The Proper Manner to Exit a Brokerage

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Beam & Branch Realty TREC #547752

We know in this business of real estate brokerage, agents tend to move companies several times over the course of their careers. As a broker, I have experienced all sorts of exits. Some of them that were handled extremely well, while others were abysmally inept.

The real estate world really is not that big when you are immersed in the business and in the area you work. Membership in associations, community events, and of course, the day-to-day interaction with other agents is an on-going reality. When agents leave a brokerage with broken bridges, feelings are hurt and division is felt.

Recently, I experienced an exit from two agents who completely mishandled their exit. The first mistake was asking me to a bar for a drink with the two of them as the method they chose to inform me they were leaving. This was wrong on many levels. First, each should have approached me separately and privately. Secondly, a public place like a bar affords no privacy and is too loud to have a quality conversation.

I understand completely that situations change in people's lives and I believe in full and open communication. What I will never agree with is taking the easy way out of having a private one-on-one with your broker. The only time I would disagree with this statement is if there were some allegations or mishandling on either party's part. In this case, not so.

After ruminating on this latest experience, I felt it a good time to put this post out to the universe regardings tips on the proper manner to exit a brokerage:

  1. Do unto others as you would do unto yourself. This really is important in all of life. Your broker has taken you under their wing and someday, you might be in their seat. 
  2. Keep the communication open. Everyone understands changes happen. Just be honest and upfront.
  3. Do not attempt to take leads, other agents, or any proprietary materials that belong to the brokerage.
  4. Return your keys and any other items that need to be turned in.
  5. Arrange for a private meeting between yourself and your broker to discuss your exit. This is so important to ensure both parties have had a chance to speak, to get everything out on the table, and to agree with the specifics of the departure.
  6. Do everything in your power to keep the bridge built. Tearing down is never a good business tactic.
  7. Be gracious. This business is still and always will be about people. People matter, therefore, how you handle parting ways is paramount.
  8. Own your reasons. It is never constructive to use the blame game or to cover yourself by throwing anyone else under the bus. Have enough respect for your broker to state your reasons for leaving without saying something to the broker like, "Well, you knew this was coming." Unless you've had other conversations prior to your departure, no - the broker really doesn't know what your plans were. This is a method used to try and justify actions without owning them.
  9. Get in writing, the agreement with the broker regarding any listings, clients, equipment, signs, etc.
  10. Show grace. Everyone has personal things going on in their lives. None of us truly knows the path another person is walking on any given day.

No matter what, we are licensed professionals and it is imperative to always do whatever we can to remain professional in all areas. Life is too short to burn bridges. Build those bridges even when it means changing lanes.

Posted by

Beam & Branch Realty       

"Have you fully lived today?"

   Paula L. McDonald ~ REALTOR®, 

        Granbury, Texas 

 936-203-0279 Direct

Selling Hood County and surrounding areas! 



 John Maxwell

Farm & Ranch


          ABR                 Institute for Luxury Marketing                Institute for Luxury Home Marketing


Graduate Realtor InstituteC2EX


Copyright 2021 Paula McDonald

Comments (25)

Paula McDonald, Ph.D.
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Roy Kelley - you have a wonderful weekend as well. Hugs to you.

Feb 27, 2021 11:19 AM
Paula McDonald, Ph.D.
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist - thank you for your comment and yes, a bar was not a good option.

Feb 27, 2021 11:20 AM
Paula McDonald, Ph.D.
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Yes, Anna Banana Kruchten CRS CRB, Phoenix Broker - building bridges is always the better option.


Feb 27, 2021 11:22 AM
Paula McDonald, Ph.D.
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Andrea Bedard you are so correct in pointing out true character or lack thereof.

Feb 27, 2021 11:23 AM
Paula McDonald, Ph.D.
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Ewe, Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD  - that is not a professional scene at all. Yikes.

Feb 27, 2021 11:24 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

I like your thoughts on how to properly exit a brokerage.  I've been licensed 40 years this November.  I have only been with 3 brokerages in all those years.  I was with my first company almost 10 years.  It shuttered its doors during a recession that hit Sacramento severely when 3 military bases were closed.  With my second office I was associated 7 years.  However, a couple of agents I was partnering with left for another firm, and I followed.  I have been there since 1998.  I have always remained on good terms with most everyone I have beenn associated with.  I feel lucky because of that.

Feb 27, 2021 07:06 PM
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning Paula.

I've had them send me an email with a transfer form attached.  No warning, no talk, it gets crazy out there

Feb 28, 2021 12:53 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Paula... this is good advice for any profession, if you ask me. One thing I've always said is that you never want to burn those bridges behind you when you move from one organization to another.

Feb 28, 2021 06:15 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Paula - not only is this a good read but as usual the comments left by members add to the discussion.  Methods matter.  

