When I became a full time Realtor, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about whether or not I would choose a larger, national real estate brokerage over a smaller, independent one. While their overall function is similar, I found that the business models varied significantly from one another.
As a real estate agent, I am in a constant state of evaluating the state of my business. Do I need more listings? Am I spending wisely on effective marketing? Could I be doing more to improve my bottom line? Of course the answer is always yes to each of these questions. My suspiscion is that each of us who have made real estate our line of work are also ruminate on these questions as well quite frequently. These line items can take up quite a bit of mind space, especially in the slow times.
During those slow times, that we all experience from time to time, I have to admit that on a few occasions I wondered if I had made the right decision. It was then that I would reach out to fellow agents who hung their licenses with the larger brokerages to check in to see if they were slow as well. Without fail, I would be encouraged by the fact that my fellow agents would validate my belief that a lull in the market or inventory was the cause and not a result of being with a small brokerage.
Among the things I considered in my choice of broker were initial cost, commission structure, flexibility, training opportunities and overall feel of the office. I interviewed quite a few brokers before I ultimately made the decision to go with a smaller, locally based broker who was well known in the area. A few years have since passed and I have realized that this decision was the best for me.
The first day that I went into the office I was offered the opportunity to take over seven short sales that he had on his plate. He literally handed me the files, gave me background, told me what stage they were at and what needed to be done. It was my introduction to real estate associateship or as we later joked trial by lenders. Some may have said no way, but I accepted the challenge after many, many moons had passed I closed all but one of them in the end. Looking back, I am grateful for this opportunity. This could have easily resulted in the shortest career in the history of real estate. These were by no means fun to handle, at all. I learned more by doing these than I could have learned sitting for hours in training seminars.
I have found equal evidence on both sides when it comes to understanding the advantages and disadvantages of working with an independent broker. Personally, my decision to sign with a smaller "outfit", as one of my charming elderly customers once called us, has been perfect for me. It has been an education and forced me to seek out training not only from my broker, but from other avenues that I may not have had access to had I gone with a big brokerage. It has also pushed me to become very resourceful and creative in marketing my business.
I have had numerous opportunities to spend one on one time with my broker and have enjoyed very quick response times when I have needed guidance when one of the many possible odd issues have popped up with contracts, inspections or closings. Our entire office has a team mentality, which means we are each other's biggest cheerleaders and competitors. It is a great environment given our individual personalities and interests and it works.
Figuring out the kind of brokerage that best fits an agent can be a daunting task. If agents are able to spend time understanding the environments that they naturally feel most comfortable in they will certainly be set up for success. I was lucky, I discovered which was best suited to me on the first shot out of the barrel. I know that as I prepare to take the broker’s exam in a few months that my experiences will definitely be valuable when I create my own brokerage in the future.