Brokerages are not one-size-fits-all, so before jumping ship, think it through thoroughly. Ensure the company has a culture and philosophy that aligns with your vision by asking these eight essential questions.
1. Does your brokerage offer agent support, and if so, to what extent?
The amount of support an agent receives will be one of the most significant differences in brokerages and brands. Some are geared more toward the self-sufficient agent, while others will do everything for you.
If you want an admin to enter listings into the MLS, prepare e-blasts, postcards, and other marketing materials, choose a brokerage that provides that type of support. If you are OK doing this yourself, this type of support will not matter. In general, the more support a brokerage offers, the higher the fees might be for you.
2. What do you do to retain your agents?
When a brokerage focuses more on recruiting than retention, it can be a red flag. Good brokerages will spend as much time on the retention of good agents as they do on recruiting. The broker should have a clear answer regarding incentive programs geared toward agent retention.
3. Do you encourage your agents to come into the office to work?
Working from home or at the office is vital to many agents. If you work better around others than you do in a home office alone, then desk space and a busy office are essential for your success. Some offices are quiet, while others are full of energy. Pay attention to the vibe, and choose a brokerage that fits your work style best.
4. What are you doing to incorporate new technology into your real estate brokerage?
Old school brokerages that rely mostly on old school methods such as door-knocking and calling FSBOs and expired listings are fading, while brokerages that encourage video, social media and iBuying tools are becoming more relevant.
Make sure the brokerage you choose embraces new technology. It’s OK if it teaches a mix of old- and new-school methods to agents. It’s not OK if it’s ignoring new methods of prospecting.
5. Does your brokerage encourage teams?
The trend in real estate is moving more toward teams and less toward the individual agent. However, brokerages embrace teams differently. Some look at them as a group of agents that share commission and responsibilities based on their separate agreements with the brokerage.
Others allow the team leader to set commission and all other requirements for their team members. In this case, the brokerage pays the team (usually a business entity), and the team pays the team members.
As a new agent, being part of a team gives a sense of belonging, and though commission might be less, you make up for it in volume. If you are thinking about being part of a team, interview multiple teams before deciding which one to join.
6. What fees do you charge your agents, and which ones are optional?
If you don’t need a desk, you don’t want to pay for one. Some brokerages have high monthly fees, and others have no fees at all. Ask about mandatory fees, what they cover, and what fees and offerings are optional. You’ll want a brokerage that, at minimum, offers a website, lead capture, and customer relationship management (CRM).
7. What are your commission tiers, and do you have a cap?
Too many agents get wrapped up in their commission split. If you’re not selling, your split doesn’t matter, so choose a brokerage that fits your needs first, and then consider commissions.
Companies that have a cap will give you a 100 percent commission once you meet your annual cap. Other companies will increase the commission as you meet specific sales levels. Your commission will not reset at these companies every year, but it might decrease if your annual volume falls below your previous year’s volume.
8. Do you have franchise fees?
If you choose a brokerage with franchise fees, you will always give a portion of your gross commission toward these fees. The more you make, the more you’ll give. Franchise fees are usually up to 8 percent of your gross commission. That can add up over time.
Changing brokerages is a stressful experience. If your current broker has everything you want and need, stay where you are. If you’ve outgrown your brokerage, it’s time to move on. In the end, what’s most important is choosing a brokerage that fits your needs today and can grow with you into the future.