July 25, 2022
You’ve attended the best real estate school.
You passed the real estate licensing exam.
Now you’re ready to activate your new real estate license. And what could be the biggest decision of your new real estate career looms large: which real estate broker should I choose?
Here are some helpful tips on finding the right broker to make a success your new real estate career successful from day one.
What is the firm’s culture?
Where do you see yourself fitting in best? There are small mom & pop brokerages; there are boutique firms that specialize in niche markets, such as luxury homes or commercial properties, and there are large offices with hundreds of agents operating as franchises of national brands or regional real estate companies.
Do you have a friend or family member with an agency who will take you under their wing and give you leads while teaching you the business? Or will you be starting on your own without such inside contacts?
Some real estate offices feel like snake pits, with agents solely looking out for themselves and not caring about anybody else. Others feel like a big family, with even the mega-agents willing to offer time and advice to help another agent. Does the office have social events, such as summer cookouts or community service activities? Ask the broker you are interviewing to walk through the office (without him or her) and talk to the other agents. How did the atmosphere feel? What do they say about the support from the broker?
What training does the broker offer
There is probably nothing more important than picking a broker that offers great training. But be careful: every broker will say, “Oh, sure, we offer training.” But one broker’s idea of “training” may be an agent in the office who spouts off extemporaneously once a month about his ideas for running an open house. . . and that’s about it. Ask the broker to see the training calendar.
Is the training free? Is it led by a live instructor to whom you can ask questions, or is it just a series of videos?
If you plan to be a dual career agent with a daytime job, ask if there are training sessions in the evenings which you can attend. Is the training just basic stuff to teach you how to complete forms and use the computer system and MLS, or is it ongoing to help you reach ever-higher levels of production?
What are the commission splits?
Are they transparent, where everybody knows the levels? Or are splits at the discretion of the broker? If the latter, you could discover that an agent who has gained favor with the broker is given a better commission split than agents who are selling at a much higher production level. One agent with my former firm told the broker twice a year that she was being recruited by a competing firm and every time she did that, he raised her commission split just to keep her. It worked like a charm—even though it was a secret and agents with far higher production were kept at lower commission splits!
Is there a cap? If a broker says, for example, “Your commission will be 70/30, but you’ll cap at $20,000 in GCI” that means for each commission check you bring back to the office, you will earn 70% of it (that’s called GCI or Gross Commission Income) and the broker will keep 30% as “company dollar.” But once you have earned $20,000 in GCI in a one-year period, you go to 100% commission.
Is there a franchise fee or other additional percentage taken from your commission? Some franchises still take a franchise fee of as much as 7%, so “100%” is actually only 93%. One large regional broker takes a 6% “advertising” fee from every commission check and then you must spend your own money to claim half of that 6% back!
Will you get a mentor or coach?
The fastest way to jump-start your new real estate career is to have an experienced agent show you the ropes, help you set goals, set up your marketing, and hold you accountable for the things you need to do to get into production.
Will the broker provide you with a mentor or coach? What are that person’s skills? Will they “coach” you by essentially just saying, “Call me if you have any questions”? Or have they been trained in coaching skills, and will they sit with you on a weekly basis? Can you talk to other newer agents who used them to see how they felt the mentor helped them? What is the cost of the mentor? (They typically charge a percentage of your first few earned commissions).
Does the broker sell himself/herself?
There’s nothing illegal or unethical about this. But think about it: if leads come into the office and the broker gets them all, then your broker is potentially competing with the agents. Ask how incoming leads are distributed? Some brokers have a list and the next lead goes to the next person on the list, regardless of the value of that lead. Others have a policy of giving the best leads to the top agents. You just want to know how this broker handles such leads.
Are there lots of open house opportunities?
One of the best ways to find buyers when you are new is to volunteer to sit open houses for the big producers who have multiple listings and cannot sit more than one open house at a time. They need other agents to sit open houses for their listings, and a buyer who likes your open house becomes your buyer if they don’t have their own agent.
What is the broker’s local reputation?
If they are a dominant broker in your local market, with signs all over town, you will have an easier job of persuading sellers to use you because the broker’s brand reputation will precede you. You can also check reviews on sites such as Google and Yelp, but most such reviews will likely be for individual agents rather than the brokerage firm itself.
What tech resources does the broker offer?
Real estate today is a high-technology business. What tech tools does the broker offer? Do they have a tech coach to help you become familiar with the systems and software they use, along with social media and other marketing tools you will want to employ.
Are there monthly fees?
Some brokers will try to persuade you to join their firms by pointing out they have no recurring monthly charges. Sounds good, right, compared to the broker that charges, say $80 a month. But that broker who charges a monthly fee may include mandatory services such as errors & omission insurance, electronic document service, marketing software—things that the “no fees” broker did not provide and which could cost you twice as much when you have to buy them as an individual.
Be sure to calculate the actual cost of the services a broker is providing in return for a monthly office fee and compare your total cost of obtaining those services if you bought them separately.
One of the best resources to help new real estate agents plan for real estate career success is the new book, “Zero to Hero: Winning strategies for new real estate agents to become SuperStars in their first year.” At an introductory price of only $25, it is the best road map you could ever invest in. You can order it here: https://gsreacademy.com/book-zero-to-hero-the-one-book-you-have-to-have-to-jump-start-your-real-estate-career/
If you are thinking of getting your real estate license, Garden State Real Estate Academy is the state’s top-rated real estate school. If you need a New Jersey real estate license, you can choose from daytime or evening classes at : https://gsreacademy.com/pre-licensing-courses/
If you need to earn a real estate license in a state other than New Jersey, Garden State Real Estate Academy also offers online self-study real estate licensing classes in 21 states through our partnership with The CE Shop. And while New Jersey does NOT allow self-study pre-licensing classes, we do offer self-study pre-licensing classes in 25 other states by clicking here: https://gsreacademy.theceshop.com/pre-licensing.
David C. Forward is a licensed real estate broker and instructor and was first licensed as a Realtor® 34 years ago. During his career, David and his business partner sold more than 500 homes in South Jersey. He is now School Director of Garden Real Estate Academy, has won numerous awards for real estate sales, is a much-requested public speaker who has addressed audiences on six continents. His 20th book Zero to Hero: Winning strategies for new real estate agents to become SuperStars in their first year was released this month.