Asian family shaking hands with real estate agent next to house

Your choice of real estate agent should focus on the individual's experience and trustworthiness, but how his or her firm operates can also affect a transaction. (Getty Images)

Does the size of the firm that your agent works for matter when selecting between two great real estate agents – one at a smaller, boutique agency and another at a large firm? After much thought and consideration in selecting a real estate agent to represent the sale of your most valuable asset, your home, it is time to make the final decision.

In major cities like New York City, firm size can vary from 150 agents in a small firm versus more than 2,000 agents in a large firm. In smaller cities, a boutique firm could have just a handful of agents. Does the size of the real estate brokerage matter when it comes to picking an agent? Here's how the differences break down:

[Read: What's the Difference Between a Real Estate Agent, Realtor and Broker?]

Selectivity and Economics

First and foremost, it is important to note that real estate agents are independent contractors, and the firm is the broker who “holds” an agent’s license, and is ultimately responsible for their conduct.

In smaller firms, one often finds a higher concentration of experienced, thoroughly trained agents. Why? Office space is a very valuable commodity and smaller firms have to be selective about who they hire. Every agent needs to be a high-performing, full-time agent. There is a lot of attention to agent development as the success of the agent is meaningful to the firm, because it has invested valuable time and money into the individual, as opposed to some of the larger firms who have a sink-or-swim mentality.

There are many, many excellent agents at large firms, but it is always harder to manage and supervise agents who are independent contractors, so more variation in experience and less training may occur.

On the flip side, a compelling consideration for marketplaces in areas like Texas, Florida and Arizona, are large, nontraditional firms such as Redfin. With specialized roles for marketing, showing and closing on a house, you're working with multiple team members. Additionally, many nontraditional brokerages offer discounted commission rates, which can make a difference to the seller's bottom line.

[Read: The Guide to Selling Your Home]

Access to Leadership

Boutique firms are high touch and the head of the firm typically owns the company and has a vested interest in the success of the agent and the deal, regardless of the size. Larger firms have many more deals and agents to monitor.

You never know how good your doctor is until you are sick and really need them. The same can be said about any professional, and it is important to know there is reputable leadership at the helm of the firm you select, just in case.

If you know your transaction will be fairly straightforward, this may not be a part of your concerns in selecting an agent. A large, well-known, licensed brand name might feel like a powerful advantage.

Marketing

It is indisputable that large firms have significant marketing budgets that smaller firms cannot compete with and as a result, they have most likely created stronger brand recognition.

This is the consideration that most sellers focus on, yet many sellers do not realize that it is not how homes are sold. It is important to understand that most advertising is really branding for the firm. Although it can happen, listings don't often sell from a New York Times or Wall Street Journal advertisement. Nonetheless, this is still meaningful to many sellers.

The vast majority of properties are sold when agents or customers search for homes through an online listing property search such as Streeteasy in New York City, or national databases like those on realtor.com, Redfin or Trulia. Counterintuitively, in a smaller firm, agents actually have a higher likelihood that their listings will be featured in print media, as there are fewer agents and listings to compete against for the available ad slots.

[See: The Best Apps for House Hunting]

Representation

Real Estate agents are typically hired to represent either a buyer or a seller in a transaction. Each side deserves a fiduciary, and it is impossible for an agent to represent both sides in a transaction – think of an attorney representing both sides in a legal dispute.

This gets tricky when both agents work for the same firm or broker. Therefore, the broker is representing both sides and a disclosure form must be signed by both parties. When a firm is so large, and the market is flooded with agents from one firm, there is a higher likelihood that they may “co-broke” with another agent from the same firm. Dual agency is not an uncommon occurrence in the marketplace, but it has a higher likelihood of creating a scenario for discomfort and distrust.

In the end, selecting the right real estate agent is about important qualities such as trust and expertise. The firm that is supporting the agent should be evaluated as well.


10 Secrets to Selling Your Home Faster

Ensure a quick sale.

Upscale modern house for sale

(Getty Images)

Selling your home quickly not only allows you to move on with your life, it also means fewer days of keeping your home in pristine condition and leaving every time your agent brings prospective buyers for a tour. According to real estate information company Zillow, the best time to list a home for sale is on a Saturday between May 1 and 15; homes listed during those times sell six days faster and for 0.7% more than the average annual home price. But how fast your home actually sells, and at what price, depends on factors beyond timing. Here are 10 secrets to selling your home faster, no matter when you list it.

Updated on March 20, 2020: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

Pick a selling strategy.

Pick a selling strategy.

African American neighbors greeting each other over fence

(Getty Images)

Before putting a for sale sign in your yard, it's important to pick the selling strategy that will work best for you. The for-sale-by-owner option may be best if you feel confident in your ability to market the home and negotiate. If your time is better spent on other details, a real estate agent could be best. If you need to sell the home quickly, you may want to inquire with an iBuyer, an entity that can make the deal close faster than the typical homebuyer. You should feel confident in the selling strategy you choose, and avoid switching from one to the other while your house is on the market. Buyers could be turned off by the constant changing of circumstances.

Invest in a professional photographer.

Invest in a professional photographer.

Close-up of a man photographing with a camera

(Getty Images)

According to NAR's 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 44% of recent buyers started their search online. Of those, 87% found photos very useful in their home search. If your listing photos don’t show off the features of your home, prospective buyers may reject it without even taking a tour or going to the open house. Hiring a professional photographer and posting at least 30 photos of your home, inside and out, is a good way to attract buyers. Photography is often free for home sellers, as shoots are often conducted at the expense of real estate brokers as part of marketing the property.

Clean everything.

Clean everything.

Not prepared to miss a spot!

