When choosing a brokerage, don’t get caught up in the hype… “We are number 1” and other misleading statements that agents fall for. Every agent should qualify their brokerage before agreeing to join. Many recruiters and brokers make agents feel like the agent is the one who is under question and that the broker has the upper hand in the decision. Agreeing to join a brokerage should be a win – win situation for both the agent and the broker. Here are a few key questions to ask before committing to join.
Training and Mentoring: Ask to see a schedule and if you can attend one of the upcoming classes. Are the classes free? Who is the mentor? What accreditations and productions has this person made within the last 6 to 12 months? What is their fee/split? How many agents do they currently mentor? What kind of deals are they generally assisting with: rentals, listings, buyers, commercial, residential? Does the mentor provide leads or only assist after the agent finds the business?
Fees and Splits: Get it in writing. Many franchises and brokerages have sign up fees, monthly operational fees, transactions fees, franchise fees, desk fees, and worst but not least – hidden fees that come up after you join. Some splits are on a sliding scale based on income, some splits are rolled back every year, and some are standard fixed splits. Can I see a list of your fees and what they cover? Are any of the fees negotiable? How often are the fees reviewed and subject to change?
Leads: What type of leads do you provide: Rentals, Buyers, Sellers, Commercial? Where do your leads come from? Are the leads pre-scrubbed, and if so, to what extent? Are the leads “warm to hot”, those who just inquired and are expecting an agent to assist them or are they general “cold” leads from sites that they just sign up to view properties and are not expecting an agent to even contact them yet? Do you have to do cold calling to convert the leads? What is the average lead’s price range? How many leads can I expect on a monthly basis? Is there an additional fee for leads? Is the fee based on per lead taken, monthly, or based on closed transactions from leads provided? How to you distribute, track, and manage the leads? How many agents in the office are currently accepting leads? What is their production?
Technology: What programs and tools do you provide? Is there a fee to use any of the programs or tools? Are they mandatory or can I choose to opt out and not use them? Do you provide training on how to use the programs and tools? Can I use your tools and or programs them outside of the office setting?
Assistance: What type of assistance do you provide? Who will be providing it and what are their accreditations? And if they are busy, sick, or on vacation, do you have someone who can assist in their place? Are they in the office full time? Are there any additional fees for assistance?
Agents: How many agents do you have? How many agents in your office deal with rentals? How many agents deal with buyers? How many agents deal with listings? How many agents deal with commercial? What is the typical status for an agent of your office (Newly licensed, Up and coming, Seasoned)? How many agents are making 6 figures per year? How many agents have an assistant working with them? How many agents are working with a partner as a team? How many groups do you have? How many actually come to the office versus working from home? Can you provide me with a list of all the agents in your office so I may choose a few on my own to call and ask how their experience has been working here? (If you are choosing a brokerage because they offer leads, ask for the names of the agents that currently accept leads so you can ask them how their experience has been.)
Office Setting: Do you have an available desk for me to use? Do I need to pay for the desk? Do I need to bring my own laptop or will you provide me with a computer to use? Do I need to pay for printing? Is the office accessible outside of general office hours, and on holidays? How do I gain access to the office outside of business hours? Do I need to pay for an access card or key? Do you have a conference room? Can you give me a tour of the office?
Terms: What are the additional terms that I should know of if I plan to work here? How negotiable are your terms? If a term changes, such as fees, how will I be notified and how will that affect me (will I be considered as a grandfathered in to the prior terms or will the new terms be mandatory without negotiation)? Do you have any terms that are currently under consideration and may change that I should know about? If I choose to change brokerages, what happens with my pending contracts? Will I be able to take my listings with me? Is there a penalty fee to leave the brokerage? Can I see a copy of your agent-broker agreement?
Extras: When considering a brokerage make note of the office location and accessibility to parking. How hard was it to reach the office manager or broker to set up an interview? Upon arrival did you have to wait for an extended period of time on manager or broker before seeing them? How did they make you feel? Consider how up to date the office is. Is it outdated with old computers, passé décor and abused furniture? Is the office a place where you would be proud to be affiliated with and to bring your clients to? Does the brokerage pay for advertising? Do you see the potential of being with the brokerage and do they offer the ability to grow? Bottom line, what can they actually do for you and are they able to provide proof to back up what they tell you they do?
Broward and Miami are saturated with brokerages and there are a variety of options. Each brokerage offers different programs, tools, systems. Every agent has their own unique circumstance and direction they want to take their career. Make sure the brokerage you choose to join will help you attain your goals. Do your homework and don’t fall for fake promises. If the brokerage offers leads via website – ask for the website address. Get online as if you were a potential customer. Where is this site found in search engines? What are the odds of a customer looking for real estate services finding and contacting the firm; where do you stand in regards as to how the leads are distributed? If they “pre-scrub” the leads, call and inquire as a customer would and see how in depth they pre-qualify you. Many franchise brokerages have recruiting officers that offer tools that many agents will never actually benefit from, however the fees associated are mandatory and each agent is required to pay for these inadequate services that are useless. Having a website without having it ranking in the search engines on the first to third page is like have a suitcase of business cards – throwing it in the closet and expecting someone to call you. Do your research, use your best judgment, and if all else fails go with your gut instinct. In the end, it is you that ultimately determines your career as an agent, and whether you are successful or not. A brokerage is just a catalyst to get reach your financial goals.
By: Tracey Schmitt, Realtor with Best of Luxury Realty www.bestofluxuryrealty.com