“[An agent] could be [with] a well-known brokerage but that doesn’t mean the agent is that good,” says Danilo Martinez, an agent with Royal LePage in Toronto. “It depends on the agent, at the end of the day. It’s about your individual effort.”
Hyper-specialization is increasingly common as young and old agents work to carve out a niche for themselves around specific neighbourhoods and demographics, like the upwardly mobile Leaside neighbourhood in Toronto or the hipster-centric Commercial Drive in Vancouver.
That may be the end goal for young agents, who still benefit to having a big name behind them.
“It helps with your exposure,” he says. “If you have a boutique firm behind you, you need to spend more time explaining what they’re about. But with Royal LePage or Remax, they’re synonymous with real estate. Their exposure is huge already. They can provide a lot of help but you still need to help yourself.”
That’s what Allan Asplin found when his team, the Judy Lindsay Team in Winnipeg, branched off from a big-name brokerage.
“We realized after we left that people were calling us because of our name, not because of the Remax name,” he says, adding that the name recognition is important in some instances.
“Clients who go into a new city and don’t know anybody [will go to a big-name brand],” he says. “But to other clients, having that personal relationship that they know and trust is more important than who’s flag an agent is flying.”
The push to hyper-specialize in a neighbourhood – or even on a particular street – may be reducing the influence of a big-name brokerage, although not for everyone, say some industry players.