First Things First ~ Some Thoughts on Choosing Your Office

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

If you haven't yet selected a real estate office to bless with your presence, here are some ideas to ponder.

Be assured that there is a place for you. If you are marginally presentable looking and have a pulse (most days), a real estate office will "hire" you. In fact, the interview process is more about you interviewing them, rather than the other way around. Big Name companies specialize in recruiting and training new agents fresh out of school and will be happy to talk with you. You might even feel a little flattered at their attention and persuasive recruiting tactics!

That said, smaller boutique companies may not recruit rookie agents. If they do, they tend to be quite selective, so if you prefer to start your career at a boutique firm, you may have to actually sell yourself to the broker. Brokerages in small towns or resort communities may also be a little harder to break into than those in a metropolitan area.

When I first got my license, I was told that the urban brokers (where I wanted to work) wouldn't even talk to brand new licensees. Being shy, I didn't push the issue, I just interviewed in the suburbs and received "offers" from every suburban company I talked to. I chose to work in a Big Name office in the foothills outside of Denver because it sounded glamorous to sell mountain real estate. Never mind that I knew nothing about mountain real estate, or cared, really. I couldn't relate to the other brokers in the office or to any of the prospects I gathered who wanted a mountain lifestyle. I was a city girl and I understood city dwellers.

After nine months, I transferred to another office in a suburb of Denver. That was an even worse fit for me; while I didn't really connect with mountain buyers, I was utterly baffled by suburban ones! Tri-level homes built in 1975 with popcorn ceilings just weren't my thing. Six months later, I moved again, this time to a boutique firm in central Denver. Ah, the euphoria and camaraderie of working with agents who knew the difference between a Bungalow and a Cottage, a Denver Square and a Victorian.

My point is that you should strive to work in an office that fits your personality and interests, whether it is a specific neighborhood or market, an age group, a market specialty or just general ambience. Some offices are quite formal and stuffy; others are somewhat casual or even dumpy. You'll find corporate firms to be beige, boutiques more colorful and eclectic. Opportunities for referrals and good open houses will come more naturally (and be more enjoyable) if you are working in an atmosphere that feels like home. You will probably "know" when you're in the right place. Wait for that feeling.

However, don't fret if your first office doesn't work out. It's no big deal to move and, after a year in the business, you'll have a much better idea of what you're looking for.

A Word About Splits & Fees
You'll drive yourself batty trying to compare the financial implications among the different brokerage firms you interview. Some charge you an up-front fee which pays for your signs, your first business cards and your E&O insurance. Others charge no fee and provide all these items, but offer a lower split. (As you probably know, your split is the percentage of your commissions you get to keep. If you are on a 60/40 split, you keep 60%, your brokerage firm gets 40%.)

When you're brand new, there probably isn't a lot of room to negotiate the split or fees. Just select the company that seems to best suit your personality and your need for training and/or personalized mentoring. You can worry about negotiating a better split after you've proven yourself.

Your relationship with your broker and the general warm fuzzy feelings you have (or don't have) are far more critical to your success than any minor variations in fees. Your initial split and/or fees paid won't dramatically affect your bottom line if you are at all productive. But if you don't feel good about the place you're working in, your productivity and motivation will be greatly affected.

So... Go with your gut... and... Get to work!




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copyright Jennifer Allan 2007

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Leigh Brown
Leigh Brown & Associates, RE/MAX Executive - Charlotte, NC
CEO, Dream Maker - Charlotte, NC
This IS a good post-and one of the comments said it best, that there's something for everyone.  Definitely a smart move to visit as many offices as possible to find that best fit before you get settled into the wrong place. It's not easy to move!  And our office is one of the ones that interviews how they will fit us, as well as how we will fit for them-we're not for everyone and glad to be that way.
Jan 12, 2007 06:25 AM #9
Marc Blasi
Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Good points-

People need to realize that Company Size Does NOT Equal Company Quality.

Granted, when I wrote that I was thinking more about Mortgage companies, but the same logic applies.

Don't just fall for the big companies, more often than not it's a big name, with very little quality behind it.

Jan 12, 2007 07:31 AM #10
Ray Nellum
Envision Real Estate Group, LLC. - Fort Smith, AR
Fort Smith Real Estate

Very good post for new agents.  There are 3 Questions I live by in business as well as personal, and can be applied while looking for a new office/broker:

Do I like them?

Do I trust them?

Do I respect them?

If either end with a no, walk away and good luck.

Ray Nellum

Jan 12, 2007 07:41 AM #11
Teri Isner
Keller Williams Realty at the Lakes - Orlando, FL
Great post you may also want to check them out with your real estate commission and be sure they don't have alot of complaints or suits filed ..also is the broker a working broker or office owner only? 
Jan 12, 2007 07:50 AM #12
Colleen Irwin
Retired - Buffalo, NY
Creative Real Estate Solutions...
Jennifer -- great post!   I did a post awhile back How to Avoid the Dark Side of Real Estate which had a lot of questions to ask the broker that might also be of interest to some of the newer agents looking for the right place to go.
Jan 12, 2007 08:08 AM #13
Steven Holcomb
Keller Williams Realty - Plano, TX
Esq. - BBA, JD, GRI

Great thoughts.  In real estate we are constantly competing with other agents, even those in our office.  This presents problems in some offices and makes it a key to find an office where you like the other agents and staff.

