The New Agent Guide to Choosing Your First Real Estate Office

April 11, 2022

Starting as a new real estate agent is daunting. You've just finished cramming for an exam, and now it's time to jump into a commission-only business where you only get paid when you're successful. BUT...before you can do that, you need to choose an office to work with.

In this guide, we will go over some key points to look for when choosing an office and the different types of brokerages that exist, so you can make an informed decision on which is best for you.

How to Choose a Real Estate Company to Work For

As a new real estate agent, you'll have many options when it comes to choosing a brokerage to work for. With so many companies out there promising the world, how can you know which one is right for you? Here are some things to consider that will help you make the best decision for your career.

Do your research

The first step is to do your research and narrow down your options. Talk to other agents, look at company reviews online, and visit brokerages in person to get a feel for the culture. Once you have a few companies in mind, it's time to start interviewing.

Consider the commission split.

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a brokerage is the commission split. Most brokerages will take a percentage of your commissions, so you'll want to make sure you're getting a fair deal. Ask about the splits during your interviews, and be sure to compare them side by side.

Ask about training and support.

As a new agent, you'll need all the training and support you can get. Be sure to ask about what kind of training and resources each company offers. Find out if they have new agent mentorship programs, ongoing education classes, and marketing support.

Consider the location

Location is important for a few reasons. First, you'll want to make sure the brokerage is convenient for you to get to. But you should also consider the location of the homes you'll be selling. If most of your business will be in a specific area, it might be advantageous to work for a company that has an office in that neighborhood.

Review the company's policies and culture

When considering a new company, be sure to review their policies and culture. Things like dress code, work hours, and vacation time can vary from one brokerage to another. You'll want to make sure the company's policies are a good fit for your lifestyle and needs.

Choosing the right brokerage is a big decision, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. By taking the time to do your research and ask the right questions, you can be sure you're making the best choice for your career.

Want to go deeper on the questions you should ask and the specifics that make the difference in choosing your first office to work with?

What are your short-term and long-term goals?

Before you start looking for a new brokerage, it's essential to sit down and think about your goals. What are you hoping to achieve in your career? Are you looking for a company that will provide extensive training and support? Or are you interested in a more hands-off approach? Knowing what you want out of your career will help you narrow down your options and find the right company for you.

What is your ideal work/life balance?

Your work/life balance is important, and it's something you should consider when choosing a new company. If you're looking for a flexible schedule or the ability to work from home, be sure to ask about those things during your interviews. Some companies are more flexible than others, so it's important to find one to fit your needs.

What is your ideal company culture?

Company culture is essential to many people, and it's something you should definitely consider when choosing a new brokerage. Do you want to work for a large company or a smaller company? A family-owned business? Do you prefer a laid-back atmosphere or a more formal environment? Be sure to ask about the culture during your interviews and see if it's a good fit for you.

Are you starting part-time or full-time?

If you're starting your real estate career part-time, you might want to consider working with a discount brokerage. Discount brokerages typically have lower commission splits, which can be beneficial if you're not doing a lot of business. However, if you're planning on working full-time, you might want to go with a traditional brokerage that can provide more support and resources.

What are your marketing needs?

As a real estate agent, you'll need to effectively market yourself and your listings. Be sure to ask about the marketing resources each company offers. Find out if they have a budget for marketing, whether they provide graphic design services, and if they provide any leads or referral programs.

What are your technology needs?

In today's market, it's crucial to have a solid online presence. Be sure to ask about the technology each company offers. Find out if they have a customer relationship management (CRM) system, a listing website, and any other tools you might need to be successful.

What are your training and development needs?

All new agents need some training and development, so be sure to ask about the resources each company offers. Find out if they have an in-house training program, online courses, or anything else that can help you grow in your career.

What are your financial needs?

As a new agent, you might be worried about money. Ask about the commission splits each company offers and whether they offer any bonuses or other incentives. You'll also want to learn about any expenses you might be responsible for, such as marketing costs or office fees.

Now that you know what to look for, it's time to start interviewing companies.

What kind of company should a new real estate agent join?

There are many different types of real estate companies, from large national firms to small local businesses. The kind of company you work for will depend on your goals and preferences.

If you're looking for training and support, a larger company might fit you. These companies typically have more resources to invest in new agents.


National Franchise Brokerages

While each office is small and operated independently in each market, these companies are typically part of a larger franchise, such as RE/MAX or Keller Williams. They often have extensive training programs and support systems in place for new agents.

