Nearly three in 10 real estate professionals would consider leaving their current agency and branching out on their own, according to the findings of a new survey.
In an industry-first, Real Estate Business surveyed 486 sales agents, principals and property managers about what they thought of their current business model and whether they were thinking of moving to another company.
When asked which group they would join if they were to switch, 29.2 per cent of respondents said they would consider starting their own independent agency, while 15.6 per cent said they would consider joining an already-established independent agency.
The second most popular option was to join one of the major franchise groups, which garnered 25.9 per cent of the vote.
Ivan Bresic, director of boutique agency BresicWhitney in inner-city Sydney, made the decision 10 years ago to start an independent office with his colleague, Shannon Whitney, after six years of working at a major franchise network.
“We felt we had done a lot at a young age in terms of selling. Both Shannon and I were each selling 100 properties a year at our former employer, so for us it was about ‘what do we do next?’” he said.
“We thought we could do better but we really wanted to challenge ourselves. That, along with the need for an inner-city agency, which the area lacked, meant we started to look into it and felt it was the right time.”
Mr Bresic said he never regretted the decision because the agency had an instant impact in the market.
“In our first year, in 2003, we had over 155 sales. It was always exciting, it was new. We always had great people working with us. It was fun because it was our own, but more than anything, it was always developing. Every year it’s gotten bigger and every year has been different, and now we’re looking at opening our third and fourth office next year,” he said.
Mr Bresic said he initially considered a franchise group but felt the business model did not suit what he and Mr Whitney were looking for.
“Rather than be told how to do things, we felt we would like to have a lot of personality and our own authenticity around marketing and the way we did things. It was never a financial thing," he said.
“It’s more costly because we had to create our own website, our own marketing, our own offices. A lot of the things you had to do yourself rather than come from a corporate head office, but it’s better as far as we’re concerned because we’re unique.”
Managing director of Harris Real Estate Phil Harris also made the switch from a major network three years ago to become an independent business owner.
“It was something that was almost in my DNA,” he said. “Since I first started, I had already decided that I wanted to open and own my own successful agency.
“When I was 21, I started putting plans in place immediately as to what the strategies and the steps that were required to open an office and in particular, what areas I wanted to work in.”
The South Australian office opened in January 2010 and grew rapidly from five staff to 65 in its first 18 months.
“That does come with some speed bumps, so we’ve done a lot of learning, we’ve learned a lot of expensive lessons along the way and if I was opening my office tomorrow, I’d do a lot of things differently,” he said.
“You become a pioneer and you’ve got self-accountability because you’ve got no one there to hold your hand. So at the end of the day, as much as we think we have people that love and care about us and our business, the reality is you only have yourself to blame for the success or the failure of your business. You are totally in control of your own destiny.”
Mr Harris said an independent pathway was best suited to individuals who were competent in real estate and did not need to rely on a professional brand because they had a strong personal brand.
“If you haven’t got a great lead generation system and you’re purely just relying on the brand to hope that people will ring your office, then I would say stick with the franchise and stick with the brand because you’re going to struggle earnestly,” he said.