Congratulations - you just passed the exam and you’re holding your freshly minted real estate license in your hand!
So now it’s time to find a brokerage to work under.
You didn’t study sales contracts, finance and real estate laws to sit around and do nothing, right? You want to put that knowledge to use and start earning an income as a real estate agent!
Your choice of brokerage will set the tone of your real estate business for years to come.
I’m not kidding…it’s that important!
In fact, it could mean the difference between you making a full-time career out of this and moving on to another, easier way to make a living!
You won’t have the funds to compete with the big brokerages when you’re first starting out - they have massive budgets for marketing, generating leads and converting those leads to clients.
So, it’s in your best interests to choose your brokerage wisely.
It takes time
Relationships are at the heart of the real estate business. Successful agents rely heavily on referrals and past clients, something that, as a new agent, you probably don’t have.
In the first couple of years working as a new agent, you’ll need to earn your business through cold-calling expired listings, knocking on doors and doing open houses.
Not to mention growing your professional network and increasing your knowledge of the real estate business.
Because these activities are more of a numbers game, it can take longer than expected for them to pay off and you may not receive a commission check for months.
Narrow down your search
Don’t go with the first brokerage you come across. Interview with several companies until you find one that fits with your goals and what you want from your real estate career.
There are tens of thousands of brokerages across the U.S. That’s a huge number to choose from, so where do you start?
Begin by thinking about your goals
What do you want from your real estate career both in the long and short term? What about your personal goals?
Your short-term and long-term goals might support one another, or they might be slightly different, so think about what you want and partner with a brokerage that can help support those goals.
do you want hands-on experience, working next to an agent who’s been in the business for a while, or do you want to learn more independently?
is it important to you to help shape the brokerage you’ll be joining?
how important is the brand recognition to you?
would you prefer to stand out or do you prefer to do your own thing, in the background?
These questions can help you better understand what your business goals are.
Your personal goals will typically be tied to earning goals (i.e. the type of commission the brokerage offers)
how much do I need to make?
how quickly do I need to make money?
is it more important to get paid quickly, or to get a bigger commission?
Types of brokerages
Now that you’ve thought about your goals, narrow down your prospective brokerage list further by choosing a type of brokerage that will help you reach those goals.
National brokerages are well known and have a large network of real estate professionals. Anyone even remotely aware of the industry will recognize these companies.
A national brand can provide several key benefits to newbie agents. One of the most obvious is the reputation that comes with the name.
For newly licensed agents, this is especially valuable.
A powerful brand lends credibility to new agents who do not yet have any experience under their belt. While you are building up your own brand, having a national name supporting your reputation can be helpful.
A national firm also gives new agents the chance to socialize with other successful real estate professionals, giving you valuable insight into how they run their own real estate business.
Other perks of working with a national brokerage include excellent training courses and access to a large network of professionals.
Technology tools are also at your disposal with a national brokerage as many national brands may have online marketing and website building tools you can use to get your own business up and running.
Although working with a national brokerage has its benefits, there are some potential downsides as well. One of the biggest disadvantages is that it's hard to make a name for yourself at a national firm.
Initially, new agents may not get many leads, either. You should take this into account as a new agent.
Cold calling and other lead generation activities are extremely time-consuming for new real estate agents. Making a sale can take months for new agents.
Therefore, any leads your brokerage provides are important.
Although national brokerages offer great training courses for new real estate agents, the hands-on experience isn't always the best.
There is usually not much guidance given as to how to successfully generate new business.
A national brokerage could be right for you if you…
are extremely self-motivated
prefer to do things yourself
don’t mind the competition that comes from working with a lot of new agents at a national firm
want the national brand credibility to help you build your own brand
You may also want to consider local (also known as boutique) brokerages. Typically, these firms are local or regional and have smaller offices. Boutique firms cater to local market needs more than national firms.
As these types of firms are smaller and have fewer agents, there’s more of a chance you’ll get the opportunity for a mentor relationship with a more seasoned real estate pro.
Fewer agents can also lead to more leads as well.
Local firms have some distinct advantages over national franchise brokerages. A local brokerage might be a great fit for you if you:
want to build a strong relationship with local clients and real-estate adjacent business such as appraisers, lenders, etc.
prefer individual attention and help in growing your business
not as strong brand recognition, which can make it harder to land a deal.
potentially fewer networking opportunities
less access to advanced technology
less online traffic
smaller budget for marketing efforts
A local or boutique agency is a good choice if you…
prefer spending time with a mentor, one on one
want the feeling of camaraderie that’s often found in smaller offices
enjoy a less stressful, more welcoming environment to work in
Real Estate Teams
Joining a real estate team is another good option for a new real estate agent.
The majority are led by an experienced, successful agent and are usually supported by several younger agents. You can find a real estate team at both local and national brokerages.
While you’ll still be associated with either a local or national brokerage, being part of a real estate team offers some great benefits.
you’ll have access to more and better quality leads
you’ll enjoy a small share in the commission that comes from deals that the team lands
you’ll have the support of other real estate pros who are building their own businesses too
while you’ll get new leads more quickly as part of a team, the structure of the team also means that as a new agent you’ll also get a smaller portion of the commission
as there are multiple agents, the firm will split the commission in multiple ways, so your checks will be faster, but smaller
you’re trading the time spent on working on your own business and brand to get more and better leads
A team could be right for you if you…
need to make money quickly
want to learn from seasoned agents
are willing to trade time building your own brand for an increase in both knowledge and experience
When choosing the type of brokerage, ask yourself:
what can the brokerage offer me?
will I have access to mentorship, networking and training?
what technologies will I have access to (e.g. lead management software?
are there marketing materials I can use?
what are my peers saying about the firm?
Make your choice
Finally, once you've evaluated all the pros and cons, done your own research, and spoken with a few brokers, it's time to decide. Are you better off with a national brokerage, a local firm, or a real estate team?
When you have your answer, consult peer reviews to determine if your dream brokerage is truly as good as it sounds.
Read some first-hand experiences, then shortlist your top two to three brokerages and call them. Meet with each of your top choices to ask more questions about:
how the firm splits commissions
distribution of office leads
the office culture
what networking and mentorship opportunities are available
brokerage size - how many agents
facilities available to agents
training (including format - formal vs unstructured)
management and administrative support
referrals and leads
specialities (e.g. luxury homes)
Remember, as a new agent, you’ll have a lot of questions, doubts and new experiences. That’s why it’s vital that you choose to work under a real estate brokerage that will offer the support you’ll need to meet both your personal and professional goals.