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Ask McEnearney: Are all real estate companies created equal?

This week’s Q&A column is written by Rebecca McCullough of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Rebecca at 571-384-0941 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Are all real estate companies created equal?

Answer: In the competitive landscape of real estate, distinguishing factors often set one company apart from another. Just like the type of car you like to drive, where you like to shop or vacation, you want to look for people and places that align with your needs and goals.

Purchasing a home will likely be one of — if not the most — expensive investments of your life. However, some buyers and sellers are looking for the most inexpensive (cheapest!) way to get this done.

You could view the recent NAR (National Association of Realtors) Settlement as a result of sellers feeling they overpaid their Realtor commissions on the sale of their homes because they did not realize they could negotiate their listing fee.

If you’d like to learn more about the settlement, this article explains it simply: The Lighter Side of Real Estate.

In short, though, the ruling requires two changes:

  • The first is that sellers will not be able to advertise a buyer’s agent fee through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
  • Secondly, Buyers will have to sign a buyer representation agreement to work with the buyer agent. This allows the buyer to negotiate the representation fee they are willing to pay their agent.

This has been true in Virginia for longer than I’ve been a real estate agent! However, only 14 states currently have that requirement. The lawsuit was filed in a state that did not have a buyer representation agreement.

As real estate agents, we understand that the public is not always truly aware of what we do to execute on a successful home purchase or sale. But this settlement has gone too far with the lack of explanation and understanding of the value of a great agent, and what the ruling will mean for buyers, sellers, and agents in this country. There is so much misinformation about the settlement that it’s hard to keep up with the truth!

One thing is certain right now, the settlement has not been finalized, so no one knows what the final terms will be.

So back to the question at hand, does the real estate company you choose really matter? Of course, the answer is a resounding yes.

When you buy a car, do you think “I want to get the cheapest car I can find?” If so, that sends you down a different path and different goals than the person who says, “I want to get the best value I can.” When you go to the doctor, do you want to see anyone who will see you, or do you want a highly experienced, recommended specialist? What you want — typically — is the best option, the best fit for your needs and goals.

It may appear they are all the same, but when it comes to real estate, each company offers their clients and agents something different. The people who really know how different each company is are the agents who work for them!

Great agents want great companies, and vice versa. At my company, the agents who work at McEnearney Associates are recognized for their unparalleled expertise and in-depth knowledge of the local real estate market. They have additional, high-level staff who support each agent, providing expansive marketing and educational programs, statistical and data analytics, global networking, and a renowned relocation department.

Many companies don’t offer any of this, and the net result is that their agents may get a higher split of their commission, as the company makes less of an investment in the client. But the best agents want more access to knowledge and resources, and they see the value of that in the bigger picture.

At companies like McEnearney Associates, agents have a keen understanding of market trends, pricing dynamics, and neighborhood characteristics, so they can offer invaluable insights to clients and empower them to make informed decisions. This expertise, combined with the company’s extensive resources and professional network, ensures that clients receive the highest level of service and representation. When I joined McEnearney I was so glad to have a team of top-notch marketing professionals who spent 40 hours a week promoting my listings locally, nationally, and globally so I could spend more time with my clients on their transactions.

McEnearney has been in business for over 40 years. It was never their goal to be the biggest, but they wanted to be the best. They are particular about which agents they hire, as their reputation is their most cherished asset. Integrity is at the core of everything. McEnearney Associates holds itself to the highest ethical standards, ensuring transparency, honesty, and fairness in all its dealings.

We always encourage buyers and sellers to interview more than one agent when searching for a real estate professional. But please, don’t call and ask for ‘a deal.’ Take the time to sit down and have a conversation with the agent. Is it a deal if you took a lower fee but sold for $50K less than you could have? You want an agent that you will consider your trusted advisor, similar to what you would want with your financial planner or medical professional.

I’m going to let you in on a secret: a lot of networking and advertising goes on behind the scenes between top agents. We often know of properties that will be coming on the market in the future and can strategize with our clients to be ready to make an offer.

So yes, the brokerage matters. Whatever fee you pay your real estate professional, you want to be getting a lot for your investment. Ask yourself, what is the best option, the best fit, for your specific needs and goals? Then make a few calls and do some interviewing.

Rebecca McCullough has built a successful real estate business in Alexandria and Northern Virginia by providing excellent service to her clients. If you would like more information on selling or buying in today’s complex market, contact Rebecca today at 571-384-0941 or visit her website

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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