New real estate agents have a lot going on during their first few years in the profession from licensing to marketing, relationship building and more. In fact, so much so that 80 percent of agents will end up leaving the profession entirely within the first two years (ouch!). That high percentage alone is a flashing red sign that new realtors need to be selective when choosing a real estate broker.
The right fit — and a supportive managing broker — is a crucial way for new agents to cut that learning curve into the profession short. In reality, it’s not at all like a traditional job interview; the agent as the interviewee has a lot more power than a typical job candidate. You have options when it comes to brokerage size, culture, commission split, support, and more, which is why new real estate agents should do what some would say, “shop around.” And that’s just step one: interview several brokerages to gauge which brokerages feel most suitable to your success. From there, it’s important to keep goals in mind when choosing a real estate broker. What are you looking for? Here are a few guidelines on what to look for when choosing your first real estate broker.
What size brokerage do you want to work for?
Likely the first decision to make as a new real estate broker, you need to decide what size brokerage to work for. Generally, you have three brokerage types to choose from:
- Local brokerage — Working for a much smaller brokerage gives you local connections and hands-on experience with leadership and other agents, but you won’t have the name recognition as larger offices.
- National brokerage — Opting for a national brand gets you in the doors of well-known brokerages like Keller Williams or Re/Max. They’re large, have great name recognition and can be a great starting point for many agents as long as you can handle a little competition.
- Specialty brokerage — Some brokerages specialize in basic areas like commercial or residential, but you also might want to specialize in a niche like luxury properties, green real estate or new construction.
- Team — Choosing to join a team gives new agents an umbrella of support because you work under successful agents. One report found that only 22 percent of agents could fully support themselves after working six months on the job. A team setup is a way to ensure a quicker paycheck. However, working with other agents lets you focus on your strengths, but it also comes with less name recognition and a smaller commission split.
Has the brokerage modernized its business and tech?
When interviewing brokerages, it’s easy to see which have utilized modern technology for marketing, websites and back office and accounting. A quick Google search will tell you if they invested in a strong website to generate leads and attract clients and have a social media presence.
Potential clients look for professionalism, and a poorly designed website can have them turning the other way. In addition to clients, you want a broker who strongly markets you as the agent online. Keep in mind that you may not be with this brokerage for the entirety of your career — in fact, we’d bet that you won’t. Building your own digital presence is just as important, and a brokerage with a strong digital presence and expertise can support you in your own growth.
Essentially, if the broker isn’t investing in something as simple as the site, it’s probably a red flag for everything from outdated technology to legacy workflows.
What kinds of agent training and mentorship are available?
Like we said, there’s a lot to learn in the first few years as an agent, which makes mentorship and training a very important thing to consider. Just remember that you’re working as an independent contractor, so different brokers can run their business in very different ways. For example, is the brokerage hands-on in mentoring you, or once onboard, are you expected to run your own show? How extensive are the training opportunities? These are all important questions to ask when you sit down with potential brokers.
What is the commission split?
Many decisions come down to the money: how much do you make on a sale? These days, brokerages work on different playing fields when it comes to fees, leads, online or print ad space, and expenses. Before relying 100% on what the numbers are in the commission split, consider whether the brokerage stands on these areas as well. Is it better to take a higher commission split, or is it better to take a slightly lower split with more lead generation support and no office expense fees?
What is the reputation and company culture like?
Maybe the most important thing to look for when choosing a real estate broker is a simple question: will you be happy here? The way a business is run completely dictates your experience as a new real estate agent, and that experience starts all the way at the top.
The broker’s reputation is a key clue as to whether you’ll be happy working for them. Here’s how to get an insider look at the way brokers run their business:
- Contact current real estate agents to get the inside scoop — and if they’ve had either a positive or negative experience, make sure to get the details on why.
- What is the agent turnover rate and average length agents stay on with the brokerage? If it’s relatively short, it’s probably not a great sign that agents enjoy working there. Look for brokerages to have agents stay on a bit longer than average.
- How do agents interact, and how much support is there? If you want to avoid a cut-throat, competitive work culture, then it may be best to search for a brokerage that offers more support as opposed to one that encourages independent work.
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