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How Do Agents Pick a Company?

March 20, 2010
by Scott Levitt ·  

Q&A: How Do You Pick a Real Estate Company to Work With?

Small office?  Large office?  Local or national franchise?  How did/do you make the call?
Recently an agent asked us the following:

“What sort of advice do you have for new agents regarding which agency to align with?”

A lot of agents– either new or changing companies– have the same question.  What are the pros and cons?  How did you make the decision the last time you had to choose?  Is a big office better?  A small office?  National franchise?  Local or regional?  Or is it better to be out on your own?

Share your perspective and lend a hand to others in the real estate community!  Add your thoughts in the comments below.

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20 Responses to “How Do Agents Pick a Company?”
  1. Lynn Carlson says:

    When I was a brand new agent, I went with the company that had the most agents and an extensive training program. The company I went with at that time (this is like 19 years ago) had a wonderful mentor program which I likened to student teaching. It was great to have an experienced agent that could answer all of my questions. It was a good start and I learned much.

    A few years ago, I selected a new company to associate myself with.. Factors that I took into consideration were the reputation of the company and it’s agents, what had my personal experience been with the agents from that company and of course it’s compensation plan. The move was very good for me in it gave me a new energy and focus to my business which had become stagnant.

  2. Joe Loomer says:

    Central to the choice for NEW agents should be the training and coaching programs. The agent of 2010 should enroll in a coaching program to develop the accountability and lead generation skills to succeed long-term. Couple this with extensive training programs that range from in-class, multiple session courses (ala’ KW’s Camp 4:4:3), to single-session seminars (how to develops statistics for a single neighborhood) and continuing education courses. If the broker has no interest in helping the agent write the first few contracts and listing agreements, the agent has found the wrong place.

  3. Brenda(Georgia) says:

    There are pro’s and con’s to both. When I first started I felt it was better to go with a nationally known company. One reason was because I could continue my training because they would have a system in placed to help me hit the ground running. They did. I thought I could do better because they would have a reputation to uphold and they were branded. The corporation fees are a little high at my office but each office is independently owned and operated. But national companies have referral systems in place plus lead generators that helps you get business. On the other hand Mom and Pop companies charge less fees and besides people purchase from you based on whether they know you, not what company you work for.

  4. Monica LaPlante says:

    I made the choice of going to a low fee office when I started. BIG MISTAKE!! I REPEAT…BIG MISTAKE!! There is virtually zero support for agents and no one to offer direction in these sorts of offices. Make the committment to invest in yourself…go to an agency with a reputation of being a producing office. This may or may not be a franchise but do your homework. There is a reason these offices have attracted producing agents! Ask the brokers for their office stats and compare those stats to other offices. Some significant stats to ask for: Total $ volume, total # of transactions and average transactions per agent. All of those stats are per year. Of course, training is important but training means different things to different people. There is classroom, web based and mentoring. All are important aspects of the learning process but dont get too hung up on the word “training”. Here at our office, we focus on helping that new agent find their first clients!!! The contract classes and everything else always comes second to finding a client because with out one, you really dont have any reason to write a contract, right? Good luck to all agents, new and seasoned!

  5. Whether you are new or been in the industry for many years we should consider that this business is rapidly ever changing. With this in mind, I have come to appreciate working for a large franchise where each office is still independently owned, and they can keep us current. This is a contributing factor to have the newest and most innovative ideas available as they become relevant. This way you can stay focused on a plan to work and have all the perks of systems, training, a large referral base, coaching, and many other benefits that do far out way a small independent office. I find a franchise is a much more organized and reliable format in which to work in today’s market. In either case, you need to feel comfortable in the place you choose. Do remember if you are not happy with your first or present office, then make a change to a place you feel good about working in. Although important, it is not all about the money and commission splits. Contact the team leader or broker for an appointment, and talk to the agents that work in that office. Share your concerns and see if you are a good match now and for the future. A win – win situation is a solution that can withstand the test of time when making that big decision.

  6. Arialenna says:

    Aside from the above: Check the BBB. Do not waste (yes, WASTE) time working for a company that will not allow it’s agents to pre-screen customers credit & get them pre-qualified. There is nothing like spending hundreds of dollars on gas, plus all the time invested to drive around someone who is NOT qualified & does not have the drive to clean up their credit. I’ve worked for a company (company name removed by editor) in Charlotte, North Carolina that will not allow us to pull credit & it is a total waste of time, money and effort catering to these people that should not even be looking at homes!

