Every group in Real Estate is a little different. There are giant brokerages. There are small mom-and-pop brokerages. There are teams, large and small within brokerages. Some have specialties and some work certain areas. They can have different positions available and have different pay structures. And, training and lead generation can be very different, too.
No particular combination is good or bad. The trick is finding the one that will help YOU be a success, based on what you need. Together, let’s look at the due diligence process, so we can find the best one for you. You might also enjoy: Top New Agent Choices: Assistant vs Team vs Solo
When you are researching Brokerages or a Team, typically there is an “interview”. Yes, they want to find out about you, similar to a traditional job interview. However, in real estate, a normal interview is a two-way street. You are also finding out about them.
Questions to Ask a Brokerage or Team
So, what questions should you ask, and why? There are certain areas you should focus on in your interview: the office dynamics, the pay structure, the training and support and fees involved. Let’s look at those areas individually. You might enjoy: The Future Job Security For Real Estate Agents
When looking at the dynamics of the office, it matters who is in charge, how large it is, what they do, where you work, etc.
Managing Broker. Find out who is their managing broker; this is someone that ultimately runs the office, makes the rules, and is the person you often would go to for legal questions or direction. Is this someone that is known in the industry? Is this someone you will be reporting to directly, or will you have a team leader or an office manager.
Number of Agents in the Group. Some Brokerages or Teams can be very large or very small: which would you feel more comfortable in? Learn more in What Is It Like to Be On a Real Estate Team
Specialties. Some groups might have specialties, like luxury homes or working with first-time homebuyers or real estate investors. Maybe they specialize in an area of town. Perhaps a team is looking for someone that would have a specialty, such as a position as a New Home Specialist. This can be an important topic for your interview; do you like their specialty?
Years of Experience. How long has this brokerage been or team been around? Are they just starting out (you get in on the ground floor with more opportunities) or have they been around for decades (They have lots of experience)? Either could be good; which would you rather be a part of?
Work Location. You might have an office in the Brokerage or work at a desk in the office of a team. Is that location convenient? Or, maybe you would work from home. Would that be better for you?
Administrative Support. Does the office or team have someone to help with the paperwork? Sure, that could be helpful. (But what if you are detail oriented, good with paperwork, and the office that has administrative help has additional fees—maybe it’s not for you.
Office Amenities. Every office is different. Do they have a full kitchen on site? Office supplies? You could get many different answers to this question.
Position, Pay and Benefits
“My Position”. You should be thinking about what position you are interested in now (although it could change while you are interviewing 😊) “My Position” refers to the ability to work in the position that interests you. Maybe you want to start as an assistant to learn the ropes. Maybe you would like to fill an administrative role. Or, you want to hit the streets immediately as an agent the first day. Whatever it is, can you do it there? Learn more about different opportunities in real estate in What Can You Do with a Real Estate License?
Commission Split. Typically, there is a Commission Split between an Agent and the Brokerage on a transaction unless there is a flat rate or salary (you would find that out in this question.) For a split, the amount can vary: 50/50, 60/40, 70/30…. Initially it seems like there would be an obvious answer—the more to the agent, the better!! Well, it’s not that easy. One that has more money to the agent could have other factors, such as fees, less amenities, less training, all of which might make a different commission split better for some agents. And then there is the Commission Cap.
Commission Cap. The commission cap refers to the time during the 12 month period when the commission split changes or stops. So, maybe the commission split is 60/40, and 40% goes to the Brokerage, and there is a cap of $14,000. Once the amount that the agent has paid in hits $14,000, the commission split is no longer 60/40, the agent may now get 100%. (amounts and rules can vary: ask the question in the interview). Don't miss: How Much Does a Real Estate Agent Make.
Profit Sharing. Some brokerages offer profit sharing. It can be based on many variables, such as tenure, or shared profits are after all costs are paid by the brokerage. Find out.
Recruiting Programs. Does the Brokerage offer any incentive to recruit other agents? You might like: Ways to Make Money with a Real Estate License (Without Selling a Home)
Benefits. Does the Brokerage or Team have any Benefits available, such as health insurance or Continuing Education included?
Training and Leads
Training and lead generation for a new agent can be extremely important. Training can involve lead generation, knowing the paperwork, understanding the laws, working with other agents, and more!
Leads Provided. Perhaps you have a giant list of social media friends that will start your lead data bank. Or, maybe you would be interested in leads from your brokerage or team. Some provide them.
Floor Time. “Floor time” is a term in real estate offices for a person that is taking the calls (or depending on the office – the walk ins) from potential clients. Thye are typically looking for information for a property or want to employ an agent. An agent who has floor time might not get any leads one day, but the next day the phone could ring off the hook. Some find it a good way to get leads. Want more info? Check out: How to Get Listings Without Cold Calling
Open Houses. Sometimes, especially in larger offices, a busy listing agent may not have time (or desire) to sit in an open house. When the opportunity is available, newer agents can find that open houses are a good lead generator (the people you meet are probably looking for a house.)
Shadowing Agents. Some like to see how it’s done. Some teams or brokerages might allow a new agent to shadow seasoned agents to learn the ropes. This could include listing appointments, working with buyers, or even just seeing what the day-by-day stuff entails—in real estate, every day is different.
Mentorships. Mentorships often have a veteran agent paired up with a new agent. They might involve shadowing, directions, maybe a little assisting, and someone to call for help. In different offices, this could be one on one, one mentor to several, an optional program, or required. Ask and find out.
Class or Online Training. Do they offer classes? When? How long? Are they required? Are they online or live? This topic is so broad, it is hard to offer a good question. Just ask them about classes and see what they say. Interested in New Agent Training? Find out more HERE.
With many real estate positions there could be fees involved (although some positions, such as an assistant or administrative positions, there might not be). It’s best to find out.
Desk/Office/Cubical Rent. This is usually a monthly fee for a space in an office.
Copies. Many offices charge to make copies in house. (That sounds petty, but if you had 250 agents in your office, all wanting to print hundreds of thousands of flyers each month, you might start charging per copy, too. 😊)
Marketing Materials. Are they provided? What kind? Is there a cost? This could be helpful: Low-cost (and No-cost) Ways to Grow Your Real Estate Business
Continuing Education. Do agents pay for CE? What is the cost? (If you notice, included CE is also listed under potential benefits 😊)
MLS fees. Is joining the MLS required, and if so, what is the cost?
Tech fees. This would cover software and can be anywhere from zero to hundreds.
Royalty fees. This is a fee that usually is part of the transaction, that is in addition to the commission split. It is for normally larger groups with a recognizable name. The franchise fee is for the privilege of using the well-known, established name, logo, materials, etc.
Additional costs. An important question—is there anything else you should know about up front?
There are other things to consider.
Policy Manual. A policy manual might clear up many loose ends, and help you understand the business structure better. Could you get a copy before you make your decision?
Different Types of Real Estate. Sure, you have a good idea of what your career path will look like: maybe start as an assistant for 6 months, move into a Buyers Broker, then in 3 years, become a Managing Broker. Great!! But in real estate you have MANY choices, including Listing/ Selling Broker, Commercial, Property Management, just to name a few. You should know up front if your choices are limited. You might like: What is it Like to be a Real Estate Assistant.
Anything Else? Ask them if you left out anything—maybe they have that extra little something that makes them different—and it was exactly what you were looking for!
As you can see, there is a lot of info you need from interviews. That should get you started.
And don’t forget: How Do You Start a Successful Real Estate Career.