Selecting a Real Estate Office to Work For: 4 Considerations

Jan 25, 2017 Realtor Resources Share:

When choosing a real estate office to join, finding a brokerage that aligns with your goals is important. There are many great real estate offices, each with their own strengths. Take time to review the offices you are exploring. Asking the broker the right questions and learning as much as you can about the real estate office will help as you decide which office is right for you. A great office can be a big part of your future growth.

Here are 4 things to consider when selecting a real estate office:

1. Commision and Fee Structure

Money is a huge factor when choosing a real estate office, and brokers vary widely on the subject. Some will cover more expenses and tools up front in exchange for a larger share of your commissions, while others will let you keep more of your earnings in exchange for a “desk fee.” Be sure to ask a potential broker about commission splits and fees, then decide if those arrangements fit your work style and needs. Here are some additional thoughtful questions to consider regarding commission and fees:

  • Is there a commission cap?
    A commission cap is the maximum amount of commission the brokerage will keep each year. For example, if the “cap” is $20,000 and you generate $200,000 in gross commission, you will net $180,000. If an agent cap is NOT offered and you are on a 60/40 commission split, then $80,000 would go to the broker and you would net $120,000.
  • Are there any other brokerage-related fees? Even some of the traditional real estate brokerages are now beginning to charge for things like copies and certain phone services. That's because they're having a harder time with profitability in today's market. A few common ones include:
    • Monthly office fee
    • Monthly MLS fee
    • Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O)
    • Education fee (often charged for the new licensee course they offer)
    • Start up fee
    • Desk fees
  • Are there any franchise fees? Some large real estate brokerages may charge a 3% to 8% “franchise fee” on top of the commission split.

2. Technology

Real estate technology has exploded over the past few years and the real estate business is becoming more paperless every day. When searching for a real estate company, be sure to find out what kind of software and technology they provide. Some of the best real estate brokerages offer great technology and more importantly support for the technology they provide. If a broker’s technology seems outdated now, beware: chances are they won’t be any more interested in updating or modernizing later.

3. Training

No matter how confident or intelligent you are, as you grow as a real estate agent, you’ll still need guidance to navigate industry changes. Some brokers offer formal mentoring and training programs on everything from sales to technology to ethics. Others drop a company manual on your desk and wish you luck. Make sure the firm you choose will provide the support you need to be successful. Also consider continuing education opportunities and questions such as:

  • What type of classes do you offer and how often?
  • Are the classes all in-person or do you offer online courses (that you can view at your convenience)?
  • Who can I contact if I have questions about a contract? Are they available after hours if I have an urgent issue?
  • Do you have a mentor program? If so, how does it work? Typically, the agent mentor program will last for your first 3 to 6 months in the business (or the first few transactions) and you may share a percentage of your sales commission with your mentor in exchange for their guidance.

Mentoring and training mean more to some than to others. Most new agents definitely need training in contracts, negotiating and procedures that are predominant in their market area. However, when it comes to sales/marketing training, or motivational things, your needs can be quite different than those of the next person.

4. Company Culture

While it may be difficult to determine the atmosphere and company culture of a real estate brokerage, it is critical to learn as much as possible beforehand. As a real estate agent, you work independently much of the time, but also need a supportive environment when issues arise and/or when you want to take your business to the next level. It can make a BIG difference to your success and happiness! A few questions to ask prospective real estate offices:

  • How often do you have team meetings, lunch & learn sessions, etc.?
  • What are your expectations for me? What requirements do you have for agents in your real estate brokerage? This could include office requirements/fees, being a full-time agent, attending certain meetings, etc.
  • Ask for the broker to describe the overall atmosphere in the office?
  • Take a tour of the real estate office and meet some of agents and staff. You might even ask to sit in on an upcoming office meeting.
  • Ask if you can contact 3 to 5 agents who work in the office? It’s always a beneficial to get input from other real estate agents in the office!