Through the years as a real estate professional, Kris Lindahl realized that many sellers wanted to exhaust all their options to get the most from their homes, and they needed someone who could help them make that happen.
The broker-owner of Kris Lindahl Real Estate in Brooklyn Center, Minn., sought to make it as easy as possible for his clients, so he started offering services like staging to differentiate his brokerage from others in the area.
“Being different is hard to beat,” says Lindahl.
In a constantly evolving market, many broker-owners add services to keep clients happy and to boost their bottom lines.
Lindahl decided to create Kris Lindahl Staging years ago as a way of helping bridge the gap between how homes are affected by everyday living and what they need to look like when it’s time to sell.
“The way we live and the way we sell are two different things,” he adds.
His staging company comes with tiered offerings that cater to clients’ various needs and budget. For the client who is more hands-on and just wants some guidance, he offers a consultation in which the homeowner is given a blueprint of 20 actions they can take to maximize their return on their home.
Clients also have the option of using a full-service staging company, in which Lindahl’s staging staff handles the process from start to finish to ensure the property is market-ready.
Lindahl says that often, the services offered through his in-house staging company are more affordable than using an outside company, which is a bonus to clients.
“If they need to rent furniture, it’s at a nominal fee. It’s really affordable and more competitive because we own it,” Lindahl says. “It just makes it a streamlined experience for us to own the staging company.”
Guaranteed Offer Programs
Six years ago, Lindahl also added a guaranteed offer program for clients who wanted to sell their homes without the hassle of the selling process. Lindahl says that the process is typically seamless and takes the pressure off the homeowner to make repairs to, stage, and show the home. First, the owner requests a guaranteed offer from the brokerage, providing information on the specifics of their home. Then, Lindahl’s team does the legwork to create an offer.
“We do a market analysis and, oftentimes, an appraisal to come up with a fair market value price,” he adds.
Homeowners then receive a no-obligation offer and, if they accept it, they move forward with choosing a closing date. The flexibility of choosing their closing date and being able to stay in the home up to 90 days after closing is a draw for many.
“It’s very easy for them to sell. We take on anything the seller wasn’t able to do, like renovations,” Lindahl says. “They can even leave things at the property. We make it convenient by taking on the risk and inconveniences.”
Recent market shifts have spurred an increase in interest in the program, Lindahl says.
“Because of the higher interest rates and demand cooling a bit, we’re actually seeing even more homeowners that need to move fast reach out to us for the guaranteed offer. It allows a seller the flexibility to line up dates when moving into their next home, which can be challenging to do.”
In February 2022, Motto Mortgage Freedom was opened by Palm Paradise Real Estate in Fort Myers, Fla., and housed in the brokerage’s building.
“We wanted to provide more value to our customers by giving them a one-stop shop,” says Marcus Larrea, co-founder, broker-associate and team lead at the real estate company. “We always firmly believe that having a good mortgage partner is one of the most important factors to being a successful real estate agent.”
The brokerage found that frequent issues with outside lenders caused problems agents and customers. For instance, in one client’s case, the day before closing, the lender stopped communicating with the client and didn’t schedule any funding.
“To make matters worse, thanks to a nearby development that had opened between the time of the offer and the closing date, property values had skyrocketed,” states Larrea.
Larrea felt that if he had his own mortgage company at the time, much stress could have been avoided.
“We concluded it was better to run a mortgage company ourselves rather than rely on others to provide what we and our customers need,” he says.
Providing a level of service that results in happy clients is the goal, Larrea says, adding that a happy client is usually a repeat client. In addition to helping to streamline the process for clients, Larrea finds, the addition of an in-house mortgage company has also boosted the brokerage’s bottom line by adding a revenue stream.
Larrea says that he provides all the necessary disclosures to clients and doesn’t push the in-house lender on any customer, reiterating that they have the option to use any mortgage company they choose. Still, he believes word will spread about the customer service that Motto provides and the advantages of working with an in-house lender, which will lead to more customers.
“Choosing our mortgage company gives customers the advantage that, if there are any problems, we can handle them a lot more quickly that we could if we were coordinating with an outside company,” he says.
At a young age, Rich Manzi, co-owner of NextHome Triad Realty in Greensboro, N.C., took an interest in the various components of construction. He learned basic woodworking skills as a teen in shop class, worked as a roofer in his 20s, and learned “a variety of things by trial and error, learning from my mistakes pre-YouTube, and then looking up how to do whatever I was doing and just keep practicing.”
His wife and the brokerage’s co-owner, Amy, encouraged him to take the next step. She knew that after decades as a handyman, he’d honed many skills that could help their clients.
“Out of frustration for our clients who needed contractors, I knew we needed to do something,” Amy says. “We need to provide these services to our real estate community and provide additional help to our brokerage’s clients and agents.”
In 2022, Manzi took the plunge and obtained his general contractors license. The couple opened Next Level Building & Remodeling that same year, hiring a construction team and overseeing the remodeling and building work. Thanks to their strong network and word-of-mouth, they’ve garnered new jobs every month.
“Other agents started sending him due diligence requests,” Amy said. “He’s also getting remodeling requests for other real estate professionals’ personal homes.”
With interest rates and home prices both up, Manzi said that many of his clients can’t afford a move-in-ready home or the cost of the major remodels needed to bring a home up-to-date.
“It can be intimidating if they don’t have any DIY skills,” Rich adds.
With his skill set and keen eye, he helps his clients and his agents’ clients by walking through homes and assessing what’s needed from a remodeling standpoint.
“We have this service that can help them and won’t rip them off,” he said.
Back in Florida, Larrea also saw a need for construction services in his area. The need became critical after Hurricane Ian, the Category 4 storm in September 2022 that devastated parts of the state’s west coast.
“We just saw so many people after the hurricane not getting taken care of with home improvements, and we were not able to find reliable contractors for them,” he says.
People were stuck waiting for someone to help them rebuild. Many times, they couldn’t live in the house because of the destruction, and they couldn’t sell their homes until repairs were completed.
Through mutual friends, he partnered with a local contractor while he worked toward opening his own firm, and not long after, he opened Level Up Design Build.
“We are focusing on major remodels. It offers our clients flexibility,” he says.
This represents a small sampling of the different services a brokerage can offer. When adding services to a brokerage model, what works for each will differ. Each brokerage is unique and each community has specific needs. Before adding a specific service, survey both agents and community members. Find out what the pain points and sticking points are in your specific area, and think about adding services from that perspective.
When adding settlement services, like mortgage lending, it’s also important to ensure you’re complying with Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). Additionally, proactively advise your E&O insurance broker of the services being added, because it might impact coverage.