What's in a name?

Real Estate Agent with Bison Properties

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.netThis idea for this posting started when I had a conversation with an fellow colleague this morning.  He didn't get a listing and it was because of the name of our brokerage, Fred Real Estate.  No, the name isn't like RE Max, Keller Williams, or the other big names out there, but we hold our own and have a great deal of success in our local market.

What intrigued me is the fact that this person chose based solely on the name.  She liked my colleague, the marketing, and everything else but she didn't see our name as prominent as others in the market since we were small. 

Does this make a difference?  Some might argue yes.  But if you talk to good real estate agents, they will all say that real estate is a relationship business.  You are working with them, not necessarily the company. 

So does it matter what sign is in the yard? Again, some might argue yes.  Let me ask this one question; if you were a buyer, would you care what sign is in the yard or would you care about the quality of home behind it? 

The key point to this is make sure you are hiring the RIGHT agent, not company.  You will be working with that agent and be relying on that agent, his/her expertise and contacts, to get your home sold.  With the Internets popularity in home searching and home listings getting syndicated through all major websites, your home has the same coverage as all the others.  It's what the agent with do above and beyond that to find the buyer, help you negotiate the best offer, and getting it closed without a lot of hassle that should be the deciding factor.


Comments (43)

Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hi Wallace,  To some buyers/sellers the brand is a very important reason for the initial contact. After that it becomes a relationship issue.

Sep 07, 2010 09:09 AM
Eileen Hsu
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

This depends on the market place. I think most of the time, it is the agent that seller decides to work with is more important than the name.

Sep 07, 2010 09:13 AM
Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal

You can try to justify to the seller all that you want about why it really doesn't matter, but to him, it did, and you lost that business.

A few months ago I had to choose whether to stay with RE/MAX or go with a little known company.  I've had a few situations similar to yours and that's why I stayed with RE/MAX.  Just one of those transactions pays for the fees.

You can fight it or just accept it and use it to your advantage.

Sep 07, 2010 09:26 AM
J. Philip Faranda
J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY - Briarcliff Manor, NY

It's not the firm, it is the agent. I make a living listing and selling the expired listings of the big guns in my area as I build my own brand. 

You should expect to lose a few battles as you win the war. 

Be like Bruce Lee. Take the kick in the face, taste your own blood, then kick some tail. 

Sep 07, 2010 09:35 AM
Lesley Wagstaff
Re/Max Results Realty in Vancouver, BC - Coquitlam, BC
For Real Estate and Mortgages

I do believe that the client will choose you based on the agent, but sometimes I think you get in the door because of the company.

Sep 07, 2010 10:29 AM
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area - Scottsdale, AZ
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty

What a difference a name makes - or rather a reputation.  Name recognition does make the difference some times.  The question is - do you want to work with people who make their decisions based on that criteria - or not?  If you don't - then it doesn't matter what brokerage you are licensed under.

Sep 07, 2010 10:37 AM
Allison Stewart
St.Cloud Homes - Saint Cloud, FL
St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904

Well said- in my market, it is price- the agent or the company sems to be irrevelvant.

Sep 07, 2010 11:00 AM
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

Us little indies are always dealing with this objection.  I feel that sometimes (and I am going to offend some friends here) that people drink the "brand kool-aid" and we just can't overcome it no matter what.  For example my son and I are HUGE Dr Pepper drinkers and I can buy the Vons no name and it really tastes the same to me but not to him for some reason. 

To me there is no difference in brands - it's the agent that you are paying for - the experience, the marketing background, negotiating strength, etc.  Big brands cannot do that all on it's own.  Maybe they will call Fred Realty in 6 months when it expires :)

Sep 07, 2010 11:08 AM
Pippa Mac
Chevaux Group Realtor, The Woodlands and Spring - The Woodlands, TX
The Woodlands TX Real Estate

I was with a "no-name" company and now with Remax and it does give the sellers confidence! 

Sep 07, 2010 11:10 AM
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

I agree that it's the agent but I am with a big firm because I know that this does matter to sellers.

Sep 07, 2010 11:29 AM
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

The more "well known" the company is within the neighborhood, town, etc. says volumes. I too think that sellers want the branded/known company to market their home.  Yes, I too think it's the agent and not the company, but that's the way they go.



Sep 07, 2010 11:44 AM
Donald Tepper
Long and Foster - Fairfax, VA
DC area investor helping heirs of inherited homes

For better or worse, the name does make a difference.

Look: A lot of sellers (and buyers) don't understand that agents are independent contractors. Many think we're "employed" by Long & Foster, or RE/MAX, Weichert, or Keller-Williams, or Century 21, or whatever. And those companies all put a lot of effort into branding and promotion. They do it to create an image for the buyer or seller.

OK, we know it's the agent that matters. Lots of buyers and sellers don't.

