By Paige Tepping
Look around, and the rising consumer preference for “local” is apparent in just about every market segment. Diners flock to pedestrian areas with home-grown restaurant options, seeking a unique flavor not offered in a chain restaurant. Millennials gravitate toward craft beers from microbreweries, desiring a distinct experience. Community banks and credit unions have gained renewed popularity for their relative stability and responsiveness versus the big banks, thanks in part to local decision making.
Just as we have seen these trends in other industries, the local brokerage firms of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® have experienced similar results—and it’s no surprise, given the intrinsic connection between home and community. Many factors are fueling this movement, and the results are evidenced by the market leadership of quality local independent real estate firms. Such companies hold the No. 1 ranking in either transaction sides or volume in significantly more top markets than any national franchise, according to a major industry survey, including Birmingham, Anchorage, Tucson, Orange County, Westchester County, Fairfield County, Jacksonville, Miami, Naples, Sarasota, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Des Moines, Louisville, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Kansas City, Buffalo, Charlotte, Greensboro, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Charleston, Memphis, Nashville, Dallas, Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Seattle, Milwaukee and many others.
While the importance of being deeply rooted in a community has long been a cornerstone of real estate success, there are new dimensions at play—from generational preferences to evolving technologies. The Internet has forever impacted the way in which consumers search for real estate, and the strongest brokerages—whether they are locally or nationally branded—easily emerge, which has eliminated the branding advantage once held by franchise organizations. That, paired with the fact that today’s consumers gravitate toward things that represent the authenticity and community involvement of a local business, has supported the growth of quality independent brands.
Most of the top, market-leading, locally and regionally branded firms—more than 500 in total—come together under the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® banner, creating an international network that combines the best of what it means to be “local” with the added resources and connections of a global organization spanning nearly 50 countries and selling more homes collectively—more than a million annually—than any other network.
“Our affiliates are a different breed in that they thrive on being unique and different. They want the freedom to build their own brands and distinct persona in the marketplace,” LeadingRE President/CEO Pam O’Connor explains. “LeadingRE’s value proposition resonates with them because we offer many of the same resources as a franchise organization but with the ability to customize and ‘own’ these programs. The à la carte nature of our tools allows them to create their own mosaic. It’s like buying a custom-built house versus a spec one.”
A look at the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) roster reveals some of the strongest names in the business, brands that are synonymous with “real estate” in the communities they serve.
Take Sibcy Cline REALTORS®, the largest independent real estate brokerage in Greater Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio; Northern Kentucky; and Southeastern Indiana. This third-generation family company, locally owned and operated, has shaped the real estate history in the region since the 1930s. Rob Sibcy, the company’s president, also serves as chairman of the board for Leading Real Companies of the World®, providing strategic guidance on the network’s offerings.
“Our roots are firmly planted in the community, and we are proud of the local flavor and expertise we provide to homebuyers and sellers every day,” Sibcy says. “Complementing those decades-old local relationships and market visibility are the amazing connections we have through our global LeadingRE network, which brings together brokerages that share our values. Even in America’s heartland, there is a deep awareness of the importance of global ties based on the influence of multi-national corporations, foreign investment and the growth of multicultural communities. LeadingRE gives us that as well as the economies of scale and buying power of tools we would otherwise have to invest in on our own.”
LeadingRE’s value proposition focuses on four critical areas that extend a local company’s reach: lead generation, global brand enhancement, technology and professional development.
In the area of lead generation, there is no organization that outperforms LeadingRE, whose affiliates send more than 30,000 broker-to-broker referrals a year, with an industry-leading conversion rate of 42 percent and an average sales price of $346,000.
“We believe in taking care of our clients whether their real estate needs take them across the street, across the country or around the world,” notes Pat Riley, president and CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based Allen Tate REALTORS®, one of the network’s most productive companies in terms of outgoing referrals. “We actively practice ‘the art of the introduction’ to connect our valued clients to our world-class LeadingRE colleagues. This serves as an extension of what we do here in the Carolinas, and it also represents significant incremental revenue to our company and our associates.”
In fact, unlike most real estate network relationships, LeadingRE provides a very tangible and impressive return-on-investment to most of its members in the form of commissions and referral fees generated through the network beyond the broker’s membership investment.
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