Part 3 - When Realtors Make a Move: Interviewing Brokers

By
Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

When Realtors Make a Move:  Interviewing Brokers

First, you decide it’s time to go.  Then you have to answer the big question, “Where to?”

So you start your quest for a new office by deciding what kind of place you want.

What sort of business model are you looking for?  Do you want a traditional brokerage or one of the newer models?  Do you want a small, locally owned company or a huge multi-office firm?  Do you want a national affiliation?  How important is it that the firm offer agent training in-house?

With these questions answered, the next step will be identifying the offices that you think will meet your needs, and then interviewing the broker or branch manager. 

The important thing to remember is that if you are a decent producer with a reputation for being easy to work with, you are a hot commodity for the brokerage.  You can probably have your choice of offices.  So you are interviewing the new broker to see how they will work for you - not the other way around.

Here are some of the areas that you need to cover:

  • What will this firm and office do to support you in listing and selling property?  Get specifics here. 
  • What systems do they have in place for producing marketing materials?  What do their materials look like, and what will be the cost to you for production and printing?  Is the production on-site, or do they out-source it.  What's the time frame for getting your materials in hand?
  • What systems do they have in place for on-line marketing?  What does the company web site look like, and can you create a link to your own easily?
  • What kind of training do they provide, both for new and experienced agents?  Many companies have in-house training, including some continuing education. 
  • Does the phone system allow for calls to be forwarded to your cell phone or personal voice mail?  You'll also want to know how calls are handled that come into the office.  Are they sent to a duty agent or to the listing agent? 
  • What are the fees that the office or franchise collect from each agent?  Are there monthly desk fees, coffee fees, parking fees or replenishing the candy dish fees?  If this is a franchise operation, what do they skim off the top of each transaction to send to New Jersey or wherever? 
  • What kind of support staff do they have?  A smoothly running office is important.
  • Will they charge your clients an admin fee on top of the regular brokerage fees?  This can be important, as many agents absorb this cost instead of passing it on. 
  • What kind of parking is available?  If you work in a downtown office, this is huge!  I always negotiate a parking place at or very close to the office.
  • What will the split be?   Under what circumstances can it change?  Usually there is a direct relationship between the split and each agent’s productivity.  And it’s usually very negotiable.  If you are on a low split where you are now, it’s not unusual for the new broker to up the percentage that you keep, at least for the first year or so you are at the new firm.  This helps to compensate for business you are likely to lose as a direct result of the move. Also, if it is a high split and, at the same time, they nickel and dime you to death, it isn't really a high split.
  • Do you have to get your blog posts approved by someone in the corporate chain of command before you push the "Submit" button?  If they don't trust you to blog, move onto the next company.  Same for having to get clearance before talking to the press or media.  Before  my last move, I had each manager I interviewed look at my blog and my book.  Their reactions played a huge part in the decision that I made. 

You'll also want to check out the office plant.  Is is attractive with the equipment you'll need to work efficiently? 

What's the vibe?  Is it high energy or sleepy and relaxed?  What are the agents like?   Will they be good colleagues or will you have to watch your back and your database? 

Check your local MLS to see what kind of business the office does.  Do they list and sell the kinds of properties in the markets where you want to work?  Do they do mansion market in high end neighborhoods, or funky hovels in a part of town where you are afraid to drive your Lexus?  Whatever the answer might be, it should be consistent with the kind of properties that you are comfortable listing and selling.

While I try not to be judgmental about people, that is something that I waive when I'm interviewing prospective brokers.  One showed up 15-minutes late for a breakfast meeting.  She was wearing her dog's bed.  I looked down my nose and moved on.  Another was appalled by something she read in my book and in my blog - after she'd enthusiastically invited me to join her company.  I let her off the spot. 

Hopefully, the judgements you make while you're looking around will help your next move be your last.

Next:  Evaluating Brokers

 

Comments (48)

Lana Robbins Realtor ® Licensed Real Estate Broker
Aloha Kai Real Estate - Clearwater, FL
Licensed in Florida, Washington, and Hawai'i

Hi Patricia. This is excellent advice. This list can apply to those interviewing for their first broker. Looking back... when I first started there are some things that I wish I knew then... what I know now.

Jul 22, 2010 02:47 PM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

A nice checklist for agents to consider.  From a buyer agent point of view, I find many firms don't really support that part of the business very well.. it's all about the listing side.

Jul 22, 2010 02:52 PM
Pippa Mac
Chevaux Group Realtor, The Woodlands and Spring - The Woodlands, TX
The Woodlands TX Real Estate

Good list Pat and it makes me quite happy to be where I am at!   Thanks, pippa

Jul 22, 2010 02:54 PM
Terry Chenier
Homelife Glenayre Realty - Mission, BC

My interaction with my brokerage is minimal. I have a home office, so to me the important thing is what the deal fees cost. I keep my costs to the minimum.

Jul 22, 2010 03:00 PM
Renee Thompson
Premier Sotheby's International Realty - Tampa, FL

Finding the right home (brokerage) can be a bit challenging, as all offices are not the same, and they are certainly not all the right fit for everybody. We all may have different objectives on how we want our real estate career to be, so it is best to find an office that complements your goals. 