Pros:

  • Extensive training and support
  • Strong branding and marketing resources
  • A national network of agents


Cons:

  • Potentially more expensive to join
  • More bureaucratic
  • Higher fees for franchise royalties


Agents who want to grow a large business and scale will typically do well at a franchise company that supports those goals. Agents who wish to do their own thing, or want a smaller, less corporate culture, might prefer a different type of company.


Local Independent Brokerages

These small, locally-owned businesses typically don't have the same resources as a larger franchise. They might not have as much money to invest in new agents, but they can offer a more personal touch.

Pros:

  • A more personal, local feel and brand
  • Lower fees
  • More flexible and entrepreneurial


Cons:

  • Less money to invest in new agents
  • Fewer resources and training opportunities
  • Less budget for advertising and technology


Local independent brokerages are suitable for agents who want a more personal touch and more flexible working arrangements. Many markets will have a local, nonaffiliated brokerage that's a hometown favorite compared to the larger franchise offices.


Virtual Real Estate Brokerages

A newer type of company is the virtual real estate brokerage. These companies have no physical office, which allows them to save on overhead costs. They typically use technology to connect agents with clients and provide training and support.

Pros:

  • Low overhead costs
  • Technology-based systems
  • Flexible working arrangements


Cons:

  • Lack of personal interaction
  • Agents who prefer to work independently and don't need a lot of hand-holding will do well at a virtual brokerage. These companies are also a good fit for agents who want more flexible working arrangements, such as the ability to work from home.


Decide Between Going Solo Joining a Team

Once you've decided which type of company is right for you, it's time to determine whether you want to join a team or go solo.

There are pros and cons to both options. Working with a team can provide support and lead generation opportunities, but going solo gives you more control over your business.

It's ultimately up to you to decide which option is the best fit to start your new career.

Joining a Team as a New Agent

When you join a team, you'll be working with a group of agents who collaborate on listing and selling homes. Teams can be helpful for new agents because they provide support, leads, and training.

If you're considering joining a team, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Make sure the team's culture is a good fit for you.

You'll be spending a lot of time with your team, so you must get along and share the same values. Do they have morning meetings, a group chat, or something else that keeps everyone on the same page? Is there a person on the team responsible for helping new agents hit the ground running?

Find out what the team's structure is.

Not all teams are created equal. Some groups have a hierarchical structure with a designated leader, while others operate as true partnerships. You'll need to decide which type of team you're looking for.

Understand what you'll be expected to contribute.

Teams typically have a system in place for generating and sharing leads. You'll need to find out your role in that system. Will you be expected to bring in your own leads, or will the team provide them? Will you have a quota, or are there specific benchmarks you have to hit once you've been on the team for a certain amount of time?

Research the team's track record.

Look at their sales volume and average days on the market to get an idea of their success. How many team members are there? This makes a difference when considering their total sales for the year.

A team with 300 sales and 25 agents is running very efficiently. A team with 300 agents and 300 deals has some underlying issues that may need to be discussed before signing up.

Ask about the team's split.

Most teams have a certain percentage that they take from each commission, so be sure to ask about that before you join. This is typically in addition to the office or brokerage split, so be sure you understand the math on both and know how much money you'll walk away with on a commission check that's $10,000.

Going solo as a new agent

Many new agents choose to go solo because it gives them more control over their business. When you're working by yourself, you get to decide how to run your business and don't have to answer to anyone else. You'll usually have a higher split since there are fewer resources to pay for out of your commission. No team leader must make a profit on your sales.

Of course, some challenges come with going solo. You'll need to be more self-motivated and disciplined, and you won't have the same support system as you would on a team.

If you're considering going solo, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Can you generate your own leads?

You'll need to be proactive about marketing yourself and generating new leads. If you're not comfortable with self-promotion, going solo may not be the best option.

Are you comfortable with networking?

You'll need to get out there and meet new people to grow your business. If you're not a natural networker, it may be worth joining a team to have some help meeting new clients.

Can you stay organized?

When you're working by yourself, there's no one else to pick up the slack if you're not organized. You'll need to be able to keep track of your leads, appointments, and paperwork if you want to be successful.

Do you have a support system?

Working by yourself can be lonely, so it's important to have a support system. This could be a group of fellow solo agents that you meet with regularly or a family member or friend who you can call when you need to vent.

If you're thinking about going solo, make sure you understand what you're getting yourself into and that you have the right personality for it. It's not the right fit for everyone, but it can be a great way to start your career if it is for you.

Now that you know the different types of teams and what to look for, it's time to evaluate commission plans.


