brokerage, you are saying yes to brokers and agents who have spent the majority of their time focused on a cornered part of the market. These agents are spending their hours talking to other agents, researching trends, and sifting through opportunities long before a buyer comes along and because of this, they have a deeper knowledge about the market than corporate competitors.
Rather than watering down their expertise by expanding outside this market, boutique real estate brokers go deeper, making sure that every inch is covered. I like to tell our folks we want to be an inch wide and a mile deep. This allows us to truly know every factor at play in the market, not just the basics.
Advanced levels of professionalism.
Working with a boutique real estate broker invites a higher level of professionalism. This goes hand in hand with market knowledge in that the more knowledgeable your broker is, the better professional they are.
Chances are if they work for a brokerage like Circle, their brokerage sees to it that the agents have had access to the best training, courses, and conferences in the country, and as a result, their professional habits and systems are far more successful than outdated corporate systems. This leads to a better broker-client relationship that can continue for years to come rather than for one single transaction.
Flexibility in a rigid industry.
As most of us know, the real estate industry can be rigid at times. Just when you think technology moves it forward, there’s something that holds buyers and sellers back from getting the homes that they truly want.
This is where a boutique broker makes all the difference. Sometimes there is a hiccup in paperwork, a contract detail, or something that needs to be resolved between the client and the broker. If that broker is handling hundreds of deals every day, chances are there’s a wait between submitting an issue and resolving it. This could prove to be a problem for the client.
On the other hand, boutique brokers and their teams are able to jump in immediately and help with any issues or needs that might derail a deal from going through.
Simply put, would you rather have an army ship or a speed boat? I’d take the speed boat every time.
Individual Education and Mentorship
I talked about this in the previous section, but one thing that most agents don’t realize is that the big-name brokers have new employees coming in constantly. Every single month, they hire 10-15 new candidates who are all taking the same onboarding course, learning the same strategies and tactics that everyone else has learned before them. Eventually, this leads to a lot of the same—and that’s fine for some buyers, but there’s room for better.
Boutique real estate brokers are looking for specific candidates that exemplify the qualities and characteristics that their brokerage stands for. At Circle, we strive to improve our systems, processes, and services to go well beyond the standard level of service provided by most agents and deliver a higher experience.
Whether it be sending out agents to industry conferences, or registering them for a keynote speaker, it’s our goal to create agents that solve problems and connect the dots for our clients.
In the same vein, boutique real estate brokerages are built upon the shoulders of experience, and by working at one, agents will inherently learn from each other and their mentors who’ve walked the path before them.
Continual Process Improvement
Real Estate is an evolving industry—what is true today might not be true tomorrow. The world is not the same place it was 2 years ago, thanks to this global pandemic, and real estate is not absent from these changes.
New technology, services, and strategies are coming out every single day! Because of this, it’s important that agents stay up to date on best practices as well as actively seek ways to improve their processes.
I can’t begin to tell you the times I’ve worked with other agents who are still doing all of the same stuff I learned back in the ‘90s and wondering why it doesn’t work. It’s critical that agents develop their own practices that work best for them and continue to refine them.
By choosing to work at a boutique brokerage, you are giving yourself the chance to get repetition of those practices and explore new ideas, rather than conform to corporate ones.
Remember that sign I showed you at the beginning of this article?
While people might want to say that size matters, the truth is that it doesn’t. Size is only a small part of the equation when it comes to real estate agents and when the time comes for a buyer or seller to pick theirs, size is not going to be the question everyone asks about.
They are going to want to know about success.
Can you do what you say you’re going to do?
While I cannot speak for the big corporations, I can speak for myself and Circle and confidently say that boutique will always be better.
And if you want to see proof of that, we’ve got some clients who’d be happy to reinforce that notion if you prefer to hear it firsthand from them.
Until next time…
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We believe that satisfying the customer is simply the minimum requirement for staying in business. We work constantly to improve our systems, processes, and services to go well beyond the standard level of service provided by most agents.