And it can get even more complicated when you have a seemingly "big" national company that's really composed of hundreds of franchises. If it matters at all that there's name recognition and an overall impression of the company--and I suggest it does--then it's complicated further when an actual single large company (in my area, Weichert and Long & Foster) are up against half a dozen franchises with very similar names. The poor consumer doesn't know which is which. Heck, I'd bet a lot of consumers don't know that most of McDonalds' 30,000+ outlets are franchised.

Finally, people like to go with a winner. Again, we know that the "winner" is primarily determined by the agent. But most consumers want to go with the 800 pound gorilla in the room--whoever they perceive as the dominant force.

Better to recognize and deal with that (and figure out ways to overcome that, if you're not with that 800 pound gorilla) than to deny its existence.

Sep 07, 2010 01:21 PM
William James Walton Sr.
WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briotti Group - Waterbury, CT
Greater Waterbury Real Estate

Gone are the days where it was the name that carried the day. Now, especially with the internet, it is the agent who makes the difference, no matter what company they hang their license under. Although in some circles, the name still helps a tiny bit.

Sep 07, 2010 01:44 PM
Victor T. Gurrola
Remax Realty 100 - Diamond Bar, CA
Diamond Bar Real Estate Professional

I think its relative to one career i wouldn't start my career in a no-name brokerage but i would end it there. When we start, sometimes all we have is the name, then we start building on relationships and then its solely on us not so much the office we're in. Just my .02

Sep 07, 2010 02:29 PM
Brian Morgenweck
Power Realty Group, LLC Bergen County, NJ - Hackensack, NJ
Broker/Owner, GRI, CRS, ABR, SRS

It ain't the size of the dog in the fight. It's the size of the fight in the dog.

I never bought into the big-name theory. I always wanted to carve the path myself. Otherwise, I would have stayed in the Fortune 100 corporate arena. Quite frankly, that nauseated me enough to fly my own flag in any business I got into from then on...

What's in a name? I think Fred Real Estate is pretty cool, actually! I'd much rather talk to "Fred" or Scott than Joe Corporate, any day. (For the folks who don't realize we work for ourselves)

Besides, who's to say the Freds, Scotts, Brians, etc don't become the big dogs on the porch, tomorrow?!

Sep 07, 2010 03:49 PM
Stephen Hodge
Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited, Brokerage - Cobourg, ON

The only time a company really matters comes with the services they make available to the Realtor that can give them a competitive advantage in marketing or servicing the listing. But that's not in the name, that's in the individual brokerage's package they offer to their Realtors... who in turn pay, more or less, based on those services. So the company might matter - but it's unlikely the name means much if anything to a client.

Though I will say - a name will say a lot (rightly or wrongly) in the potential client's mind about who they are dealing with. I'm with a fairly prestige property oriented brokerage with a prestigious sounding name... but I'm outside their core demographics main geographic region and so have to reach beyond this group for most of my business. Thus I branded our service (along with my wife) as "HodgesLodges" with the web site and what not to go with it. Memorable, and relatively common in nature which suits many of the farmers and honest blue-collar workers I need to appeal to. Between those two relatively divergent brand images we manage to adequately cover the spectrum from top to bottom of the economic scale.

So you might want to consider, if your brand is appealing to a particular group within the broader real estate clientel available, then perhaps you should focus that brand on that group exclusively and then create a parallel brand to go after another area of the market... or one that simply appeals to all with an eye to only letting the more successful survive after allowing time to see which will be more successful long term. Names may not matter, but brand image does as sure as McDonald's sells hamburgers!

Sep 07, 2010 04:17 PM
Dan Rosenberger
Harvest Realty - Westfield, IN

I think that the name of the company may be important, not only for its reputation, but for what the name conveys.  This goes both for agents deciding on what company to affiate with and homeowners deciding where to list.  Does the name include a geographical area?  That could be a positive or a negative.  Does it state or imply a niche, like foreclosure, REO, condos, etc.?  The niche-name might give a stronger presence within the niche, but weaker outside of the niche.

Sep 08, 2010 02:58 AM
Robert Slick
Beach and River Homes - Georgetown, SC

Maybe you should tell people it is an acronym: Freakin Real Estate Dynamos.

Sep 08, 2010 03:27 AM
Emcee M. Arah
Remax Excellence - Silver Spring, MD - Silver Spring, MD
Realtor w/Architectural Dimension, AHWD CRS B-Arch

Now that you can go online and see property information for just about any listing on the market, I believe that name recognition is becoming prehistoric.  You will definitely still have the older generation remember "Coldwell Banker" or "RE/MAX" or "Prudential" but the younger set?  They are going to be all about "I don't care who you work for - what can you do for me?"


Sep 08, 2010 04:02 PM
Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Wallace!  I wanted to name my company "Fred", but you guys beat me to it.  And you got the Domain Name.  Sigh...


Oh well - back to your question.

I worked for Coldwell Banker in the 80's and Century 21 in the early 90's, and yes the Big Name mattered in those days... but not so much anymore.

Sep 08, 2010 06:37 PM

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