Comparing Commission plans for new real estate agents

The commission plan is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a new broker. After all, that's how you'll be making your money.

There are a few different types of commission plans, and the right one for you will depend on your individual business model.


Here are the most common types of commission plans:

The Traditional Plan:

Under this type of plan, the broker takes a percentage of your commission, and you keep the rest. The percentage can vary depending on the broker, but it's usually between 50 and 70%. Sometimes the rate is graduated, meaning your commission percentage goes up as you sell more homes.

The Capped Plan:

Under a capped plan, the broker agrees to cap the amount they take from your commissions once you hit a certain point each year. For example, they may agree to take no more than $16,000 total from an agent in a calendar year. So as soon as you've paid $16,000 according to your commission split, you'll start earning 100% commission for the rest of the calendar year.

The Desk Fee Plan:

Under this type of plan, you pay a monthly or yearly fee to the broker in exchange for the use of their resources. This fee is typically between $500 and $1500 per month.

The 100% Commission Plan:

Under this type of plan, you keep 100% of your commission. The broker makes their money by charging you a monthly or yearly fee, depending on the other services and fees the broker includes in the agreement.

The Transaction Fee Plan:

Under this type of plan, you pay a small fee for each transaction you make. This fee is typically between $50 and $100 per transaction. This plan is often combined with a monthly subscription fee paid by the agent regardless of their sales volume.

Which Commission Plan Is Best for New Newer Agents?

When you're brand new, the commission split isn't necessarily the most important part of the decision, although many make the mistake of deciding where to work based solely on the split.

Part-time agents should look for a team with an established structure for part-timers. When you're not available, support for paperwork and showings will be critically important.

Agents who are starting full-time should examine their marketing skills. Are you prepared to market yourself to get leads? How much cash do you have on hand?

If you're not sure, you have the skills to get leads or the budget to fail, test, and improve, a lower split with marketing support and shared advertising costs may be better.

How to Evaluate the Reputation of a Real Estate Brokerage

The first step in evaluating a new broker is to check their local reputation.

Local reputation is essential. While some offices have locations all over the country, they're owned and operated locally. So a Keller Williams in one state could operate totally differently than another office in the next state over.

Next, ask around. Talk to other agents and see if they're happy with their current brokerage. You can also look for online reviews of brokerages in your area.

But be warned, people are more likely to take the time to write a review if they're unhappy. So don't put too much weight on positive reviews. Instead, look for common themes in the negative reviews.

Finally, check out the broker's website. Are they investing in their online presence? Do they have a modern website with up-to-date information? Or is their website dated and hard to navigate?

A brokerage's investment in their online presence shows they're keeping up with technology and trends. And that's important because the real estate industry is changing rapidly.

Ask Your Network

As you start your search for the perfect brokerage, reach out to your network of family, friends, and acquaintances.

You may be surprised to find that someone you know already has experience with a broker in your area. And they may have some great insights to share.

What to Look for Related to Training

If you're considering an office based on the training they offer, be sure to check the details of each company's program. If you're opposed to cold calling and end up in an office focused on being on the phone every day from 8-11 am making prospecting calls, you may be starting on the wrong foot.

There are a ton of coaches and trainers that operate independently, training agents outside of the brokerage. That's another blog for another day, though.


Now that you know some of the things to look for when choosing a new real estate brokerage, it's time to start asking some questions.


Questions to Ask a Real Estate Broker When You're a New Agent:

1. What type of commission plans do you offer?

2. What are the fees associated with this plan?

3. What type of marketing support do you offer new agents?

4. Does your office have mentors or trainers for new agents? How much experience do your new agent trainers have?

5. What is the average production level of your new agents in the first year?

6. What are some of the challenges new agents face when they start with your brokerage?

7. How do you help new agents overcome these challenges?

8. What are some things you wish you could tell new agents about your brokerage that they might not know?

9. Can you give me the contact information for a few new agents who have recently joined your brokerage so I can ask them about their experience?

10. If you were to personally start over in the real estate business as a new agent right now, what would you do?

11. When can I come in for a tour of your office?


These are just a few of the questions you should ask when considering a new broker. By taking the time to interview a few different brokerages, you'll be able to find the perfect fit for your new real estate career.

Keep in mind that you're interviewing the broker as much as they're interviewing you. Keep your goals in mind, and you'll find the right fit.


If you're looking for more info on getting started as a new agent, follow us on Instagram or Facebook, and keep an eye out for our weekly 🧰. new agent toolbox posts.

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