Why is this partnership so important for Dallas?
It’s no secret Dallas is becoming one of the most competitive markets for real estate agents and brokers, what with Compass taking the town by storm and Douglas Elliman headed our way. Redfin is gaining ground, and I have seen quite a few Door signs of late.
Then there are the iBuyers, focusing more on the moderately-priced suburbs, and the growing gangbusters 100 percent commission brokerages like JP and Associates and eXp. Keller Williams was born just south of us in Austin, but the company, now branded as a tech firm, has a very strong presence in Big D.
Our Agent Migration columnist, Josh Baethage, treads hard to keep up with all the changes.
Like so many television channels, there are so many choices for consumers who want to buy and sell a home. Thus brokers are pedaling on ludicrous speed to keep agents engaged, armed and competitive to market properties everywhere.
And it’s led to a really important move for Ebby Halliday Realtors.
Ebby Halliday Realtors recently announced an alliance with London-based Mayfair International Realty. The 24-year old company represents real estate firms around the globe to help market properties internationally.
As Ebby CEO Chris Kelly puts it, the new relationship is essentially like having an Ebby Halliday office in London, the financial capital of the world.
The move gives all three Ebby brands, Dave Perry-Miller, Ebby Halliday, and Williams Trew, a platform of assistance to market properties globally in addition to the company’s connection to Luxury Portfolio.
To be sure, Mayfair has been in this market before, in an agreement with Virginia Cook Realtors.
“At the moment, there are 468 offices and we are in 14 countries,” said Nick Churton, Managing Director at Mayfair International. “We’ve been in real estate for a very long time and built up a business in the U.K. that answers the need for independent firms to compete with big nationals.”
He is talking about the Christies, Sotheby’s, RE/MAX’s, and other huge U.S. firms with strong international connections.
In 2010, Robbie Briggs told me virtually the same thing, when he linked his company to Sotheby’s International Real Estate to arm his agents with an international partnership in a shrinking, digital world. That was a tool he wanted them to have.
Interestingly, I have heard there are some brokers who are keeping homes out of the MLS and marketing them within the firm, trying to capture both sides of the deal commision-wise, known as intermediary relationship. That might work in a market where inventory is flying off the shelves, but conventional real estate wisdom is that, in order to market the home for the highest possible price (an agent’s fiduciary duty), you get it in front of every possible buyer. That means putting it in the Multiple Listing Service to be seen by every licensed agent, feeding it to Zillow and Realtor.com, and spreading the house story everywhere, on top of and under every rock.
Mayfair International’s site provides a worldwide portal for luxury properties. Ebby Halliday Companies are the only North Texas brokerage whose properties will be uploaded to the property search site of Country Life regarded as the leading UK digital magazine for luxury real estate. Properties are also uploaded to the property search site of the Financial Times, one of the most important financial publications worldwide.
“I spoke with one of your most successful Dallas agents a few years back, a very under-the-radar gal who had the touch of gold when it came to selling Dallas properties,” said Annette Reeve, International Director at Mayfair International. “She told me the fishermen who catch the most fish drop the largest number of lines off a boat. That’s how she marketed her properties: put out lines everywhere, in every possible place.”
Dallas is becoming more of an international city every day. And there are times when a North Texas resident may be transferred to London or Paris and be in need of an international agent. That’s when the Ebby-Mayfair connection will be most valuable to navigate a very foreign market.
“The real estate sales structure is totally different in the U.K,” says Churton. “For one, there is no MLS. The average agent commission rate is 1%.”
Buyers are not represented, and there is no referral system.
“Agents can only show their own listings,” adds Reeve.”So let’s say you line up six properties you’d like to see, you have to contact each individual agent to see them.”
Mayfair also helps partnering agents market U.S. properties smartly in the U.K. Churton tells the story of a New York City agent who thought he was brilliant to market a high-end U.S. property on the entire back page of the Sunday Times property section! What he didn’t realize was that no one in London recognized the building’s name and actually confused it with a restaurant. Thus the agent’s expensive marketing investment only netted inquiries about scheduling bar mitzvahs.
“George Bernard Shaw’s quote, ‘England and America are two countries divided by a common language’, couldn’t have been more apposite,” says Churton.
So I asked Annette and Nick, seriously, are Europeans really buying Dallas properties? Are Brits sending their kids to school in Texas and buying homes for them to live in, as some Russians and Chinese have done?
London, says Churton, is such a center of education, enterprise and research, most Brits go to British Universities. Londoners vacation in Spain, France, and the US (Florida). Chances are slim, then, that a Brit or a European will come to Dallas and swoop up “an American monster house”, but the connection now is one of those fishing lines that very well could lead to a buyer. You just never know. And who doesn’t want to advertise to the highest of the high net worth in London?
“London is the English-speaking bridge to Europe and the rest of the world,” says Churton. “There is more personal wealth in London than any other city in the world.”
Mayfair International reaches real estate companies in Europe, Canada, the Caribbean, South Africa and beyond.
Mayfair connects property buyers with listings and brokers through its websites. The company also offers personal concierge services for high net worth clients looking for specific vacation home properties such as golf estates, equestrian, mountain, and other properties. For example, many Americans enjoy golfing at Scottish golf clubs and may wish to own homes there or navigate the clubs offering homeownership opportunities. Undoubtedly, says Churton, everyone is searching online for real estate, which has broadened the markets.
“What agents need to realize is that the first showing is really the second showing,” says Churton.”The consumer has seen it online — that’s the first showing.”
Despite everyone’s obsession with technology here and over the pond, Reeve says real estate clients truly desire personal contact when it comes to buying a home. That’s why agents are sticking around. And the Mayfair-Ebby partnership now offers that for both Ebby agents and clients.
Example: Purple Bricks was short-lived both in the US and not doing well in the UK, said Churton. Interestingly, former Purple Bricks employees have complained that Purple Bricks wasted too much money on national television advertising and ignored local messaging because they applied a “U.K. playbook.”
“With regard to Purplebricks, there were certain ‘dynamics’ and it came down to unit economics with an inefficient marketing spend using a U.K. playbook to drive brand awareness and consideration,” Eric Eckardt, the former CEO of Purplebricks’ U.S. outpost, told Inman earlier this month. “The U.S. was the best-performing country based on performance [key performance indicators], but customer acquisition costs were not efficient.”
Kind of like buying a billboard in London with no local advice.
In comparing notes about U.S. and U.K. millennials when it comes to home buying, same story, just different countries. The buying momentum of this age group is picking up in London as it is here.
“They want everything done and move-in ready,” says Churton. “I don’t think they would even recognize a can of paint if it fell on them.”