Boomers are like house guests who NEVER leave! Their party ended years ago, but as long as the bar stays open, they aren’t leaving. Look at the current list of top real estate brokerages in the United States and note the year they began. Remax-1973, Century 21-1971, Weichert-1969, ERA Realty-1971, Coldwell Banker-1906, Windermere Real Estate-1972, Sotheby International-1976, KW-1983, Harry Norman-1930. Sensing a trend?
How odd is it the 39-year-old KW is the new kid on the block? For the most part all of these companies have similar business models. A percentage-based commission system calculated on sales price paid for by the seller. Nothing has changed since their inceptions. Five decades of the same thing only with different logos.
Scorched earth! Nothing new can EVER grow in this environment. These old brands take all the oxygen out of the room. Not having produced any new ideas within the last half century, there is zero reason to think any of these 1970s brands will suddenly lift a finger for change. Sellers will forever be forced to pay the sales commissions of those they are negotiating against. Agents will forever “split” their sales commissions with a Broker! And everyone will be forced to pay unnecessary yearly dues for the ability to capitalize their “r’s”. Why? Why are we still doing this?
Change will not come from the mainstream. Change needs to come from the market niches that run outside of the mainstream or traditional conventions. Once something starts in a niche, it has a chance to catch fire. Once lit, in theory at least, it has a chance of someday becoming mainstream. So what do we mean by niche?
By definition a niche is nothing more than a subset of something. Niches with the best chance of success focus on areas where mainstream would never go. For example, mainstream real estate brokerages cater to every and all types of home buyer or seller. A niche real estate brokerage would focus on a specific type of buyer or seller.
The most obvious example is race. You don’t see real estate brokerages specifically for people of color. From a truly business perspective, focusing a real estate brokerage on race is not a good idea. But if your goal is to enact change, it very well may be the best place to start.
Consider this; the gap in homeownership between black and white families is as bad today as it was when segregation was legal. How is that even possible? Ask those companies mentioned above. We have had decades of “conference sessions” with thousands of white papers all addressing this very topic. Yet I repeat: the gap in home ownership between blacks and whites is as bad today as it was in the era of Jim Crow. Documented proof that mainstream real estate likes to talk about things but not much else.
The fact is any Change Agent hoping to help raise ownership levels within communities of color must be solely focused on the greater good of that community. Lack of focus has been the failures of the past. Communities of color were far too easily overlooked or forgotten.
If the gap in black/white ownership isn’t bad enough, it can be far worse in other communities. Our Spanish speaking markets are exploding and will continue to have accelerated growth for decades to come. Do we have a lot of, or any, Latino focused real estate brokerages? Indian brokerages? Asian brokerages? Every one of these communities of color has its own unique set of challenges. Challenges the all-white male of 1970 may not have considered when they set the rules.