(People Images/ Getty Images)

Nothing turns off buyers like a dirty house. Hire a company to deep clean if you can’t do it yourself. “When the (home) is on the market, no matter what time of day or night, it should be clean and neat,” says Ellen Cohen, a licensed associate real estate broker with real estate brokerage Compass in New York City.

Key places to clean while your home is on the market include:

  • Kitchen countertops.
  • Inside cabinets and appliances.
  • Floors and room corners where dust collects.
  • Shelves.
  • Bathroom counters, toilets, tubs and showers.
  • Inside closets.
  • Windows, inside and out.
  • Scuffed walls, baseboards and doors.
  • Basement and garage.

Depersonalize the home.

Depersonalize the home.

Modern living room

(Getty Images)

Remove all your family photos and memorabilia. You want buyers to see the house as a home for their family, not yours. Remove political and religious items, your children’s artwork (and everything else) from the refrigerator and anything that marks the house as your territory rather than neutral territory. The same goes for any collections such as figurines, sports memorabilia or kids' toys that can make a buyer think less about the house and more about you. Family photos can be replaced by neutral art or removed entirely – just be sure to remove any nails and repair nail holes where any hanging photos used to be.

Let the light in.

Let the light in.

Sunlight through a bedroom window.

(Getty Images)

People love light and bright, and the best way to show off your house is to let the sunshine in. Open all the curtains, blinds and shades, and turn lights on in any dark rooms. If the natural light situation is lacking in any room, strategically place lamps or light sources throughout to set the mood. And while your house is on the market, open all curtains and turn on lights every time you leave your house for work or errands in case you get word that a buyer would like to tour the space before you get home.

Be flexible with showings.

Be flexible with showings.

Woman realtor talking to a young family

(Getty Images)

Buyers like to see homes on their schedule, which often means evenings and weekends. Plus, they want to be able to tour a home soon after they find it online, especially in a hot market where they're competing with other buyers. If your home can be shown with little or no notice, more prospective buyers will see it. If you require 24 hours’ notice, they may choose to skip your home altogether. "That's one less person who gets to see the property," Cohen says. Be ready to leave quickly as well – if you're still cleaning up or hanging around outside when the buyer arrives, it can make for an awkward interaction.

Set the right price.

Set the right price.

House with for sale sign in yard and open wooden fence

(Getty Images)

No seller wants to leave money on the table, but the strategy of setting an unrealistically high price with the idea that you can come down later doesn’t work in real estate. Buyers and their agents have access to more information on comparable homes than ever, and they know what most homes are worth before viewing them. A home that’s overpriced in the beginning tends to stay on the market longer, even after the price is cut, because buyers think there must be something wrong with it. "Pricing correctly on the lower side tends to work much better," Cohen says.

Remove excess furniture and clutter.

Remove excess furniture and clutter.

Self storage units

(Getty Images)

Nothing makes a home seem smaller than too much big furniture. Rent a self-storage container or a storage unit and remove as much furniture as you can. It will immediately make your home seem calmer and larger. Remove knickknacks from all surfaces, pack them away and store the pieces upon which you displayed them. Take a minimalist approach to books, throw rugs and draperies, and clear off your kitchen and bathroom countertops, even removing appliances you normally use. If you can scale down the contents of your closets, that’s even better, because it makes the home's storage space look more ample.

Repaint in neutral colors.

Repaint in neutral colors.

Couple preparing to paint living room

(Getty Images)

A new coat of paint will do wonders to freshen up your home, both inside and out. This is the time to paint over your daughter’s purple bedroom, nix the quirky turquoise bathroom and cover up the red accent wall in your dining room. Busy wallpaper can also turn off potential buyers. Your goal is to create a neutral palette so buyers can envision incorporating their own personal touches in the home. "You just want people to see the space for what it is," Cohen says. Rather than a stark white, consider neutral shades of gray, taupe and cream on the walls.

Spruce up the front of your home.

Spruce up the front of your home.

With white pillars, steps in the entry way

(Getty Images)

You’ve heard it 100 times before, and it’s still true: Curb appeal matters. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. A new or freshly painted front door, new house numbers and a new mailbox can breathe life into your entryway. Fresh landscaping and flowers in beds or in pots also enhance your home’s first impression. Trim trees and bushes, tidy up flower beds, remove dead leaves from plants, clear out cobwebs from nooks near the entrance and pressure-wash walkways, patios and decks. Leave the outdoor lights on, too, because prospective buyers may drive by at night.

Here are 10 tips to sell your home faster:

Here are 10 tips to sell your home faster:

Aerial view of house roofs in suburban neighborhood

(Getty Images)

  • Pick a selling strategy.
  • Invest in a professional photographer.
  • Clean everything.
  • Depersonalize the home.
  • Let the light in.
  • Be flexible with showings.
  • Set the right price.
  • Remove excess furniture and clutter.
  • Repaint in neutral colors.
  • Spruce up the front of your home.

Read More

Tags: real estate, housing, housing market, existing home sales, pending home sales


Wendy Arriz is a licensed real estate broker with Warburg Realty in New York City. An accomplished real estate professional, Arriz has been ranked a Top 10 Warburg Producer four years in a row in 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016. She was also named one of America’s Top Real Estate Agents by Sales Volume in the 2018 REAL Trends ranking in 2018 and 2019. Known for her sophisticated eye, discretion and sharp attention to detail, Arriz has brokered transactions and represented clients across Manhattan's luxury co-op, condo and townhouse marketplaces.

After earning a degree in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, Arriz worked in wholesale sales for several top fashion designers in New York City. While her business sense, tireless work ethic and integrity fuel her success, most importantly, she believes wholeheartedly that one’s living space should be not only an investment but also a home and sanctuary.

Arriz has resided on the Upper East Side for over 30 years and currently lives in Carnegie Hill with her husband, three children and her miniature schnauzer, Lucy.

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