Jan 12, 2007 08:37 AM #14
Deborah Burns ~ Seattle Real Estate Agent
Realty Executives -BRIO - Seattle, WA

Very helpful things to consider about "fit" with a brokerage.  I would have really found this helpful (along with so many other posts!) to have read this when I was starting out.  I do not fit well in my office (very nice people, friendly, supportive, mostly ethical...I have a problem with agents representing both sellers & buyers and paid for double commission) because I really do not fit the area....I have always wanted to live in the metro/urban area.  I have been focusing my business there and will eventually buy a home in one of my favorite Urban Villages and work in another office.

Thanks for the post!

Jan 12, 2007 08:44 AM #15
Heidi Hovatter - Sonora & Twain Harte
Century 21 Wildwood - Selling Homes and Cabins in Tuolumne County - Sonora, CA
Heidi The Home Hunter
This information should be given to local Boards at orientation.  It would make a big difference to agents starting out.  There are so many agents who stay where they are solely because they have been there so long even though it does not "fit" them.
Jan 12, 2007 10:12 AM #16
Chun Liu
Keller Williams Coastal Properties - Long Beach, CA

Great stuff.  Thanks for the post!  You do very well describing what quite a few of the newbies feel like when they go around.  I remember the same thing when I first started.

I love the name sell with soul also!

Very good stuff!

Jan 12, 2007 11:24 AM #17
Victoria Lorusso
Illustrated Properties - North Palm Beach, FL
Florida and CT Real Estate
Jennifer,  Nice post.  I would like to add one very important item for consideration and that is training. Specifically the level of training offered.  Many companies offer new agents training but don't continue it.  In these fast paced changing times, we need to always keep training.  That includes many subjects like: ethics, law, technology, networking and lead generation.  One company who does this well is Keller William. 
Jan 12, 2007 11:44 AM #18
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO
Jennifer, nice to meet you through this good post. I think I work very well on my own now, so spend much less time at the office. But I still thrive on some office interaction, for me that's part of the city dweller thing, I realize we are all different. So that gets back to your point about finding what is right for you. Great job
Jan 12, 2007 11:46 AM #19
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection
This is good information for new agents, it is important that you like where you work it does affect productivity.
Jan 12, 2007 12:43 PM #20
Angus in Naperville IL
RE/MAX of Naperville - Naperville, IL

Jennifer - Excellent post.

When I chose my first company (18 years I'm still on my second) I went there because they were the ones that were honest with me. I visited with several offices where the attitude was "gee, all you have to do is sell one house and you've made a big profit over your start up money"

The Broker that I chose told me that I was going to have to work at it if I wanted to build a real career. I did and I did. They gave me a lot of guidance and I did what was suggested.

The new agent may want to avoid the "agent mills"... the ones where if you throw enough new agents at the wall... some may stick. (That can get messy!)


Jan 12, 2007 01:03 PM #21
John Novak
Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace - Las Vegas, NV
Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate
Excellent advice for the new agent, backed up by your own personal experience. I especially liked your conclusion with regard to splits:   "But if you don't feel good about the place you're working in, your productivity and motivation will be greatly affected."   It's not all about the money.
Jan 12, 2007 04:25 PM #22
Randy Prothero
eXp Realty - Mililani, HI
Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645

If more poeple spent some up front ime interviewing brokers and put more thought in slecting an office there would be less agents bouncing form company to company. There is never a guarantee, but you will increase you chances of finding the right office the first time.

I might also add to the list: The location of the office.

Jan 13, 2007 03:20 AM #23
Jim & Maria Hart
Brand Name Real Estate - Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC Real Estate
I wish that we'd read your post before we selected our first RE company, which was a big name company.  We met a lot of great agents there, but the atmosphere soon took a turn south.  After being there 8 months, we decided to get outta dodge and switch to yet another big name company.  We absolutely loved it, loved our broker, and loved many of the agents.  Then our broker moved to another office and things went south again.  After a year and a half with that company, we decided that the big wigs were not really for us.  So we went thru the interview process with a much smaller company, and it turns out that we're a good fit with them.  They don't hire just anyone, and they have no desire to be this huge company with more agents than they can keep up with.  We're happy here, but we did learn tons thru the different firms we were with.  The important thing is finding where you fit it, not around.
Jan 13, 2007 04:44 AM #24
Patricia Beck
RE/MAX Properties, Inc., GRI, CDPE - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Realty
Good Information Jennifer, and good points about comparing commissions and fees...that can get really overwhelming!
Jan 13, 2007 12:36 PM #25
Ken Spencer
Buckeye, AZ
for Verrado, Buckeye, Sundance


I like the way you describe the movement from each type of brokerage.  Each having their own unique personality which can have something to do with geography in a place like Denver.  This is a great post.


Jan 13, 2007 03:27 PM #26
David Abernathy
Waterfront Properties & Club Communities - Jupiter, FL
Palm Beach County Real Estate
Great post, well said - well written
Jan 13, 2007 08:18 PM #27
Chrissy Myers
Nick's Real Estate - Philadelphia, PA
Thanks for this post. As a new agent who hasn't yet found a office, this is very much appreciated. 
Oct 04, 2007 06:11 AM #28
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