Feb 28, 2021 08:12 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Paula,
Can't say that I've ever seen a post on this topic but it's certainly a good one.  I have bookmarked for inclusion in the next SCS if it doesn't get Featured.

Feb 28, 2021 11:10 AM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

This is good information for everyone. Like Carol above, not sure I have seen this topic discussed.  Only made one exit after 18 years and started my own brokerage the following year.

Mar 01, 2021 11:59 AM
Dan Hopper
Dan Hopper - Gold Way RE - Westminster, CO
Denver Broker / Author / Advocate/Short Sale

Over 30 yrs I have only exited 2 brokerage firms ... one should never burn bridges, and keep it short and to the point.  Save the trip to the Bar after the conversations... took my Wife for a Happy Hour!!

Mar 01, 2021 12:51 PM
Paula McDonald, Ph.D.
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Myrl Jeffcoat - thank you. I wish I hadn't needed to write this post but feel many need to assess their tactics.

Mar 02, 2021 07:37 AM
Paula McDonald, Ph.D.
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

James Dray - yep, that happens as well. I have just never been personally placed in the public situation as this one.

Mar 02, 2021 07:38 AM
Paula McDonald, Ph.D.
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Nina Hollander - yes, building is always better than burning for sure.

Mar 02, 2021 07:39 AM
Paula McDonald, Ph.D.
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Michael Jacobs - agreed, the comment sections do provide lots of food for thought.

Mar 02, 2021 07:39 AM
Paula McDonald, Ph.D.
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Carol Williams - thank you and yes, such an important message for all agents.

Mar 02, 2021 07:40 AM
Paula McDonald, Ph.D.
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400 - I'm glad I wrote the post in order to bring some awareness regarding our industry in this manner. We claim to be professionals, so it is important to remain so in all areas.

Mar 02, 2021 07:41 AM
Paula McDonald, Ph.D.
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Dan Hopper - AGREED! The bar would have been fine after the conversation.

Mar 02, 2021 07:42 AM
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

Once again I am the odd man out here in the comment section. But if the emporer has no clothes...well he or she has no clothes.

When I moved to Kearney in 2003, the brokerage I hung my license with treated me like dog crap from day 2.  Day 1 was good for them because they took my money. 

I had been with this national franchise in another state for 10 years and was very successful.  It made no sense at the time why my experience was so bad.

I could not figure out why I was treated so poorly and even asked multiple times. The answer I got was each of us was technically self employed and we all go our own direction.

After 15 months, I decided to get my Brokers license and left...

Turn in my key?  Never had one.  I met my clients in the parking lot if it was after hours. Or in the lobby of the about embarassing.

Have sales meetings?  Heard later that they had 2 per month...I was invited to one when a Lender I was working with brought in breakfast...and they had to call me on that one.  Never knew they were having them.

Meet with the Broker to say goodbye?  He met with me privately 1 time the entire15 months after the initial couple weeks.  1 stinking time!!  He got the letter in the mail.

(Yes...I knew a few months in that it was not a good place for me...but I had to have a Nebraska license for a certain amount of time before I could get the Broker license and I did not want to make too many moves in a new town).

Take his data and info? Most of it was junk...still is...16 years later and he is still using the same photo.  

But you can bet I took what was mine and any thing that was public knowledge went with me as well. 

Burn the Bridge... I didn't burn the bridge...but I got tired of putting his fires out trying to save it.

If I knew then what I know now as a Broker/Owner of my company...I would have filed a complaint with the real estate commission.   

Have to be in the same town?   Yep...he doesn't like me almost as much as I don't like him.  He has never shown one of my listings in the past 16 years.  But guess what?  I do not care because in Nebraska we do not have a buyer agency his "client" can call direct if they want...and that has happened multiple times with at least 2 properties selling to his former clients.

In listings are rarely ...and I mean rarely shown by any of the agents at that office...and I am good with that.

Fast forward to today: 

In my written agreement with each of my specifies that any Listing or Buyer Not under contract can go with the transferring agent when they leave IF the client so chooses.

Any properties under contract will transfer immediately to myself to work until closed and the agent will receive their full agreed upon commission. I talk with them on a regular basis that if they would want to transfer, let me know so that we have a smooth transfer for them and myself.

I also chat with them that if they do the things I suggest, then they can be just as...or more...successful as I am. 

At my encouragement, my most experienced agent now has her Brokers license and can:

1. Take over for me if needed; 

2. Go on her own or transfer if she desires;

3.  Has more knowledge and understanding of a Brokers role and liability after studying and passing that exam.   

I fully expect her to open her wings and fly away sometime in the next couple years. 

I will be sad if that happens but happy for her if she does. 

This is my way of paying it that no agent that works for me will ever be treated the way I was.  Yes, I might be different than most folks...and I am good with that!

Have a great weekend! 

Mar 19, 2021 07:02 AM

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