Would-Be Rainmakers and ‘Vertical’ Real Estate

Why the Real Estate Business is Becoming More Vertical —
and Why You Won’t Notice

One of the many, many side effects of the housing bear market is many fewer agents.

Not only that, the agents who are left — “the survivors” — are disproportionately pro’s.

They’ve been doing it awhile; know the ropes; have a network of existing, satisfied clients; and by and large are keeping busy.

In fact, a little too busy.

“Branded” Realtors

Combine a looming pickup up in business (in volume, if not price), and a shrinking pool of very good, very seasoned agents, and what do you get?

Increasing market shares for many of those same agents.

To service that additional business, these agents will increasingly have to “leverage” their time and skill.


By delegating and outsourcing to a network of administrative assistants, independent contractors (stagers, photographers), and office support.

The result is that a business that has always been strongly “horizontal” — one office manager presiding over as many as 150 agents, with one layer of corporate management above that — is increasingly going to look more “vertical.”

Sort of like a law firm looks now: a senior partner (or a nucleus of them) at the peak, supported by a broader “base” of subordinates.

The challenge for the would-be rainmakers at the peak will be to effectively extend their brand without compromising service.

Practically, that means maximizing face time with clients, and delegating “behind-the-scenes” tasks to assistants.

P.S.: It turns out that all those one-person (usually) Realtor “teams,” “groups,” etc. weren’t exaggerating . . . they were just a little premature.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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