Whether you are just beginning a career in real estate or a you’re a seasoned veteran, choosing a the right brokerage firm to hang your shingle is a balance of heart and mind. The heart will say that you should feel comfortable in your surroundings and with the people. The mind will say that it must help your career grow and be a good fit with your goals. Below are the top 10 things to consider after you get your real estate license. More specifically how to choose a firm.
We will start by looking at the two things that I consider to be the prep work for the rest of the list. Before deciding on a firm (or for that matter, any job) we all need to take an introspective look at who we are and what makes us tick. We also need to really think about our long term goals for our new career. After we have explored these two topics we will be better equipped to answer other questions. So let’s begin:
1. Self Analysis: It’s important to understand two things about yourself. First, what type of environment do you thrive in. Really think about your work experience so far. If you’re just out of school then think about the study groups and social surroundings that made you succeed. Jot a few notes down and give this some thought. Second, ask yourself what motivates you (money is not an answer). What really motivates you to want to do better? Is it competition, good teams, having defined targets? Finding the right environment to thrive end will take your career to greater heights.
2. Career Goals: Look at both the short and long term goals that you have for your career. Write them out and look at them as we go through the next 8 things to consider. Where do you see your career in 5 and 10 years. Try and get as specific as you can with these goals. If you want to be the top real estate expert in your local area, then define that area and write down what you mean by “top”. Think in terms of measurable goals.
Now that you have looked little more at your motivations and goals, it’s now time to consider the firms that will be the right fit for you. The remaining 8 things to consider are not in any particular order so please consider all of them.
3. Location: Where are the offices of the firms located? If one of your goals is to be an expert in a certain area then it might be beneficial to pick a firm with an office in that area. The offices should be convenient to your clients and yourself. It will also be beneficial if the office gets foot traffic (walk in traffic). We have all heard the following phrase before and there is a reason it’s still valid… location, location, location!!!
4. Training/Support: Most large firms have excellent training programs so please ask questions that pertain to the specific drivers that motivate you. If you work best with a mentor then ask if they have a mentoring program. Do they have dedicated trainers that you can use? Do they offer classes? Does the firm have a dedicated training support staff that can help?
5. Culture: Do you like the people? What type of culture do they aspire to have? What kind of culture do they really have? Talk to several agents in the office informally to get their impressions. Make sure to talk to agents with a wide range of experience and time at the agency? Are the partners of the firm out to grow the number of agents or grow the quality of their existing agents?
6. Brand Recognition of Firm: Making sure that you are comfortable with the brand that you will represent is a key consideration when choosing a firm.
- Nationally branded firms tend to have well established training programs and resources for new agents. They are also great when you are looking for referral business. As great as the resources and brand may be it usually comes at a price. The monthly office fees tend to be a little higher to help support these features.
- Regional firms can have an established brand in your market. Resources can vary from office to office so do your homework. In my experience some clients really prefer to use the “local” firm that has been around for one or more generations.
- Small shops and startup firms will likely have little to no formal training and IT support but where they lack in organization they can make up for with ingenuity. In today’s marketplace if you list a home on a MLS then within a few days will likely be all over the internet on sites like Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com. Getting the word out on the internet is not hard, no matter the size of the firm. Larger firms have more agents to help spread the word locally and could have a larger buyer list pool to pull from so that is where the smaller firms must rely on more ingenuity and grass roots marketing strategies to get the word out. The key for a new agent looking for a smaller firm is to make sure that they’re a self starter and like thinking out of the box. Also, make sure the broker in charge is available and approachable for guidance and questions.
7. Co-Workers: Who are the other agents in the firm? A few things to think about when it comes to the other agents in the firm include the number of agents and how long have most of them been at the firm.
- The number of agents can help you determine how much of time you will get for each available resource. The more agents in a firm could equate to less one-on-one time with a mentor or training officer.
- What is the turnover in the firm. The firm may have lots of agents but if the average length of time is short then there may be an underlying issue. If you’re unsure then ask around. Don’t be afraid to ask the bold questions.
8. Brokerage Fees and Commissions: Firms can vary widely how they charge you for the right to be a representative of their company. Do your research and make sure you fully understand the monthly fees and how the commission splits and caps will impact you. Here are a couple of things to remember:
- Is there a cap on commissions? Some firms will take a percentage of your commission up to a point and once you surpass the “cap” then the commission for the remainder of the year is yours. This is a good incentive to reach that cap and make more money for yourself
- Are you paying desk fees? Some firms will charge you for desk fees and you may not need them. Make sure that you ask if these are negotiable if you decide to work exclusively from home. New agents and provisional brokers may be required to have a desk at the office until other conditions are met.
These are just a couple of things to consider with broker fees and commission splits. Again, do your research and don’t be afraid to negotiate.
9. Technology: Knowing how to maneuver through today’s social media with technology is becoming a must in today’s marketplace. Marketing yourself on search engines and social media is vital to building your brand and generating leads. Larger firms have resources already dedicated to helping their agents. These are great tools if you are uncomfortable with certain area in technology. However, if you have already set up a blog or created pages in social media applications then you may be more comfortable with what I’m about to say – I’ve found that with my long term goals, it’s best for me to be able to control my brand and content on the platforms of my choice (like Word Press). That way, if I do ever change firms then I will only have to update my site and possibly a few links and NOT lose any valuable search engine rankings that I have built up.
10. Niches: You may already have a particular niche in mind for your business. If so, then make sure your firm can support you with your market niche of choice. If you already have a specific market niche in mind then the best case scenario is to find a firm that needs someone to fill that niche and take it over. If that firm already has an agent that dominates a certain market area then you may want to consider talking with them about your plans and see how you can both benefit or move on to another firm.
These 10 things to consider are meant to help you in your search for the right firm to work with in your career. I wish you the best of luck in your career and please feel free to add any other suggestions and comments below.