For those that might think there's a monopoly by a few brokerages or agents in the real estate market, take a look at the top 10 Greater Seattle residential sales for 2009 listed on the NWMLS. (Top sales of single family Seattle homes here - one condo added for this list).
I count 18 different brokerages involved in these top 10 transactions. If there is a monopoly, it's certainly not at the top of the luxury home market. Not only are the offices spread widely, but there are many independent/non-national brands represented across the spectrum.
|City||Price||Listing Office Name||Selling Office Name|
|Seattle||$5,300,000||Windermere Madison||Windermere Wallingford|
|Clyde Hill||$5,399,900||John L. Scott Bellevue||RE/MAX Connected|
|Bellevue||$5,460,000||Windermere Kirkland||Wallace Properties, Inc.|
|Mercer Island||$5,950,000||Windermere Bellevue||Ewing & Clark Mercer Isl.|
|Medina||$6,095,000||John L. Scott Mercer Isl.||John L. Scott Mercer Isl.|
|Bainbridge Island||$6,275,000||Coldwell Banker McKenzie||Windermere Bainbridge|
|Seattle (condo)||$9,750,000||ek Real Estate Group||Prudential NW|
|Seattle||$10,600,000||Madison House, Ltd.||Gerrard Beattie & Knapp|
|Seattle||$11,500,000||Windermere Wallingford||Windermere Wall St|
|Mercer Island||$15,560,000||Ewing & Clark, Inc.||Coldwell Banker Bain|
Also interesting, is the spread of agents. There are 19 different agents/teams involved. Larry was the only agent listed twice, for selling his own Medina listing (congrats Larry!) If there was a monopoly, this is where it would exist--at the top of the luxury market, where clearly the most successful agents and companies strive to position themselves.
|Listing Agent Name||Selling Agent Name|
|Mary P Snyder||M. Patrick Chinn|
|Stephen D MacDonald||Sam DeBord and Brian Wiegand|
|Dave Rodland||Susan Naficy|
|Tere G Foster||Kris B Robbs|
|Larry Williams||Larry Williams|
|Georg Syvertsen||Jan R Johnson|
|Edward S Krigsman||Tracy E Harris|
|Kitty K Hughes||Spafford Robbins|
|Bob Bennion||Holley Ring|
|Betsy Q Terry||Linda H Tsang|
What's the take-away from all of this information? A pretty yard sign does not sell a home, no matter which company logo is pasted on it. Even the highest-end of luxury home buyers aren't worried about the company you're listed with.
While the general consensus is that a few big brokerages control a huge percentage of the marketplace, there's really a lot of space for new and independent companies to grow in the industry. The image of a national brand is a great marketing tool, but every brokerage is working as a separate entity. There's no glass ceiling for a new real estate company to break through, besides getting past the perception of the invulnerability of the industry stalwarts. Small companies are competing at the top of the spectrum with the "800 lb gorillas" right now.
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(Information not compiled or published by the NWMLS)