Jul 22, 2010 03:03 PM
Renee Thompson
Premier Sotheby's International Realty - Tampa, FL

Finding the right home (brokerage) can be a bit challenging, as all offices are not the same, and they are certainly not all the right fit for everybody. We all may have different objectives on how we want our real estate career to be, so it is best to find an office that complements your goals. 

Jul 22, 2010 03:03 PM
Renee Thompson
Premier Sotheby's International Realty - Tampa, FL

Finding the right home (brokerage) can be a bit challenging, as all offices are not the same, and they are certainly not all the right fit for everybody. We all may have different objectives on how we want our real estate career to be, so it is best to find an office that complements your goals. 

Jul 22, 2010 03:03 PM
Ted Mackel
Keller Williams Realty Simi Valley - Simi Valley, CA
Simi Valley Real Estate Agent

It really does not have anything to do with interviewing brokers.  If you are above average in your production, then the way I looked at it, My first obligation is to my Wife and Children to control my costs paid to the broker, via splits, royalties, etc.  I also wanted to have something to show for my work when I retire. 

Brokers do not know how to market properties in today's world, they waste money on 10 year old ideas.  I needed an office that was forward thinking and was interested in pushing my buisness forward. Not only have I acheived these goals after 2.5 years since my move, but this month I took home $2570 in profit share.  I know more about branding than most and I know how to harness the power of the big nationals, but in the long run sales is a relationship business (a contact sport) and your customers will follow you where ever you go if you are good at what you do. 

Knowing all this, My Family comes first and my Broker comes last.

Jul 22, 2010 03:06 PM
Patricia Aulson
BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate - Exeter, NH
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Yes, I know of a copmany that doesn't let the agents have there own blog.  The company wants all the business.  Move on.

 

Jul 22, 2010 03:25 PM
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

Hi Pat - I think that there is no perfect brokerage - the trick is to find the one that has the qualities that are most important to you.  And if they don't offer every feature you listed, but you don't care much about the ones they don't have, then it is perhaps the perfect one for you. 

I love the firm I'm with, and love all of the people there.  The managing broker doesn't make demands, but inspires everyone to want to please him.  Our commission split is the highest in the area, and we have no desk fees or admin fees.  Whatever costs there are come out of our commission checks, and if we sell nothing, we owe nothing, even though the firm has invested in all of us.  And I am happy that our office is a franchise office with lots of great educational support and marketing programs.  And I can blog to my heart's content!

Jul 22, 2010 05:16 PM
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

You have compiled a good list of important considerations in choosing a brokerage for new and seasoned agents.

Jul 22, 2010 05:43 PM
Robert Slick
Beach and River Homes - Georgetown, SC
NRBA, RDCPro, Trident/CCAR MLS

I think communication and responsibility are the keys. Agents need to feel comfortable that they can work their way and brokers need to look at agents as something other than a cow to be milked for fees.

Jul 22, 2010 05:56 PM
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

Hi Pat - This is a great series - I loved it so much I wrote a post about deciding whether it was time to change.  It was geared at newer agents that may not understand what constitutes a good reason for leaving and what is just "normal."

I would add something about web sites.  Some brokerages in our area do NOT allow agents to have anything other then their own web page on the brokerage site. Not good.  Also - some have real restrictions on IDX.  So, if you are planning to be on-line and getting leads on-line - you need to know that these options are open.

Jul 22, 2010 07:36 PM
Bill Dean
Haggerty Team St. Louis, Mo. - Fenton, MO
William Dean - Broker, Salesperson

Pat,

These are GREAT posts!  I am in the process of making a sideways move mainly because the new office is more into blogging and social media AND the new broker is on Active Rain I just have to add that to your list, if they haven't even  heard of AR then move onto the next interview!

Jul 22, 2010 08:27 PM
J. Philip Faranda
J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY - Briarcliff Manor, NY
Broker-Owner

Funny- Here I am jumping up and down for my agents to et the blog bug and there are actually companies who won't allow it. 

Jul 23, 2010 01:22 AM
FN LN
Toronto, ON

It is always a very good idea to make a list of the questions that you need to be addressed before interviewing the brokerage.  Works every time.

Jul 23, 2010 01:37 AM
Brian Block
RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President - McLean, VA
Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate

Pat,

You forgot to mention my favorite tip -- if the broker's name is Brian Block, you'll want to join that brokerage! :)

Jul 23, 2010 03:57 AM
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

I remember going through this when I moved back to Pinellas County years ago!!!

Jul 23, 2010 08:40 AM
Brent Wells
The LivingWell Team - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Broker serving all of North DFW

Pat: Good stuff and I have loved reading your posts, keep it up!

Jul 23, 2010 08:56 AM
Brent Wells
The LivingWell Team - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Broker serving all of North DFW

Pat: Good stuff and I have loved reading your posts, keep it up!

Jul 23, 2010 08:56 AM