Here at Adwerx, our customer success folks often get calls from agents who have changed brokerages. And not being in real estate originally myself, I thought that was interesting, so I did some digging.
Turns out, it’s not that uncommon. In 2015, one-third of Realtors started at a new firm. That’s up 67% from the previous year, according to NAR.
That includes new agents and current agents who were looking for a change. It’s something for brokers to keep in mind as they look at their recruiting and retention efforts. And considering the same report says 44% of brokers are actively recruiting, it’s fair to say change is in the air.
Why do real estate agents switch brokerages?
The reasons that real estate agents change firms are as varied as the agents themselves. And I wanted to learn more about that, so I talked to some of our customers about it.
For Laurie Weston Davis of The Geeky Girls, it was a gradual process.
She was a Keller Williams Realty agent and team owner. And while she was very busy, it became more and more apparent that she needed a better alignment between her own goals and the goals of the brokerage. But it wasn’t an easy decision.
“I worried about the possible backlash of leaving a company that I was highly identified with in the real estate community at a national level,” Laurie said.
Laurie braved the backlash and joined Scott Lincicome Properties in Southern Pines, NC. It was a great move from the get-go. The brokerage has since transitioned into Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Lifestyle Property Partners. And Laurie’s personal brand continues to strengthen, with her expertise in cultivating relationships and a focus on real estate tech.
Making a move to expand real estate expertise
Lynn Johnson was buyer’s agent, and enjoyed her role on the team to help her hone her skills. When the time came to expand to full agent at a new firm, she did have hesitations.
“I wasn't sure how much of a learning curve I would experience with the transition,” she said. “I didn't want my business to slow down or suffer because I was switching firms.” It might mean losing her client base. It might mean having to rebuild her brand. The doubts plagued her.
“I had to rely on my inner voice that was saying, ‘People love you regardless of what firm you are with, so why not?’”
That faith in the people around her encouraged Lynn to join a brand new brokerage called Bamboo Realty.
“I loved the fact that Bamboo was a small boutique firm with amazing leaders like Sarah Jones and Zach Schabot,” Lynn said. She also liked that she would be on the ground floor with the opportunity to learn and grow as an agent. But what really convinced Lynn to make the move was the promise of complete support.
“Being with a company that I felt would be and is going to stay fully invested in me and my business regardless if I sell one home or a hundred helped seal the deal.”
Advice about changing real estate brokerages
Any agent who wants to make a move can use some words of encouragement. These agents had some to share.
“Change is inevitable and staying somewhere that no longer meets your needs isn't going to help you grow your business,” said Laurie. “Don't be afraid of making a change if you are not happy in your current situation. Find a broker that shares the same vision.”
It’s no secret there are risks in moving. Understanding your own reasons is the first step for thinking about a change. Is it about commission? Is about technology? Or is it philosophical?
“Someone once told me that if you're not uncomfortable, you're not growing,” said Lynn. “Comfortable doesn't grow. Challenge yourself to see that there is always another side to the coin.”
But what about from the broker’s perspective?
Bret Calltharp, Director, Talent Attraction at BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS REAL ESTATE sees it from the brokerage perspective.
“For many agents, changing the brokerage you’re affiliated with is like changing a gym,” said Bret. “It may be a different location, perhaps with a different payment schedule, but if you do the exact same workout, you’ll get the exact same results.”
Bret wants agents to examine their own personal value proposition. What makes you unique? What are your business strengths and weaknesses? Only by doing the hard work first can agents then evaluate brokerage options to see which can help through education, strategy or tech.
“One of the things I love about the real estate industry is that agents can truly build the career that they want,” Bret shared. “Not all agents want to grow a large team or become a top producer. Many like the flexibility a real estate career gives them to travel or spend more time with family and friends. It’s your business to craft the way that suits your dreams, not someone else’s.”
When evaluating a company shift, Bret wants agents to separate the fluff from the stuff. And he wants agents to know that compensation plans and splits are usually the worst factor on which to base a decision. He’s seen too many agents focus primarily on what the expense difference would be and not enough look at what they may net via expanded business opportunities.
Bamboo Realty Head Coach Alyssa Hellman agrees. She was the Education Director at GO School and she knows that recruitment is a top priority for brokers. “They want their front door spinning faster than their back door,” she pointed out. “But what if your back door stops spinning?” As in, what if brokers focused on keeping the agents they have?
Get organized before you go: a checklist for changing real estate firms
Timing is everything for agents who want to change firms. When do you tell your clients? When do you tell your coworkers? What about your social profiles and your business cards? It’s easy to lose sight of critical details in what can be an exciting and extra-sensitive time.
That’s why we created a handy checklist to help you cover your bases and manage the move from one real estate firm another in a controlled, common sense manner. The list is below, but there’s also a downloadable version
Stage 1: Before you announce
Export your data into new sources:
Ongoing workflow spreadsheet
Order new collateral:
Stage 2: After you announce
Update platforms you use:
Esign platforms such as Docusign/ or Dotloop
National and local MLS changes
Local real estate associations
Update your digital collateral with new logo and contact info:
Stage 3: Spread the word
Take care of your current clients:
Resign with new brokerage
Inform your past clients:
Create an email campaign
Send notes with new business card