Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Brad Inman: ‘Unsung hero of real estate’ is the small broker-owner

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When I bought my first home in Oakland, California, in 1982, the ordeal filled me with fear. The price appeared exorbitant, the process felt intimidating, and I found it challenging to understand all the intricate details.

My agent, Mac McCullouch, was young, charismatic and earnest. But it was the broker-owner, whom I had only met twice, who gave me the confidence to move forward. Nameless today, I remember him as a soft-spoken, poised and reassuring man, making me feel that I was in good hands.

The small broker-owner is the unsung hero of real estate whom we are honoring this year as the 2023 Inman Person of the Year.

To this day, they account for the vast majority of home sales in the United States.

Eighty-two percent of real estate agents work for small brokerages with fewer than 25 agents, according to NAR. The average is seven.

The job of a good, small broker-owner is to listen, cajole and mentor their public-facing agents. They sit at the center of every real estate transaction, ensuring that the paperwork, the legal contingencies and contracts are handled properly.

But there is more to their role. They support floats in community parades, volunteer their time to local causes, sponsor the soccer team, participate in bake sales and testify at local public hearings.

The small broker-owner is as local as you can get, as close to the customer as is possible, and as connected as one can be.

They aren’t on celebrity television shows, they’re not high-profile CEOs of publicly-traded companies, and they’re not tech giants promising to change the world.

Small brokers are often second- or third-generation business owners who live and breathe real estate. They know every house in their community and know who bought and sold them.

They run small businesses, so they support a payroll, pay rent to a local landlord and fork over hordes of taxes and fees.

Like a locally-owned diner, a bakery or a shop owner, the small real estate broker-owner harkens back to an era before big-box franchises, 1-800 phone numbers, online leads and AI

The locals know who they are, where they live and work, and how they do business. She is the real estate woman around the block.

As trusted members of the community, broker-owners help local residents with the daunting task of becoming homeowners.

Meet a few here

Our hat is off to these special people for the work they do.

Broker-owner Mike GandolfoRE Solutions, Louisville, Kentucky 

Broker-owner Amber MontanioBlack Label Real Estate Advisors, New Braunfel, Texas

Broker-owners Natalie Clayton, Jess Martin and Chanda JohnsonMaywright Property Company, Indianapolis, Indiana

Father and son broker-owners Gary and Mike ParsonsParsons Real Estate Group, Worthington, Ohio 

Co-broker-owner Joy BrayGateway Real Estate, Nixa, Missouri 

Broker-owner Sheila FlemingCarolina Sky Real Estate, Fort Mill, South Carolina 

Broker-owner Stefanie MarsSMRG Real Estate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 

Broker-owner Rick StroudGreat Homes of South Carolina, Greer, South Carolina

Broker-owner Tony AndersonNextHome Gulf Coast Realty, Tampa Bay, Florida 

Broker-owner Lindsay DreyerCity Chic Real Estate, Washington D.C.

Broker-owner Heidi RoseRose Team Homes, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 

Broker-owner Nicole ReedNicole Reed Real Estate, Chester, Virginia 

Broker associate Zak ShellhammerVegas Born Real Estate Services, Las Vegas, Nevada

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