Last fall, I decided to start my own brokerage after working in real estate for 10 years. My goal was to provide the best possible service and to work towards improving access to real estate information. When I started my career in 2005, it was an interesting time because the concept of a buyer’s agent was still new. Not long ago, agents could list properties and it was unclear to consumers what an agent’s role was in a transaction. There were agents who listed homes and other “sub agents” who sold homes but still essentially represented the seller. This model and its lack of buyer representation created a risky environment because biased parties had little reason to disclose property defects. The rental market still operates in a similar way but the risk is lower for a temporary tenant.

I started out my career by working with a large brokerage that provided extensive training. I learned a lot about different aspects of real estate but not how to negotiate. I did my own research by reading every book related to negotiation I could find. A couple of my favorites are You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen and The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini. I had just finished getting a BA in psychology and books like this merged my interest in psychology with real estate. Although the laws in Massachusetts regarding agency had recently changed at this time, I still felt that the industry still didn’t promote the representation of clients. When a traditional agent remains the soul source for real estate information, the lack of transparency creates an environment where hiding certain information is profitable. One example of this is when a brokerage has “pocket listings” that are exclusive and not publicly listed.

Eventually companies like Zillow and Redfin used the Internet to help make real estate information more available and now our multiple listing service recently became open at mlspinhomes.com. Freeing up this information should be considered good for brokers and agents. This open access greatly reduces traditional marketing costs and allows all agents to focus on representing their clients and doing their jobs well. Free access will also help stabilize real estate prices so brokers can focus on improving the accuracy and quality of the listing content like professional photography, floor plans, virtual tours and surveys.

In addition to MLSPIN, there are some other great tools and services that allowed me to swiftly start my own brokerage. These tools and other comparable ones are available to anyone. Here are some key services and apps that I use. As a broker or agent, are there any other services you find helpful?

  • Zipform Plus
  • Google Apps (drive, email, voice, hangouts, contacts, calendar)
  • Evernote/Scannable
  • Docusign
  • Salesforce
  • Venmo
  • WordPress
  • Myfax
  • Showing Time
  • Greatschools