Whether you’re an experienced real estate sales agent or so new the ink on your license isn’t dry, one thing you must have is a real estate broker. Some agents seem to change brokers as often as they change their socks, while others stick with the same broker for their entire career. Regardless, you need a broker to sell real estate, so what should you look for when choosing one?
Show me the money
For many agents, the primary factor in selecting a real estate broker is the split level the broker offers. The lure of “100% commission” is strong, but it’s a fallacy. Let’s face it — real estate brokers don’t work for free. If a brokerage claims to pay 100 percent commission, it means they will collect from you in other ways, such as transaction fees, E&O premiums, and desk fees. Given the risk and liability real estate brokers take on, it’s only fair that they be compensated.
On the surface it might seem obvious that a brokerage offering an 90/10 split will put more money in your pocket than one with an 80/20 split. Not necessarily. There are many things to consider besides commission. Let’s examine five of the most important factors.
1. Company culture
While it’s hard to assign a precise value to the atmosphere and company culture of a real estate brokerage, it is a critical factor to consider. As a real estate agent, you work independently much of the time, but you’ll also need to work closely with your broker, office staff and other agents. A good cultural fit can make a difference in level of job satisfaction and enjoyment. All the money in the world means nothing if you’re miserable while you make it. Selling real estate is hard enough as it is without having to deal with a cultural mismatch.
2. Training, coaching and mentoring
A new agent needs access to good training. Real estate licensing school teaches you to pass a licensing exam; it does little to prepare you to actually sell real estate for a living. Good training and coaching is the cornerstone for a successful real estate career.
For a seasoned veteran, training may seem less critical that it is for the new licensee. Given how fast real estate is changing — with new technology and different client expectations and demands — ongoing training should be a strong consideration for any agent, regardless of tenure.
Finding a brokerage that offers solid training, maybe even a mentoring program, is an important factor. If you’re researching a brokerage, ask if you can sit in on some of their training classes. Any good broker should welcome this as an opportunity to show you what they have to offer. If you talk to a broker that won’t let you experience their training unless you join the brokerage, consider it a clue to their company culture.
3. Broker availability
A factor that is probably more important for a newer agent than a more experienced one is broker availability. As a new agent, you’ll have a lot of questions for your broker. Getting a timely response from your broker when you have a question or concern is a reasonable expectation. The best way to determine if a broker is easily accessible is to ask the agents at that brokerage how they get “broker time” when they need it. A good broker should welcome you talking to their agents.
4. Business opportunity
Again, depending where you are in your real estate career, what a brokerage offers in terms of securing new business might an important factor to consider. Experienced agents tend to generate their own business through lead generation, past clients and referrals. Newer agents often need leads to work. Some brokerages distribute leads internally, have relocation departments, offer “floor time” and provide tools to help agents increase their business. Some brokerages leave all of that up to the individual. Be sure to understand and factor in the potential cost of leads provided by the brokerage when you examine whether or not to join an office.
5. Services and support
Services and support is another area that can vary significantly from brokerage to brokerage and even among individual offices within a franchise. Maybe all you need is a flat surface and an electrical outlet to plug in your laptop. Or maybe you need software, tech support and a full suite of office equipment to do your job. Whether you need a little or a lot, make sure you understand what a brokerage offers in the way of tools and support.
Lots to consider
There’s more to real estate brokerages than split. Company culture, training, availability, opportunity and support are important factors to consider when choosing a brokerage. Interviewing the broker, office staff and a few agents will help you make the right decision. Though it’s easy to switch brokerages if you make a poor choice, keep in mind the cost of doing so. You’ll have to rebrand everything from websites to social profiles, and you’ll need new business cards and signage. Do your homework, analyze your specific needs and priorities, and then pick the right brokerage for you.
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