Whether you’re a newbie just getting started or an experienced veteran, choosing a brokerage is something every agent faces at some point. By knowing what differentiates one firm from another, you suss through the heap and find the brokerage that will best fit your needs and goals.

Real estate agents are known for being on the move (a perk and necessity of the job), but it can be hard to find a home for their business.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2021 Member Profile, the median tenure for real estate agents at their current firm was just five years, and 88 percent of real estate agents are independent contractors at their firms — which only highlights the need for real estate agents to be discerning in their selection of brokerage partners.

Competitive pricing will always be important, but with many firms offering similar compensation splits, agents must look beyond numbers. As the pandemic continues to shape the way the industry operates, agents need support and training that is up to date with the latest changes in regulations, client interactions and more. 

Although real estate search is moving online, customers still want to interact with an actual person. Real estate agents can fill this role and help guide customers through all parts of the process. When looking to join a brokerage, there is a lot to consider for both new and experienced agents. Here are a few. 

1. Company size and culture

Although it may seem obvious, many real estate agents don’t consider company culture as a significant factor in choosing a brokerage. By its nature, much of the work of a real estate agent is independent and takes place out of the office, but having a brokerage that values and supports an agent’s work is critical. 

Consider: What kind of recognition programs are in place? Does the firm take an active role in the local community? Are there regular meetings to network within the company? Of course, within the question of company culture is the issue of company size. 

Both small and large firms have different things to offer, and an agent must determine which is right for them. 

Consider: How large is the overarching company? How large is the office you’ll be working with? The firm’s culture will come into play here, as well, because a large institution can operate with the culture of a boutique firm while still offering the benefits of a nationwide network of offices.

Agents should also look into any potential partner’s recent growth patterns: Do they want to expand? Are agents leaving the company?

2. Support

This category covers a wide range of brokerage services, from technology and transaction coordinators to mentors and more. Agents should consider the technology underpinning any firm: Is it up to date and comprehensive? What kind of CRM is available? How are transactions managed?

In addition to the technology moving transactions along, consider the back-office support: Are transaction coordinators available? What is their workload like? Do they understand the local market? 

Besides transactional support, agents should also consider the support they will need to increase their business and further their career. Is there a broker actually available to you in person, in your area? 

Although technology has done wonders with remote work, real estate remains location-based. Having mentors and colleagues with knowledge of the local market is invaluable, as is having hands-on support. 

Although this kind of support is a must for newer agents, experienced agents also will benefit from a brokerage that offers everything, from help finding comparables to help preparing a listing presentation

Newer agents particularly should look for a firm that goes beyond the bare minimum in support and offers true mentorship, from accompanying an agent to a listing presentation to one-on-one coaching sessions.

3. Leads and marketing

No agent is an island, and though experienced real estate agents often get work from referrals and past clients, newer agents in particular will need help with acquiring leads and marketing their services. 

Agents should explore brokerages that offer solid marketing support, from setting up social media accounts to establishing a website. But also look beyond virtual marketing and email campaigns to actual signs, flyers and other ways to get noticed by the community. 

In addition to the marketing support offered, agents should consider how leads are acquired and distributed at the company. What kind of partnerships does the company have? What kind of internal leads are offered? 

4. Training

Experienced real estate agents may scoff at the importance of training, but it’s critical for agents at every stage of their careers. The recent emphasis on remote work and remote learning has led to a glut of webinars and online resources, but these can age quickly. 

How current are the company’s online offerings? Do they offer live training (in-person or via videoconference)? Do they have a dedicated training team? Training should cover everything from how to use the company’s CRM to current topics that respond to recent events, like the changing expectations of working during the pandemic.

5. Integrated relationships

Although this could be considered part of a company’s size, integrated relationships stand on their own. Some real estate firms are part of a larger umbrella company, and this can offer its own set of benefits and drawbacks. 

Agents should consider the place the real estate brokerage has within the company: Is it a vital part? Or is it a smaller, neglected subset? How well are the different branches integrated? A company that covers several related fields can benefit an agent significantly. 

The traditional real estate model starts with a real estate agent/brokerage, then moves to a different company for the mortgage, than another for title, and often yet another for servicing. Some brokerages provide all of these services under one larger company, and that can offer clients and agents alike smoother transactions with quicker turn times. 

These kinds of integrated services can provide solid leads as well as generate repeat business.

Whether you’re a new agent just getting started or an experienced real estate agent, joining a different brokerage is a reality virtually everyone will face. By knowing what differentiates one firm from another, real estate agents can position themselves to find the brokerage that will best fit their needs and career goals.

Chad Ruggles is the leader of real estate brokerage Vylla Home, managing sales, operations and over 1,000 real estate agents in 34 states. Connect with him on Facebook or LinkedIn

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