“Can do” attitude
Enjoy seeing different kinds of real estate
Continually build and enhance sales skills
Great income potential with unlimited growth
Work on your own schedule
Help people find the right homes for them
The pride and flexibility of being your own boss
One key to success in real estate—besides implementing lucrative professional skills and strategies—is choosing the best broker or firm to affiliate with. Although making this decision takes time and research, it is one of the most important choices you will make at the advent of your career.
Find a broker who shares your work ethic, approach to the business, and professionalism. This will result in a comfortable and compatible work environment.
Just as real estate consumers shop around for the best property, you should do the same in pursuing the best brokerage firm. Examine and evaluate their:
Interior and exterior amenities.
Advertising and other promotional efforts.
Although you cannot always judge a book by its cover, you should not disregard the first impression created by the physical exterior and interior of your potential professional home. If the aesthetics and atmosphere of a facility does not attract you or make you feel comfortable, it is likely that consumers will feel the same way.
Outside, inspect the firm’s signs, entrances, parking options, and overall appearance. Also consider the location and neighborhood. What is the size of the firm? There are advantages and disadvantages to affiliating with small one-man shops, large establishments, and every size in-between.
Inside, examine the level of cleanliness and arrangement of work space and offices. Is the foyer welcoming, uncluttered, and comfortable? Are there easily accessible private or semi-private areas in which to discuss customer needs and/or explain and sign contracts? What is the noise level like? Are you greeted immediately upon walking in the door? Imagine you are a consumer walking in for the first time; if nobody takes the time to greet you, imagine how potential clients will be treated.
Check out the way the brokerage promotes itself around town through real estate periodicals, local newspapers, billboards, social media, websites and even radio and television spots. This will give you a preliminary glimpse into the:
Broker’s professional policies.
Company’s ability and efforts to attract quality clientele.
Nature of your fellow real estate salespersons when they are featured.
The real estate company’s online presence is also significant. Web sites provide you with more in-depth information about the brokerage including its history, professional affiliations, mission statement, awards, sponsorships, and staff. In addition to examining the information available, you’ll also want to determine if the site is consumer-friendly. A well-organized site with an appealing design will attract the public. Listings with current data, quality photos, and an option for virtual tours will keep them there. More importantly, the best real estate Websites encourage consumers to contact the firm and establish business relationships with its agents, including you if you decide to affiliate with them.
If you have an overall positive impression of the company’s location, office building, promotional efforts, and Web site, you should also schedule an interview with the qualifying broker before making a final decision. A one-on-one interview serves four main functions:
Get to know the professional you may one day work under.
Evaluate the broker’s work ethic, business approach, and professionalism to see how compatible they are with yours.
Obtain responses to any unanswered questions you have about the company.
Establish rapport with a fellow real estate agent even if you do not choose his or her brokerage. As you know, the real estate industry is unique in that one must often cooperate with the competition in order to close a transaction.
Note-taking is especially important when interviewing the broker. Either from the handouts the broker provides you, or from your conversation, determine the answers to these questions:
What are the office policies and code of ethics? Are they fair and easy to understand?
Will you be a regular employee or an independent contractor?
What do the onboarding and training programs consist of?
Is there any cost involved? How will you be compensated, what are the commission splits?
What are the broker/company’s professional affiliations in terms of local boards, and real estate organizations?
What resources will you be provided to perform your duties?
Which of those resources must you pay for (are there desk or licensing fees, business cards and For Sale Signs)?
Let’s examine a few of the more significant questions in-depth. Your discoveries will be the key to discovering your professional home.
You may be uneasy about asking for such financial information upfront, but it is imperative that you know how your potential broker and staff perform against the competition. Although ethical brokers will not disclose specific names and annual compensation amounts, it is perfectly reasonable for you to request a general income range and the firm’s market share percentage, which fiscally responsible businesses keep on file.
Real estate salespersons and associate brokers can affiliate with a broker as either an employee or independent contractor. There are pros and cons to each.
Employees usually receive a regular salary and are provided benefits.
However, their employers have more direct control of how, when, and where these affiliates perform their professional duties.
Ninety percent of real estate agents are independent contractors. Brokers prefer to hire independent contractors because compensation and tax requirements are simpler. Although contractors are fully responsible for their income taxes and receive no benefits, they are able to claim business deductions that regular employees cannot. There is also increased flexibility regarding the “when” and “where” aspects of their professional tasks. For example, floor duty is required of employees, but is technically an option for independent contractors.
This question is directly related to how you affiliate with your qualifying broker. Usually, employees receive regular weekly, biweekly, or monthly salary checks, while independent contractors are paid through commission splits when they close a real estate transaction. All brokers have distinct policies on how commissions will be divided between the broker and participating affiliate. Ask for a copy of this policy during your interview. If the figures seem lower than other brokers, keep in mind that:
This split may increase in your favor as you advance and become more successful.
The broker may pay for certain advertising, technology, branding, leads and support staff that other brokers will not.
Knowing how brokers recruit, initiate, and train their licensed salespeople is also important. For example, do they hire more affiliates than they need, rush their training, and throw them into the marketplace with a “survival of the fittest” mentality, or is their approach more professional? Marks of a good initiation and training curriculum include:
Partnering you with a mentor or experienced agent.
Giving you adequate access to the broker, managers and support staff in case questions or sticky situations arise.
Providing training sessions designed to help new real estate agents succeed.
Find out what tools the broker provides to carry out your trade. Do you merely get a shared work space and phone? Or, are you also provided your own desk and administrative support? Some brokers offer different levels of work space, from a shared desk to a private office, for different real estate agents depending on such factors as annual sales, seniority.
If you are an independent contractor, expect to pay for most, or all, of your office expenses including desk, software, document management system, electronic signature system, individual marketing, business cards, for sale signs, flyers, listing photographs, video promotions, drone footage, and any other customized marketing material you may need
The firm’s current memberships and affiliations do nothing but augment it’s professional reputation and standing, and therefore yours if you choose to join the team. The majority of brokers are part of a local real estate board and Point2Agent community. Point2Agent is a cooperative effort between brokers and agent in a specific geographic region who combine their listings for mutual financial and marketing benefits. The Point2Agent system allows them to expand their presence and sphere of influence throughout their area and around the world.
It is also a point in the broker’s favor if he or she belongs to a professional real estate organizations such as the AMPI or APIR.
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