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The Pros and Cons of Working with a Boutique Real Estate Agent vs a Team

Imagine you’re ready to buy or sell a home. You contact the person whose name you’ve seen on a real estate yard sign in your area. Someone in their office schedules a meeting between you and the agent for the following week. It goes well: They’ve got impressive statistics, and you’re looking forward to working with them. Their personality and sense of humor seem like a match for yours. 

Then, you just — never hear from them again. Their name is on all of the paperwork, but you never actually talk with them. Instead, you’re shuffled among 

  • junior agents
  • showing agents
  • administrative assistants
  • transaction coordinators
  • closing coordinators
  • someone called a client concierge 

That’s what you may be facing if you work with a mega-team instead of an individual agent. These large-scale teams are designed to create leverage and scale for a single team leader, allowing them to serve dozens of clients at one time. 

That’s good for the team leader, but what does it do for you?

Contrast that with the personalized service of a boutique real estate agent who provides expertise and coordination for your real estate transaction while also being the person you can call when you have questions or need professional insights. I want to be that person for you, of course, but don’t take my word for it: Let’s take a look at some of the differences you can expect to find between a boutique real estate agent vs. a team approach. 

Advantages of working with a boutique real estate agent

You may wonder about the differences between working with an individual real estate agent as opposed to a mega-team. Can one agent really provide the same level of service as a dozen or more spread out across multiple markets or even, in some cases, multiple states? 

Absolutely, and in many cases, I would argue, an individual agent offers advantages that a team simply can’t match. Here are just a few:

Personalized attention

The way most teams work is that the team lead is the “rainmaker,” bringing in new clients with their name or with the help of a well-known brand identity, then meeting with those clients once at the beginning of the process — if they’re lucky. From there, the team’s clients are passed along to a variety of intermediaries, none of whom have worked with the client previously and some of whom may not even know anything about the transaction.

By contrast, when you work with me, you’re working with me. When it comes to personalized service, a boutique real estate agent is the only choice. While I may have support staff members or a professional network of colleagues on whom to call for assistance, they never come between me and my clients. You can rest assured that I’ll be the one providing advice, insight, and real estate service, all the way from the first meeting to the closing table (and beyond).

In-depth knowledge of the local market

When you work with a real estate team, you’re working with folks at all different levels of experience. Teams are, in fact, a popular place for new agents to get their start in the industry, since they provide built-in mentoring through the ability to work with and learn from more experienced real estate agents.

Don’t you want to work directly with that more experienced agent? Don’t you want the benefit of my decades of experience in the local market, not to mention my 15 years of experience in mortgage lending? Why wait for an inexperienced agent to ask someone else the answer to your questions? I’ve got the answers, and they’re based on my real-world real estate knowledge and expertise.


Teams are built on systems and processes, with very little variability or flexibility built in. They have to run that way, of course — keeping all of those folks on the same page requires that teams adhere to some fairly fixed ways of doing business. That keeps their business operation running smoothly, but what happens when there’s a bump in the road during your transaction or when you have an unusual situation that crops up?

Why buy or sell your home on someone else’s timeline and with the limitations imposed by someone else’s transaction process? Real estate requires flexibility, and an individual agent is better positioned to provide that flexibility for their clients. Come to me with your concerns, your worries, and your needs — I’m here to help you find a solution.

Faster response time

Need to hear back from a real estate team member? Which one? You may end up waiting a while for answers to your questions or the results of your negotiations since communications have to be filtered through the team, their assistants, and their procedures for touching base. Do you have that kind of time when the biggest financial transaction of your life is on the line?

When you call me, guess who you’ll be talking to — Me. You don’t have to wait for me to find out the answer and get back to you or locate the person who has access to your file. You’ll deal with me throughout your real estate process so that you never have to sit around and wonder who’ll be responding to you and how long it will take.

Access to exclusive listings

When you’re working with a team, information is filtered throughout the various team members and who knows how many different communication channels. If you’re a buyer, what are the odds that a new listing will come in and be matched with you? If you’re a seller, what are the odds that your listing will be matched with its perfect buyer?

