12 Tips on Choosing the Best Real Estate Company To Work For
Before serious interviewing, you should consider what kind of real estate company you want to work for. There’s no one-size-fits-all, so to find the business model, environment, and culture that’s best for you, consider following my 12-Point Company Preference Checklist.
In metropolitan areas, your choice might range from companies with less than 10 agents to companies with perhaps hundreds of agents. The larger companies might have more than one office, so office size might be a more important consideration than company size.
You might like the excitement and buzz of a large office, or you might be more comfortable with the cohesiveness of a smaller office. That’s strictly a personal preference, and it’s only one of your preference considerations.
2. Brand Prominence
A lot of for-sale signs in yards usually means that lots of agents work for that real estate company. It can be an advantage to tout your company’s market share to sellers when attempting to list their property for sale, but you’ll also be competing with people from your own company more often than if you were with a smaller office.
When you walk into a prospective real estate office, ask yourself whether you would feel proud or embarrassed to bring your clients there. You will often be meeting your buyer clients at your office before showing them properties, and you will probably return there to complete paperwork if they want to buy one of the properties you showed them.
Beside the esthetics of the office, does it have adequate workspace, and would you have use of computers, copier, and fax machine? Will you have access to the office after hours? Is parking available for agents and clients?
Consider how long it would take to drive to your prospective office. Of course, modern technology gives real estate agents a high degree of mobility, so you can check email, search internet-based MLS, and answer calls from your home, or on the fly. But you occasionally need to drive to your office for meetings, turning in transaction paperwork, getting forms and supplies, and checking postal mail.
Your office doesn’t have to be near the area in which you choose to work, but if not, you will have to explain to clients that real estate isn’t as much of a neighborhood business as it was before homebuyers and sellers became so transient and mobile. Nowadays, real estate agents must be familiar with larger geographic areas than they did a few decades ago.
Whether the real estate company is located in a freestanding building, a shopping center, or in a high-rise office tower is a matter of personal preference, but one consideration would be how easy it is for your clients to find your office.
There are real estate companies that provide no office space for agents, but generally compensate for that by giving a higher commission split.
You will learn many real estate principles and fundamentals while attending real estate school. You will learn about real estate law and contract law, how to write purchase agreements, how to list property for sale, how to finance real estate, and how to evaluate real estate property. But you must also acquire skills in such areas as sales techniques and negotiating. You’ll need guidance the first few times you evaluate someone’s property, list a property for sale, and accurately structure complex purchase transactions. For these skills, you’ll need advanced training after you obtain your license and/or someone who can assist you when you need help.
Companies should offer formal training for their new agents, and/or have an organized process for coaching new agents. Either way, you should know something about the background of the person or people who will be training and/or helping you.
If the prospective real estate company is relatively new, is it growing? Does its leadership have enough time to help new agents? If the company is mature, is it stable or in decline? You might not get specific answers to these questions in an interview, but you’ll get a sense of them during the course of your conversation with the manager or broker. The experience level of the manager or broker is a more important factor, though, which leads us to the next checklist item.
In a medium or large company, your primary contact will probably be a salaried manager, but in a small or medium company, your manager might be the broker/owner. You should ask if the manager or broker also sells real estate, because his or her personal production could have a bearing on the time available to help you. Ask how many full-time and part-time agents the manager is responsible for. More than 50 full-time agents would be a very challenging workload for one manager, unless the company has assistant trainers to help new agents.
8. Administrative Support
Some offices handle such chores as MLS listing uploads and transaction paperwork processing. The accounting department will also be important to you; ask how long after a closing you can expect to receive your commission.
9. Commission Schedule
All real estate companies need to earn a profit in order to survive, but there are various routes to that bottom line.
A traditional brokerage model, depending on market area variations, would pay around half of the commission to the agent, and the company would keep the rest to pay operating and transaction expenses, plus a reasonable profit. As the agent’s sales volume increases throughout the calendar year, the agent’s split percentage might increase. Under this model, most, if not all, the overhead expenses are paid by the real estate company.
In the 1980s a hybrid model emerged, in which some real estate companies charged their agents various fees to cover company operating expenses, and a somewhat assured profit. In return for helping to stabilize the company’s bottom line, the company splits the commission at a higher percentage than with the traditional model, perhaps as high as 100%. Because the financial risk shifts to the agents, this model is popular primarily with experienced agents.
An office that is populated mostly with new agents can feel energized, but perhaps a bit chaotic at times—not to mention a strain on the manager’s time. If most of the agents are seasoned, the office can feel stable, but might lack excitement. Some combination of experienced and new agents could give you the best of both worlds.
Something less tangible is a company’s vibes. After interviewing your prospective manager or broker, ask yourself how you feel about him or her, and the company. Your intuition should weigh in on your decision. You might also visit the company’s website, find their directory, and call a couple of agents who work there. If you ask what they think about their office as a workplace for both new and experienced agents, you might further your feeling for that company.
11. Recognition for Achievement
Your personal goals will be important indicators of how successful you will be in real estate. A money goal makes good sense, but being recognized for your achievements can also be exciting. Successful real estate companies often have programs that recognize their top producing agents, and becoming recognized as one of them might inspire you more than you think.
Most of this discussion has been about residential and real estate sales companies, but you might be more interested in leasing or property management, both of which require a real estate license in most states. You will find those opportunities mostly at companies that specialize in them. On the other hand, you might find an interest in investment, commercial, or industrial real estate sales. Many general brokerages will allow you to work in those specialties, as well as in residential sales.
Other real estate sales specialties include farm and ranch, recreational property, lakeshore, and undeveloped land. Some agents work for new home builders, which involves different practices than re-selling existing properties. Some agents choose to work for a general brokerage, selling both new construction and re-sale properties. Ask your prospective manager if this option would be available for you.