My decision to align with OPEN REALTY was announced just a day ago. The reaction to the decision was mixed, as expected. While most of the comments have been very positive, there have been some more ardent clients and a small number of colleagues, who expressed concerns.
It is important to remember that as a real estate professional, one needs to always keep in mind the financial aspects of your real estate business, as a business. Here are a few reasons which made the collaboration a great idea.
I have been in many leadership positions and it’s always important to consider the leadership dynamic. Mike Thomas, the principal is not a narcissist, selfish, money-crazed, disrespectful, or even dismissive of his agents. In all my years in real estate, I have never seen a principal of firm with this many agents who has a desk amongst his agents with no walls – totally blows away the whole “open door” concept.
I found Mike to be a true servant leader who puts the team first. He is humble, open to inputs from others, gives others a voice, and is empathetic, while also having a clear grasp of the business’s requirements, which is required of a principal.
The move to OPEN REALTY was motivated by the fact that they could accommodate my business and its very unique demands. All estate agents work slightly differently from each other and from other professions. If I was to partner with a brand – it would need to be flexible enough to accommodate these variations, which are germane to real estate.
VALUE EXISTING PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS
OPEN has allowed me to retain my existing relationships with my conveyancers. An estate agent always needs to ensure that they have a relationship with a professional, efficient, and friendly firm of conveyancers. It was indeed refreshing to see a company which truly understands the value of existing professional relationships and the synergy that they create.
FOCUS ON TRAINING
I love training because focussed, systematic learning, and upgrading knowledge is a key requirement for modern professionals who are operating in an ever-changing and increasingly demanding professional landscape.
OPEN REALTY’s proposed modular education system would tick that box. Now, I realise there are better training systems out there but let’s face the facts most agents may attend training but one has to question the degree of practical integration of the training into their property practices.
But also, who has time for hours and hours of lectures. On the flip side, an unstructured approach is fatal with no structure, this type of approach creates the illusion of training but has a notoriously low-level of effect on improving the level of service the agent can provide.
It is now common knowledge that the new Act governing estate agents is just about to be signed into law. Although I personally do not believe that it was the present Act that was and is responsible for the challenges we now experience in the industry, this act will add further compliance burdens for, especially small operations. OPEN REALTY provides a scaled solution which ensures compliance while remaining cost-effective. I will also not miss those “self-assessments” where the EAAB requires information and documentation which they already have or which they generated originally.
Estate agency is a personal service profession, which can benefit from scale. The benefits of working with a larger team were too many to ignore. In addition, the costs of a small practice’s subscription to even the most basic portals simply does not make financial sense.
OPEN REALTY allows me to effectively have my own business or run a team, while being empowered by the OPEN REALTY systems.
Although being a sole practitioner is not such a big factor for me, this factor cannot be ignored. Many estate agents feel alone out there.
It’s a tough profession and the camaraderie of other agents really helps. To me, the real advantage is the advantages to my clients are many but the most important is that effectively you don’t have one agent you have more agents working to make your transaction happen.
LOWER ACCOUNTING & AUDITING COSTS
I personally do not agree with the measures introduced by the EAAB to curb fraud etc like auditing business accounts with the trust accounts. These steps do not curb fraud as you will only catch stupid criminals, the detection happens too far down the line, and it has increased the costs from a few hundred Rand to thousands with an estate agent being rated on the same risk profile as a JSE listed companies.
Accounting fees, auditor fees, and other business red tape have made being an estate agent, even more, so a principal increasingly expensive – which begs the question why not consider a scaled solution?
Although I do have offices at home, there are always times when a client take confidence from the presence of a fixed office. It’s also convenient that one has a place from which clients can collect keys etc, which can be difficult. Clients also perceive a larger office as being more professional.
As all agents know we are operating in an increasingly demanding market. You need professionally printing documentation and these machines cost a small fortune if you don’t have the volumes. OPEN REALTY has volumes which leverage scale to provide a custom printed product at a great price per page. It just makes business sense.
DESIGN & PHOTOGRAPHY
I am by no means an expert photographer but I know my way around a DSLR, camera (having take 1000’s of photos many of which was real estate photography), Lightroom, and Photoshop – but it takes time, which is a limited resource.
The in-house photographer and design capacity at OPEN REALTY frees up more time for me to be focussed on my clients. For agents who cannot produce their own high-quality professional images, this option is a no-brainer – because poor quality images negatively affect your client’s property and your chances of selling.
There are many other reasons but be assured that it was a great move.
I look forward to the next year and operating more efficiently and improving my real estate stats and contributing towards this incredible team.