As your individual agent, I’m truly a matchmaker for people and properties. When I get a new listing, I already know which buyer or buyers I’m going to reach out to first. Because I know the details of my clients’ wishlists, I can ensure that when that dream-come-true property crosses my radar, they’re the first to know.

When I’m working with sellers, I know their neighborhoods intimately, so I know which buyer agents are most likely to have buyers looking in those neighborhoods. In fact, I’ll often have buyer agents contact me ahead of time to keep a lookout for listings that are coming up. I also know how to position those listings most effectively to appeal to the buyers in their area.

Service offerings

Teams may be able to offer additional services or direct you to service providers you’ll need throughout your transaction, but which team member will you call? How do you know that the administrative assistant or newly licensed agent who picks up your call will know who to direct you to? Do you really want someone who has never worked a transaction before to give you advice about which contractor to call for an emergency plumbing repair or which inspector will take the best care of you?

When you call me for help, you’re drawing on my decades of experience in both the mortgage and real estate realms, and my second-to-none network of proven professional colleagues. I know exactly which staging designer, general contractor, repair professional, or landscaper to refer you to, not to mention which mortgage officer, title company, or home inspector you need. 

The relationships I’ve developed allow me to provide recommendations and referrals with confidence because I know the type of outstanding work these folks have provided for my other clients. You don’t have to worry about cookie-cutter services or a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing your listing if you’re a seller or showing you properties if you’re a buyer. As an individual agent, I’m focused on providing individual service to you — service that’s tailored to your specific needs and requirements.

Approaches to the client relationship

A real estate team is all about scale, and that scale is designed to be good for the team, not for the client. While they can guide you through the transaction and all the way to the closing table, their approach is fragmented among the various members of the team and their different levels of responsibility. That means that even if you find someone you like working with, you may never end up talking to them again since you will have moved on to another phase of the transaction — and yet another team member.

When I develop a professional relationship with my clients, it’s not for 30 minutes at that first meeting or even for a month or two during the sale or purchase process. The fact is, I want to be your real estate agent for life, helping you again and again as you make decisions about your home. 

When you work with an individual agent who really knows you, you have a trusted resource to call on time and again in the years ahead, in any of the following situations:

  • When you’re buying that first home
  • When you’re selling a starter home and moving up to a larger home
  • When you’re selling the big family home and downsizing
  • When you’re buying a second home or investment property
  • When you’re looking for an agent referral in another market
  • When you’re looking for an agent to refer to a friend or family member
  • When you’re selling an inherited property
  • When you’re looking for value-added improvements to make to your existing home
  • When you’re wondering about the impact of the latest economic shift on the potential price of your property

There’s virtually no limit to the number of ways that I can assist you in the years after you’ve closed on your current transaction. Having a trusted agent on your team is essential as you keep track of the local market and seek to maximize the value of your home. I’m here to help you make smarter decisions year after year.

Weigh the pros and cons for yourself

Some people like the idea of a large team. They like to know that if they need something, there’ll always be someone to answer the phone and that they’ll never have to wait for a response if their agent is meeting with another client.

While a team does provide that benefit, remember that the person on the other end of the phone is rarely the most knowledgeable person on the team — and may not be a licensed real estate agent at all. Do you want to take a chance on having an ill-qualified junior agent or staff member providing guidance on the most important, and most expensive, transaction of your life?

The flexibility and responsiveness of a boutique real estate agent are something that a large, impersonal real estate team just can’t match. As my client, you’ll experience the peace of mind that comes with having someone who’s 100 percent committed to the success of your real estate goals. Whether you’re buying or selling, as an individual agent I can provide you with a cohesive, streamlined approach to ensure a more successful outcome.

Contact me to discuss your plans and let’s put together a process that will help you achieve them. In the meantime, if you’re a buyer and you have some questions about the financing process, check out my article surveying your mortgage options. If you’re a seller, check out this article on how to get top dollar for your house.

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