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Real Estate Services- Are They Essential to Success?

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RISMEDIA, Sept. 15, 2008-There is a good reason why the term, “one-stop shopping” has become an icon in American business. Whatever it is they are shopping for, consumers have made it clear they want to save time and save money by completing each transaction in the most efficient way possible. Nowhere is that truer than when buying or selling a home. That’s why NAR launched its Real Estate Services (RES) program in 2007. The program, developed with guidance from a task force made up of powerhouse real estate professionals, is designed to help brokers implement and maximize such core services as mortgage operations, title, escrow and settlement services, insurance and home warranty and inspection services into their brokerage businesses. We asked this month’s Power Broker Roundtable panel how important these services are to a successful brokerage.

Moderator:
Alex Perriello, Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations, NAR

Participants:
Bob Moline, President and COO, HomeServices of America, Minneapolis

Helen Hanna Casey, President, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Gerard Griesser, President, The Trident Group/Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Alex Perriello: How meaningful are real estate services to the growth and success of your brokerage?

Bob Moline: The entire business model of HomeServices of America is built on the need for integrated service. Time is precious to all of us and surveys tell us that more than 70% of today’s buyers and sellers want a one-stop shopping experience. When they go to a big box store, they want to buy groceries, get their eyeglasses made, buy grandma’s birthday present and have some lunch all in the same place. In buying a home, the same thing is true. They want to deal with a single entity who can successfully coordinate-and stay on top of-every aspect of the transaction.

Helen Hanna Casey: That is certainly true-especially when that anxious client calls you at home at 9 p.m. because he wants to know how every piece of the transaction is progressing. The concept of integrated services has been ingrained at Howard Hanna since the inception of our business because we know how important it is for that person to have all the answers at his or her fingertips.

Gerard Griesser: It stands to reason that obtaining all of their home-buying services from one source makes the process easier and less burdensome for the consumer. At Prudential Fox & Roach, we believe that having a fully integrated company is a point of differentiation for us in the marketplace.

AP: So the one-stop-shop approach is as important for the company as it is for the consumer?

BM: Absolutely-and not just as a profit center. Quality service and real estate professionalism simply aren’t enough anymore. With an integrated operation, there is far less likelihood of an issue arising at closing time.

>HHC: Everything is dependent on sales, of course, because it is sales that drive the business to the rest of your operation. That said, the company looks at each transaction as a whole. In providing a smooth, one-stop, home-buying experience, we know we are building a relationship with that client, and the client will come back to us time and again-and send their friends.

GG: At the same time, the additional profit centers are a necessary part of our business growth. They provide the financial fuel that helps us to maintain our dominance in the marketplace-and give us the means for the enterprise to control its destiny even in challenging markets.

AP: But not every brokerage handles these profit centers in the same way?

HHC: No, not at all. They may be company-owned, they may be partnerships, they may be partial ownership or even rent-a-desk. But the benefits, both for the brokerage and the consumer, are an undeniable plus. That’s why NAR’s Real Estate Services Program is such a timely and helpful resource. Whatever works for you and your company will bring added value for your clients.

The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of REALTORS® and Alex Perriello, NAR’s Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.

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