  7. I choose a company with training, training and more training. RE licensing school doesn’t teach you how to sell RE or where to begin in finding clients. So I looked for a company who had the training, the skill and the income potential that I was looking for. A company with good beliefs and a company who worked together, not against each other in an office. We all want to work together because it makes us that much better! Our office has the steps you need to become successful weather you are brand new or a veteran, from scripts on calls to potential clients to listing presentations to internet marketing to door knocking..the list goes on and on. I learn something new with every bit of training I take.You also need an office who has support and resources to help you with every aspect of your business. My gosh did I find the right place! There truly is something for everyone.

  8. I interviewed every company in my market to select who best fit my style and marketing. The next most important factor was the inital training and without the support of my office from our broker of record to GM, and even the front desk I would not be where I am today. Knowledge is one of the biggest keys to keeping up with the ever changing market, so when our office offers 5 different training seminars a week I make it a point to go to at least one to keep up with things.

  9. Karen Miller says:

    What a great topic as I am just becoming licensed in PA & am currently researching the agency I wish to work with. Two stand out and are quite similar. One does have a more extensive training program as a new agent to become successful. I plan to make my final decision by the end of this week. I appreciate all the comments each of you made and the information you shared. I look forward to my future career!

  10. Lynda Toraya says:

    Very good question that is asked a lot. My first yr in real estate (8 yrs. ago) I started at a “big company name” thinking I needed their name to be successful. You need a company with INTEGRITY! I tell agents to interview several companies to see which one is a good fit for them. They need to ask about training and more training. Education will make you or break you. When you are trained correctly, you’ll have a level of confidence that your clients will feel very comfortable hiring you. Your clients will follow you for you not the company you work for. Next, you need to find out how much support you’re going to get whether you’re a split commission agent or 100% commission agent. I love where I’m at. The agents have a full time broker, manager, and me to call every time they have a question no matter what commission plan you’re on or if you arer part time/full time agent. Last, ask to see the company’s contract during your interview. Be aware of any fine print there might be.
    Do your homework and ask lots of questions. :)

  11. Mike Giese says:

    I’m a newer agent, and I did alot of shopping around! Call me with questions!

  12. Sandy says:

    When I was interviewing a little over 4 years ago after becoming licensed, I decided on a nationally known company that had a reputation for good training. I wouldn’t consider the smaller brokers because I knew they mostly didn’t have the name familiarity that I wanted. There are lots of discount companies out there and I didn’t consider those either. Reputation is important to me! Whatever you do, interview with a few different companies, and learn whether the broker is someone you can relate to. He or she will be the one you will depend on for answers to your many questions!

    I disagree with the person who said she wouldn’t go with a company that wouldn’t let you pull credit reports. That is some bad advice as far as I’m concerned!! You should always refer your potential clients to a lender and have the lender pull their credit report and get them pre-approved for a loan. Any competent lender will need to pull their credit report even if you already have. It really is none of our business to delve into our clients financial dealings. Our job is to sell them a house, and it is up to the lender to qualify them for a loan.

    I found that after I had been with my company for 4 years, I was getting a bit ho-hum. Since they hired lots of new agents, there wasn’t as much actual business happening. That can be pretty discouraging when you are surrounded by other agents that don’t have any business! And there will usually be those prima-donnas who keep to themselves and can act aloof. I began looking for another company to associate with and found just the right fit for me. They don’t take new agents, so everyone is involved in actually working, instead of just hanging their license somewhere or trying to figure out the business and after a couple of years, end up quitting. Also, the commission split was beginning to really bug me and my new company has a better split so I get to keep more of my money. Plus, the environment in my new office is great. People are friendly, ready to lend a hand and help if you have a problem. Be sure you find out if the office has a warmth about it or if people are cool and keep to themselves. That may work for some of you, but I’m a people person and love the energy of busy agents, but not so busy that they can’t visit for a minute or two!

    Oh, and speaking of education, make sure that your office has sales meetings and that your broker is committed to keeping the agents informed of new rules, laws, escrow issues, etc, etc, etc. There is so much change in this business that your broker needs to be involved and up to speed with things. Personally, I won’t want to work for an office where the managing broker was also selling real estate. I want my broker to be available when I need him or her!!

  13. Amy says:

    The first company I associated with was a big name franchise with very few agents. I thought it would be an ideal situation – a large slice of the office leads, one on one mentoring and supportive environment.
    In short order I realized the number of agents was more a reflection of the negative environment the broker created and that many agents started there and lasted a very short time. The broker was a contol freak and couldn’t allow a successful mentor/student program without interfering. He was verbally abusive to his agents and made unreasonable demands relating to fixed office hours.
    I didn’t ask the right questions and should have been alerted to the fact that the office was so small despite being around for over 30 years in an affluent area of a large high priced city that has not been affected by a real estate downturn.
    My next move will be to an office that fully supports and recognizes the value dedicated agents bring to their bottom line.

