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Inform the consumer, say home brokers

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The catch phrase in the real estate business these days is consumer education. Not so long ago a real estate broker could sign an agreement with a nationwide franchise and expect to generate more business, but today that's not enough.

In response, real estate franchise operations are changing dramatically. A broker now needs more than a sign that signals to the world that he is a member of Century 21, Red Carpet, or some other group.

Indeed, consumers have learned there is no real difference between the quality of service provided by a franchise member and a nonfranchise broker. So today's franchise organizations are finding that they must provide substantive service programs for their broker members - services that are genuinely helpful to property-buying and -selling consumers.

Franchises, as a result, are going into consumer education in a big way, providing printed materials as well as video tapes for use in consumer seminars - a wide variety of informational programs keyed to the interests of today's consumer.

Other services include creatively structured financing programs, referral operations, home-warranty plans, and other special services.

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Service, for example, has expanded its consumer-education programs substantially to cover a wide range of informational printed materials which are distributed to consumers by member brokers.

Generally, these materials fall into four categories, according to Gayle G. Butler, spokesman for the franchise.

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