7 Steps for Agents Who Want to Choose the Right Broker
If you’re thinking about becoming a real estate agent, then you probably already know that you will need to work under a brokerage in order to start working with clients and closing deals. Though there are pros and cons to choosing to be an agent instead of becoming a broker, the fact of the matter is that you cannot practice as a real estate agent (or a broker’s assistant, as it’s called in some states) unless you are sponsored by a real estate broker or brokerage and until you’ve met the requirements to eventually go off on your own and work as a broker yourself.
Although you will be interviewed by the broker, you are also interviewing them at the same time. This is not just an opportunity to get a job placement. The terms you discuss at your interview and the brokerage you choose could set the precedent for a long and meaningful career, or a short stint at a job that could have been something promising.
1) Make sure you meet all the requirements
Before you can apply to a brokerage, you’ll want to be sure you’ve met all the requirements in your state. Take whatever courses you must take and complete in order to become an agent, and then pass your licensure exams. If you plan on working near a state border, then you may want to consider being licensed as an agent in both states. And, if you plan on moving to another state in the near future, take a look at whether or not your license will be reciprocated.
Lastly, if you’ve been out of real estate for a while but you used to be an agent, be sure that your license has not expired, and if it has, do what you need to in order to renew it. Also, if you want to become a member of NAR, now would be a good time to make that decision.
2) Do your research
There are many different brokerages out there for real estate agents to choose from, but not all of them will be the right fit for you. Whether you choose to go with an individual broker or a brokerage group/franchisee, all of them will have their pros and cons. Look locally, but also, take a look at what some of the most well-known and top-rated brokerages are, according to SmartAsset:
- Century 21
- Keller Williams Realty, Inc.
- Coldwell Banker
- ERA Real Estate
- Sotheby’s International Realty
To start, read up on these companies and compare and contrast them to one another to see if a few of these brokerages stand out to you. And, of course, see if these companies have locations where you live.
3) Ask for recommendations
In addition to doing your research in big-name brokers, also look at individual and local brokerages, as this may be a better way for you to get into the business when you’re first starting out. Look at a local newspaper to find who is working in the area or use the function on Realtor.com to find Realtors (and hopefully) brokers within your area.
Of course, also ask for recommendations and make connections in your community. Did you work with a broker when you bought your house in town? You can even consider reaching out to them if you had a good experience.
4) Apply to several brokerages
Now, the fun begins. It’s time to start applying to different brokerages. This is actually a very important step, because you should think of each interview as a practice-round for when you’ll eventually be dealing with your own clients. Dress smart for your interviews – how you would if you were meeting with a client – and be prepared to ask as many questions to your broker as they are about to ask you.
5) Prepare questions
The most critical part of choosing the right broker comes down to the questions you ask and the answers you’ll get. Since brokers each run their businesses a little bit differently, this is how you’ll find out whether or not a certain broker will meet your needs and wants as a real estate agent. Some questions to ask are:
- Is there a base pay, or just commission – or both?
- What is the commission split? These can range from 50/50 to 70/30
- What kind of mentoring and training programs do they offer?
- How will you receive leads and prospects? What are there projections for you?
- Are there other fees, like “desk fees”? Are there any other fees or money that will come out of your pay which you should know about?
- Will you get space in their advertising catalogs?
- What is the atmosphere like?
- What expectations can I have working here?
6) Consider your options and negotiate
Once you get the answers that you need, it’s time to go home and think about your options. Remember that just because one brokerage offers a better commission split, they may charge you to use everything from their phones to their internet. And, a broker that has a higher commission split may have excellent training and mentoring opportunities that other brokers simply aren’t offering. If you like 90% of what one brokerage is offering and you are thinking of going with them, then feel free to bring any concerns you have about the other 10%.
7) Make your decision
Finally, it’s time to make your decision. You’ve already made the decision to become a real estate agent, and this experience at a broker is a chance for you to really learn if you love this job and if it’s something you want to do long term. In the beginning, you may not be making as much money to quit your day job to become an agent (unless your broker makes it clear that you will be able to).
But, you will be able to understand if you want to do this part-time, full-time, or just try it out for a few months to see what happens. Since you will have to sign a contract, be sure to read the fine print so that there are no surprises, especially if you think another, better opportunity may open up in the future.
Brokers, do you have any advice for new real estate agents? Why would you hire one agent over another, and what’s your hiring process like altogether? What do you offer agents that other brokerages aren’t? Let us know in the comments below!