  14. Mike says:

    All these answers from agents, how about questions to ask the Brokers. What do the brokers think the market is and where is the market going to Shift to next. I am sorry to disagree but we all should train ourselves and pick the path of our own self employment. The success or failure of our adventure in Real Estate should be of our own doing. The training programs can be great I suppose if they exist past the harvest of your own sphere of influence.
    Please remember the heart of real estate sales is sales so learn how to sell. Please do not be so aloof as to think you are a facilitator or enabler or God forbid a “Deal Maker”. I am an experienced full time Agent who makes a living and very much enjoys selling real estate. If you enjoy helping families buy their biggest investment and can learn to budget your money to live on the next unknown commission check than I highly recommend this trade.
    Research the brokers and choose carefully, Read, Study, Learn all you can. Strive to be the be the best you can be and you will be sought after.

  15. Nancy says:

    Thanks for the info.

  16. Bill Davis says:

    I have been in real estate 5 years. I recently purchased a national franchise in my town of 50,000. Now, from a Broker/Owners perspective, I believe what agents should be looking for is, and not necessarily in this order: Training….an office that will take the time to help you feel comfortable with writing and closing your deals. Integrity….a company that has a good reputation in the market. Good “culture”….a company where the agents feel at home, have fun, help each other, have social events, in other words, a fun place to work every day. Lead generator…..a company that will spend the money to advertise and help bring its agents new business and be fair in passing the leads around. I believe the company should be one in which the QB does not compete for sales with the agents. And finally, choose a company that embraces change and new technology.

  17. Gail Acres says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Bill Davis. Training; Integrity ;Good ‘social’ environment (being a nice place to work); Leads (passed out fairly) ; a non-competing broker; Advertising and marketing $$ spent. Also commision splits are very important too.

  18. Kevin Roy says:

    Finding the right broker is like finding the right pair of boots, if they look great but don’t feel good from the start put them back and find another pair.

    There are many variations in brokerages and offices from smaller family type operations to large multi agent operations.

    Leads are always and can be a misconception, most consist of a name, phone number and possibly an email. I have lost count in the number of lead generation systems and search engine optimization sites, at a cost of which could have been better utilized building and working my sphere.

    In reallity your best lead source will not come from your broker or office, it will come from your sphere of influence. When you get that call, the majority of selling you have already been done and it’s up to you to provide the expected professional service.

    Competing or non-competing broker good point, is it better to have a broker who works a particular area and their own clients or the have broker who does not actively work with clients.

    Commission splits, you get what you pay for the more one gets as an agent the less there is to support one with services like an office to meet clients at, intenet, copier and long distance services, broker availability, training on-on-one, on-site, sefl-paced or web-based etc… Are they free or do they charge.

    Ask all the questions upfront before you sign and find a brokerage that feels right, as the old adage goes, the grass is always greener onthe other side of the fence where instead of alfalfa it could be crab grass…

  19. James Berry says:

    It really does not matter whether you go with a small or big company if you know how to sell. I have been selling for 5 months and have already sold 12 houses. I have been a mortgage broker for 8 years and built a business where I was closing 8 loan a month. Thats was because I am a saleman first and Mortgage broker second. Realtor forget they are saleman first. They think just because they went to class for 2 weeks, they are a professional. If you cant sell, please get out of the business.

  20. Gary Goldstein says:

    This is a great question. I am a brand new agent that just finished my classes in Feb and got my license in March. I interviewed about half a dozen companies in my area to try to get a feel for which each was company was about and what they were looking for in agent. They ranged from the big national companies to ones that were more locally run. From my perspective, there are no easy answers to this question as each new agent enter the field with varied degrees of experience, drive and sales ability. As for me, I had a long background in service and sales which gave me a pretty good head start in r.e. I am also a self-starter so all I basically had to know is where I could find the information I need. But, I was also looking for a place that offered hands-on training. The places I spoke with offered a wide variety of “desk fees” that ranged from very low to very high. All of them offered training to a degree and all of them had a secondary support system – that is, people who were employed by the firms not as agents but as people that specialized in other aspects of the business that would support the agents and free them from some of the ancillary duties. What it ultimately came down to was, which company would I feel most comfortable working with. I went with one of smaller, local firms as I felt the larger firms were more pressure-filled and bottom-line driven and expected to see results – and soon! I did not get that vibe with the firm I selected. I will be under enough pressure from myself to get results and I have always enjoyed working within a smaller company that eventually grew to a larger company – which I anticipate with this company. In the end, in my opinion, you should join a company which closes matches your own goals and mission.

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