The Current Landscape of Small Real Estate Brokerages

According to new data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2023 Profile of Real Estate Firms, the majority of real estate firms operate from a single office, with an overwhelming 81% falling into this category.

Typically, these small brokerages have three full-time real estate licensees. Additionally, a staggering 86% of these firms are independent and non-franchised, emphasizing the importance of self-sufficiency and adaptability in their operations.

As listing inventory has gotten tight and transaction volume has slowed, these small brokerage firms are particularly challenged to stay profitable. This can lead to cutting technology and support budgets. However, they can tap into a valuable resource — the multiple listing service (MLS) — to bridge this gap and offer their agents a comprehensive technology stack.

Tech in the MLS Market

In 2022, the WAV Group Customer Experience Index (CXI) provided a glimpse into the tech landscape available to brokers and agents within MLS markets. The average number of tech products offered by the MLS in these CXI markets was 13, covering a wide range of utilities, from tax data and floodplain maps to transaction management and marketing solutions. However, despite this variety, engagement with tech offerings was primarily concentrated in two categories: tax data and showing software.

Here are a few ways MLSs and small brokerages can collaborate more effectively to provide meaningful tech support and enhance their agents’ productivity.

1. Brokerage Customization

Sometimes brokers hesitate to use the tools provided by the MLS because they don’t want to use the same tools as all the other brokers in the market. This can be mitigated by taking advantage of customization options within most marketing tools.

Not only can reports usually be branded to the brokerage and agent, but reports can also be built for specific geographic areas where the brokerage focuses their business.

2. Comprehensive Training

MLSs should offer comprehensive training programs that cover the entire tech stack, ensuring agents can make the most of available tools. This can be of particular help to smaller brokerages that may not be able to offer a robust training program

3. Collaboration on Integration

Small brokerages often use multiple tech tools to run their businesses. MLSs can work to integrate their systems with popular tools like transaction management platforms, marketing solutions, and customer relationship management (CRM) software, creating a seamless workflow for agents.

4. Data Analytics

MLSs can provide small brokerages with data analytics to help them make informed decisions. A popular tool for this is ListTrac, which is offered by many MLSs yet is widely under-utilized.

Some examples of analytics that brokers might crave could include market trends, lead generation insights, and performance metrics to optimize their business strategies and marketing decisions.

5. Cost-Effective Packages

Because MLSs can negotiate deals with technology providers, the complete tech stack offered from the MLS is often cheaper than a single product purchased by the brokerage. Additionally, the products are usually included in the MLS subscription fee, which the brokerages are paying anyway.

6. Feedback Mechanisms

MLSs should actively seek feedback from small brokerages and their agents to continuously improve their technology stack. This collaboration can lead to the development of tailored solutions that meet the unique requirements of small brokerages.

Why Leaning On The MLS Makes Sense For Many Brokerages

Small brokerages, which constitute a significant segment of the real estate industry, can benefit greatly from leveraging the MLS to provide meaningful tech support to their agents.

By customizing marketing solutions, offering comprehensive training, and fostering collaboration on integration, MLSs can empower small brokerages to stay competitive and efficient in today’s tech-driven real estate market. And by working together effectively, MLSs and small brokerages can create a win-win situation that benefits both agents and consumers alike.