Choosing a broker is like choosing a mate, but harder.
There is no real estate Tinder, so you have to go out and find your broker the old fashioned way. In case you need ideas on how to stalk Brokers, see the list below:
- Walk your neighborhood for signs.
- Go online to a real estate website to get names. Look around to see what offices are in the area you want to work in rather than the one you live in.
- Go to open houses. Talk to the agents there. Ask about the company they work for and engage in conversation. Tell them that you are about to get licensed and need pointers. Most agents will be glad to talk to you. Some will even try to recruit you to their company.
- Friend/follow agents on social media in the field and stalk their friend list. Agents often discuss their brokerage. You will be able to get an idea about the culture and training as well as the pros and cons of individual offices.
- Network with other students from your real estate class. You will all be going through the same process, so share knowledge and questions with your peers.
Once you identify the brokers that you want to interview with, set up meetings. Make sure to be on time (not early or late) for your meeting and be dressed professionally. Some agents bring a resume with them, but I do not think it is necessary. I suggest researching the company and the office to walk into the meeting informed. Be prepared with a list of questions, as well as expecting them to give you a presentation on why their brokerage is best. Most brokerages are looking to hire as many agents as they can, so it is almost a sure thing that you are hired the moment you walk through the door. Despite this fact, come in armed with a plan to share with the broker on how you are going to obtain clients.
There are many questions to ask. Here is a list to get you started:
- What kind of training do you offer?- You will need training on how to write up contracts, how to show property, use the MLS, submit office files and so forth. Find out how the broker plans to train you. Are there classes, videos or one on one? Do you have to pay for the classes?
- Who will my supervisor be? Do I have direct access to them for help? Lack of training and support is usually the reason why good agents fail, and it isn’t their own fault. Real Estate isn’t rocket science, but the stuff you learned in class is only the beginning. The real learning begins once you have your first client. Set yourself up for success by making sure there will be training and support readily available.
- How do we handle conveyancing? Is there a conveyancer or do you do it yourself? Is there a charge to the agent? The client?
- How much flexibility do you have with listing contracts? Is there a minimum length or commission that the broker requires? Do you allow Exclusive Agency? These are higher level questions that may not resonate with you yet, but be aware of them- they will begin to make more sense as you gain experience. They are indicative of the flexibility of the office policy and the amount of creativity the broker allows. In my office, we have a motto: If it is ethical and it is legal, we can do it! Whatever it takes to make the deal work for the client.
- Do you allow teams? Do you allow partners?
- Where is my business coming from? Do you supply leads? Do you charge for them?
- Do you carry E&O insurance? Do you pay? What is the charge to me? E&O is Errors and Omissions and it covers you in the case of a claim. A doctor wouldn’t practice without malpractice insurance, so don’t even consider working for a broker who doesn’t carry E&O.
- What are your fees to buyers? To sellers? To agents? Some companies pass conveyancing or transaction fees along to buyers or sellers. Be aware of this and reach inside to see how you feel about it. Although it is common practice in the industry, it doesn’t feel right to me, so we don’t charge any fees. When I was an agent, I worked for a large company for a short time and they charged a $395 fee to the buyer at settlement. Everytime I had to explain it to the buyer I got a little bit of anxiety because it felt wrong to me to charge them extra for just doing my job. And the fee went to the company, it didn’t even go to me.
- What is the commission split you offer? Even if a broker promises you a large split, be sure to take into account any fees they charge you that end up offsetting that large split. Also be aware of something that sounds too good to be true, because as my mother always said….
Make note that the commission split was the very last question on the list. Most people make this one first on the list, but there are so many more important items to discuss before that. This is only a partial list of questions to ask, and some of them may not pertain to you and your business. As you interview with brokers and hear their presentation, it may bring topics to your awareness
3 Important things to remember:
- You are in the position of power here. Some brokers might not want to tell you that, but I will. That license you have is valuable, and most brokers would be thrilled to have you. You help them grow the company and bring in revenue.
- Most people don’t marry their high school sweetheart. You don’t have to find your forever home right now. You don’t know what you don’t know and this is a learning process. Pick the office that feels like the best fit and then get started. You can always move as you grow.
- As stressful as this is, remember that change is often hard but the pain will be worth it. You chose a career in real estate, so get moving and get started.
I hope this list of questions is helpful, but the most important criteria of all in choosing a broker isn’t on any list. It is a feeling in your gut, and your gut is usually right. Use these questions as a way to help your intuition make a decision. The place you choose to hang your license will not only have an impact on your success or failure in the real estate business, it will have an impact on your life as a whole. When you find the right fit- the place to call home- you will achieve balance and “work to live” rather than “living to work.”
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