Find out why “free” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when it comes to your professional website and email address, according to brand new Inman contributor and broker-owner Markus Feldmann.

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A freshly minted real estate agent faces a lot of choices and decisions, key among them obviously, “Which brokerage should I join?

Unfortunately, even though that decision will have far and long-reaching consequences for those new agents, very few agents actually take the time to interview a variety of brokerages or broker models to make sure they join the brokerage that’s right for them. 

Often, agents are blinded by the immediate access to numerous technology platforms and the “extra bling” a brokerage might offer. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been in your shoes, and I certainly understand the need to be thrifty.

After spending several hundred dollars on local and national Realtor fees, the yearly errors and ommissions dues (often up to $2,000), the costs of “for sale” and “open house” signs, and other monthly charges a brokerage might impose, a new agent is happy for anything that doesn’t come with a price tag.

One can fully understand why a free website provided by the brokerage might seem like the cherry on top of a sweet deal, at first glance. But things aren’t always as they appear.

I’m not trying to deter anybody from joining a brokerage that offers free tools and free technology. In other words, simply because a specific brokerage offers those free tools doesn’t mean it’s not the best fit for you.

My goal is simply to encourage a new agent to think twice before gleefully signing up for every free service their new brokerage offers.

Pros and cons of a free website and a free email address

There certainly are savings when agents don’t have to pay for their own website hosting and email address. But I believe that the long-term consequences far outweigh the short-term cost savings, which is why I encourage every agent to carefully consider what they are actually willingly giving up. 

Here’s why you should think twice:

  • What the brokerage pays for, the brokerage owns. Should you ever decide to leave, you usually have no control over anything that is associated with your broker-owned email address or your website.
  • If you get your website and your email address through your brokerage, both will be inextricably linked to your brokerage. As an example, your email address might be, and your website might be

That is clearly fine if you never change your broker affiliation; however, there is a good chance your license will be hung at various brokerages over the lifespan of your real estate career.

Should you decide to move to a different brokerage, the consequences of losing access to your website could mean that all the SEO efforts you’ve poured into establishing your online presence and reputation will be wiped out, and you’ll have to start from scratch. 

Similarly, a move to a new brokerage would necessitate obtaining a brand-new email address, which is a hassle in and of itself.

Add to that the potential that past clients may not be able to reach you via your old email address, the technical glitches that could occur when migrating all your contacts onto a new email server, and the additional efforts you’ll have to take to update each and every one of your marketing pieces, and those free tools the brokerage is offering quickly lose some of their luster. 

In other words, what initially looks like a great and generous deal (“Look at all the free stuff I get!”) may actually turn out to be more of a golden cage tying you to your brokerage for as long as possible because you simply don’t want to go through the hassle of what undoubtedly feels like having to start all over.

That’s why I believe every agent should insist upon their own email address and website, unaffiliated with and separate from their brokerage.

So, “just say no” to the offer of a free, brokerage-branded website and email address, and start out with what you’ll always have control over: Your name.

Markus Feldmann is the broker-owner at San Diego’s Pacific Real Estate Center. Connect with him on Instagram or Facebook.

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